Saturday, July 29, 2023

Studio Progress

I feel like I'm finally in the home stretch of getting my boxes unpacked and my studio organized. It could probably be asked why I've been dabbling in tablet weaving when the studio still isn't done. My only defense is that it's been a slow process to figure out where to put everything. I'm slow to think things through and often find myself testing trial arrangements to see how I like it. If I'm not happy with them, then I try something else. My goal is to have everything organized and accessible.  

Then, getting the table loom meant that I now wanted my weaving yarns sorted and handy instead of in random boxes. But that meant I had to find someplace to put my books, and the original small bookshelf was inadequate. It finally occurred to me to drag out the tall bookshelves still in storage. I painted them and they have become the home for all my books and workshop notebooks. 

The other bookshelf (on the left in the above photo) is becoming a home for my cotton weaving yarns. Sorting these has been a slow go because many of the cones aren't labeled. So I'm having to figure out sizes and fiber content. That's taking time as well.

Slowly, I'm finding homes for everything (I think). Like my warping board. 

I have no wall space to hang it permanently, but it's out of the way on ceiling hooks and easy to get down when I need it. So, progress is slow but steady.

I've set myself a deadline of two more weeks to finish up. That should be plenty of time to shelve the yarn, and I'm thinking I can use the empty totes to organize spinning fibers. With the yarns out of the closet, I can store my fibers there. Hopefully, in mid-August I can do my studio grand reveal.

Studio Progress © July 2023

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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Tablet Weaving: Oseberg 12L1

Oseberg 12L1 is an ancient tablet weaving pattern. It was one of at least 10 tablet woven bands discovered in 1904 during an archaeological dig at Oseberg Farm in Norway. Finds from that dig have been dated to around 834 AD. It's a fairly simple design, and is featured in the first episode of Weave Along with Elewys. It seemed like a good place to start.

The Pattern

There are several variations of Oseberg 12L1 around the internet, but I'm using the one from Elewys's blog, Lady Elewys of Finchingefeld, JdL, GdS. She has several variations with different numbers of colors, but I want to start as simply as possible and so chose this one, with only two colors. 

Credit: Lady Elewys of Finchingefeld

My previous blog post, Tablet Weaving Notes, explains how to read the pattern and thread the tablets.


Lion Brand's Coboo, a cotton / bamboo rayon blend knitting yarn.
I substituted a dark blue for the green in the pattern and light green for the yellow.

My finished band

Not perfect; my lines are wavy! But better than my first practice band!

What I learned
  • From the video I learned that the little bumps on the selvedges are from changing tablet direction. this is just the way it is, i.e. not something I can correct.
  • When to change direction of the cards is arbitrary. It's just as well to continue turning in the same direction until the twist in the warp builds up too much.
  • The backstrap method is hard on my back.


  • This pattern was a good choice for a first tablet weaving because it has only 10 tablets, 2 colors, and the tablets all turn the same direction. 
  • I need to practice on my tension and selvedges.
  • The yarn held up well, but at the end of the band it had the slightest abrasion from the holes in the cards.
  • If I do a lot of this, I'd like an alternative to the backstrap method.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Tablet Weaving Notes

In my first post about tablet weaving, I showed you how I made the tablets and tried them backstrap fashion to weave a sample piece. Now, I'm getting ready to weave my first band and want to make sure I have a grasp of the basics. In this post, I'm going to discuss reading the pattern, measuring the warp, threading the cards, and steps for weaving. 


There are some variations on how patterns are written. For my notes, I'm going to use the one I'm using for my first band, Oseberg 12L1

Credit: Lady Elewys of Finchingefeld

The bottom section of the pattern tells me everything I need to know about the warp and how to thread the cards.

The numbered row across the top indicates the number of tablets.
The letters A through D in the lefthand column correspond to the holes in the tablets
The bottom row of Ss and Zs indicate how to thread the tablets.

To calculate how many warp ends I need, I count the number of each of the colored dots. For this pattern I need:
  • 26 green 
  • 14 yellow 
I can check that by adding them up to make sure they match the total number of dots. There are 10 columns x 4 rows = 40 dots. 26 + 14 = 40, so I counted correctly.

Measuring the Warp

Here's a formula:

Desired finished length x 20% (0.20) + 20 inches = length of warp to measure

Threading the tablets

All tablets must face the same way.
All tablets must be threaded the same way.
S threading means the threading of the warp creates an "S" looking path. 
Z threading means the threading of the warp creates a "Z" looking path.

The heavy black lines represent tablets. The thin blue lines represent warp threads. From above, how the tablet is threaded resembles the midsection of either the letter S or the letter Z.

An excellent explanation of threading is at Tablet Weaving in Theory and Practice. 

Getting started

4 picks to secure the weft (4 turns of the tablets forward, from the A-D position back to the A-D position). Use the stick shuttle to beat down each pick of weft thread. Repeat if necessary. 

Weaving sequence

Turn the cards
Beat down the weft
Pull in the loop snuggly
Pass the shuttle through the shed, leaving a loop of weft (i.e. don't pull tight, yet)

Turning the tablets

Start with A D at the top (unless otherwise indicated)
The numbers on the left represent the weft picks.
The white squares indicate turning the tablet 1/4 turn forward.
The gray squares indicate turning the tablet 1/4 turn backwards.

Now, on to getting started on my project. 

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Capsule Wardrobe: Identifying My Style

Seems like knowing one's style ought to be intuitive. What I find, however, is that I respond to individual items that I just like. That can be already made garments, or patterns. If I like it, I buy it without regard to how it coordinates with everything else. However, if the goal is to have a coordinating wardrobe, then an idea of style is probably a good thing. 

The first thing I did was to check out some of the various online style quizzes. I answered the questions, was told the name of my personal style, then followed the link to examples. Yuk! How did they get that from that? It appears that even my style isn't my style. 

Maybe the way to figure this out is simply to ask myself, "what do I like?" 

Off the top of my head I can list some things that I like:
  • natural fabrics
  • coordinated colors
  • mostly solid colors
  • classic rather than trendy
  • neat rather than sloppy
  • denim (everything goes with denim)
  • midi length skirts, primarily in navy blue, denim, tan, and brown
  • tops in soft cool colors (summer palette), plaids, small patterns, or narrow vertical stripes 
  • elbow length sleeves
  • tops over, not tucked
  • rounded necklines
  • slightly fitted (not tight or baggy)
  • jumpers (pinafore dresses)
  • vests
  • bib aprons
  • cardigans (in season)
  • wild socks (especially hand knit)
  • shoes: sandals, Mary Janes, boots (winter)
  • my neutrals are navy blue, tan, and brown (no black)
  • my favorite colors are primarily blues, greens, and purples
  • cool pinks and reds occasionally are okay too
  • if white (rare) then soft white (not pure or bright white)

But if I'm going to simplify my wardrobe, then I need to figure out a few more things. Of the things I think I like, I need to ask:
  • "what items do I reach for most often?"
  • "why?"
  • "what do I never wear?" (even though I think I like it)
  • "why not?"
I started by pulling out things that I wear most often and asked myself why I like them.


I love the fabric. I love that the shirt has some shape to it in the side seams.

This is about as wild as it gets for me, lol.
I like the sleeve length and the vertical darts.

Close-up of one of the darts. The shirt has room for
movement but with comfortable shaping, i.e. not baggy.

Work t-shirt, so it's very worn. But there are two things I really like about it.
The length is shorter than most tees, and I like the neckline finishing.

Here's the same tee in a different color (because the red didn't photograph
well). It has a more finished looking neckline, which I like.

A similar tee with another neckline finish I
like. I like the small pattern in the fabric too.


Notice the common theme? All more fitted at the waist and hips, flaring to a wider hemline which is perfect for walking. 

This one's a little more unusual with a more gathered waist.

I just love the fabric of this one.

I dislike a bunched waist, but the pieces of this skirt are still narrow at the top than bottom. 

For now, I need to mull all this over. One thing I've decided, is I'm not going to worry so much about "my style," because it seems that specific style categories are an invention of the clothing and fashion industry. So, the next logical step seems to be to pull all my town clothes out of my closet and see how coordinated they actually are. Understanding what I like and don't like will help me weed more things out. That's a project for the future, however, because summer on the homestead is incredibly busy with garden, canning, and cheese making. But at least I've made a start.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Capsule Wardrobe Analysis: Where To Begin?

Last time, I tried to figure out how to approach my wardrobe in a way to simplify it in a more sustainable way. On the one hand, I think I'm doing good because I rarely buy new clothing. I buy most of our clothes at the thrift store, which means I'm keeping someone else's castoffs out of the landfill. Plus, it's cheap. But that also means it's easy to collect a lot of clothes. Too many clothes. 

All of this supports the points about capsule wardrobes that Portia Lawrie bring's up in her book: develop a simplified wardrobe with fewer items that all work well with everything else to create a happy variety of outfits. The old "less is more." The bonus is that there's no trying to figure out what to wear and what goes with what. And fewer choices mean easier choices.

Even so, is a capsule wardrobe really for me? I'm not sure. In thinking about how I use clothes, how would it apply? When I think about my wardrobe, I'm easily able to break it into categories. 

The obvious category is by season. Basically, 

  • summer
  • winter

The other set of categories is by use.

  • work (everyday) clothes
  • town / company clothes
  • special occasion

Of use, how would I describe these categories? How do I know what garments belong where?

Work. Ours is a busy lifestyle filled with all kinds of activity.
  • Outdoor work: garden, working in the soil, animal handling, barn mucking, manure shoveling, mulch hauling, compost turning, fence repair, brush clearing, haying, digging, firewood hauling, etc. 
  • Indoor work: cooking, canning, cleaning, painting, etc. 
All of these jobs are sweaty, dirty, and rough on clothes. My work clothes are my oldest, and I don't mind stains, worn fabric, or small tears. I'll do minor repairs until the fabric about falls apart. By the time I'm done with them, they're only good for the rag bin.

Town. This includes trips to town for shopping, errands, library, visiting, public events, going out to eat, etc. I also include entertaining, as in when we have company. 

Special occasion. These are things that are rare but still come up, so I want wardrobe items to suit: formal weddings, funerals, graduations, concerts, parties, etc. 

Of these three categories, the one I need the most help with is town clothes. Work clothing needs to be what it is because my work is hard on them. Of special occasion, I really only have a few things, and that's plenty. I don't wear these often enough to develop them as a wardrobe item. That leaves my town/visiting/company clothes. And I actually have a lot of these because there are so many nice bargains at the thrift store. I can pretty much indulge impulse there. If I end up never wearing it, no guilt. But now, I'm stuck with all this stuff.

So, that's what I'm going to focus on, and I feel a bit better for having figured that out. I suppose the next step is to define my style, so I know how to begin shaping my capsule wardrobe.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Wardrobe Dilemma: Inspired But Clueless

With my soon-to-be studio still in a state of unpacking boxes and trying to find homes for everything, I've been thinking about the book I recently reviewed, The Re:Fashion Wardrobe. A couple of the boxes I pulled out of storage contain clothing that needs mending or alterations (such as the bust fits but the hips don't, or vice versa). And then there's my closet, with a hodge-podge of items that I have because I liked them when I bought them. Or maybe it's a top or skirt to match one of those hodge-podge garments. I did a pretty good closet purge last winter, but I still have a lot clothes. 

Two concepts from that book have been my take-away points.
  • "Re-fashioning" existing clothing
  • The capsule wardrobe

Being in the retired class of persons, my husband and I live on what is known as "fixed income." That means income is limited and the budget is tight. We've learned to live comfortably that way, although I'm pretty sure our lifestyle is too austere to suit most. The point I want to make is that, with a few exceptions, buying new clothing is out, as is sewing new clothing. I learned how to sew in junior high school, and at that time sewing was how low income people got new clothes. But, sewing has become expensive nowadays, between the cost of patterns and fabrics. Plus, I have a history of sewing things that looked good in my head, but not in the mirror. That's why Portia Lawrie's idea of re-fashioning garments (also known as upcycling) is infinitely appealing.

The capsule wardrobe concept is also extremely interesting. The idea is to keep a smaller wardrobe (such as 20 to 30 individual pieces, or so) that all coordinate and can be mixed and matched to make a variety of outfits.

So, there's the inspiration. The challenge is, how can I use this to apply to me?

I started by looking at the simple 4-step plan in the book:

  1. Sort your current wardrobe
  2. Pick your palette
  3. Identify gaps
  4. Make a plan  
After reading step one, however, I knew I needed a different approach because my lifestyle is so different. So, I started poking around the internet for more ideas on how to build a capsule wardrobe. Most of it was not useful. Most of the articles I found are telling you what you need (with affiliate links for the various items), and all in black, white, beige, and brown, in a particular style that doesn't interest me. Or else they address sewing everything and discuss patterns and fabrics. Portia Lawrie's book at least advocates starting with one's current wardrobe.

The most useful (to me) web page I've found to date is r (attempts to) build a capsule wardrobe. R approached her analysis in a way I can relate to. (Quoting here):

"Things I need to consider:
- what items do I need?
- what items are comfortable?
- what do I enjoy wearing?
- how many do I need to allow for wash days?
- what colour theme am I choosing?
- what sort of aesthetic do I want to aim for?
- what is easy to repair?
- what do I already own?
- probably more I haven't thought about yet."

R also referred to An Introduction to the Capsule Wardrobe. From that, I gleaned:

 "How do I get started? 
- Determine your personal style.  
- Discover your body shape and most flattering cuts and proportions for you."

Again, useful and practical advice. 

When I sat back to process all of this, I realized I need to approach a wardrobe analysis from my particular lifestyle and my own needs.

More on that here

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Book Review: The Re:Fashion Wardrobe

I discovered this book when I was leaving the library the other day. It was part of a display of new library acquisitions. The title grabbed my attention and the subtitle clinched it.

I picked it up, flipped through it, and immediately understood what the author was doing. Portia Lawrie is showing us how to take "old" clothing from our closets, re-sale shops, and yard sales and turn them into garments that accommodate our personal style and fit properly: dresses from t-shirts, skirts from shirts, shorts from curtains, a quilted duster coat from a duvet(!).

What I especially like, is that the Lawrie's wardrobe concept is built around a capsule wardrobe. From the author:

"The most sustainable garment is the one that gets worn over and over again. We should be making clothes that earn their place in our wardrobes by working hard for years to come."

So what's a capsule wardrobe? "Capsules focus on incorporating good-quality garments that are versatile, coordinate well together, and fir the needs of individual lifestyles and personal aesthetics. . . Everything works together, and everything goes with something else. . . Quite simply, a capsule wardrobe enables you to achieve more with less."

In other words, not a hodge-podge of random items that I got just because they caught my fancy. The author goes on to teach the reader how to evaluate their current wardrobe, pick a palette, identify wardrobe gaps, and make a plan.

The next section discusses the secrets of secondhand shopping, how to do a burn test to identify fiber content, how to piece and combine different fabrics, over-dyeing, etc. Then comes tools and equipment, and after that, the projects. Eleven projects teach the concepts with clear instructions and pictures. Each project includes tips & tricks, and ideas for experimentation. The section closes with ideas for how to combine the garments into a variety of outfits. 

The last section teaches re:fashion techniques: how to make pattern templates, fitting, sizing garments up or down, deconstruction, plus a variety of sewing techniques; everything from bias tape facings to zippers and button holes. A glossary and index follow.

My style is not necessarily the author's style, but she provides information I can use to find my own way. I discover so many appealing items on the thrift store $1 rack, but too often they are the wrong size or too faddish for me to consider buying. And then I often ask myself, do I really need another flannel shirt? I think this book is going to help me find a sustainable style that suits me, and helps me make wise clothing choices in the future. 

© July 2023 by Leigh at Leigh's Fiber Journal

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Thursday, July 13, 2023

Loom Sneak Peek

As excited as I am about my new studio, one challenge is that it isn't very large. It's not quite 100 square feet and I'm finding it no easy task to find space for everything. Also it means there's no room for my wonderful (wonderfully large) Glimakra 60-inch, 8-shaft countermarche loom with a double back beam. I could probably set up the loom, but nothing else. So, I just accepted things they way they were.

I was happily surprised, then, when a dear and generous internet friend told me she'd give me a 4-shaft table loom, if I was interested. Was I? Oh yes! I immediately volunteered to pay for shipping and it arrived the other day.

Ready for assembly

It's a Rasmussen, made years ago in Seattle, Washington. The company later sold out to Montana looms, which is now out of business. So there's no source for a manual or other information. And I can't find much information about these looms online.

The reed is 24 inches and ten dents.

Once upon a time, stands were made for these looms, but since I'm very short on floor space, using it as a table top loom will be just fine. 

Considering it's been awhile since I've woven anything, the Rasmussen is the perfect loom for me. It will give me a chance to review and practice my skills with a simpler loom than my Glimakra!

Hopefully, I'll have something to show you soon.

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Sunday, July 09, 2023

New Studio: Sneak Peek!

This is somewhat of a duplicate post. I've copied and pasted it from my homestead blog, but it needs to go here too because it marks the beginning of my return to my adventures in fiber and textile arts. 

After we bought our homestead, there was a lot of work to do. That included the 100-year-old house, which needed many repairs and energy updates. We've slowly been working on those over the years, and at last, we are finishing up the room that was my original studio. It became a storage room when we started serious remodeling on the house, and has been that way ever since. You can see everything we did to the room starting here, "Sewing Room?" The posts all link to follow our progress.

Finally, I'm finally able to unpack my boxes of equipment, yarns, and fibers, and turn this room into my very own creative space.

Trying to figure out where everything will go has been a challenge. I didn't realize how many boxes of yarns, fibers, and equipment I had, and I feel like I'm trying to put 20 pounds of potatoes into a 5 pound bag. Even so, I'm glad I didn't succumb to purge madness. Everything is so expensive nowadays, that I don't have to worry about buying much for the rest of my life!

Yesterday, I found several more boxes of weaving yarns and spinning fibers. They've been boxed away in the front bedroom, which has served as our other storage/catch-all room. I was rather dismayed to find that mice had made themselves at home in one of the boxes!

I think this is partly because we keep the room closed and the cats don't have access. More activity and the presence of humans and prowling cats would be an excellent deterrent. 

So progress is being made, albeit slowly. One of these days I'll have everything in place and give you a grand tour!

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