Thursday, May 17, 2012

Artists Helping Hands

So many packages came to my door over the last month.  Big ones and little ones.  Some were still nice and pretty.  Others looked like they'd been run over by a truck*.  They originated in 15 different cities from 3 countries.  And they all had one thing in common - They were filled with love, kindness and generosity.

As I sat on my couch Wednesday opening them all, I felt a bit like I was opening someone else's Christmas presents.  I told myself I had to because I needed to inventory and photograph all the items.  But really I was super excited to finally get to see the wonderful work done by members of Artist's Helping Hands.

So what was this all about?  Elise of Black Ant Beads had a vision of artists collaborating every month to use their talents to bring a bit of joy into the lives of those in need.  The group is still forming but seems to have a clear focus and is already making a difference.  The goal is for one charity to be chosen every month from a list of suggestions made by group members.  Then either one collaborative project is completed or individual handmade items are gathered throughout the month.  The collaborative items are auctioned off and the proceeds given to the target charity.  The collections are given directly to the charity.

Here's a link to the Etsy team:
http://www.etsy.com/teams/12039/artists-helping-hands

The group member that suggests a charity that gets chosen is asked to be the organizer for that month.  I was quite surprised when Elise asked me to help out for the groups first month, but I happily agreed.  The charity focus for April was The Genesis Woman's Shelter in Dallas, TX.  Women and children at these shelters have often had to leave everything behind in order to reach safety.  Artist's Helping Hands decided to donate individual items to help brighten their days.

The response was impressive.  Thinking about the hours of work that went into these donations is just daunting.  To think of such generosity in these hard economic times really brightens the heart.  There were so many donations that I couldn't get a decent picture of all of it.  Instead I laid out a few items from each donation.


I realized after that I should have gotten a picture of all the packages.  Here's a picture of them all loaded up in a basket for transport.  They almost didn't fit!


In total 182 handmade items were donated to the shelter.  There were also 68 store bought items and 2 letters of support.

I think the groups off to a great start.  This months charity is Beads of Courage.  There are also 2 long term projects.  One is a collaborative scrapbook and the other a quilt.  Be sure to hop over to Etsy and check them out.

*Ironically the run-over looking package came via airmail from overseas.  Maybe the plane backed up onto it?  Thankfully nothing was damaged :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Card Weaving Arrows

For a second time, I felt my hopes of creating the perfect requested guitar strap plummet as I stared at a picture of a friendship bracelet.  If you've found this blog, you're probably aware that friendship bracelet making is not  a form of weaving.  It is a form of madness creating hundreds of little knots while not letting the rest of the yarn tangle together.

Then my wife pointed out I could just tablet weave the pattern.  It's so simple of a solution!  So I pulled out the rings I bought as detensioning devices and decided to give it a go.  

I have four holed cards so I can only do four different rows of arrows.  I think I might like to try more holes sometime but I'm not sure if the resulting band would be thicker.  This is already thick for a guitar strap so I'm sticking with what I know.

In an attempt to add more color, I alternated green and orange in one of the rows.  The red and yellow rows are two toned but they blend so well it doesn't show up in the weaving.  I think it might add a little depth to the pattern but it's subtle.

For the set up I made the left 10 cards z and the right 10 s.  I placed the black threads in A, green/orange in B, yellow in C and red in D.  I didn't want the yellow and black to be near each other because every time I see that I can't help but think bumble bee.  The other two colors were placed at random.

To start the pattern out cards 1 and 20 had the black or A being shown first.  Cards 2 and 19 were rotated forward one position so the red would be seen.  3 and 18 were 2 rotations forward of 1 and 4 and 17 were three rotations forward.  5 and 16 end up the same as 1 and 20.  

I should probably write that better but I think once you see it in front of you, you'll get it.  Where the cards meet in the middle (cards 10 and 11) the start position of the black thread should be mirrored.  It took me a few rows to make sure everything was set properly but it's pretty easy to tell when it's going right and when it's not.  The biggest thing to watch for is cards flipped the wrong way.  This will change the order of colors so you can get very confused.

This took me around 30 minutes to get going because I'd keep confusing myself.  Even so, I'm not sure why I was so intimidated by this kind of weaving.  I'm still only brave enough to try simple patterns but it's not too bad.

Here's a picture of the pattern:

and here's how it looks on the back, kinda a neat op-art effect:


Here's a picture of the rings I use to allow me to relieve the twisting:

When it's still at the beginning I let the twist build up a lot.  I just keep pushing it around the corners.  This means when I go to untwist, those bundles of yarn are much looser.  To keep them from flopping about and tangling themselves, I inserted another peg:


These new rings work great.  Before I was using keychain rings.  They were okay but the yarn would get caught up in the split ring.  Also I didn't have enough of them.  These rings are seamless cast nickel.  I bought them here:
You can probably find them elsewhere but I was ordering from these guys already.  I got the 1/2" size.  They are smaller than I'd like but it's still not too hard to tie the yarn on.

The concept behind them is, you tie one end of the yarn to ring one.  You tie the other end of the yarn to ring two after first passing it through ring one.  Ring two will be unable to be pulled through ring one so you will have a loop.  When you want to relieve the twist buildup, simply pull ring two out a bit and twist it in the opposite direction of the buildup.

Hope this is helpful to people.  I really encourage you to try tablet weaving if you're at all interested.  It's not as scary as it seems.  I will warn it's a bit more tedious though.  But the results are really fun and it's offers more possibilities than inkle weaving.