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Announcing the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge!

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I am so excited to be partnering with Mirrix Looms on the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge! It’s going to be a bright, colorful, creative summer!

The challenge is free and there is no purchase required to participate, but I encourage you to check out the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge Kit—it is full of beautiful and vibrant silk, yarn, beads and more! The kit is available both with and without a Mirrix loom.

For more information and to sign up for the 2019 Summer Weaving Challenge, click here! I hope you join us!

Update: Mirrix is having an awesome promotion! 

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“Everyone who orders the Summer Weaving Challenge Kit or the Summer Weaving Challenge Kit and Loom Package through May 18th will get our Bead & Crystal Wrap Bracelet Class (worth $29) sent to you after purchase for FREE. No discount code required.”

Additional details on this and other Mirrix Mother’s Day Extravaganza promotions can be found on their website here.

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.
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Weaving the Rainbow

When I showed people my first tapestry, a lot of them asked, “What is it?” “A tapestry!” I replied. “Yeah, but…what is it?” “It’s art!” I replied, somewhat defensive. It seems that a lot of people have lost touch with art being viewed as valuable in its own right, implying that it needs to be more than just self expression in order to hold value.

While I wholly disagree with the notion that art needs to be functional in order to have value, I decided to demonstrate what else besides tapestries I could make on my Mirrix Loom: bracelets! And, in fact, I made three bracelets at the same time on my Little Guy loom.

On the left side of my loom, I wove my first silk bracelet, using scissors, a bamboo needle, and gorgeous skeins of hand-painted silk yarn. I used linen warp, which is amazingly strong, and found that the bamboo needle helped keep my fingers from getting sore.

What I love about the silk is that when you look at a skein you get an impression of its color, but the colors evolve as you weave. The red striped pattern on my first silk bracelet evolved because of the silk itself.

On the right side, I began my Whitney and Willa Wrap Bracelet. I was intimidated to try my first-ever beaded bracelet, but thankfully the kit comes with super detailed online instructions! I struggled a bit with getting a feel for the right amount of tension I needed when beading the rows, and as a result I had some loose rows that I undid (and created a knotted mess). But once I got a feel for the tension, it was smooth sailing. I’m still working on this project, though, and will post a photo once it’s complete!

When I was done weaving my first silk bracelet, I simply loosened the tension on the loom and moved the warp so that my bracelet was on the back side of the loom, leaving me with clean warp on which to begin my second silk bracelet.

To finish the bracelet I did a half hitch knots through each warp on both ends, and then once I cut the bracelet off of the warp, I sewed it to felt backing, sewed on two o-rings and a button, and did a half hitch knots with silk thread around the two o-rings.

The silk really makes my bracelets pop! I could weave silk all day, even if to just watch the colors evolve. Also, in looking at the bracelets, it’s clear to me that they are, albeit functional, art–they are wearable tapestries!

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

Struggles and Success

I’m done with my first tapestry! It’s a colorful little piece, and, despite a few struggles along the way since my last post, I think it came out quite nice! I absolutely love the way the colors on the silk yarn evolve and add depth with each pass.

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The finished piece!

Oh, about those struggles…let’s back up a bit:


As I experimented with the slit technique, I noticed that there were vertical gaps between the colors, like below between the purple and orange:

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Mirrix has a blog post about how to prevent this “pulling-in” from happening. I think the biggest reason this was happening with my piece was that I wasn’t bubbling enough! I’m guilty as charged when it comes to beating the wefts immediately down with my fork, and didn’t realize how essential bubbling is in order to ensure that there is enough weft.

As I continued my piece above the slits, ensuring that I bubbled, the gaps became less noticeable. I was on a roll, and then, this happened:

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Yikes! My warp broke! Was I too aggressive with the fork? I don’t really know what happened, but I was determined to keep weaving. Heddles were getting loose–one even fell off–and the warp to the right of the broken warp started to get loose, too.

I found a YouTube video by Rebecca Mezoff that addresses what to do when your warp breaks:

My warp, though, broke above the shedding device, and in the example Rebecca uses in the video, the warp broke down closer to the tapestry. So, I had to get a little creative! Essentially, I took a new piece of warp and tied it to the broken warp using a square knot, added a new heddle to replace the one that fell off, loosened the tension, tied the other end of the piece of new warp towards the bottom of the broken warp with another square knot, and re-tensioned the loom.

After doing this, my “new” warp was still a bit loose, as was the warp to the right of it, but I was able to delicately and carefully continue my tapestry until I ran out of yarn. I had originally envisioned a larger tapestry, but maybe my piece was telling me that this was what it needed to be.

For my next tapestry, I’d like to try Mirrix’s Texture and Sett Wall Hanging project. I LOVE the happy, bright turquoise color, and it utilizes my favorite technique, hatching.

Stay tuned!

*I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

 

New Beginnings

It’s been a while since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been weaving, though I’ll admit I’ve been slow; life has been busy, including multiple vet appointments for the yarn-stealing cats, and a sick baby (don’t worry, though, she’s feeling much better, and the cats are doing fine)!

I ran out of yarn, and wanted to continue my tapestry with a new technique, though I have found that I LOVE hatching, and suspect it might be a staple technique for me!

I watched Mirrix’s super helpful Tapestry Sampler Class* video, which explains how to start new weft threads and how to do several techniques. I chose a new technique to utilize as I continue my tapestry: slit.

I added my FARO yarn and hand-painted Mulberry silk yarn, continuing with my color palette save for a pop of red (can you tell I’m still longing to see the colors of fall outside my window?)

I began the slit technique, which seems simple enough compared to hatching, though my lack of experience still shows through at times–see my bare warp below:

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One thing I love about weaving is that if you make a mistake you can simply undo it and move on!

As the year winds down and 2019 is days away, I’m thinking about how thankful I am for what 2018 has brought me: it’s the year I became a mom. It’s also the year I discovered my new hobby of tapestry weaving.

I’m thankful for my daughter, for my husband, for my friends and family, and for my yarn-stealing kitties. And last but not least, I’m thankful for the weaving community for embracing my entrance into their world.

Here’s to whatever new beginnings are in store for the new year!


*If you purchase the Tapestry Sampler Class through the link in this post, you’ll automatically get 20% off the price of the class! Or, you can use discount code shannonTC20 when purchasing the class through the Mirrix online store.

Terms & Restrictions: Discount cannot be applied to past purchases (no exceptions). Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts. Can only be used once per customer. This class cannot be purchased outside of the U.S. and Canada. 

 *I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

 

Every Artist was First an Amateur

Even though the New England landscape outside my window is blanketed in snow, I choose the colors of fall for my first tapestry: forest green, golden yellow, burnt orange (E would better recognize them as pureed peas, summer squash, sweet potato).

Armed with the books “Tapestry Weaving” by Kirsten Glasbrook and “Tapestry 101” by Kathe Todd-Hooker, I begin trying the hatching technique. I use my three colors, going back and forth between them, moving my shedding device up and down.

I keep notes to remind myself of what colors I’ve already woven and whether the shedding device needs to be up or down when I resume weaving–I’m forced to weave in short bursts, often in the middle of a pass, due to my cats playing with the loose yarn, and needing to attend to my baby, E, who at 10 months old is an adorable Tasmanian Devil. When I return, my yarn is often a tangled mess.

I insert a piece of paper between the front and back warps so that I can better see the warps I’m working with. I’m hoping this will help with the mistake I keep making, of weaving the yarn behind the warps I’m supposed to weave it through, like the below:

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Oops!

When I get into a rhythm, hatching, which feels a bit like a puzzle, is relaxing. The yarn moves like roots crawling upward, and I find it satisfying to witness the tapestry evolving.

My husband and I order Chinese food for dinner, and in my fortune cookie is the following: Every artist was first an amateur. 

 *I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

 

Warping, U-Turns, and Heddles, Oh My!

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed as I stare at my Little Guy loom, unassembled, its various pieces staring back at me waiting for me to make a move. Thankfully, Mirrix* has a plethora of resources to take me step by step through the process of assembling my loom and creating my very first tapestry, including Set Up and Warping Instructions. I download and study the “Easy Warp” method PDF book, watch Claudia’s amazingly detailed YouTube video, and begin.


After no less than 30 minutes, I’m done warping — that is, after numerous curse words, second guessing the direction of my U-turns, and asking myself, “Wait–am I supposed to go around my loom or through my loom?!” Since I was armed with literal step-by-step instructions and visuals (even a video!) from Mirrix, I arrogantly assumed I’d catch on right away, but it seems that warping is an acquired skill. There is a rhythm to it, though, and once I found my rhythm, it felt almost natural; I have the feeling weaving is the same way.

Now on to the heddles! Putting them on seems simple enough in theory, but I keep crossing them (maybe because my DVR recording of the latest “Real Housewives” episode is on in the background, or maybe because I keep checking the baby monitor for signs that E is waking from her nap). This Mirrix post about Heddle Troubleshooting assures me that crossing heddles is the most common mistake made by beginners. Phew! The post also says not to watch TV while putting on your heddles in order to avoid making mistakes…oops!

The good news is that I’ve successfully warped and heddled (is that a word?) my loom! As if on cue, E is stirring in her crib. Alas, I will begin weaving my tapestry another day.

 *I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.

I am the New Weaver on the Block

It is a warm, sunny fall day in New England. Dishes are done, laundry is folded and put away, my baby daughter is napping (finally!), my cats are snoozing on the couch, and an episode of “Chopped” is on in the background as I write this. I’d spent the earlier part of the day playing with my daughter, E, feeding her, changing her, consoling her, snuggling her, and sneaking a bite of a granola bar one-handedly when the opportunity arose.

I’ve been a stay at home mom for a couple of months now after being laid off from my corporate job. Moments to myself are seldom and treasured (never before being a mom had I considered a quick shower to be “me time”). I recently had the crazy idea that I wanted to start a hobby, something to feed my creative side. I’d love to say I’ll spend E’s nap times teaching myself how to become the next “Chopped” champion, but I practically need a recipe to make toast without burning it (though to be fair, our toaster oven is a bit quirky). I wanted a hobby that would feed my creative side, distracting me from the empty time suck of Facebook notifications, text messages and alerts that it’s my move in Words With Friends.

After a bullet list of all of the possible creative hobbies I could think of, the answer to my new hobby, it seemed, had been in front of me all along. My friend, Elena Zuyok, and her mom, Claudia Chase, own and run a loom company, Mirrix Looms—a household name to tapestry artists and hobbyists alike. I’ve always admired the vibrant tapestries hanging on the walls of Claudia’s house, but had never considered trying to make one of my own until now.

And so, I decided to venture on my own weaving journey, utilizing Mirrix resources along the way.* My first homework assignment is to read the Mirrix post, So You’ve Decided to Learn to Weave. Now What? Another post, 10 Reasons Tapestry Weaving Should Be Your New Hobby, further solidifies that no, I will not be the next “Chopped” champion, but I will be one of the newest members of the weaving-as-a-hobby community: the New Weaver On the Block.

We sleep, but the loom of life never stops, and the pattern which was weaving when the sun went down is weaving when it comes up in the morning. — Henry Ward Beecher

 *I may receive compensation for Mirrix sales made through links on this blog.
Featured photo by Shug411 on Instagram