Yarn Counter Saga

My neighbor, Wayne, is good with his hands, something that all men should strive for. Yesterday afternoon, I went to have him replenish the air supply in my bicycle tires, and he showed me what he was doing with the yarn counter.

He had a plank of wood, about 5″ across and maybe 18″ long, on which he had areas clearly demarcated for the yarn winder, the counter, the yarn spool. His plan is to put a bit of a two by four under the counter to elevate it so that, when affixed to the base, its wheel will spins unhindered.

Since the wheel came with a smooth surface, using a lathe or something, Wayne cut a channel into it so that yarn slippage off of the wheel will not be a problem. The groove will remain unpolished so that the yarn will find better traction when the wheel turns.

Furthermore, to ensure resistance-free movement of the cone from which the yarn is being wound, he plans to add some sort of bearing to the spindle. That’s a fantastic idea because sometimes the cones do not turn easily and the yarn pulls taut, with a risk of breakage. This bearing idea reduces and may even eliminate that risk.

To further facilitate the easy movement of the yarn being wound, Wayne is providing another eye for the yarn to pass through on the way to the winder. Thus, there will be two yarn eyes: one proximate to the cone and the other on the winder itself.

Then, he will sand the base and paint it white. I’m not a fan of paint on wood, but hey, he’s building it for me free of charge, and he either didn’t hear or glossed over my comment that I had varnish and polyurethane at home.

Impressed with Wayne’s design for the yarn winder with meter, I asked him if he wished to make a few for sale. Regrettably, he declined. I think Wayne’s device will be better and easier to use than any thing presently out there so much so that I’m tempted to produce a few for sale myself. The biggest impediment is the groove that must be cut in the wheel. But, who’s got the time.

Building a yarn counter

Last year, after being horrified by the cost of something as basic as a yarn yardage counter, I bought a meter counter with the thought of using it to measure yarns. A lot of people don’t want to purchase 1 kg of yarn; maybe all they want is 4 ounces. In addition to that, they may also inquire about the length of the yarn being purchased.

So, I took the meter counter to my neighbor, Wayne, a guy who is good with his hands, a practical man, no metrosexual. Wayne immediately knew how the thing could be put together. He’s going to attach the counter to a small plant of wood, add and sand a spindle (the circumference of a broomstick) on it it, and affix the yarn winder on taking care to ensure it’s set up for right hand use.

The end result is that I should have, for $20-$25 plus the cost of the yarn winder, a device that is of tremendous utility. If I find something that measures yardage rather than meterage, that should be a fine business prospect.

Anyway, enough play for the day. I’ve been up since 3 AM (the wine’s effect didn’t make it through the night) working. I’ve even got some weaving done, thanks to those bright white LED’s I bought in China, and went for a mile and a half walk with the dog around 6 AM. Lots of work still to be done.

Tapestry Mounting

If a thing is to be done, it should be done well. So, I decided to leave the mounting to people who can do it better than I. Still, what I did may be instructive for newbies out there, so I will share it.

  • Step 1: The frame
  • Use a needlepoint frame a bit bigger than the tapestry to be mounted. Fit the corners snugly and tap a small nail into each corner, top and bottom sides, to keep the frame rigid.

  • Step 2: The backing and felt cushion
  • Cut a square of cloth for backing that complements one of the colors in the tapestry of sufficient length and width to be nailed to the frame. Cut a piece of felt a little less than the length and width of the tapestry.

  • Step 3: Preparing the backing
  • Iron the backing cloth to ensure it is smooth and straight. Iron a hem around the cloth to prevent unraveling of the fabric.

  • Step 4: Attaching the backing
  • Use a staple gun to tack the backing cloth to the frame. Make the first tack midway down the length of the frame on one side. Pull the backing cloth on the other side tightly to the frame, make sure the cloth between the frame sides is taut and apply a staple to tack it down. Continue tacking one side, pulling the fabric taut, then tacking the other side until both sides are done. Fold the fabric at the top frame as neatly as possible, pull tight, and tack. Repeat at the bottom of the frame.

  • Step 5: Basting the tapestry to the backing
  • Employ a very fine thread (silk if you have it) of the same color as one of those used in the tapestry. Starting from underneath, leaving a three or four inch tail, pass the needle through the backing and into the top hem of the tapestry. Since the hem should not be visible when the mounting is finished, it’s okay to take big basting stitches.

    Before basting the side of the tapestry, insert the felt for cushioning. The basting stitches under the tapestry can be large; those on the top side should be really tiny and should be placed between the warps in the same space, a few dots down, from which the needle emerged. Do this until the side is basted down. Repeat large basting stitches on the bottom and tiny ones up the side.

    Take the basting stitches back up to the top and half way across the top hem of the tapestry. Do a line of very fine basting stitches down to the bottom hem. Cut the thread and leave a three or four inch hem.

    Do a line of tiny basting stitches across the width of the tapestry; start half way up side. Ensure there is a three and four inch tail on both ends.

    Finally, tie the tail ends of the basting thread on to another thread, ensure it’s snug, then snip to a one inch length.

At the end of this, the tapestry is mounted on a frame and backed, but I think I did something wrong. It’s possible the top and bottom hems should have been folded under, I don’t know. Either way, I decide that mounting is something that should be best left to experts. In the future, when I have time to study it in depth and perfect my skills, I will revisit it.

When You Can’t Sleep…

You drink wine, especially if you are a cheap drunk. I am a cheap drunk. So, after a sleepless night and a run to the airport (to pick up the second piece of luggage that had remained, mysteriously, in Detroit, even as the other suitcase went to Norfolk—while I went to Richmond airport), a side trip to Food Lion netted two bottles of wine: port and a Shiraz. Since the port is guaranteed to knock me out, that’s what I’m drinking in the middle of the day. Unfortunately for me, all I’m getting is the fuzzies.


Prayers ascending for the Abrahamic brethren in Israel who are defending their and their country’s right to exist against the terrorism (the word Hamas means violence in Hebrew) from a brutal and unrelenting enemy. From whence comes Israel’s help? Israel’s help comes from the Lord, her God.

Prayers for the brethren in Christ who have fled Mosul after being given the traditional Islamic choice to non-Muslims: convert, pay jizya (the poll tax that is a mark of dhimma status), or die. Brethren, persecution is the Christian way; it makes us stronger. If they kill us, well, for us, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Hold fast, Israel. Hold fast, Iraqi Christians, God is with you. The battle is the Lord’s, and He will bring the victory home.

Tapestry Mounting

Yes, I’m supposed to be asleep, but sleep won’t come. I began mounting Men Without Limits as one of the stay busy sleepless in the night activities. It ground to a halt because of the lack of a staple gun to nail the backing cloth to the frame. Besides making a sleepy trip to Norfolk to collect one suitcase (and hoping the other has arrived at the local airport), I’ve not been outside. Worse yet, I’m debating the wisdom of mounting it on the wooden frame before sending it. Possibility of a broken frame, you know.

Anyway, the feel of MWL has given me a taste for weaving with silk. Why not? I’ve got lots of silk cotton for warp and enough silk to dye for weft.

“The Farther off from England, the Nearer is to France”

This week, during one of the sleepless periods, I discovered how far Haywood is from where I live.

How come only now? Well, the iPad Maps app, even with Location turned off, only showed localities in China, and with Hanzi script, no less. (Apple has to do of something about that. They’re as annoying as Google and Bing, to name a few sites, who peek at your location even when Location and Do Not Track Me are off; then, they toss you pages in a language that you can’t read well or at all.)

What about GoogleEarth? As bad as Apple’s Maps. Nothing showed in the GE app on the computer; on the iPad, I couldn’t find anything about distance and such. So, until this week, I had no idea how near or far Haywood is from where I live.

Upon discovery of the distance and the difficulties in getting from Point A to Haywood, all I could say was dang! 7 hours worth of driving. The problem? No car. The BMW was wrecked by a woman who changed lanes without looking at what was happening in the lane she was moving into. The Nissan got sold whilst I was out of the country.

Trains? Amtrak has never heard of where Haywood is or of the city closest to it. In fact, I wonder if Amtrak has heard of North Carolina! To get from Point A to Haywood, first a train to maybe South Carolina, and then a 5+ hour Greyhound ride.

Planes? You would imagine that NC is somewhere in Southeast Asia; a ticket can cost $800+, and the journey’s duration would be anywhere from 5 to 11 hours! Some routes require a trip to Atlanta, a long wait, then a trip back up to NC. Frankly, right now, it will take an act of God to get me into an airplane. My skin hasn’t recovered yet from the dehydration that is part of the flight oxygen-deficient air.

So, what to do? I don’t know. I’m not stupid enough to solicit a ride via Craigslist though I have interviews at Haywood and with a prospective landlady. The logistics of getting from Point A to B argue against making two trips to NC because, even if somehow I get a car, the trip would be a two day-er. Two days of driving-induced stress because I don’t trust my eyesight enough to travel at night.

Best I can do is offer a selection of yarns, and gas, to someone who is willing to cart me and my luggage (clothes and yarns) down to NC.

Trust me to find a place off the beaten path!

Sleepless in Virginia

As of today, my body still has not yet adjusted to the time difference between China and the USA. So, I nap during the day, sometimes, and stay up all night bright eyed and bushy-tailed.

So far, I’ve managed to inventory a large amount of yarns, especially the needlepoint ones. I’ve also cleared out several boxes of cone yarns: hemp, linen, cotton, silk, and blends of.

Determined to do something besides stare up at the ceiling during the sleepless night time, I’ve experimented with various WordPress store plugins before settling on two little plugins: WP Simple PayPal Shopping Cart, and Ultimate Tables. They work together beautifully and leave me free to just add inventory rather than fuss and fight with intricacies of an online store. The code for the shopping cart goes inside the tables, and The Store (why call it something more complex and fanciful? After all, I’m the one who’s going to call my studio The Weaving Shed!) Right now, some stuff is on Etsy. I don’t think I will put the cone yarns or the silk mawatas there.

Anyway, I’m going to try for some zzzzzzs. Tired like a dog but sleep won’t come.

Blog Updates

I’ve added a gallery of my tapestries and store to the blog. The Gallery has been long overdue as a response to questions about the work I’ve done. Iceni Wolf’s Head was the first tapestry that I did and with which I was satisfied. Few of my previous endeavors are still around because I either unraveled or tossed them. After Iceni Wolf’s Head, I stopped doing that. Tan Tan is missing from the gallery simply because images of it cannot be found, for one reason or another.

The Store, well, that too has long been in the works. Sure, there’s the Etsy store, but there’s no reason not to have a store here, too. It’s time consuming but necessary because I will not be able to work while doing the Professional Crafts Fiber program and I must have a source of income. I’m rather ticked that my shipments from China have not arrived as yet, and, in spite of the blandishments of the shipper, I doubt they will soon arrive.

Anyway, stop by, look, buy something. Thanks.

Free Tapestry Loom

This is a custom-built tapestry loom, wide enough to make tapestries for commercial interests. It’s located in VA, and cannot be shipped. You must arrange your own pick up. The owner would like it gone by the end of August.


Email me if you’re interested.