Saturday, August 06, 2005

Back on the Floor Loom & DragonCon

I've started back on the floor loom finally. I'm still having some pain in my calf that I don't think should be there so it's slow going. I'll be making an appointment soon to talk with my doctor about it. I'm thinking I may need another sonogram to see if the blood clot has broken up completely or not.

I'm also working on a crochet project for class. It's supposed to be a filet crochet curtain for my dining area to match the table runner, but I think I'm making it too long. I'll probably start over and cut off one row of the design. I need to start on two more projects as well and finish up my class notebook. I have until the end of November to complete everything.

I'm also starting a new class in a couple of weeks, Crafts and Art History. Looks like we'll be doing some pottery and papermaking and other crafts as well.

Over the Labor Day weekend, I'll be at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia. I'll be doing two one hour panels on Bryce for DAZ and helping out at the Art on Demand booth. I'm really looking forward to this as I've never been to DragonCon and wasn't able to go to SIGGRAPH for DAZ because I didn't have enough vacation days saved up since my hospital stay.

I also purchased an ostrich egg from The Ukrainian Gift Shop ( and am making up new dye jars today. I'm short on some of the dyes so ordered more of those as well. I'd forgotten how messy making the dyes was and my hands now look like a painter's cloth. They'll take a few days to slough off the skin that is dyed so until then I'll just have to walk around with dyed hands. I'm used to it though so tend to ignore it but I do get some odd stares from people. I'll start out doing some chicken and goose eggs in order to get back into it before even attempting to start on the ostrich egg.

That's it for now.

Shorah Y'all!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Go for Launch!

Well, NASA has announced that the Space Shuttle will launch on July 13, which is a real relief to all of us working the Shuttle and Station Programs. Even with the Shuttle grounded, there's been lots of work to do, like software to code, test, verify, deliver, and uplink. So we've been busy but it's so good to finally see this happening.

On the weaving front, sister Jessica has moved back in with me to attend a local community college after two years in Mississippi with sister Darlene and attending a CC there. She's going to try a weaving project after I finish my class projects.

Shorah Y'all!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tablerunner in process

I've finally made some progress on my tablerunner. I have the loom all dressed and about 30 inches of it woven. There's a flame stitch that started out from my misreading the treadling draft, but I liked it so continued with that for just over 15 inches, then switched to the correct treadling to get the Periwinkle design.

You can see more images of the process at my site (along with a better version of the photo above) - Tablerunner pics - click on Next until you reach the tablerunner10.html page.

I'm really enjoying working on the Schacht Table Loom especially since I purchased the stand. Since the loom is an older one, I had to buy a drill bit (already had the drill) and drill holes for the stand. I used a trick I've seen on different woodworking shows and placed tape on the drill where I needed to stop. Worked beautifully.

Shorah Y'all!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A little progress

I haven't posted in a while but have been keeping busy. I finally got the thread wrapped on the warping board (the first time I've used it since I got it for Christmas) and on to the loom. Tonight, I finished threading half of the heddles with 170 ends of a green Tencel. The other half is also green but should go faster. My mistake was tying the sections of the cross with the wrong thread and causing the warp threads to pull against it so it's taking longer to do this than it should. The weft will also be Tencel in a natural color. I'll be posting some pictures as soon as I use up the roll of film. I can't find the cord to connect the digital camera to the computer so can't use it yet.

I should be able to get back to my scarf on the floor loom soon. I bought more fishing weights to put on the #2 harness since it won't drop by itself. I'd love to let my brother-in-law get his hands on it to fix it.

On the home front, my birthday was last Wednesday - the big four-oh - and sister Jenny and two of her friends came to visit me this weekend. We went to the Kemah Boardwalk Sunday evening and they treated me to lunch and dinner. Sylvia helped me bring boxes in from the garage to unpack while Jenny and Colleen took a nap (the lazy bums!).

Shorah Y'all!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Looms and Gardening

Some of the members of the Weaving message list on Yahoo have been discussing how their looms have taken over their houses. Now I only have two looms, one is a floor loom that is in my bedroom while the new table loom is currently in my dining area but as soon as my stand comes in from Schacht, it too will go in my bedroom. The craft room is way too small to put the looms there and with the computer desks in the living room, I just couldn't handle having the looms in there as well.

Now on to the house. One of my coworkers gave me a $50 Home Depot Gift Card as a housewarming gift so I stopped by HD the other day but really didn't find anything I wanted then realized I could rent a tiller for the back yard. (Was that a run on sentence or what? :P ) I want to plant some wild flowers in the area where no grass is and it's too slow to do it manually. The flowers will be there as a temporary soil retainer until I can afford to really landscape the yard.

Whatever contractor they had lay down the grass did a terrible job. It's lumpy, with low and high spots that we keep tripping over. Plus, it's St. Augustine grass which I don't care for ... well, actually ... I don't care for grass at all. So I need to do a design for the yard that gets rid of as much grass as possible. Most of the bushes they put in front of the house will go as well but the forsythia bush and the live oak tree will stay (love oak trees). I also want to find a dogwood tree that will grow here. The ones I'm used to and love from Alabama just doesn't seem to like this area ... probably too "mushy" of a soil or something.

A pond is another thing I've always wanted to have and a swing and lots of flowers and maybe a small vegie garden as well. We'll see what happens.

Shorah Y'all!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Back to Weaving

Yesterday I stopped by the Mall of the Mainland here in Texas City. It's literally across the street from the development I just moved in to. I purchased a small Bible to fit in my purse and the gentleman at the counter invited me to the church meeting that they currently hold in the back of the store. The church my parents helped start back in the early 70s started in a storefront, so I just might go tomorrow.

Today I was up by 9:15 am but only because my boyfriend is a morning person and thinks that I should be up by then (I detest mornings). Anyway, he came over to see the new house then I headed out to La Porte after he left. Of course, now that I'm not in Clear Lake anymore, the trip is a lot longer than before. I was going to the Upstairs Studio where I get most of my thread and supplies for weaving. I needed some more heddles for the Schacht Table Loom I won on eBay and a floor stand for it. I also got some flat shuttles for the floor loom so I can return the one I borrowed from the University of Houston - Clear Lake. The studio also gives me a discount because I'm a student (woot!).

On the way, I stopped at the sporting goods store in Seabrook for some fishing weights. The #2 frame on the floor loom doesn't like to drop and it breaks the rhythm when I have to push it down manually. My brother-in-law is determined to fix that plus repair part of the base that UPS broke in transit. He thinks he can get it to work more smoothly and I sure hope he's right.

I need to decide on a final design for my pillows and get the warp strung up on the warping board. Of course, I still need to find my bobbins which are packed away somewhere in the garage. I purchased some 8/2 Tencel from Camilla Valley Farm, a Spruce Green and a Natural. I'm thinking I'll need to double up the warp at the sides for strength and am considering sleying two threads per reed. Otherwise the weave will be too loose and I'll be more likely to pull in too tightly.

For now, I need to work on a tutorial so the weaving will have to wait but I'm one step closer to getting back to it.

Shorah Y'all!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Deafening Silence ...

I'm not that fond of sports ... I do like playing soccer and volleyball (I have a wicked serve), but I don't like watching others play that much. I do however, enjoy watching a good game of golf.

Don't ask me why, I just do.

Somehow, the deafening silence before a swing followed by thunderous applause reminds me of a Shuttle launch.

You're standing there, just a few miles away from the launch pad which is lit with spotlights from all directions. It's about 3 or 4 am and the announcer comes over the speakers starting the final countdown. The murmur of the crowd stops and you can feel the tension crackling in the air around you. As the countdown continues, you see the engines and boosters flare to life, smoke begins to pour out from under the shuttle as the flames hit the water below. And finally, as "One" still echoes from the speakers, the vehicle slowly and majestically begins to lift from the pad.

The sound beats into your chest making it hard to breath but you still shout along with everyone else. It's a triumphant and glorious sound. As the shuttle continues its ascent, everyone holds their breath until the boosters separate. The sighs of relief are followed by more cheers and clapping. The sound of the rockets burning above you can still be heard. Your whole body is still throbbing from the sound waves that hit you from the launch itself and you find that you're crying. Thankful that the shuttle and occupants are safe but remembering those who didn't make it.

I wish I was there with them, winging my way to the Space Station, then back to the moon and on to Mars.

The journey must continue my friends. Man aches to learn, to journey, to explore. Don't let the dream die.

Shorah Y'all!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Searching for Family

Being restricted as to my activities, I found the geneology GEDCOM files I'd started several years ago. I have several geneology programs including Generations Family Tree from Sierra Home. Unfortunately, Sierra has dropped support for the program so I'll either throw it out or see if Half Price Books will give me a couple of dollars for it. I also have GenoPro Gold and Legacy and I think I'll stick with them.

After checking over the data and making some updates, I exported the GEDCOM file and sent it on to the The Oleszkiewicz Project. Of course, I have my Riggs family information in the file as well. I looked at a few records at the Ellis Island site and found a few family members listed so will need to add that information soon. I'm waiting on my mother to send me more information that she got after her mother's death last year and hopefully can get some from my father's sisters.

One of the most interesting family stories is of my Great-great-grandfather, Joseph Blachowski (1871-1910). According to my Grandmother, Joseph "disappeared" after his wife, Josephine Swiatecki, Jr. (1873-1929) bore him ten children. It was assumed he was dead until his youngest son Leon tracked him down through an insurance policy. He found that Joseph had left Josephine, moved east (to Ohio I think or Pennsylvania) and remarried, without having first divorced Josephine. The children of his second marriage were given the same names as the children of his first marriage.

On my father's side, there's the Great-Aunt who sold moonshine and the Great-great-Uncle who had Narcolepsy and was almost buried alive. The family thought he was dead and placed him on ice (literally) until he could be buried. At the gravesite, the coffin was opened for a final viewing upon which he sat up and looked around. Everyone fled except for the preacher who was too terrified to move.

On my mother's side, I'm Polish with a bit of French and Jewish, while I'm Cherokee, Irish, and German on my father's side. When my parents met, my father shaved once every two weeks - ever seen an American Indian with a beard? As he got older, he was finally able to grow a beard and mustache.

That's all for now.

Shorah Y'all!

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Cloth's the Thing

Let's talk about my obsession with weaving this time.

We take cloth for granted more often than not. We no longer have to make it ourselves or wait for weeks for a precious bolt of cloth to cross the country. We don't need to reuse worn out clothing to make quilts. We can buy clothes ready made or find cheap cloth at the local fabric store. Yet some of us still feel the need to weave cloth for blankets, pillows, scarves, and more.

I was hooked on weaving long before I ever got the chance to actually learn so when I found out that the Fiber Arts class I was taking would teach me how to weave, I was ecstatic. Halfway through the class, I decided that I had to have a loom of my own. I found some plans but the cost of the materials was more than I could afford, although cheaper than a purchased loom. I turned to eBay and found a homemade loom that I won the auction on. After putting it together, I started on a project only to have the threads keep popping, so I pulled the warp off and started on a scarf project using Wool-Ease yarn. My brother-in-law has done some tweaking on the frames, cords, and treadle tie-ups but is convinced he can make it better. The number 2 frame doesn't like to drop and I may need to add more weights to the bottom of it to help. The wooden dowel holding the pulleys seems to be too large and so doesn't turn well in the holes. Fixing it will have to wait until I finish the scarves and that won't happen until the blood clot in my leg is gone.

You can see the loom in my Weaving gallery.

On March 12th, I won another auction on eBay for a Schacht Table Loom. An older model than they currently sell, but still in good shape except for a crack on the right hand side of the castle that can be fixed. Plus, the levers are attached from right to left while I prefer from left to right. I've already purchased some natural and dark green 8/2 Tencel for pillow tops to be made on the table loom. This will also give me the opportunity to use the warping board my brother-in-law made me for Christmas last year.

It's extremely fascinating to watch the strands of warp thread slowly filling with the weft thread to create a pattern as you press the treadles or select levers to raise and lower the threads, then throw the shuttle from side to side.

Once I'm allowed to weave again, I'll post my progress on the scarves and pillow tops.

Shorah Y'all!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hardanger Lace

In the late 80's or early 90's, I was shopping at my favorite store in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. Patches & Stitches sells fabric for quilting but also carries supplies for canvas needlework and Hardanger Lace. I was intrigued with the lace and purchased a beginner's book, thread, fabric, and needles. My first piece was a small sachet from the book and I was hooked.

Hardanger comes from Norway, specifically from the Hardanger region, although it probably originated in ancient Persia and Asia. Hardanger is worked on an evenweave fabric using blanket stitches and kloster blocks with specialty stitches (such as picots and spiderwebs) worked in openings created by cutting away threads in the design.

You can see photos of the Hardange project I did for my last class in my Crafts gallery. If you'd like to try your hand at this wonderful craft, I highly recommend Hardanger Basics and Beyond and Hardanger Fundamentals Made Fancy by Janice Love. Nordic Needle also has some tutorials to follow where you can see how to do the stitches. Hardanger looks very complicated, but the basic stitches are very simple.

Kloster blocks are the base of the piece and are the first thing you do, followed by blanket stitches around the edge of the piece. These two stitches stabilize the fabric and provide a guideline for where to cut threads. On medium to large pieces, it's very important that you use a colored thread (sewing thread will do fine) to stitch loose guidelines every 10 to 20 threads so that each side matches up perfectly. Nothing is more frustrating than getting all the way around the piece only to discover that you're off by one stitch. You'll then have to check back along the stitches to find where you made the mistake. If you do have to redo stitches, don't reuse the thread you pulled out. By now it has lost its sheen and is a bit ragged. Let's assume you got all the kloster blocks and blanket stitches done without incident.

Next comes the scary part, cutting away the threads to create the openings in the piece. Use a sharp pair of small scissors for this to keep control of the situation, take a deep breath, take another one, check to make sure you're about to cut the right thread, take another deep breath, and cut the thread. See, that wasn't so bad, was it?

After the threads are cut, you're left with open areas on the fabric. The "bars" left between the spaces are wrapped into a round bar or woven. Any picots or dove's eyes are added while wrapping the bars. With the bars done, you can add other stitches, such as spider webs, eyelets, ships, and tulips, and add beads, silk ribbon embroidery, or other elements.

Once the piece is done, it's time to cut away the threads around the outside of the piece. This is as nervewracking as cutting the threads for the open areas, but patience and perserverance will win the day. Time to wash the piece and block it. When it's almost dry but still slightly damp, I like to place the piece upside down on a fluffy white towel and iron it to remove any wrinkles from the working and washing process.

Hardanger can be used on bedspreads, coasters, doilies, table runners, sachets, curtains, aprons, collars, and much more. Nordic Needle has some absolutely sweet Hardanger Angel Dolls for topping your tree at Christmas.

Why not give Hardanger a try? If you don't have a craft store near you, Patches & Stitches will send supplies to you as will Nordic Needle. If you live in the Clear Lake Area of Houston, Harbour Stitchery in League City has books, supplies, and classes (where I get my supplies).

Try something new today, you might surprise yourself.

Shorah Y'all!

Typing out the frustration

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I'm frustrated and need an outlet. It's not that I don't have plenty to do, I do, however, I'm under doctor's orders restricting me to light activity. This means no lifting/moving/pushing boxes (which means I can't unpack them), no weaving for a bit, no hanging things on the wall, no activity that could possibly cause what's left of the blood clot to move faster than it should before it is completely dissolved. I've got projects for my class to finish weaving, I'm surrounded by boxes that I can't do anything about, and working on things on the computer can only amuse me for so long before I go bonkers. All my needlework stuff is somewhere in boxes in the garage ... also needed for class projects, so no embroidery or cross stitching either.

So, my alternatives at the moment are ... finishing some 3D modeling projects, a bit of geneology research, washing some clothes, and harassing the cat. Oh, and updating the web site I maintain for a local girl's soccer club.

My geneology pursuits are for the "Oleszkiewicz/Oleszkowicz" and "Riggs" families. I've also done a bit on "Lippincott" which is my brother-in-law's family. I've contributed a bit to "The Oleszkiewicz Project" as well.

I just returned from the university to fill out an incomplete grade contract with my instructor. Because I can't unpack anything or find my project supplies, plus being restricted as to my activities, I now have until the end of November 2005 to finish my six projects, two article summaries, and project journal.

Current class projects (may change as needed):
  1. Woven scarves out of Wool-Ease, these will be done on my floor loom and have already been started
  2. Woven pillow tops woven on my new table loom then made into pillows
  3. Weave-It Girl's Purse, needs to be lined
  4. Needlework project - Ukrainian Easter Egg design
  5. Crocheted project of some sort, choices include:
    - Evening wrap with beads crocheted in periodically
    - Baby blanket


    Woven Shawl made on a triangle loom if I can get my BIL to make the loom for me (he did such a great job on my warping board)
Anyway, my lunch hour is over and it's time to get back to work.

Shorah Y'all!

Sanity Check ...

I had a blog once that announced the new artwork, tutorials, and downloads on my site, but it faded away as I redesigned the site several times. I decided to try again after dealing with a pulmonary embolism last week and will hopefully put down my thoughts on my artwork and crafts but I may ramble sometimes (much like now).

Being creative is my sanity check, hence the "dangling" part of my blog title. I also do a variety of crafts, including painting and fiber arts and that's the "painted thread" part of the title. My friend Toob came up with the name after I mentioned a possible title of "Keeping My Sanity" which was amusing but not a great title.

Now about me, in case you're interested. I live just south of Houston, Texas and work on the International Space Station Program as a Technical Services Specialist. I have an Associates in Computer Information Systems from a now defunct Junior College and a Bachelors in Information Technology, Web Management emphasis from the University of Phoenix. I'm currently working on a second degree in Art at the University of Houston - Clear Lake. I also work part-time for DAZ Productions as their Bryce Coordinator and write articles for Maxon, plus, I make baby hats and afghans whenever I can for All Crafts 4 Charity, an online group of crafters who make items for charities and such.

As part of the art classes, I learned how to weave on a loom, something I'd always been interested in. I found a homemade floor loom on ebay and recently found a Schacht Table Loom there as well. You can see my class projects in my Crafts, Class, and Weaving galleries. In addition to weaving, I crochet, make Hardanger lace, make Ukrainian Easter Eggs (pysanky), sew, do paper cutting, cross stitch, paint Nested Dolls, and create art using the computer. For the digital art, I use Bryce (my first love), Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop CS, Painter, DAZStudio, Poser, MojoWorld, Cinema 4D, BodyPaint 3D, ZBrush, and Sterling (a fractal program).

I also love playing computer games with my favorites being any Myst game. I'm currently obsessed with Until Uru and hang out on the Tapestry Shard (visit the site) when in cavern. I'm Guild Master of the Guild of Artisans there and we even have our own neighborhood on the shard.

Well, that should be enough for now. Let's see how it goes ....

Shorah Y'all!