Monday, October 28, 2013

Taking things slow again: more ramblings about grief

It's amazing how little can set off grief again.  Actually, sometimes it's still weird calling it "grief," because that just brings to mind me sobbing or being pointedly sad about something to do with missing DeForest.  Grief also just plain means things that are often associated with depression: a general lack of energy, or inability to make myself do things, or an anxiety spiral in my head that leads nowhere.

I had a meeting on Friday morning.  I got a couple fewer hours of sleep, had to beat back my anxiety about not having much to say about my progress (it's always hard, because others in the lab are doing so much more, to not freak out about how small my accomplishments in the lab are), had to get myself to the office, and had to sit through a 1.5 hour meeting while trying not to make it obvious that I just didn't care what anyone else was saying at the time.  It's actually an amazing contrast from before - I used to be there, asking probing questions about things I didn't understand, making sure I knew what was going on, offering feedback, and Friday I just sat there, quietly, doodling, not wanting to ask questions because I just wanted it to all be over with and trying to suppress the shame of that.  I know I love science somewhere in me, but I also know I just need a break right now, to give it time for that love to come back and to allow me to focus on the things in my life that are bringing me joy.

And even though, objectively, this one meeting wasn't that much - before grief, it would just have been a minor "urgh" in my life, but no big deal - it's made me much slower for days now.  I meant to post to the blog on Friday again (even had a post with pictures already in it!  Just needed to add a few words!), but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Saturday was an all day SCA event.  Sunday was a fencing demo at the library and a visit to the local fiber faire, but that only took a few hours and I thought that maybe I would post Sunday evening, but I was exhausted by 7 pm and couldn't bring myself to care.

Today, I didn't wake up until almost 1 pm, and barely have managed to feed myself today, and spend some time dinking around the internet.  I didn't feel like posting something randomly happy, so I thought I would talk about grief again.

Grief isn't just sadness, though there's a hell of a lot of that mixed in there, too.  Grief is being taken down and kicked backwards by stupid little things, and it's impossible from the outside to tell what will really hurt someone's progress and what won't, because it all has to do with a weird balance of how much internal emotional energy different things take to do.  Want to learn a little bit about how much effort it takes to do things?  Read this article on the Spoon Theory.  It does a good job of explaining one side of why some things take so much energy to accomplish.

I was talking with one of my friends today about needing a break from work (I use school and work as the same concept, because they are for me right now), and she said something I thought was great:

Me: Before [during the first year of grief], I would work until I cried and couldn't do so much, but I was crying and feeling shitty all the time, so feeling shitty at work didn't make that much of a difference. Now, I'm at the point where if I take things really, really slowly and don't do much, or just do the things which give me energy (crafting, gaming, seeing certain friends), I can actually feel somewhat okay for periods of time. School messes with that and is adding stress, and I can't cope as well with it for now. It's kind of weird that I could handle work more when everything was worse. Before, work made things worse, but things were already so bad that I didn't notice much, and in fact, sometimes things were fun at my job, so that was nice and a relief occasionally. Now, it just exhausts me and the difference in myself is much more noticeable.

Friend: It's not really very strange. Most of the time, work is routine enough that you can get into a zone. You still feel like shit, but you have enough responsibility that you can keep from crying. A lot of people will work through the first stages of grief and then need a break from work when they start healing enough to start taking an interest in the things they used to like to do. It tends to get in the way of this new step in your recovery where there's still a lot of pain, but you've healed enough to want to find fun in things and remember how to live. I'm glad you're healing enough to be open to that step - it's one of the hardest steps in the grief process. Some people never open up to that step.

She put it so well: there's still a lot of pain, but I've healed enough to want to find the fun in things and remember how to live.  That is how I've felt the last couple months - that I just need a break from everything, to just do the things I love so I can slowly build up the energy to tackle my chores and eventually be able to do my job again.  I'm doing the hard work of remembering how to live right now, and that needs to be my focus.

All of this talk about things being bad, about how I've been absent from the blog and not caring about a lot of things because of the effort of one meeting - I also want to make clear that I'm amazed at myself and my progress, too.  Because I've done a hell of a lot these last few days.  I went to an SCA event that I remember from last year as having mostly just hung out and occasionally sobbed through.  This Saturday?  I went, and I laughed a lot.  I didn't fence, but I got training done for becoming a marshal.  I made two items for my not-yet-opened Etsy shop, trying new things that I think are awesome.  Sunday: I went to a fencing demo and actually did a few passes and had a good time, and then went and bought myself a new sheepskin (oh my god it's so furry and wonderful), and then I felt like crap all evening, but I also did my first ever leatherworking with a stone inlaid.  (It's quite an adorable pouch, if I do say so myself.  I hope to take pictures soon and post them.)  

So the last few days have been in many ways harder again, and I'm having to take a lot of deep breaths and remind myself a lot to TAKE... IT... SLOW... and try to let go of anxiety.  It works in some moments, and not in others.  It's hard to remember to take each day as it comes, and to try and enjoy what I can each day.  But it's helping.  I'm meeting with a student advocate on Wednesday to discuss my options for temporarily leaving school (like a medical leave).  I'm hoping that meeting goes well.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nerdy links day!

It's been really fun the last couple weeks, starting to save all the cool things I find on the internet in order to share them here (and not on just random posts on Facebook, though to some of my friends there these will be repeats).  I've started to save enough links to start to divvy them up by topics, so some links days might have themes!  Today's links are all to things I find awesome in a nerdy or intellectual way.  :)

The first link is to this great video that shows the science of motion beautifully.  It is posted by the Facebook group Beautiful Engineering.  It's under two minutes long, and I promise you it will mesmerize you after the first 25 seconds (which are needed to show the set-up).

For my weaving and/or historical friends - here's a post about an extant piece of tablet weaving from 13th or 14th century Estonia!  Actually, now that I'm looking around the site more, I might just need to keep reading other posts, too...

Ever wanted to know what a man's face looks like in 457 mph wind?  Well, now you can!  "Test conducted in 1946 where a human subject was exposed to blasts of air. The test was performed at NASA Langley Research Center's 8 ft High Speed Tunnel."  

I found this video from a fantastic website by Randall Monroe, the creator of the XKCD webcomic ("a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language").  The website is called What If?, and every Tuesday he answers a question from his readers about a random topic in the most scientific way possible, going through his thought process along the way.  I love reading it.  This particular video was linked to from the question "If winds reached 500 mph, would it pick up a human?"  His answer is thorough and amusing, as always.  I strongly recommend this site - though possibly not when you have a hard deadline coming up soon, because it will suck you in for a few hours.  :)

Heeheehee... this next one just makes me giggle.  You can now Rickroll someone in Klingon.

People who have toddlers in their lives and love to play D&D!  This dad made up a way to DM with your toddler.  I love this article.  It sounds like tons of fun.

This next article just blows my mind.  There are languages that exist that don't have concepts for numbers.  What??  It's just so interesting!  Go read and have your mind blown.  

This tumbler site also makes me laugh.  It's entirely about people in movies/TV/etc that don't know how to pipette correctly.  Scientist friends of mine - oh, go check out thatsnothowyoupipette for lots of laughter.  Also, if anyone is interested who doesn't know how to pipette, I will gladly point out what people are doing wrong.  Heehee.

Michigan now has a Dark Sky Park!!  How neat!  I wonder if I'll get my butt in gear to go see this sometime.  You know, like how I got my butt in gear to go camping on Lake Michigan, like I was going to do last month...

Finally, I just want to give another shout-out to my friend's Kickstarter for her movie!  If you like indie fantasy films, check it out - it's almost funded, and she would love your help.  The screenshots all look amazing (check some of them out in the Updates section of the Kickstarter, or on her Facebook Page for the film).

:)  ~Kelly
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More thoughts on blog updates

Meh, that's enough blog updates for today, unless I get really inspired later tonight.  What do you think so far?

I added a picture to the sidebar.  I think it's an awesome picture of me in my fencing gear.  Then again, you can't see my face, and maybe it's weird for people showing up to look for crafty things to see a picture of me holding a fencing blade.  Any thoughts?

I changed the sidebar description a little, added a link to my Pinterest boards, and updated the labels gadget to the "cloud" tags form, which I think is *much* prettier and more functional (not this stupidly long list on the side with numbers next to them).  I can't express how much I love this tagging form.  The frequency I use the tag shows up in the size of the word, which is both visually appealing and able to give information quickly (I can see what kinds of things I post about without having to do lots of searching!).  And, it's so compact - I can add as many tags as I want, and don't have to worry about that loooong list of tags cluttering up the sidebar more and more.  I could go on.  :)  Here's where I got the code.  Thank you!!

I've also been working to add tags to all my posts the last few days, so that things are easier to find!

Changes that still need to be made:
- actually add stuff to the "about me" tab (currently called Craftling Lore).  Pictures of my cats, some tidbits on projects I like to do and my skills, maybe...
- research blog headers, and make a nice header that shows off some of my crafts and what this blog is about
- make the darn top of the sidebar and top of the posts bar LINE UP.  I hate that the date doesn't have a background, so it looks like the posts start a centimeter below the sidebar.  Grr so ugly.  I probably need to switch templates in order to do this, which *might* mean that I lose all the changes I've made today.  That's annoying, but something I can fix more quickly now (especially as I know how to backup my template data).
- see if I can figure out how to fiddle with the spacing between gadgets on the sidebar.  I don't like the large gap between some of them, but couldn't find <br> in a glance through the template html, so it must be more complicated than that.
- add a "blogs I follow" list to the sidebar.  I follow a lot of blogs, and some of them really give me great ideas and a lot of joy in reading, and I think I should share that with others!

Those are all my thoughts for now.  I have a bunch of my favorite blogs who also use blogspot open in tabs, to look at for inspiration on further changes.  If you have any ideas, please leave a comment letting me know!  Thanks!  ~Kelly
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Doing some blog updates

Hi there!  I'm messing with some things on the blog layout today.  It's making me re-learn HTML that I haven't touched since running my Neopets guild all through high school (that guild was so much fun).  I haven't really been satisfied with the blog layout since I made it - it's not the prettiest thing in the world - and I'm slowly working on fixing that.  It might be a while until it's really fixed, but there's a lot of learning and tweaking to do before then, so I'm okay with that.

Anyway, I don't know how to upload photos to use on the blog if I don't put them in a post, and I don't currently have a photo site like Picasa.  I'm playing with adding an image to the sidebar.  In order to do so, I'm going to upload the image on this post, and then have the image url to use.  Does anyone have a better idea of how to get images onto the internet?

Nevermind, it just occurred to me to search how to upload photos to blogger.  Well, that's done for now.  On to the next fiddly bit to learn...  ~Kelly
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More baby SCA clothes!

A few months ago (wow, back in April), I made a couple sets of baby/toddler SCA clothes for some dear friends of mine.  They have a young one and very little help taking care of her, so I hadn't seen them much and I was hoping to lure them out to SCA events by bribing them with clothes for the wee one.  It worked!  I saw them at two local revels this summer!

I made baby Viking garb, since it seemed the easiest - just a couple T-tunic shift dresses, and a little apron dress to go over them.  The unseen seams (side seams, etc) are all made using the sewing machine, but I hand-stitched the hems.  There are a few reasons for this: first, because I like hand stitching, and it was calming and nice to do so on something so small - very quick to see fun results!  Second, it made the simple garments that much prettier.  And finally, it's so the hems would be very easy to take out.  I deliberately made the clothes adjustable so that they would hopefully fit her for a long time.  The hems are HUGE.

First, a little apron overdress!  It's made out of a random orange fabric I have in my stash.  I have no idea what this is made of.  It feels like a synthetic.

Second, a linen underdress!  The neckline is finished with blanket stitch.  I love blanket stitch - it keeps edges from fraying so well, and it's so pretty and easy!  You can see how huge both the bottom and arm hems are.

Another underdress!  This one is a linen/rayon mix.

Finally, pictures of the wonderful girl!  The clothes are still a little large.  The neck of the tunic can be pinned with a safety pin or viking brooch, but it had to be made large to fit over her head.

Who can resist that face?  I sure can't.  :)  ~Kelly
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Struggling with questions

I've been struggling again, the last few days, about what to do with my life right now.

Gavin Aung Than over at Zen Pencils has illustrated part of a speech made by Bill Watterson.  I want you to take a moment to go read it before finishing the rest of this post.

I've been thinking over the past few years about how my ideal life would be something in which I could do something with science part time (actually lab rat research [love working with my hands at a bench], or translation into clinics, or working with STEM outreach for young people...) and be able to do my crafting/art part time.  I don't need *tons* of money.  I don't want the six figure (or near that) paychecks that could come with having a full time research position.  I can happily make do with a lot less than that.  It would mean sacrificing on some things - like having my dream home, etc - but it would be worthwhile in order to be happy and be able to spend lots of my time focusing on the things that matter to me.

I know this dream fluctuates some, depending on circumstances: for instance, I was thinking that I was willing to do a full time job in order to be able to support DeForest and give him good things in life.  I struggled with the idea that I would have to be the breadwinner in that relationship for a while, but I also wanted to be able to give him wonderful things, as he gave me wonderful things.  Being with him made me realize just how wonderful having a stay-at-home partner was.  Just him doing a couple hours every couple days - most of the grocery/goods shopping, the laundry, the dishes, cleaning the bathroom - made it so that when I came home, we could have fun together.  I did a lot of the cooking, but didn't have to do the dishes.  I swept a lot, tidied things, and occasionally vacuumed, but he did the scrubbing of the kitchen and bathroom when it was needed.  It worked out so great.  There's a part of me that would love to be that partner - that I could help support my person by doing some of the household chores, and making things for the family all the time, and making sure that people were happy.  I love making the people I love happy.

I get so many conflicting views on this from people.  Some people encourage me and say that it's completely possible, and I should work on following this.  Other people scoff and say "don't we all wish something like that?" and imply that I should grow up and live in the real world.  But I follow a lot of bloggers, and many of them are making a living by crafting and blogging, and I wonder if I could do that, too.  I wonder if there are part time positions for people who are highly trained in science and engineering.  I wonder at the idea of having a partner who would be happy to support me being happy, and then I wonder at the idea of putting part of my dream life on the idea of finding a partner who had the mix of steady paycheck and free time for me (I know they exist.  I know people in my life who have just 40 hour a week jobs that pay well and have flexibility).  I see comics and messages like the one above, and I want to shape my life to be the one I want.  My partner dies, and this is just solidifies - if life can be so short, I should live it doing the things I love and being with the people I love.  I understand buckling down for some periods of time and working hard to reach a goal - I worked my ass of in undergrad, the last two years of it very unhappily, too, to get meet my goals of having that degree.

Just... a lot of questions right now.  Grad school sucks sometimes - a lot of the time, right now.  Grief sucks the majority of the time.  Together... it's hard to figure out what the answers are, and what emotions are coming from what.  Maybe I do just need to take a break for a while, and things will start to make sense.  For a time, at least.  I do understand that these existential "what to do with my life" questions don't ever fully go away.  I'm hopefully meeting with a student advocate soon to chat about my options - a friend recommended her as being awesome and really supportive of all choices, including leaving if it's the right option for me.  I just don't know what's going on, and it's scary.

Maybe I'll go make a skirt or something now, to take my mind off of things.  First, food.  Need to eat today.  Food is good.  K.  Yep.  Getting up now.  Going to try and make today enjoyable, at least.  ~Kel
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Baby SCA Tabbard

Hi!  I've now officially been sick for over a week.  Woo.  It's not so awful anymore, thankfully, but I'm still coughing and producing more mucus than a person should be able to, ugh.  I got a lot of little things done today, though!  I made some nummy food (and took pictures, heh - I might put them up on the blog), refilled the hand soap bottle in the bathroom, and added tags to all my blog posts!  You can now find blog posts by topic on the sidebar.

A friend of mine is having a baby in December (so soon!), and I made her her first piece of baby SCA clothes.  *grin*  It is a little baby tabbard!  It's based on her clan's (household) crest.

The two sides of the tabbard are identical.  I made it entirely from fabric in my stash.  As I had very little black left and plentiful red, I lined and bound the edges with red fabric.  I marked out crenelations evenly on a piece of paper with a ruler, and then cut them out of the black fabric.  The red bottom half I left a little too long.  I laid the black crenelated edge over the red fabric, overlapping them a bit, and then used a tight zigzag stitch to sew the black crenelations down onto the red piece.  Then I used a tight zigzag with white thread to sew the star down over it, using several pins to hold the points of the star where I wanted them to be.  I made the front and back pieces identically and sewed them together at the shoulders.  Since this was so small, I figured it would be really annoying to try and turn inside-out, especially through the shoulder region.  So I sewed the lining piece to the outside wrong sides together close to the edge, and then bound the edges with bias tape I made from the same red fabric.

I also made inkle woven trim for the ties!  Instead of a white star (which would require pick-up weaving and a band that is way too thick for ties, anyway), I bound both edges in white.  Not only does this tie in all three colors of the crest, it also meant that I could use a white weft and have it blend with the edges.

If I remember correctly, here's a pattern for how I warped the trim.  The first two rows are your heddled and unheddled rows (the other four are to visualize the pattern on paper).  Start in the upper left corner as your first strand (either heddled or unheddled - doesn't matter as long as you continue to alternate throughout), and then zigzag back and forth across to the right on the first two rows.

This was a really fun and quick project to make!  Aren't baby SCA clothes adorable?  ~Kelly/Birke
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Links Day!

I really enjoy it when some of the blogs I follow do "here's what's cool on the internet" links days.  If I enjoy reading them on others' blogs, then surely some will enjoy reading them here!  I did a links day last week, and I'm going to continue them periodically.  I come across so many cool ideas, artists, products, videos, messages and more all the time.  Here are the things that my crafty, nerdy, feminist, liberal self found awesome this week on the internet.

This amazingly detailed post of how a gorgeous dragon-wrapped pot was made!

A sleeping bat knitting pattern!

A how-to on making a beautiful simple leaf crown.

A great video about the messages pointed at boys about gender issues:

Glamazons vs The Curse of the Chainmail Bikini!  It's a Kickstarter for "a campy card game take down of the visual depiction of female warriors throughout nerdy pop culture."  It looks pretty entertaining.

If you like the Game of Thrones TV adaptation (or even if you hate it, but are familiar with the TV show), you'll find this Bad Lip Reading hilarious.  I've seen it several times now and it's still making me giggle.

And last, but most importantly: A friend of mine is making a short indie fantasy film!  She's a really talented artist and made most of the costumes herself.  Her Kickstarter needs a little more help, so you should check it out!  More information, including a lot of stills from the film, are showing up on her Facebook group about the movie.

:)  ~Kelly
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Basketweave/Baltic Patterns and Notes

This post has more pictures of basketweave/baltic pick-up inkle weaving I have done, along with their patterns and notes of things I learned while making them.  If you want to learn more about how to do this kind of weaving, look at my how-to post!  That post also explains better how to read the patterns.

Let's jump right in, shall we?
Order of the Dragon's Heart

This weaving is based on the Midrealm award of the Dragon's Heart, which is given to those who have performed services on behalf of the Middle Kingdom above and beyond service normally expected of subjects of the Crown.  I did a pattern of inverted hearts.  Putting all the hearts facing the same direction would create floats that were too large between the hearts.  I couldn't find a pattern I was happy with at the time when doodling the hearts in other directions and adding decorative details between the hearts.  

You can see the floats on the backside of the weave on the rolled-up portion.  Also, I like how the checkerboard pattern mimics the green dragon scales of the award.
Dark green is bared threads.  Pale green is dropped threads.  Continue inverting the hearts over and over again.
I wish DeForest were here.  He had a Dragon's Heart... I would probably gift it to him, if he thought he could use it.  Miss you, love.

Award of the Purple Fret

The Award of the Purple Fret is a Midrealm award given for long and devoted service to a group, office, or kingdom.  It is the first kingdom award given for service - the Dragon's Heart is a higher level award.  I treated the purple lines of the award as all in one plane - in order to show the overlapping of the lines, the design would have had to be much bigger.  I also needed to put a small decorative element in between the frets so that the floats would not be too big on the backside of the weave.  As you can see, it worked quite well!

The thread looks a bluish in the photo - it is indeed a deep purple.
Two repetitions of the pattern.
Note:  it's not shown here, as I didn't take a picture of the ends of the weaves, but I usually start and end my weaves with a section that is plain weave (no dropped or picked-up threads).  This is to make sure I can get the tension correct.  If you don't want this, I would still recommend starting with a section that is plain weave - you can always take it out of the weave when you're finished.  If you decide to leave it in, make sure you add a similar plain weave section to the other end of your weave if you want it to have that kind of symmetry.

Celtic Pattern

This is a Celtic pattern I jotted down from looking at a random inkle woven belt on deviant art.  I would ask that if you weave this, please don't do it for profit.  I have no idea if it's an original pattern of the artist or if this is a common celtic pattern (anyone know?).  If it is their original work, I wouldn't want others to profit off of it.  I wish I had a link to the inspiration for this to post, but I've lost it.

Both sides of the pattern.  You can see the pattern starting to repeat at the bottom - the entire weave is ~3 repetitions.
One complete repetition.  Start immediately at the top again after you finish the last row.  Or be more creative and find a way to flip the design so the second repetition is flipped!

Kingdom of Artemisia

The Kingdom of Artemisia is one of the 19 Kingdoms of the Knowne World in the SCA.  It is located in Utah, Montana, southern Idaho, and western Colorado and Wyoming.  I am currently challenging myself to try and make inkle weaving patterns based on all the 19 Kingdoms (which I heard might be becoming 20 Kingdoms soon).  This is the first weave I've done with the pattern threads roughly twice the thickness of the background and weft.  I like the result!  

The far right is the front of the pattern, with the backside laying next to it going the same direction.
This was a fairly simple weave to do.  I originally thought to lengthen the yellow triangles - have them be 1, 3, 5, 3, 1 in length, not 1, 2, 3, 2, 1.  But then I was doing a lot more manipulating of the threads (picking up and dropping them) because they didn't line up with the checkerboard as well, and the results didn't look much better than the 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 triangles.  I believe this is because the yellow thread is bigger than the black, and it puffs up nicely.  So I changed it and went with the simpler 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 triangles.

Important: in order to get the flat top of the triangles, I had to pull up the 2nd and 4th threads.  After finishing each triangle, I would nudge the corner of my shuttle underneath the 2nd and 4th threads and pull them up along the flat top side of the triangle.  Looking at the pattern, you can see that I had to pick them up on that line (they would normally be on the other side of the weave).  If I didn't tug them all the way up after finishing each triangle, the top has a slight dip at the 2nd and 4th strands, because they naturally wanted to lie on the other side of the weave and lost some of their length coming through to this side.  A little tug, though, and the triangles had a flat top edge!

That's all for now.  ~Kelly/Birke
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cat photos!!!

So, I've been sick for 5 days now, with a decently nasty cold.  Most of the really bad ickiness has worn off, but I'm still stuffy and coughing and really, really tired.  All of this is to say, I've been lying around the house a lot, watching TV (almost done with the first season of Star Trek: TOS!), reading (currently re-reading a lot of Tamora Pierce books), and dinking around the internet in between forcing myself to keep myself fed and hydrated and in one piece.  When I lay down a lot, Gnome likes to sit on me and sleep.  It's adorable.  I happened to have my phone near me a couple times, so I took some pictures.  The internet clearly needs more cat pictures.  :)

First, a picture of Kobold, so he's not left out.  He likes to curl up on the sheepskin on his Papa's rocking chair.
Aw, look at that sleeping kitty.  This is Gnome, my girl.
Stretched out in the valley betwixt my lower appendages.
She turned over in her sleep and stretched out the other way.  Also, she's huge when she stretches out - she's stretching from my hips all the way to my feet. 
And she turned over again a while later.
Who can resits this little face???  My baby girl.  :)
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Inkle Pick-up Weaving: Basketweave/Baltic Basic How-To and Examples

A few months after I started inkle weaving, I started playing with more advanced inkle weaving techniques.  I managed to learn a couple of these techniques from piecing together information from the internet - mainly, I learned about two methods.  

The first was the stripes method of pick-up, which I'm not displaying in this post (I'll try to remember to take pictures of my trial with the stripes method and post them).  

The second method was the basketweave method, which I've also seen called the baltic method.  This creates a checkerboard of one color against a solid background in the plain weave (without pick-up).  It is woven by weaving two strands of background color between each strand of pattern color.  Below, I show an example that would give a checkerboard of 11 pattern strands - 6 in one layer, 5 in the next.  I've marked the pattern chart with H for heddle strands and U for unheddled strands (though, really, you could flip this - it's not important).  This type of staggered graph paper is inkle weaving pattern paper, inspired by Anne Dixon - it shows how the strands truly come together to form your pattern in a plain inkle weave (without pick-up).  If you follow the pattern from left to right, zigzagging between the H and U levels, you can see it's green white white green white white green white white green... etc.  One pattern strand, two background strands, repeat.

An important note for weaving with this method:  You want to make sure that you have at least two or three pairs of strands (H and U) on either side of your basketweave (...probably at least three).  This is because you will be dropping and picking up strands, and you need the extra on the edges so that your shuttle has something to hold onto - otherwise, your edges get really messy, really quickly (I found this out the hard way).  Also, your weft thread is going to match the color of your background, because it needs to blend into the background color when you drop pattern threads below it.  You can make the outside edge of your pattern pure background color, so your weft blends into the edges, or make it a contrasting color, if you like the look of the weft color showing at the edges

Then, to make the pick-up pattern, you just use *regular* graph paper, not inkle pattern paper (like above), because you're only going to be manipulating the green strands, and those pattern strands make a regular checkerboard (squint at the above pattern and just look at the green strands - checkerboard, no?).  I made up an example of what this manipulation could look like below.  The dark green is the strands that you're going to show, and the white spots are where the strands are on the other side of the weave (they are below where the shuttle will pass).  The first five rows show what would happen if you do nothing, and just pass the shuttle through like normal.  Then, I start dropping strands - the pale green shows where the strands *would* be normally, but I'm dropping them to create a triangle effect.  The shuttle will pass above the dropped strands.  Then I drop an entire row after the triangle.  Then I pick up three entire rows, drop two rows, and pick up two more rows.  To make a solid row, you actually reach through and pick up the green strands from the lower set of strands and lift them up to pass the shuttle beneath them.

And that's most of what there is to basketweave/baltic pick-up weaving!  I do have a few more fiddly tips in the notes on my weaves below.  The opposite side of your weave will show the opposite pattern of green threads as the side you designed your pattern on.  One nice variation is to make the pattern threads of a thread that is twice the thickness of the background threads - they pop out much more.  I just made my first weave using larger pattern threads a couple weeks ago.  I'll try to remember to take photos soon and post them.

Now I'm going to show you two of the weaves that I made using the basketweave/baltic method.  The first one is inspired by the Middle Kingdom's fencing award, the Cavendish Knot.

This was one of the first big pick-up projects I did, and there were two main things I learned from this.  

The first: because of the way that warp strands are longer/taller than they are thick (which is why the inkle weaving pattern paper has rectangular boxes instead of square boxes), it took some playing to figure out how to make the horizontal and vertical bands roughly the same width.  If you look closely at the portion in between the cavendish knots, where there's a cross, you can see that it is four wide one way (the long arm) and three wide the other way (short arm).  Perhaps you could make this closer to a 1:1 ratio if you used a weft strand that was much skinnier than your warp pattern (green) strands, because then they wouldn't lengthen as much.  I haven't tried doing that yet.  You'd still need to have a weft strand that matched the color of the background.

The second thing I learned is that you should be careful to make any of your floats (the name for the long strands that are dropped or picked up - either a completely solid green line along the length of the weave or a completely dropped [white/pale green in the pattern] line) only about 5 long at their longest - though you can perhaps get away with 6 or 7.  This is because they get really loose and are able to snag on things if they aren't sewn down.  

You can't see the floats (all dropped threads here, in the larger white portions of this weave), because I sewed a green linen backing on to the weave to protect them all.  Sewing the floats down isn't hard - I did it on another one of my weaves (which I gave away... I'll try to see it and take pics of it) with the background thread and a needle, but it's more work when you're done weaving to finish the piece.  Long floats on the back of a piece also aren't important if you know you're going to be sewing the weave down onto cloth afterwards (trim on a bag or garment, for example).  This piece was given to a friend for the strap of a back sword sheath, so it was given a linen backing to give it extra durability, too.  

Pretty close up!  Though you can see one mistake there in the beginning, hmm...
This next piece is one of my most recent pieces.  This was a basketweave/baltic pick-up piece that was woven randomly - I just wove whatever I felt like weaving as I went.   A friend who is an expert in Viking research told me that it was what the Vikings appeared to do a lot in their weaves.  The need to make weaves and clothing symmetrical and with an even, continuing pattern is apparently an Anglo-Saxon trait.  Vikings just wove whatever they felt like weaving.  I must say, it's nice to do, not having to follow a pattern.

These are the same weave, but flipped over - compare the sides to see how the front and back differ!  They are laid out the same in each photo.
Also, I didn't notice this until after I'd cut it off the loom, but I wasn't paying attention to my tension with the weft... you can see how I ended up much looser than I started (one end is wider than the other). 

Pick-up weaving takes much, much longer than plain inkle weaving, but the results sure are neat!  I have more examples of advanced inkle weaving techniques, and I hope to put up more information on them.  :)  Please let me know if you have any questions, or tips on how this could be better explained - I'm hoping to run an advanced inkle techniques class at some point in the next year at a Pentamere SCA event...  writing these posts will hopefully make that easier to put together!
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Trying new things doesn't always work the first time...

Well, I tried yet another new inkle weaving technique today that did not go at all like planned.  Will tinker with it more soon...  Actually, I had two inkle weaves fail today.  Learned something each time, though.

I haven't posted in quite a while!  This post is in part to nudge myself into posting more.  I have a bunch of photos of my own things to post, and hopefully I'll start doing that with more regularity soon.

Until then, here are some awesome things I found on the internet!

This leatherworker uses curved lines to make leather look like bark - how neat is that idea?  I clearly need to look around this person's work more.

How INSANELY ADORABLE are these dice dragons????  The artist makes these out of a high quality sculpy clay, and does this full time.  Looking around the site, I can easily see why.  Wow, they are amazing.

Now, those of you who have extensively talked about fiber arts with me probably know this already, but I don't actually like to knit very much.  I know how (basic knit and purl, at least), but I much prefer to crochet (or sew or embroider or weave or spin or... a lot of other fiber arts).  That said, I just ordered a book of knit patterns, because they look that fantastic and unique.  They are also designed to be mostly small projects, so hopefully I could finish them before I get too bored!  Or just barter with some friends (hey, you make me this, I work leather for you...) to make them make me the projects.  Anyway, the author of this book is the author of the blog Tiny Owl Knits, and the book is called Woodland Knits.

Yeah, that's a scarf that looks like a birch tree.  I may have a nickname that means birch in German, and SCA heraldry with birch trees on it.  I may be getting slightly attached to everything surrounding birch trees.  You bet that this is one of the pattens I will be looking closely at making.  But there's so much more, and I've never seen patterns quite like them.

Another leatherworker that I've been following the work of for quite a while is the highly skilled Les Cuirs de Belfeuil, which means something in French.  *looks it up*  Hey, "cuirs" is "leathers" in French.  That makes sense.  Anyway, his work is spectacular, and I encourage you to poke around the albums on his Facebook page.  He does amazing things with tooling and inlaying of stones and fur.  Part of me really wishes I were in France so I could go watch him work and pester him with questions for a couple weeks.  It's amazing.

That's all for now!  Have a nice, er, 1 am on a Monday morning, folks.  I need to get to sleep...  ~Kelly
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