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Craft Room

Posted by Living Crafts  |  Aug 9, 2013 01:57 PM

Black Hen, Little Chick
The Mama Hen Surprise story that accompanies these lovely characters is in Living Crafts Spring 2011. Instructions
Felt Board
Templates for making a fantastic Felt Play Board from Living Crafts Fall 2010Instructions
Felted Wool Soap
Fun project, loved by adults and children alike- these make a perfect gift. Instructions
Knitted Lamb
Sweet poem and story accompany this project in Spring 2010. Instructions
Forget-Me-Not Easter Egg
Felted egg accompanying Easter story from Spring 2010. Instructions
Fruit Basket Ornament
Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Winter 2010. Instructions
Pine Needle Heart
Bring a little of the outdoors inside. Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Living Crafts Winter 2010. Instructions
Decorated Egg with Angel
This angel ornament is a such a delicate tiny wonder! Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Living Crafts Winter 2010. Instructions
Felted Rose Ornament
A gorgeous ornament for your home or yourself! Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Living Crafts Winter 2010. Instructions
Crocheted Child Horse Rein
Children love to run and play, and these pretend reins add an extra imaginative dimension to their pony games. Instructions
How to grow your own Easter Grass Grow grass for an indoor garden: ideal for Easter, fairy houses and nature tables. Instructions Treasure Purse
This treasure purse makes a great first weaving project. Part of the Weaving with Children article from Living Crafts Spring 2009. Instructions
16″ Doll Cardigan
A perfect, easy to follow design that co-ordinates with our children’s holiday cardigans from Living Crafts Winter 2009. Instructions
Starry Starry Night Holiday Mail Pouch
A lovely wet felted wall hanging that has special pockets for holiday messages! Instructions
Basket Lining
Simple sewing adds so much to a simple woven basket! Instructions
walnut royals
Pine Cone Gnomes
Give this gnome a home! You can make your pine cones a treasure this Christmas. Instructions
Crocheted Crown
This gorgeous crown is so easy and so regal! Instructions
Walnut Royals
These can be made in any character-imagine a witch, a jester, a gnome, and … Instructions
Big Soft Spheres
Soft and squishy playthings are lovely to kick and roll and throw and catch and even just hug . Instructions
Scotty Dog Sweater and Beret
A perfect knitting project for a warm winter gift. Instructions
Tea Pot Ornament
This adorable teapot can be used both a  an ornament or for your child’s play. Instructions

Friday Gallery

Posted by Fiona Duthie  |  Apr 13, 2012 11:02 AM

Our Living Crafts Friday Gallery winner for this week: Kristen

Kristen's Hand Dyed Play Silks

“I’ve been wanting to dye playsilks for a year or so now, I just wasn’t sure if my kids were too old. I finally ordered some, thinking that I’d dye them myself and use them instead of Easter “grass” in their baskets. I realized though, that they would miss out on the fun stuff if I did that. Instead, we took an afternoon to have fun in the kitchen. They each picked 3 colors from my Wilton dyes (we even used Kool-aid on one) and helped me dye the silks. My 5 year old daughter had the most fun rinsing them out and hand washing them in the sink. She said it was like washing clothes in the “old days” like Laura and Mary (we’re reading the Little House books!) They were so pretty hanging outside to dry, that I had to snap a picture. What a fun day. “
Kristen from Two Raccooon Hollow



Susie`s Spring Girls


“What I appreciate most about making this craft is how the process centers me and just feels “right” from start to finish. I love that I am taking minimally-processed materials from and of the earth, and gently molding them into another type of perceived beauty. People off all ages can love dolls – and dolls that are handmade, with natural materials, are the ones that make it for the long haul in our home. Not just because the materials hold up well, but I sincerely believe that, when one holds in their hand an item carefully made with love, made of natural fibers, there is some sort of connection to the life that surrounds us. My kids know their dolls’ hair comes from a sheep, or a goat. That the cotton dress began in a field. That the special yarns were carefully spun by another artist. It’s an honor to be part of the crafting community, and making dolls has allowed me a connection to this community and the life around me in ways I never expected.“
Susie Hendricks from Treehouse Wonderland


Every Friday is Gallery Day at our blog. Please provide us with a link in the comments section below or email us (fiona@livingcrafts.com) by midnight, a photo and description of your projects- they don’t have to be Living Crafts projects (but of course we LOVE to see those too!). We’ll pick our top four to six pictures of readers’ projects selected from the previous week to feature on our blog and our top pick will win a free one year subscription to Living Crafts Magazine. Please spread the word and don’t forget to leave a link below to your recent project- we love to see what you make! Please send with a comment starting with: What I appreciate most about making this craft is …

Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at www.kattikloo.com and on Facebook.

Friday Gallery

Posted by Living Crafts  |  Mar 8, 2012 08:44 PM

Winner:  Deer fawn by Wendy Trevorrow

“What I appreciate most about this craft is how the form and personality of the animals, fairies, forest folk, etc. arise out of a tuft of soft wool in a way that breathes life into them, drawing forth a unique relationship with each creation.” Wendy Trevorrow

“We all enjoy watching the signs of spring emerge out of the season of winter. The ground warms, birds return, and bulbs begin coming up. This wreath makes a perfect way to count down to the spring equinox, with small blossoms added day by day (perhaps one added by each child in the family) until March 20, the first day of spring. As you observe the days lengthening, you can make your wintery wreath bloom in your home. Or, if you prefer, do it all at once and enjoy the promise of spring it brings.” Sara at Love in the Suburbs

“I created a Little Grass Child to use on our Spring Equinox table a few years ago, but she has since evolved. Taking inspiration from the Living Crafts Guardian dolls (from Living Crafts Fall 2010), I made her shape a bit more round, to fit better into little hands. The softness and warmth of the wool feels good and encourages little hands to play. I love the green roving she is created with and bought it simply for its freshness. It seems like a perfect fit for a Spring doll.” Jennifer DeWolfe at Dark Blue Dragon

“I’m making these Blossom Babies for my Kindergarteners. The children will be wet felting stones/eggs for them which will turn into spring blossom baby cradles.
It’s been a busy spring already!”
Sandy
“What I appreciate most about this is my ability to make exactly what my boys ask me to- ” make me a blue polar bear sweater, mommy, with them all in a row”. Katja Magus, Living Crafts Contributor

 

“The apple baskets are my original design. I have an affection for all things fiber- I basically learned to knit and crochet for the purpose of being able to felt pieces. I have always loved baskets for both their form and functionality.“ Leila Cook at Alice-Louise Designs


Every Friday is Gallery Day at our blog. Please provide us with a link in the comments section below or email us (fiona@livingcrafts.com) by midnight, a photo and description of your projects- they don’t have to be Living Crafts projects (but of course we LOVE to see those too!). We’ll pick our top four to six pictures of readers’ projects selected from the previous week to feature on our blog and our top pick will win a free one year subscription to Living Crafts Magazine. Please spread the word and don’t forget to leave a link below to your recent project- we love to see what you make! Please send with a comment starting with:  What I appreciate most about making this craft is …

New! Friday Gallery

Posted by Living Crafts  |  Mar 1, 2012 09:44 PM

We want to celebrate the beautiful crafts you make each week! We know our readers make amazing crafts- and it’s time to share them and get inspired!
Every Friday is going to be Gallery Day at our blog. Please provide us with a link in the comments section or email us a photo and description of your projects- they don’t have to be Living Crafts projects (but of course we LOVE to see those too!).  We’ll pick our top four to six pictures of readers’ projects selected from the previous week  to feature on our blog and our top pick will win a free one year subscription to Living Crafts Magazine. Please spread the word and don’t forget to leave a link below to your recent project- we love to see what you make!  Please send with a comment starting with:  What I appreciate most about making this craft is …

Apple Basket by Leila at Alice-Louise Designs

“The apple baskets are my original design. I have an affection for all things fiber- I basically learned to knit and crochet for the purpose of being able to felt pieces. I have always loved baskets for both their form and functionality. “
Leila Cook at Alice-Louise Designs

Little Grass Doll by Jennifer at Dark Blue Dragon

“I created a Little Grass Child to use on our Spring Equinox table a few years ago, but she has since evolved. Taking inspiration from the Living Crafts Guardian dolls (from Living Crafts Fall 2010), I made her shape a bit more round, to fit better into little hands. The softness and warmth of the wool feels good and encourages little hands to play. I love the green roving she is created with and bought it simply for its freshness. It seems like a perfect fit for a Spring doll.
Jennifer DeWolfe at Dark Blue Dragon

Needlefelted Pin (with model!) by Jessica at Cairnish Knits

Jessica made this wonderful pin at the Living Crafts Community Craft table at Stitches West, based on this most lovely of models!

“After a just few instructions, I was hooked (or should I say barbed?) on needle felting. Fiber sculpting was a fascinating discovery and I can’t wait to apply the technique to new creative projects!”
Jessica Owen Day at Cairnish Knits

Please note- so many of you are talented creatives and have your own blogs and businesses. Our Friday Gallery posts are intended as a place to share works made for yourself or friends and family.  (We love promoting your businesses too - but have other places to showcase your work!). Please join us and link below from your blog/website or email us at fiona@livingcrafts.com. We’re looking forward to seeing and sharing the projects you love making!

Visit next Friday for our top reader’s craft pics and links,  plus the announcement of our first Friday Gallery winner!

 

Craft Room

Posted by Living Crafts  |  Dec 26, 2011 10:46 AM

Black Hen, Little Chick
The Mama Hen Surprise story that accompanies these lovely characters is in Living Crafts Spring 2011. Instructions
Felt Board
Templates for making a fantastic Felt Play Board from Living Crafts Fall 2010Instructions
Felted Wool Soap
Fun project, loved by adults and children alike- these make a perfect gift. Instructions
Knitted Lamb
Sweet poem and story accompany this project in Spring 2010. Instructions
Forget-Me-Not Easter Egg
Felted egg accompanying Easter story from Spring 2010. Instructions
Fruit Basket Ornament
Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Winter 2010. Instructions
Pine Needle Heart
Bring a little of the outdoors inside. Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Living Crafts Winter 2010. Instructions
Decorated Egg with Angel
This angel ornament is a such a delicate tiny wonder! Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Living Crafts Winter 2010. Instructions
Felted Rose Ornament
A gorgeous ornament for your home or yourself! Part of our Ornament Exchange featured in Living Crafts Winter 2010. Instructions
Crocheted Child Horse Rein
Children love to run and play, and these pretend reins add an extra imaginative dimension to their pony games. Instructions
How to grow your own Easter Grass Grow grass for an indoor garden: ideal for Easter, fairy houses and nature tables. Instructions Treasure Purse
This treasure purse makes a great first weaving project. Part of the Weaving with Children article from Living Crafts Spring 2009. Instructions
16″ Doll Cardigan
A perfect, easy to follow design that co-ordinates with our children’s holiday cardigans from Living Crafts Winter 2009. Instructions
Starry Starry Night Holiday Mail Pouch
A lovely wet felted wall hanging that has special pockets for holiday messages! Instructions
Basket Lining
Simple sewing adds so much to a simple woven basket! Instructions
walnut royals
Pine Cone Gnomes
Give this gnome a home! You can make your pine cones a treasure this Christmas. Instructions
Crocheted Crown
This gorgeous crown is so easy and so regal! Instructions
Walnut Royals
These can be made in any character-imagine a witch, a jester, a gnome, and … Instructions
Big Soft Spheres
Soft and squishy playthings are lovely to kick and roll and throw and catch and even just hug . Instructions
Scotty Dog Sweater and Beret
A perfect knitting project for a warm winter gift. Instructions
Tea Pot Ornament
This adorable teapot can be used both a  an ornament or for your child’s play. Instructions

Soul Crafts: An Earth Loom in the Garden

Posted by Richard Merrill  |  Oct 24, 2011 05:04 AM

By Richard Merrill, October 2011
This article includes much of the text of “Weaving in the Garden” published in the Summer 2010 issue of Living Crafts.

The Garden Loom, the Earth Loom

Garden Loom in morning light

Garden Loom in morning light

A Garden Loom is a variety of Earth Loom, which we developed for community weaving. Other Earth Looms are the original Earth Loom, nine feet tall or so, for big community weavings, and the Story Loom, an Earth Loom that can be used indoors or out. The Story Loom is very much like a Garden Loom with trestle-style feet. The weaving itself is not about fine craft, but about a heartfelt experience, whether in communion with flowers, birds and butterflies in solitary wonder in your garden, or in community with others to honor a person or a place of significance.

An excerpt from Susan Barrett Merrill’s book, ZATI The Art of Weaving a Life:

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere — it is within each of us.”

— Black Elk

“The Earth Loom is a living symbol, planted in the ground, of our intention to weave together the fabric of community. Just as the Journey Loom is a means for the individual to study integration of the self, the Earth Loom helps communities to unite hands and hearts to build and weave together an emblem and an instrument of peace. With many hands on both sides of the loom, we use our differences to create art in which every contribution is vital to the design as a whole. Your Earth Loom may be built by your organization, corporation, school, family, camp, day care, hospital, prison, government agency, nursing home, or in your garden or back yard. Earth Loom weavings can be a meditation, a gift of friendship and an inspiration for action.

Children and adults can weave together. People in wheel chairs can move right up to the loom and weave, with room for two on each side. Earth Looms may be made with indigenous materials by the hands of those who will weave on them. Weaving together is so powerful– it is a literal act of weaving together the community. In this simple and ancient art, we connect with others whose fingers have touched the same threads to create the same fabric with the same purpose. It is a deep-rooted bond in the heart that can change the way we define our neighborhood.”

This description is still the best summary of what the Earth Loom is, and what we can do with it. One of the Earth Looms is a Garden Loom, a medium-sized Earth Loom made to be planted in the garden, like the Garden Loom at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine. If you put feet on the Garden Loom, you can use it indoors or out.

Who Weaves on Earth Looms?

Garden Earth Looms enlivened the wedding of two young teachers at our local Waldorf School. A recent Interfaith Gathering in California included an Earth Loom near the garden of the grounds as a way to weave an interfaith community literally and in meaningful ways.

Garden looms

Garden looms at a wedding and an interfaith celebration

Children at an elementary school in eastern Maine internalized lessons about the environment by writing out – on birch bark – their personal commitments to help and heal the earth, and weaving them into their garden weaving.

Children's environmental weaving

Children's environmental weaving

At a community center in Northern Maine, families wove a celebration of fall, and food to feed the birds over the long winter months. In Maine, both the Brunswick Public Library and the Blue Hill Library recently celebrated literacy with Earth Looms. Brunswick’s main street was the scene for their celebration.

Girl weaving popcorn and cranberries for the birds

Portable Garden Loom

A portable Garden Loom goes to the city

The Earth Loom in all its forms is a center for celebration and community creativity wherever it is found. Earth Looms and Garden Looms have been built across the US, in Canada, Australia, Jamaica, Bermuda, and there are plans for looms in India and Peru. In each location, the loom is built of local materials, often by friends and partners of the weavers, another bond in weaving together community.

Boys weaving on loom in Bermuda

This loom was built of native wood by a Bermudian carpenter, for a program at the island's Kaleidoscope Arts Centre.

A tapestry of spirit

We are all interwoven in a visible and invisible tapestry of energy, light, thought and spirit. The healing of humanity is tied to the healing of the earth as we contribute our unique gifts to each weaving. It is easy to remember the relationship of earth and spirit when weaving in the garden, where every seed, shoot, and leaf is a miracle, and the earth seems informed directly by spirit.

The Garden Loom can be a place of private solace and contemplation in one’s own garden or a magnet for social gatherings in a public setting. Whether placed in the ground or made portable, it always brings a deep and surprising experience to those who weave together.

The Life of the Garden: The Breathing of the Earth

The garden’s life moves in an arc throughout the year, from planting and gestation to summer growth, to harvest, to preparation for rest, to sleep, gathering its power for the coming renewal. Normally we relate to the garden through only part of its life—the new growth, the summer abundance, and the harvest.
What if we could speak to the garden, appreciate it, and commune with it all year long? We would get to know its inner life more intimately, and understand better its year-long breathing cycle: exhaling life energy throughout spring and summer, and inhaling the quiet power of the earth through the fall and winter.
The garden responds to loving acts, just the way our own loved ones do. When someone is tired and feeling a little blue, what a boost it is just to have a hug or a kind word! Our gardens feel the same.

The Shape of the Earth Loom

Since my wife Susan is a weaver and speaks to her inner life through a meditative kind of weaving, she wanted to relate to our garden with a weaving loom. We thought of the Earth Loom, a free-standing loom made of seven logs. Normally it’s nine or ten feet tall; it seemed too large in scale for our garden. All our looms are modeled on our original seven-stick design. From the Journey Loom, sized to fit in your lap, to the celebration-size Earth Loom, each has the same parts, and each part has its role in the design and symbolism of the loom.

The finished loom reminds us of a Shinto sacred gate. We were told by a Buddhist teacher that the vertical and horizontal pieces are like the gate itself, and the angled pieces are like the sloping beams of the temple roof behind. One of our Russian friends told us that the loom shape is also remarkably like a Russian figure called a krusha, an ancient symbol of home.

We give each of the seven pieces a meaning, so that the loom is an emblem of our human experience. The meanings aren’t meant to be absolute, but they provide frequent reminders of the inner qualities of our experience, and how it harmonizes with that of the garden. The wide top cross-beam with the angled ends is represents the Creator or the creative power, whatever that may mean to you. The vertical posts represent two states of experience: being and doing. The angled pieces represent balanced communication: listening and talking. And the two horizontal weaving beams represent feeling (the bottom beam, closer to the earth) and thinking (the upper horizontal weaving beam, the “head” of the loom).

The Birth of the Garden Loom

We decided to make our loom smaller and lighter than the Earth Loom, to be harmonious with the garden and surrounding trees. We bought some cedar and made our first Garden Loom. The cedar smells heavenly and weathers beautifully: it watches over the garden without dominating it. About six feet tall and three feet wide, it looks beautiful in all seasons, and helps us experience the life of the garden throughout the year.

We planted our first loom in the spring. Morning glories went in by the loom so they could climb it throughout the spring and summer, and sunflowers are nearby to give the birds a snack in the fall.

Then we prepared the loom for weaving for the first time. The vertical threads are the warp: we used natural garden jute. We cut a piece about fourteen feet long (it seems long, but it’s right!) and doubled it, bringing the ends together. The doubled warp is about seven feet long. We put the “folded” part over the top beam of the loom, and threaded the long ends through the loop, pulling it tight into a knot known as the lark’s head, snugging it up against the front edge of the top beam.


For a slide show of warping the Garden Loom or Earth Loom, visit http://www.weavingalife.com/support/support-warping-garden-loom.php


The dangling ends reached well below the bottom beam. We brought them down over the front of the beam and drew them under and behind, then back up to the front. We brought one end on each side of the vertical pair and tied them just like tying shoelaces. Thirty warp threads seemed right for our first weaving, plus one in the center so we always remember our own center as we weave. The simple steps of tying on the warp fell into a pleasant rhythm – we were sorry when the last warp was tied. Tuning in to natural rhythms is always a favorite part of appreciating the rhythms of the garden.

Susan Barrett Merrill at Garden Loom

Susan Barrett Merrill weaving on her garden loom.

Cattail stalks from last year stand by the pond; we cut the long dry leaves and wove them in and out of the warp threads. We found milkweed pods that had lasted the winter, still filled with silky seeds. Our catnip patch was already growing heartily that spring, and needed some thinning. We wove the sturdy stalks into our spring weaving above the dry cattail leaves, mixing last year’s life, now dead and brittle, with the new life of the coming spring.

Throughout the summer we wove in long grasses, stalks and stems, flowers and yarns. In the fall we gently wove maple leaves into an arrangement on a sunny morning, making a stained-glass effect. Our homage to the season was our message to our garden that we remembered and reflected on its preparation for a quiet winter sleep.

In late fall, dried stalks of fall weeds, the ever-present cattail leaves, and vines from the beans we had harvested, became a twig-like support for winter snows. Throughout our snowy winter, our loom brought new life to the garden as the birds visited it often. As the birds perched on the snow-covered beams of the loom, needing the food hidden beneath the snow, it reminded us of the unseen processes beneath the covering of winter—the quiet gathering of strength, the preparation of the soil for the warming rays of the spring sun, and the microscopic life of the soil that is forever unseen but essential for our being.

Garden loom covered in snow

Our Garden Loom after a lush snowfall

And throughout the year, the sunlight and shadows on the loom keep us ever mindful that our very existence comes from those rays that flood the garden in summer and cast the long shadows of winter. The sun is the center, the life, and the hope of the garden.

Our loom gave us a new appreciation of the life of the garden. Here in northern Maine, we were so used to thinking of it as a late-spring arrival with a brief summer fling followed by a short fall and the early onset of a long winter. Now we saw that the winter rest of receiving slowly-prepared nutrients in the soil gives the garden the power to herald its own coming in the spring, to give generously throughout the summer and fall in flowers, ripening fruits, and a plentiful harvest, and to tell us of the seasons of our lives as the darkness seems endless. In the words of Gordon Bok’s song Turning Toward The Morning:

“It’s a shame that we don’t know what the little flowers know.

They can’t face the cold November, they can’t take the wind and snow.

They put their glories all behind them, bow their heads and let it go,

But you know they’ll be there shinin’ in the morning.”

Building Your Loom

We love to build our looms out of cedar. Here in Maine where we live, white cedar is a native renewable resource. Responsibly-harvested red cedar is not so easy to find, but is a wonderful wood to work with. Both are naturally rot-resistant, and will last for years in the ground. Cedar weathers to a beautiful silvery gray. Please note that these plans are provided for personal use, not commercial use.

Tools you will need:

Tools for building a Garden Loom

Tools for building a Garden Loom

Table saw or hand-held circular saw for ripping pieces to narrower width
Hand saw for mortise cuts (or use circular saw)
Carpenter’s square for squaring corners and marking cuts
A plane for smoothing edges and corners
A chisel about 1” wide for cutting out mortises
An electric or hand drill (I use a brace-type drill, shown)
A 7/16” drill bit at least 6 inches long (I use a sharp spade bit)
An adjustable wrench for tightening nuts
Sandpaper for finishing

Material List

The Garden Loom parts will be made out of the stock below, cut based on the Cut List, and assembled with the hardware listed.

Lumber Stock Qty
4 x 4 x 10 ft ( used to make part A) 2
2 x 6 x 4 ft (used to make part B) 1
2 x 4 x 8 ft ( used to make parts C & D) 2

Hardware

Hardware Qty
Bolts: 3/8 x 3-1/2” 5
Bolts: 3/8 x 5-1/2” 2
Nuts and washers, 3/8” 7 each

Cut List

A: 4 x 4 ripped to 2-3/4” square, and cut to 9’-6” long
B: 2 x 6 x 46” long, ends angled 25 or 30 degrees
C: 2 x 4 x 42” long (two of these) ripped to 2-3/4” wide
D: 2 x 4 x 31” long (two of these) ripped to 2-3/4” wide

 

The Garden Loom is made from standard-size lumber stock cut down a little to make it more graceful. What woods to use? Construction lumber is made of spruce or hemlock, which do not weather well; that is why we prefer to use cedar. We can get it locally, and it lasts for years outdoors and in the ground. If you can find sustainably harvested western red cedar, it’s a wonderful wood to work with — straight and stable, with a lovely aroma. You may also use fir, which weathers reasonably well.

You may work with the standard sizes if you don’t have the ability to rip the pieces (cut narrower), but the narrower pieces will look more graceful. If you use the standard sizes, you will need to make the mortises (spaces cut into the wood) wider to fit. Mortises should be 1/4” wider than the piece that will fit in the mortise, to allow for shrinkage and expansion due to weather.

Hardware

Be sure to use galvanized hardware so it will stand up to the weather. Plain steel bolts will rust quickly out of doors, and stainless steel is expensive!
The Cut List above gives you the lengths and sizes of the wood parts.

Let’s start building

Leave the top beam at its full width, and cut the ends at angles of 25 degrees (30 degrees is OK).

Garden Earth Loom Plan

Get measurements for the hole locations from the plan. Measure carefully, and remember you will be drilling holes as you assemble the loom, not beforehand.

Rip the 4 x 4 pieces to 2-3/4” square. Cut them to 9-1/2 feet long. Plane the sides smooth, and bevel or round the corners with the plane. You may cut the tops of these pieces in a pyramid. [Illus_detail1.jpg] It’s a clean way to finish the tops, and it’s functional, as it helps the posts shed rain.

To read the dimensions, enlarge the image at left by clicking on it, then clicking on the image you see.

Vertical post and mortise methodsCarefully measure and cut the mortises. Lay the vertial pieces side by side to measure, then cut them individually. The mortises should be 1/4” wider than the cross pieces to give a little play while assembling, and to allow for the cross pieces swelling when they’re wet.

To cut the mortises, carefully saw across the vertical piece to a 3/4” depth at both ends of the mortise, then chip out the wood between the cuts with your chisel. (see the illustration below) Turn the chisel upside down as shown, so the tip doesn’t bit too deeply. The bottom of the mortise shouldn’t have any big bumps or ridges on it.

Another way to cut a mortise is to use a power saw. Set the blade depth to 3/4”. Cut the two cross cuts for each mortise, then make several cross-cuts between those cuts about 1/4” apart. Chip out the standing pieces with your chisel, and smooth the bottom of the mortise.

NOTE: Don’t mortise the angled pieces yet. You’ll mark them and mortise them as we assemble the loom.

Rip all the 2 x 4 pieces to 2-3/4” wide. Plane the cut edges, and bevel or round the corners. Sand everything smooth, especially the cross beams (C), which will be used for weaving.

Assembling the loom

How it goes together

Drill the holes as you assemble the loom. It’s easiest to lay the parts down on a large flat part of your yard, or a driveway with scraps under them to level and protect them, or lay them on sawhorses, to lift them off the ground for drilling and tightening the bolts.

Lay the vertical pieces parallel with 30-1/4” between them. Lay the cross pieces on them, checking to see they fit the mortises cut out for them. Match them to the illustration. This will be your loom assembly.

Now remove the top beam (the one that’s wider, with angled ends) and mark the places for the three holes. Drill them with the 7/16” spade bit. Lay the top beam back in its mortices, carefully centered. Make certain the top beam and vertical beams form 90-degree angles, so the loom will be square.

Cutting angle mortise

Cutting the angled mortises

Mark the two angled pieces to show their intersection, scribing angled lines along the sides. Remove the two angled pieces and mortise them as shown, with your marks as reference. This is probably the trickiest part of making the loom. The two pieces are identical; when they’re finished, fit them together, so their mortises match. They should look like a wide upside-down V. Mark the center of their intersection, and drill a hole through both pieces.

Place a 3-1/2” bolt through the hole in both pieces, lay them back down on the loom assembly, and align the bolt with the center hole in the top beam. Check where the ends of the angled pieces cross the cross-beam. Center everything carefully, and drill all the way through center of the intersection where the angled piece, the cross beam, and the vertical beam meet. Drill through all three pieces. Do this for both sides.

Thread the long bolts through these holes.

Now center the bottom cross beam and drill two holes through it and the vertical posts.

Thread bolts through the remaining holes. Place a washer on each bolt at the back, then thread a nut onto each bolt. Position everything and begin tightening the nuts. Tighten them finger tight at first to make sure everything is in position, then tighten them firmly with the wrench until the washer just begins to bite into the wood.

Planting the Loom

Dig two holes in your garden, 33 inches from center to center, and at least 30 inches deep. Carry your loom (it’s not very heavy if you made it from cedar) and stand it in the holes. If it stands too high, you can cut a little off the legs to lower it. The bottom beam should be about 18” to 24” above the ground.

When you’re satisfied with the height, hold the loom so it looks vertical. Fill in the holes around the feet of the loom, and tamp the soil firmly.

You’re ready to warp and weave!

Warping the Garden Loom

A slide show of these photos in sequence is available on the Weaving a Life website support pages. Click on “Warping the Larger Looms”

Steps 1, 2 and 3
Lay a folded warp over the top weaving beam from front to back. Pull the ends through the loop.

This will make a “lark’s head” knot. Tighten the knot up to the bottom of the top beam. Pull the ends down, separating them and keeping them parallel.

Bring them under the front of the bottom beam. Bring the ends up behind the bottom beam. Bring the ends around the outsides of the warp. Tie the ends in a half hitch tightly around the warp.

Lift the knot a little to tighten the warp. Bring the knot down again to finish tightening it, and tie a bow knot, just like tying your shoelaces.

The warp should be tight and a little “springy.” If it’s loose, just undo the bow and tighten it again.

Weaving on Your Garden Loom

Remember to use natural jute garden twine for warp, or strong cotton cord. The commonly available green jute will stain your loom. Weave in straw from your mulch, grasses, dried flowers, cornsilk, cattail leaves, or any garden materials. Save sunflower crowns and string cranberries, then weave them in for winter bird feeding.

Susan is a spinner—she makes her own weavings primarily out of her own hand-spun yarns. She keeps out small portions of unspun wool to weave into the Garden Loom.  Roving (combed fibers shaped into thick strands for spinning), or yarns of wool or cotton can be woven in with flowers and other materials. Choose harmonious colors and cooperate with your garden to create a woven sculpture. Natural yarns will weather on the loom, giving the weaving an overall patina.

Train spring climbing flowers into a living weaving. Imagine morning glories twining back and forth among climbing cherry tomatoes and scarlet runner beans: a feast for the eyes and the palate! Some folks shun the pesky woodbine, but it will love climbing into your loom, and will give you a spectacular fall display when its palmate leaves turn brilliant red.

Weave in seasonal plants and materials for a season-by-season conversation with your garden. The Garden Loom is at home in any growing zone. Plant for your zone from the charts below. These are by no means exhaustive. Some important plants may have been left out, and others may not be quite right for your garden or your zone. USDA zones are approximate guides. Local conditions may vary widely from the suggested zone characteristics. Experiment for yourself, and find a new area of creativity!

We prefer non-hybridized plants that can be grown from their own seed, giving us a penchant for heirloom varieties from local seed saving projects.

For growing zones from the USDA, find their map at http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html. Another wonderful resource is Dave’s Garden (http://davesgarden.com), a very informative website with an encyclopedic plant guide found at http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf. Dave’s claims the largest online plant database in the world, with information and photos for 169,062 plants at last count.

A few of our favorite plants for different seasons and conditions are given below. If young children will be visiting your garden, be sure to use only edible or non-poisonous plants!

One heirloom seed project is run by a Maine high school: the Medomak Valley Heirloom Seed Project at Medomak Valley High School.

Summer climbing flowers and plants:

Z4-11 Clematis (Clematis Ranunculaceae) varieties for different zones.

Z4-11 Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

Z4-8 Morning Glory (Convolvulaceae Ipomoea purpurea) Try the variety President Tyler from Medomak Valley Heirloom Seed Project in Waldoboro, Maine

Z5-11 Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)

Z8-11 White Moonflower (Convolvulaceae Ipomoea) a special morning glory that blooms at night.

Z3-9 Climbing cherry tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Z3-9 The currant tomato, (Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium)

Z3-9 Green beans (Try heirloom varieties such as Marvel of Venice or Garden of Eden, from Johnny’s Seeds in Maine, or from your local heirloom seed source)

Z3-9 Scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus)

Z3-9 Peas (shelling peas — Pisum sativum or sugar snap peas Pisum sativum macrocarpon)

Z5-8 Hibiscus: (Malvaceae Hibiscus syriacus)

Z8-11 Climbing Lily: (Liliaceae Gloriosa superba) beautiful climbing flowers. NOTE: NOT for children’s garden. All parts of plant are poisonous.

Summer plants to grow around the loom:

Z3-9 Echinacea – hummingbirds love them!

Z3-9 Chives – edible lavender flowers, light scent

Z3-9 Joe Pye Weed (Asteraceae Eutrochium) – tall (8ft), large clusters of flowers loved by bees, hummingbirds. Prune in summer for flowering at lower height.

Z4-8 Nasturtiums (Tropaeolaceae Tropaeolum) – plant in spring, Z9-11 plant in winter: Nasturtium have delicious edible flowers, bright color. Leaves are elegant and peppery, good addition to salads

Z4-10 Wildflower mix – plant in spring for summer bloom. Find a “songbird mix” and attract a spring symphony.

Z5-10 Poppy (Papaver somniferum) – bright flowers, hardy to early frost

Z5-10 Stokes Aster  (Stokesia laevis) small star-like flowers

Z4-10 Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Fall Plants

Z3-9 Daylily (Hemerocallidaceae Hemerocallis) full sun to partial shade

Z3-9 Late-Flowering Boneset (Asteraceae serotinum) attractive to bees, butterflies and birds

Z9-11 Fall Squill (Liliaceae Scilla numidica) Lily family, all parts of plant poisonous

Z6-9 Wishbone Flower (Scrophulariaceae Torenia fournieri) related to snapdragons and foxglove full sun to shade

Z9-11 Nasturtiums (plant midsummer to late summer)

Spring Flowers

Z4-9 Wildflower mix. Plant in late fall for early bloom.

Z4-10 Poppy — plant in late fall for early spring blooming

Z8-11 Trumpet Vine Clytostoma callistegioides perennial, spring bloomer

Nesting Materials on the Stem

To give your local bird population abundant materials for nesting, try planting herbs and “weeds” that provide natural fibrous nesting materials such as:

Eastern US: Pokeweed (Poke Milkweed) (Asclepias exaltata)

West and Southwest: Indian Milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa), a California native, or Desert Milkweed (Asclepias erosa) a native of both California and Nevada.

Provide Nesting Materials

It’s such a thrill to set out nesting materials, then watch birds alight nearby, cock their heads, hop a little, then dart down and tease out some fibers from your offering. You helped provide a cozy home! Some recommended materials:

Wisps of  wool from sheep, llama, alpaca, angora rabbits and mohair goats

The birds will love to use your own hair in their nests

Down from cattail flowers (Typha latifolia)

Milkweed silk saved from previous fall

Dried grasses, yarns (short lengths), Spanish moss, dog hair (really!), feathers, needles from long-leaf pine, cord, string, thread (short lengths), narrow fabric scraps (recommended by A Home for Wild Birds –– a-home-for-wild-birds.com)
–– NOTE: Cut your yarn, string and fabric strips to shorter lengths. Birds Forever –– http://www.birdsforever.com –– recommends not longer than 8”.

Winter bird food

Plant flowers and non-woody shrubs near your loom to fill birds’ larders all winter long. Since these plants may produce seeds you don’t want sprouting among your beautifully tended flowers, you may want to keep them a little distance from the “show” garden.

Sunflowers: Any kind will do, but saving a few black sunflower seeds from your birdfood supply to plant near your loom will give you a natural feeder. You can also cut them in the fall a foot or more below the flower and weave the stems in to create a sunflower feast.

Soak hulled seeds in water to soften them, then use a needle and thread to string them like popcorn. Weave your sunflower seed garland into a winter weaving, and watch the birds come to appreciate your work.

Safflower seed: Plant in fall one year ahead for bird feeding the following winter. The University of California at Davis website (http://agric.ucdavis.edu/crops/oilseed/ saff3plant.htm) says “a [safflower] plant sown in November may reach six feet tall (1.9 m) and have over 50 viable flower heads the next season.”

Winged Sumac aka Shining or Dwarf Sumac: (Rhus Copallina) Plant sumac near the garden, and leave the fruited heads in place on the plant. It will give birds the sheltered perches they prefer, and the heads last into the winter, even after leaves are gone.

Staghorn Sumac or common sumac (Rhus typhina) Leaves turn brilliant red in fall, fruits stand in a vertical cluster instead of hanging as in Winged Sumac. This is also the source of “Indian lemonade,” an indigenous drink made from the ripe red fruits, with a tart taste.

Hummingbirds

Plant any of the following to attract hummingbirds. These are all at home in Zones 4-9, and may well extend beyond.

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Larkspur (Consolida ajacis)

Calliopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)

Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana)

Lion’s Ear (Leonotis nepetifolia) annual

Wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri)

Nasturtium

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

Butterflies

Monarch, swallowtail, mourning cloak butterfli

Left to right: Monarch, Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak

Butterflies can be a mixed blessing, as many of their larvae will eat your precious garden produce. However, most of the colorful butterflies we love to see vie with blossoms for beauty, and are welcome in any garden. Monarchs, those famous (now endangered) migrators, tiger swallowtails, mourning cloak—these grace any gardenscape with color and motion.

luna moth on branch

Luna moth

You may even see the spectacular luna moth if you have hickory, walnut, sweet-gum, persimmon, or birch trees. The larvae of the Luna moth will not decimate trees! We should welcome them, because according to the University of Michigan animal diversity website, http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu, wild silk moths, of which the Luna moth is one, have declined in numbers since the 1960s due to habitat destruction and increased use of bright vapor lights that disrupt mating (one more strike against light pollution).

A good reference for plants that will attract butterflies and birds is Floridata, http://www.floridata.com, a comprehensive list of Florida plants, many of which grow throughout the US. Floridata suggests, among others, dill, cosmos, sunflowers, parsley, zinnias, Echinacea, black-eyed susan, and goldenrod to invite those butterflies.

Songbirds

Songbirds love to eat the seeds and fruits of plants and shrubs. By thoughtful planting, you can provide hearty meals for our feathered neighbors. You and the birds may be “Blackberrying” at the same time. Plant these around the loom, and make sure some are near a window. Children love to watch birds feeding on nature’s plant banquet.

http://www.floridata.com/lists/bird_plants.cfm

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Strawberry (Fragaria X ananassa)

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Your Garden Loom is a beautiful garden sculpture; it harmonizes with other cedar garden furniture, trellises and gates. It can give you great pleasure throughout the year as it brings you closer to the amazing events happening almost unseen every minute in your garden, and brings the feeling of the seasons deeper into your life.

Giveaway

Story Loom Plans

Weaving a Life is giving away a free download of plans for the Story Loom — the indoor-outdoor loom with trestle feet. For a chance to win these plans, a $45 value, including full-size templates and other information not in this article, please leave a comment on this post by Sunday, November 20.  We’ll announce the winner by Monday, November 21st.

Poster

Garden Loom poster

Our own 11 x 17 poster of the many of the above plantings for the Garden Loom, with color-coded planting zones, is available at http://www.weavingalife.com/p_garden-loom-poster.php

Happy Garden Weaving and Earth Looming!

If you cannot or prefer not to build your own, you may purchase a Garden Loom or Story Loom from Weaving a Life.

Garden Loom: http://www.weavingalife.com/p_garden-loom.php

Story Loom: http://www.weavingalife.com/p_story-loom.php

Richard Merrill, Weaving a Life

Richard Merrill lives with his wife, Susan Barrett Merrill, in the coastal Maine village of Brooksville. A graphic designer, songwriter, and puppeteer, Richard is the author of many articles on Weaving a Life subjects for Voices (the journal of the American Academy of Psychotherapy), Handwoven Magazine, and Living Crafts.

Contact us:

Email Richard Merrill, author of this article

Email Susan Barrett Merrill, founder of Weaving a Life

 

We have a winner!

 

Nancee Jo Luciani Submitted on 2011/11/20 at 4:22 pmSerendipity. That’s what finding this blog was.
A conversation recently about fiber arts spurred a renewed interest for me in weaving.
I renewed my mom’s garden this summer and it is a wonderful zen place for me to create. I paint and carve birds and decoys alongside my two parrots during the warm months. Being disabled, I spend much of my time enjoying the gardens and patio and creative space I have.
I’m always adding “just a few things” that speak to me. And this blog about the Garden Loom/Earth Loom did just that. I can already imagine it standing sentinel and becoming alive, giving me a place to create something new and different.
In addition, I work with a Folklife Center and this is an absolutely marvelous project for their fiber arts focus in 2012. An interactive inter-generational activity that everyone can enjoy being a part of and watching it grow.
Thanks for sharing! You truly have inspired me!!

 

 

From Sunlight to Sweater

Posted by Stevanie Pico  |  Aug 25, 2011 06:15 AM

Columbia Sheep

Imperial Stock Ranch

My dear friend, Jeanne Carver (Imperial Stock Ranch), has always referred to her wools as “nature’s miracle.”  She speaks of the energy transferrance of sunlight to the grass to the sheep to our finished objects.  We had a number of our handspinning students ask us for a class on the full process of taking a fleece through all it’s processing

and I’ve been to ISR during shearing a number of times so I asked Jeanne if we could use her wool for the project.  She invited our group out to see the shearing and selected the 10 for our project. Back in studio, our group rolled out their “blankets,”  the intact fleece, so that they could pick out all vegetable matter and short cuts.

A Pico Accuardi student picks her fleece

We began our washing process by talking about all the ways you can clean a fleece (some stinkier than others) choosing to scour in our studio washing machine using just Murphy’s Oil Soap.

Everybody dyed their fleece the colors they hoped to see in their sweaters.  I encouraged everyone to dye a larger percentage of their wool the overall color they wanted with a small percent a contrast color and another a deeper shade to get their color to really pop!  Some decided to blend in different fibers, such as our 100% silk, to make it softer and add deeper color interest.

Columbia Wool dyed in three colors

Our next class took place at Andersen fiber works in Gresham.  They are the one place in Portland where you can rent time on the drum carder to blend your own batts.  You

Andersen Fiberworks, downtown Gresham Oregon

can see some of the owner, Jen’s, beauties under the Hanks in the Hood label ( I’m ridiculously addicted to anything with sparkle she makes!).  Everyone took turns putting their dyed locks through the mini picker to remove seeds and then blended their fiber on Jen’s large Duncan carder and began test spinning their fiber.  Did I mention Andersen fiber works serves local beer and wine?

Wine and Chocolate at Andersen Fiberworks

The next piece of the process is going to be spinning to gauge for specific projects for the group.  We just got serious practice at the fleece to foot at sock summit couple of weekends ago- we had to go from sheep to pair of socks in 5 1/2 hours!  Yes, the yarn had to be spun to fingering weight, plied.

I think I’m going to make a pretty simple sweater out of my Lavender-mauvey-grayish fiber.  I”m still deciding about whether or not it should be fully picked and carded or just spun from locks, whether I should , how I want to ply it, etc.  Sometimes it’s fun to just let the fiber tell you what it needs to be.

Stevanie Pico dyes yarn for Pico Accuardi Dyeworks in Portland, OR.  She has also designed colorways for Cascade Yarns, Imperial Stock Ranch Yarns and Autoctona jewelry.  Her work is featured in Chrissy Gardiner’s Indy Socks,  Larissa Brown’s My Grandmother’s Knitting and Judy Becker’s Beyond Toes.

She enjoys rocking out with her three kids, running around with Larissa Brown and Deb Accuardi, playing with yarn and fabric, spinning weird yarns and singing really loud.

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Get your own Sheep to Sweater on!


Pico Accuardi Dyeworks is offering a giveaway of 8 oz. of wool roving to start your own project.  Winner may have the roving dyed a custom color.  See below for palette ideas or send a photo  to stevanie@picoaccuardi.com.  To enter drawing for this gift, valued at $32 please leave a comment  by Sunday August 28th midnight pst.  Winner will be announced on Monday.

We Have a Winner!

Mary Whited
Submitted on 2011/08/25 at 2:44 PM
WOW! What gorgeous colors! I don’t know if I could choose if I were to win. I love to dye my roving, I use the Slow Cooker method.

Grow Your Own Dirt-Free Grass!

Posted by Living Crafts  |  Mar 8, 2011 09:39 PM

Day 1

Soak a cup of wheat or lentil in a bowl of water overnight (minimum 12 hours).  For a list of items needed, click here, when I thought i could do this day-by-day, but the lentils took longer …

Lentils can be stubborn, so this year, finally after 3 days I saw the first sprouts of my lentils, which you can see here:

 

Basically the difference in growing lentil and wheat is that wheat sprouts within 12 hours or less, but lentils take longer.

Once you see the first few sprouts like this, you can take out the lentils out of water and spread them in a dish or vase.  If the dish is deep, be sure to place some pebbles at the bottom for drainage.

 

Day 2

In the morning, spread the soaked grains flat on a plate, terra cotta, or any other dishes,

with approximately 1/4 inch thickness. For deep vases and bowls, place rocks at the bottom

and spread the grain on top to establish desired height.

Soak a piece of cloth with water and place on top of the soaked grain. During the day check on the cloth and make sure it stays wet.

Two or three times a day, while you hold the dish towel over the sprouts, rinse with tap water and drain.  In the morning, when you wake up run to your baby sprouts and rinse them and wet the towel as it gets dry overnight.  Continue to do this a few days until you see roots going down and all the grains are holding together through the roots, and sprouts start to shoot up.  That’s when you’ll be able to take off the dish towel and let them see the sunshine and the spray bottle goes to work.

 

Day 3 and Beyond

You’ll notice the grain has sprouted with tiny roots. Once you see the tiny roots, take off the wet cloth, and let running tap water go through the grain and wash any bacteria it may have built up. Keep rinsing the grains at least 2-3 times per day to make sure they stay moist and bacteria-free. Make sure you drain excess water after rinsing, so the roots do not sit in water.

Depending on the temperature and climate you will see the greens shoot up on the third or fourth day. Once you see the grass, it is helpful to also keep a spray bottle handy filled with water, to spray the grass to keep it moist. Children love to do the spraying!

Still, you’ll have to wash the roots 2-3 times a day to keep them moist.

Assembling the grass in the basket:

When ready to place in a basket, place a large piece of newspaper inside your basket and cut out the pattern for the bottom to find approximate measurements.

Then take the grass out of the dish and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the grass to the shape of basket.

Line the basket with plastic and fit the grass inside.

Now you are ready to delight a loved one!

Special Tips:

It is helpful, although not necessary to mix a spoon full of 8% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide with the water for spraying, to keep bacteria away, although repeated rinsing will do the job. Once your grass reaches ½ inch in height you can leave it outside to enjoy fresh air and the sunlight (outside temperature should be 45 degrees or more).

You can download the PDF for this tutorial for easy printout here.

Grass Grow-Along – Day 1

Posted by Living Crafts  |  Mar 4, 2011 08:19 PM

a peek of my spring table with lentil grass

a peek of last year's spring table with lentil grass

As I get ready to grow some home-made grass for the arrival of spring, I thought of doing it in a cyber group this year, to share tips, ideas in a group and to grow our knowledge on the subject through your comments and suggestions. A lot of people grow their own sprouts for consumption, in jars or with special appliances designed for growing grass dirt-free. The method can be used for grass that we grow with our children, for our spring table, although the same method can be used with dirt, if you wish.

Before I confuse y’all further, here are the supplies you’ll need for this grow-along project:

1 cup wheat
1 cup lentil
A dish for each
Spray bottle
Water
Dish towel

Today, soak your lentil or wheat in a bowl of water. I will do the same. Tomorrow, I’ll share a photo of what the sprouts look like when they are ready to take out of water and into a dish.

Meanwhile go around your house and see what kind of dishes you want to use to grow your grass in.

Different dishes

here are some terra cotta and pottery dishes i used last year

pottery

this easy-to-make wooden container is made like a deep frame and painted

and here's my favorite cake stand i bought from a yard sale when we went to Cumberland Lake in Kentucky

pottery

when using a deep container like this i place small rocks at the bottom for drainage

this basket is lined with plastic ... nothing like real grass in an Easter basket























  




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