Monday, November 02, 2009

I hated to leave...

The last few years I stayed on Nantucket through Thanksgiving. I love it when the crowds leave and the island quiets down.

It's nice being back in Maryland and still see fall leaves on the trees. Now I need to get ready to teach a basket class in a few weeks. Then I plan to dress the loom for an overshot project.

While on Nantucket I did manage to knit a couple of chemotherapy caps to be donated at our November guild meeting. I also made some bracelets from small scraps of antique ivory and parachute cord. They are comfortable to wear and the paracord is very durable. For closures I use either a bead or a toggle made out of scrap whale bone.
I'm having fun learning new knots from Ashley's Book of Knots. It was first published in 1944 and documents over 3,800 knots. It's certainly not the easiest book to learn how to tie knots from. You can now get new reprints of the book but comparing the new with the old, the older version is much better. The print and pictures are much more clear and crisp in the original version of the book. Other knotting books I like are The Arts of the Sailor and The Marlinspike Sailor.

I made some of these little guys. The one on the left has a lanyard knot and a 4 strand square sinnet. On the right is a lanyard knot and king cobra stitch.
Cleaning up the yard before leaving I snipped off all the blooms from the hydrangea bushes and tree. Piled up they were so beautiful I had to snap a picture.
This came from our hydrangea tree. The blooms are large and plentiful.
I really enjoyed scalloping and digging for clams this year. Nantucket Bay scallops are different from any other type of scallop. They are smaller (half the size of sea scallops) and more tender and sweet.Shucking (opening) scallops is hard work but well worth the effort.
Nantucketers call hard-shelled clams quahogs (CO-hogs) but they can be subdivided by size. The smallest, little necks, are ~ 1-inch thick. The largest, chowders or quahogs, are 3 or more inches in diameter and cherrystones are in between.
Steamers ~ Soft-Shell Clams ~ Long Necks must be dug by hand at low tide. A short handled "fork" with long, thin tines is used to excavate them. The thin shells are very delicate.
I froze a lot of the meat and will be enjoying it over the winter. Yummy!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Horoscope Necklace ~ Singer 185J

In my last post I talked about weaving a horoscope shawl. As part of the workshop you created a horoscope necklace based on the same winding draft as the woven shawl. The various packets below contain tiny beads in various colors. We were also given larger beads to represent planets.
Here is the completed horoscope shawl and necklace. Each tiny bead represents a warp thread in the woven piece. Every so often the woven piece has four threads that were threaded through the same dent and heddle to represent a planet. The large beads in the necklace represent planets.

I think I am getting nostalgic. I've been pinning after my first sewing machine. I remember that first sewing class in Jr. High School as almost life changing. I didn't come from a family of crafters. My first sewing machine was purchased second-hand from a neighbor lady for $20. To pay for the machine I babysat her 3 children (real brats) for 75 cents per hour. It took forever to pay for the sewing machine!

I don't know what happened to my first machine but it looked identical to my new purchase (below). Isn't it adorable? It's a Singer 185J manufactured in Canada in 1962 (the 185K was made in Scotland). It's a flat-bed 3/4 sized straight stitch machine. It's all metal and it's heavy. I would call it heavy-duty because it will sew through just about any type of fabric. They were manufactured from 1959-1962. It replaced the black 99K, also a 3/4 sized machine. Basically, this is the 99 with updated green paint. I purchased this one with a cabinet. First thing I did was give it a good oiling and it purrs like a kitten.

My original 185J came in a carrying case like this one.
I found this YouTube video of an old commercial for the Singer 185. It was considered the Young Budget Machine. You could buy it on the Budge Plan for $119.50 ($12 down and $1.25 per week).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Handwoven Horoscope Shawl and Whatzit?

Back in 2007 I signed up for a Bonnie Tarses Horoscope Weaving workshop. I was unable to attend the workshop but was given the horoscope to weave on my own. With the nudging and help from Beth, our guild president, I finished the shawl! It was a lot of fun to weave. Even though it is plain weave I never got bored (how could I with all the colors). Thank you Bonnie and Beth!!!

I purchased a Bambu 7 kit from Cotton Clouds and using the horoscope threading draft from Bonnie I wound the warp.
Weaving in progress.

All finished!!!

The workshop also included a kit to make a beaded necklace based on the same horoscope. I hope to have that completed soon.

At my last guild meeting one of our members brought in a very interesting item and asked if anyone knew what it was. We didn't have a clue so now I hope someone out there will know what it is.

What the heck is this?
It has an adjustable arm on the top with a platform that has small pegs. The platform has grooves. It is handmade and very well made.

There is a second adjustable arm that appears to have the ability to hold something down.

This may or may not be related.

Update: I would agree with Vanessa. It's a needlepoint stand. There are lots of examples out there in internet land that look similar. Check out this site for a review of a needlepoint stand with similar features.

As for the other thing in the photo... some one thought it might have something to do with the creation of lampshades.

Monday, April 27, 2009

18th-Century Market Fair

This weekend we went to the 18th-Century Market Fair at Fort Frederick State Park in Western Maryland.

Windsor chairmaker Charles Boland of Storybook Joinery was there.I love the finial on top of his tent.The temperature soared to over 90 degrees. I don't know how the vendors managed in their period wear. Some highlights from the fair.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I've been busy...

I took a break from weaving and have been busy cleaning up and organizing my shop. I've also been creating basket parts for a class I'm doing over the summer. Today I fired up the steam box to steam bend oak for the handles. I wanted to use Schedule 80 PVC pipe but ended up using Schedule 40 since the Schedule 80 is only sold in 20' lengths @ $6.79 per foot (ouch). A cradle was created just in case the Schedule 40 pipe sags. The steam box sits on brackets that are temporarily mounted to the fence with clamps. Click on picture to enlarge.

A small hole is drilled on top where a temperature gauge is installed. Relief holes are drilled at each end of the PVC pipe on the underside. You know you are ready to steam bend when steam exits the holes as pictured here.
The handle stock is ready to come out.Oak handles on molds. The oak bent like butter.I use rough cut green white oak that I get from a local sawmill. It is cut down to more manageable sizes and stored in a freezer in the shop until I'm ready to use it. The wide oak board is put through the planer then cut into strips on the table saw. I love my Delta Unisaw with Biesemeyer fence. You can see in the picture the oak is wet.The strips are put through the planer again and planed to the finished thickness. This will remove any circle marks left behind by the table saw blade.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Windsor Chair Class

The previous few years Vanessa came up and we drove to Hampshire County, West Virginia to take a Windsor chair class. This year I went it alone and had a fantastic time! I made a sackback settee and Charles made one alongside me.

Here are some highlights from the class.

Riving billets for the settee spindles, back bow, and arm bow using a froe and maul.

Cutting out the 2" seat blank with a bow saw.

Saddling the settee seat using a gutter adze to hollow out the seat.

Saddling the seat continues by cleaning up and shaping the seat using a drawknife, block plane, inshave (scorp), travisher, compass plane, spokeshave, and card scraper.

Driving a wedge into the leg tenons and seat.

Cleaning up the spindles that were created on a shaving horse with a drawknife then fork staff. Final cleanup using a card scraper.

Pounding the spindles into the seat with a dead blow hammer.

The finished chairs.

This is Charles Boland of Storybook Joinery. Charles is knowledgeable, not only in the areas of Windsor chairmaking, but the history as well. He willingly shares his knowledge and is so patient. Charles only takes on 1-2 students at a time so your time spent there is quality time. His classes are well worth the time and money. Be prepared to work hard. You won't be disappointed.

Some of the tools of the chairmaking trade you'll be using.

And as an extra bonus Maggie, the official shop dog, comes for visits.

And then there is Sam the cat who adopted the Boland family and rules the roost.

If you want to see Charles' work you might stop by one of his events.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Structo Artcraft 240/4

I recently purchased this little cutie on eBay. It's a Structo Artcraft 240/4 (4-harness). It's 15 inches long x 10-1/2 inches wide x 13 high and has a maximum weaving width of 8". The loom came with a 15-dent reed. If the reed is slayed two threads per dent (for a sett of 30 ends per inch) the loom could accommodate 240 warp ends.

The Structo Artcraft loom was originally produced by the Structo Manufacturing Company of Freeport, Illinos. The company was started in 1908 and was the producer of metal toys. In 1921 they began producing toy weaving looms. Later, the toy looms were discontinued and actual standard weaving looms were made. The looms were manufactured until 1972 when the loom business was sold to the Dick Blick Company who continued manufacturing the looms until 1981 when they decided to take them out of production. Dick Blick still holds the manufacturing rights to the loom.

The Structo Artcraft looms were sold through retail outlets as well as mail order. They manufactured both pressed steel and wooden looms. In 1930 Mary Meigs Atwater wrote "Manual of Instructions for the Structo Artcraft Looms: Nos. 240, 420, 600". Atwater sold the loom through her Shuttle-Craft Guild mail order business.

The looms were popular workshop looms and for weaving samplers. For more information visit this website or join the Yahoo group all_things_structo.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I finished the tea towels or are they dish towels?

I wanted to take the newly restored loom for a test drive so I put on 5 yards of 8/2 unmercerized cotton and wove plainweave towels. This was the first time I used weaving sticks and I really liked it since this loom has a much smaller shed than I am used to. I have some very beautiful 24" cherry ones and plan to make more in various lengths.

The finished tea towels...

I'm leaving today, heading for West Virginia, for another Windsor chair class. Below is the rocker I made last year. I finally finished it a couple of weeks ago.

This time I am making a settee. Before heading to class I needed to turn this hard maple stock into legs, six to be exact.

On the lathe...

All finished...