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Women who Weave

Last week I saw a weaving book advertised on craigslist for $10, and asked E to pick it up for ...

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Accidental Chickens!!

So… The weekend had a big surprise. In a word, CHICKENS!!I am part of the local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, ...

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Give Big! join me in helping the Seattle Somali Center

  Today, 5/5, is the Seattle Foundation’s Give Big! day, on which they encourage folks to donate to local non-profits to help out with ...

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Fire Thief KAL!!

Fire Thief is getting popular on Ravelry again. I was so afraid I had muffed it when it went viral ...

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Fire Thief Release Party!

It’s alive!!!I have so much to say about the process of designing, testing, revising, and releasing this pattern. It’s been ...

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Women who Weave

May 30, 2018 10:20 am

Last week I saw a weaving book advertised on craigslist for $10, and asked E to pick it up for me. It’s a copy of Mary M Atwater’s The Shuttlecraft Book of American Hand-Weaving which I knew was a classic, and appeared to be in good condition. 

Mary M Atwater book cover

Inside it’s a treasure. Not only is the book itself full of amazing (for the time) images and so information dense I’m sure I could study it for years, the owner of the book took careful notes on her projects, both in light pencil on the pages themselves and on included pieces of paper: 

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We asked the seller for any history of the weaver herself, but all he knew was that the book came from a local estate sale. If anyone can tell me about Ada Tilton, I would love to know more about her. 

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In general I’ve been encountering remarkable weaver women from the 1800 and 1900’s who significantly shaped American handweaving. I am deliberately saying “American” because Canada, the US, Mexico, and to a lesser extent South America all had some mixing of craft, and many of these women traveled extensively in their lifetimes. The technical aspects of weaving are their own rabbit hole that I’m delighted to be traveling down, but the history of the weavers who preserved and developed handweaving in the Americas are a whole other fascinating area of study. And, from what I can tell, It was almost exclusively women, sometimes with the assistance of their husbands, who built this community.

I have two looms, one of which was designed by Margaret Olofsson Bergman, and the other by Melvina Norwood. As I am learning to weave I am finding all the amazing little touches on both looms that make weaving easier and more enjoyable. They are machines that were designed thoughtfully with an eye to improving the experience of the weaver rather than to simplify manufacture, and they have graceful lines that make them pleasing pieces of furniture that can live comfortably in the home. I can only imagine the many iterations of design and the work that went into their manufacture. 

Beyond the looms, I keep getting drawn in to the history of the women who wrote weaving books, taught classes, and generally shaped the American hand-weaving community, both the teachers I have encountered and their fore-mothers in MM Atwater’s generation. I want to learn more and more about these women and the remarkable culture of technical craft they influenced. I feel I am entering good company.

Accidental Chickens!!

May 26, 2015 5:22 pm


The weekend had a big surprise. In a word, CHICKENS!!

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I am part of the local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, and someone posted this weekend that they needed to re-home three young pullets and a coop. I put my hand up as interested, and they chose me, so  we now have a small coop and three new girls in the family. On the left is Zoe, a Rhode Island Red, in the front is Inara, a Buff Orpington, and in back is Kaylee, an Easter Egger. Most of my friends should get the reference. 

Here’s the coop:

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It looks adorable and cozy. I had been planning to build a coop this summer and get chox in the spring of 2016, so this seemed like a great way to shortcut and get a nicely made coop. Until I noticed the tiny access door, the lack of ventilation, and lack of roosting poles— there are only wobbly sticks at floor height. wtf?

There is also a tray that’s meant to be pulled out for cleaning. It slides quite freely. I’m going to have to figure out how to block it in to keep rats from squeezing in and enjoying a chicken dinner with a side of eggs and scratch. The little tiny bolt latch looks like it would take a dunce of a raccoon about a minute to open. Half of the roof and the lid of the nest boxes cantilevered off the left side also opens part way, but neither provides easy internal access for cleaning.

Oh, and the nest boxes are at floor level without any real separation from the rest of the coop: 

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right now I have grit and water in one, and the girls are puppy-piling in the other to sleep. Once I get roost poles in I’ll chivvy them out of that area and figure out some way to make them more nest-y and less floor-ish. I think another front board and curtains might help. I may place boxes in them for a bit if they don’t take a hint. They are still several months from laying.

So this coop needs some emergency upgrades to make it comfortable, safe, and secure, and the coop build-out is still on plan for some time this summer. This little coop will become an isolation coop, which isn’t a bad thing to have. Once I give it ventilation and a roosting pole, nice waterers, and upgrade the security it should be cozy for some youngsters or a sick hen.

Expect coop projects this week. I have a waterer half built and hardware cloth to put on the bottom of the coop, as well as a hole saw to make ventilation holes under the peak of the roof and roosting poles to put in.

But first, a chicken movie, and then more pictures! The girls had never encountered fresh greens or strawberry tops before today, so were a bit non-plussed by their introduction to dandelion greens, but they started to catch on pretty quickly. The movie was shot after the photos that follow, when Inara had decided the greens weren’t a tentacle monster and she could inspect them herself.

Zoe and Kaylee were first out of the nest box after I put in the greens:

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Zoe pulled off the one dandelion flower and raced back into the nest box with it, then Kaylee started nibbling on the greens:

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Zoe came back for another taste:

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And then Inara got into the action, and I thought to switch to recording video. 😀


Give Big! join me in helping the Seattle Somali Center

May 5, 2015 8:06 am


Today, 5/5, is the Seattle Foundation’s Give Big! day, on which they encourage folks to donate to local non-profits to help out with whatever needs we see in the community and further.

Through Hack Your Clothes I’m donating sewing machines and other sewing supplies as well as my time as a teacher to assist the Somali Center in getting their Sewing and Fashion Design program off the ground. Do you have anything you can give? They’re starting out, so they need lots of help and supplies! Donations of money will allow us to buy what we need, and we also appreciate donations of materials and time. Everything helps!

Below is Sahra’s statement about the center and what they are requesting.

Please join me in Giving Big!


Somali Community Services of Seattle (SCSS) is excited to announce a brand new Sewing and Fashion Design Training Program at our center

Back home, many Somali Elders enjoyed sewing as both a social activity and as a way to create beautiful clothes and accessories for themselves and their families. Here in Seattle, very few members of the Somali community have regular access to sewing machines and the necessary equipment to practice their skills in a comfortable environment.

Somali Elders and Youth have requested this training program as a way for both generations to come together to celebrate Somali culture and fashion, to learn the fundamentals of creating hand-crafted apparel, and to express themselves through design. SCSS is currently recruiting experts to help design our training curriculum and lead classes that begin in July 2015. The program will be completely free and open to Women and Men of all ages.

SCSS has already received generous donations of sewing machines from Hack Your Clothes (a local business), Horn of Africa Services (a local non-profit), and donors from around the country to help us launch the program this summer! We are incredibly excited to begin and we can’t do it without your help!



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