Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall in Las Vegas Means Arts and Crafts Fairs

The temperatures have finally fallen to double digits for the highs, and a person can drive with the windows down in the early morning. It’s also the time of the year that just about every weekend is filled with an arts and crafts event or a festival of some sort. Last weekend it was the Greek Festival with great food, music, and dancing. This weekend it was the Summerlin Arts and Crafts Fair in the northwest part of the Las Vegas valley.

Two friends, Kathi and Marilyn, and myself decided to do some looking and possible buying in Summerlin. We joined the line of cars bumping into the parking lot across from the park where the tents for the vendors were set up. It was close to noon so it was heating up already, although it didn’t seem to affect the amount of people that were entering the rows of tents.

The first thing we saw was a stretch of sidewalk about 8 feet wide that was divided into squares in which artists were doing chalk murals. I don’t know the details of who the artists were, and if it was part of a contest, or just an area of self expression, but most of the works were spectacular.

The arts and crafts fair, I assume, was juried from the quality of the vendors present. There was lots of photography, jewelry, and some really nice glass work among all the others kinds of vendors. Kathi bought some glass jewelry and a velvet, beaded bag she plans to use as a cell phone carrier, which was very nice and reasonably priced. I ended up buying some glass earrings and a pottery mug--I think I'll put small shuttles or pens in it. Marilyn was the strong one of the three of us. Of course, her excuse was that she blew her wad on a trip to the northwest with stops at the Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA, Powell’s Books in Portland, and The Weaving Works in Seattle. Here she is in the photo trying to stay cool in the shade.

Next weekend is the big Boulder City arts and craft event, called Art in the Park, which is always the first weekend in October, and one of the best. But I will be missing that. Our guild will be demonstrating weaving and spinning in two places in the valley next Saturday. Some members will be in the north end of town at Something Scottish at the public library on Cheyenne and Buffalo, while others of us will be out west of town at Spring Mt. State Park doing the same thing in pioneer costumes. I'm hoping that it isn’t too warm.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Minding the Store on Thursdays

I’m minding the store today and tomorrow. So after the shelves are straightened, the books rearranged and the customers waited on I sometime can manage to fit in some knitting or weaving. I brought my Voyageur table loom into the store yesterday for WOW! (Weaving on Wednesday) so I was all ready to fit some weaving in if the time allowed. You can see my loom set up in a corner of the shop.

One of the WOW! members returned early this morning for some more Lamb’s Pride Yarn by Brown Sheep for another weaving project. Hermi brought her weaving bag that she’d just finished. She’s an accomplished spinner and knitter, but she’s just gotten into weaving and is having fun experimenting with different simple looms and types of weaving.

Her bag is a combination of cut pile, done on her Kromski harp rigid heddle loom using her handspun yarn, and card weaving which she used to create the handle for the bag. I think she used Lamb’s Pride yarn for the handle and the rest of the bag. I rather like the bright color combinations she used.

Later in the afternoon I was able to work on the bookmarks for awhile. The pattern yarn that I’m using for the present marker is about as thin as the black rayon thread used for the warp and binder so the progress is really slow. I’m afraid the iridescent quality of the thread doesn’t show up the pattern well in the photo. In the second photo I unwound the cloth beam to show you what the other bookmarks looked like.

The first bookmark uses a peach colored #30 crochet cotton for the pattern weft. The second one is a thicker silvery metallic thread, and the third is a thicker rayon crochet cord in variegated colors. I think the #30 crochet cotton and the metallic thread markers show up the weaving pattern the best. The iridescent marker is nice but a little too subtle. The weaving isn’t very speedy, especially if you’re used to working with a rigid heddle loom with a #8 dent making some shawls. Well, there is tomorrow…

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The WOW! Group - Weaving on Wednesdays

Two years ago three or four of our weaving & spinning guild members started getting together a couple of Wednesday mornings a month. At first we met at my house but last year we started meeting at Wooly Wonders, a knitting and weaving shop on the east side of Las Vegas, and we decided to start meeting every week. We call ourselves the WOW! Group - Weaving on Wednesdays Group.

We’ve grown to eight to ten members, some arriving early, some late--that’s always me (have to check my e-mail first). We talk a lot, drink our coffee & tea, knit, crochet, spin and even do some weaving. We often bring in rigid heddle looms or tapestry looms, like Kathy who is working on a sort of fantasy landscape in Noro yarns shown in the photo.

I brought in my 8H Leclerc Voyageur table loom, but didn’t do much weaving. I work at the store tomorrow and Friday and probably will get some weaving time in then. I’m trying to weave off the bookmarks as I’m going to need the loom for a workshop in lace weaving in Salt Lake City in late October. The bookmarks have a black rayon thread warp and a variety of pattern wefts. They are a variation of bookmarks from the March/April 2007 Handwoven article, “Elegant Bookmarks” by Syne Mitchell. Last year our guild challenge was to weave with warp smaller than we usually weave with. Boy, this warp sure fit the bill. I could have gotten by just by using 20/2 as a warp, but I was fascinated by the beautiful pattern of the bookmarks.

I’m not sorry I did the project, once the correct sett was worked out for my rayon warp and the warps stopped breaking. But I’m sure not going to use this tiny a warp thread any time soon. I’m ready for something a bit bigger. When the warp comes off I’ll be able to take some photos of the different pattern wefts, some of the bookmarks actually turned out nicely, and the broken warps were easily hidden.

In the photo, Nancy is spinning with a drop spindle, but often brings her wheel to spin with. She is one of the founding members of our guild, and is an excellent weaver too.

How do your guild members get together between meetings? We find we enjoy the weekly get together to exchange ideas and show what we’ve been doing, and look forward to the next week's gathering.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shopping with a Weaver’s Eye

I love to browse in unlikely weaving stores. Since Vegas has only one weaving store and I work in it, that’s really not too hard to do. But I don’t mean “touching and feeling” in the local yarn shop, that would be too easy. As I like to build small looms the obvious place to roam is in the aisles at Home Depot or Lowe’s. However last Saturday I was on my way to Office Depot to buy some dividers for my binders. I‘ve been in the midst of reorganizing my old knitting magazine patterns and had this great mental plan of new categories all worked out. But right next door to Office Depot was World Market with big SALE posters in their windows just beckoning to me.

Of course I didn’t “need” anything from World Market, but that never stopped me from checking out the bins before. The end results are shown in the photo on the left. Some people have a weakness for shoes, mine is totes. Right there on the floor was an end of the summer straw basket for under $5! Perfect for the next knitting project; and it was just right for carrying around anything else I might find interesting.

How about those metal hoop earrings? Much too big a statement as earrings for me, but what about the possibilities as links between purse handles and the bag…or as the ends on belts. They might also work as the ends on finger weaving or inkle belts.

The wooden letter openers were a repeat purchase. They must have gotten a fresh supply, as I had already used some as tapestry forks after making some cuts with a scroll saw. The dark wood is really pretty, and although they are a bit light weight they are a bit unusual looking.

The last weaving type purchase was a hand towel. I liked the weaving and the color pattern, and thought it might be fun to try and duplicate it on the loom. I finally did make it to Office Depot, but that visit wasn’t nearly as much fun.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Away from the Glitz

Although I live in Las Vegas I'm mentally a long way away from the glitter and glitz of the Strip. I live in the "other" city, where people live and work and actually don't think about gambling every minute. I've lived here for 22 years, teaching in the school system for 15 of those years. Now that I'm retired I can "play" with fiber instead of coins.

I work in a local yarn shop usually only one day a week, enough to feed my yarn habit. Since retiring I've been giving beginning weaving lessons on frame looms that I've constructed myself--over 75. Lately I've started branching out into beginning weaving instruction in rigid heddle looms. I've also touched on inkle weaving, tapestry weaving and fabric for making a vest (that was a REAL learning experience).

I also enjoy knitting and am currently working on a mittered square project from the book "Knit to be Square" by Vivian Hoxbro. Vivian calls the technique 'domino knitting' not mittered square. This particular project is abstract stole found on page 123--using incomplete squares. I thought a stole with holes in it was especially appropriate for Vegas weather. I'm using #4 needles with some Koigu fingering yarn. I don't plan to felt it as the patterns suggests so I'm cutting down on the number of panels and squares per panel. Hopefully I have enough yarn for the project...does that sound just a little like a faint doubt of my estimations? Oh yes.

Incidentally the piece of fabric at the bottom of this blog is the fabric I wove on a rigid heddle loom that I made into a vest, which I'll show in another posting. The workshop that I took with Daryl Lancaster in Salt Lake City last April was very helpful in completing the vest.