Me and my backstrap

This little loom has traveled around the world with me. It is so compact because I am part of the loom.

It is made up of a “C” clamp, a backstrap, which is, like it says, a strap that goes around my back, cards and me. My backstrap is a little crooked but it was my first attempt at weaving without a loom from an article by Laverne Waddington and holds a special place in my heart. I encourage you to look at the amazing pieces she creates with only a backstrap and dowels!

I can recall my long gone cats wandering around as I sat on the floor weaving it. A Swedish modification is the two pieces of wood on a wire I use to attach it to me and my backstrap. My modification is I no longer sit on the floor. I can always find a place to attach or tie the end of my weaving.

Those square cards are what make this a four shaft loom for card weaving.

This little device has brought me hours of fun wherever we may be. I needed a diversion last week so took it out of the drawer and wove a tencel band from a photo I saw on Pinterest.

Now what to do with it?

Lucky Tim

I’m a good isolation buddy. I am easily amused and find plenty of things to keep me occupied. I have time to tackle a lot of long term projects. I went through all my photos and placed a lot of them under the glass on my desk blotter.


Although it’s harder to find things that drop on the desk, it makes me smile every time I see it. Lots of memories.

E574EE45-10AD-4727-97F9-53CFD67FDB74A zipper broke on a favorite fleece vest so I decided to weave another band (it also made the vest a little bigger) to insert a new zipper. Tickled pink with it.

We’ve been spending about every other night in the cabin and I did a lot of the sewing by candle light.

It hasn’t stopped us from streaming our movies and I sleep like a baby with rain falling on the metal roof and coyotes howling nearby. Somehow it seems like all is right with the world.


But it’s not. We had family members affected downstate by The Virus, one critical, and it seems like a ventilator at Stony Brook hospital saved at least one life. I and everyone I know are having lots of emotional swings. I find long walks and staying connected any way I can to friends and families helps. Both of my kids have had video virtual gatherings with friends where they got all dressed up and chatted from home.

I embarked on a new adventure. I am going to keep bees. I got dressed up myself. My empty hive parts arrived last week and have applied the first coat of stain. Today I began putting wax foundations in the hive frames. I need another coat of stain and then wait for the bees to arrive.


I’m almost ready. Better learn how to use the smoker first.

In the meantime, I cook. Tim gets basically anything he asks for.  So far on request, I have made donuts, apple pie, English muffins,

4B1BE146-8E4E-4417-BD44-4973EE1D9477cream caramel, lasagna, salmon, fresh pasta, potato pancakes, and today, roast chicken and Anzac biscuits.


It warms our hearts to eat biscuits that I first made during our first time on Deal Island in 2011. A lifetime ago.

Stay well.

A rainbow or two

Who needs TV when we had a night like last night? We sat down to a late dinner (pork tenderloin, peas, applesauce, salad and brownies) when the seagulls got stirred up. All at once they were all in the air flying. That’s a lot of seagulls in flight and they were joined by a few eagles. It didn’t seem like the eagles started it but it was one great fly fest. Two eagles buzzed right in front of the window where we sat.

At the same time rainbows appeared and kept evolving. It was spectacular.


Today was a bit more mundane.  We took out the boat to patrol the island during one of Washington state’s three halibut fishing days. All boats we saw respected the 200 yard boundary around the island. I worked on docking in wind. And provisioned – I made yogurt, a loaf of bread and dinner.

I finally got my band weaving out and used some of the knots I worked on during my boating course to secure my band to a post.


A lovely weaving spot except it’s under a barn swallow nest on the porch.  We’ll see if they keep letting me weave there. Plus there’s an otter under there as well. It’s a sanctuary out there!

I’ve been working on an aran sweater for myself. It’s coming along, s l o w l y.   I actually knit the whole back piece before we left but learned it was WRONG and I had to rip it all out. This is RIGHT. And so pretty.


Here’s a panoramic view of the harbor with our boat, the Auklet, tied up alongside a clean dock. The harbor is protected from the wind but not the birds.




On thin ice

We’ve had a sustained deep freeze and lovely snow. Today I drove across Lake Champlain (on a bridge not ice) and saw lots of tents – the modern ice shanty. Some were alittle  close to open water for my comfort. 

My latest passion is tablet or card weaving. I may try to make 52 bands in 2017. I’ve already made a few. 

I’m working on hat bands, a mandolin strap, a bag for my tablets, a bag for fireplace stuff, and want to make a new backstrap before we head off the grid. The new backstrap will let ME be the loom tension. Very handy and portable.  I did it in Tasmania but was using someone’s discarded nylon  camera strap as my backstrap-perhaps a bit too high tech.

We have a cardinal in the ash tree and an unhinged peacock in the white house. Trying to find balance and stand for issues important to me. And playing with and hugging grandchildren! ( and watching youtube videos to figure out 

Full gear

It took a little while to acclimate, reassess and see what needs to be done on Seguin. There’s always something. 

My door is finished and I’m very happy with it. I had to replace the board to the right of the door. I got to rip and cut wood on the first power saws I ever used, back in 2008. Here’s the reveal:

Once again I had a garter snake encounter but this was more of a stand off. It coiled and hissed at me because I disturbed its peaceful rest: around, under, and probably inside the pump house. 

  It got foggy.  Tim turned on the fog horn to lull me back to sleep – vhf 83, click 5 times. 

 We’ve had visitors this fall including some we’ve met on the island before. 

The Wednesday warriors arrived, just after sunrise, with a solar set up for the Clivus composting toilet down at the cove. It’s a good thing because without the fan the outhouse was less than its usual pristine self. Guess who got to install it? The support person at Clivus was awesome. I called him several times throughout the process. And we’re back in “business”.

 After the fog cleared, painting began. 3 porches and one to go. We had overnight guests; visitors can arrange to stay here through Friends of Seguin, who really appreciated and took in the whole island. 

In the meantime, Tim mowed, weed trimmed and kept the place in shape. We’ve run out of data on our plan so we spend the evenings reading, knitting or weaving (me) and playing cards and trivial pursuit. 

Here are my island creations so far. 


And then of course, there is always lots of sky watching. 



The bands of Deal Island


Warning, the content herein is solely about fiber. If you’re not interested in fiber, talk amongst yourselves.

Since I’ve become more interested in weaving, I decided I would weave during my three month time on Deal Island. And weave I did. Without any loom! I found great resources online: for backstrap inkle weaving and lots of interesting techniques; TWIST, a newsletter and group for tablet weavers; and great tablet patterns from

So I started with what I knew, tablet weaving and made a belt. 20150423-070310.jpgTablet weaving dates back thousands of years and patterns are created by a combination of how the tablets are threaded and then how the pack of tablets is turned. It’s really pretty fascinating because it puts a four shaft loom in the palm of your hand. When I needed more cards, I cut them out from discarded cardboard boxes.

When I ran out of commercial cotton, I spun cotton on a charkha loom and used it in in both tablet weaving and inkle weaving. I used various devices to keep the yarn stretched out while I wove, depending on the weather and on my mood. During nice sunny days, I tied one end to me and the other to either the laundry post or a vertical post near the house. Some days I sat in the sun room and attached to the lovely goose that adorns the coffee table there. often got started by attaching to a door latch and a chair. And off I went.

I occasionally fashioned a backstrap from a pillowcase, but for the most part, I used an old camera case strap I found for the strap. Although I brought string heddles with me, I learned how to make continuous string heddles from any yarn, which was very handy. I found the idea for a simple tensioning device in a back issue of TWIST.20150321-232156.jpg

When my spun cotton dwindled, I turned to sewing thread and wove a couple of ribbons. I had this idea I would weave my own labels for hand knit items, and I did. I experimented with Baltic weave, Andean pebble weave, supplementary weft and horizontal stripe pick up patterns. The patterns are endless and now I want to incorporate them into larger pieces. We’ll see.




Party time


It was Tim’s birthday so we had another party.

I gave him two gifts I made on the island, a handspun, and some hand dyed, tablet woven eyeglass case with a pair of sunglasses.



And a backstrap woven inkle band fir a key chain. These were both learning projects. I learned a lot and he got a gift. The sunglasses were my used ones but his weren’t comfortable. I also brought a new Timex watch for him because his broke just before we left home. He’s been doing fine with a sub though.


I made a batch of ice cream from the Friends of Deal Island Lighthouse cookbook that was good. I used evaporated milk, milk powder, yogurt, honey and vanilla. You whip it together, freeze it for a bit then really whip it. I decided to add some strawberry jam at the second step. This accompanied a peach upside down cake.


I invited the worker bees over and we had a party with hip, hip hoorahs.

All tied up



I can spin cotton yarn on my charkha loom.

It’s a magical process as the thread draws out of the handful of cotton. That little oil can holds lanolin, sold in large cans as a lubricant. Now I am trying to gather enough for a weaving project. I ply (twist to yarns together) on my drop spindle.

Tablet weaving is progressing swimmingly. That’s where I use cards with 4 holes in them as my loom. I have been wearing my new belt for several weeks.

I found a zinc washer to work as a buckle and my pants haven’t fallen down yet. I tie my backstrap loom to the crank on the hoist clothes line. The spinning clothes line was invented in Australia and it’s a marvel. On windy days, it twirls with the wind and clothes dry in an hour!

I am working on a second strap – belt, camera strap – with the cards, in wool. Pretty.



I have also figured out how to inkle weave on a backstrap loom thanks to a fabulous website, published by an Australian woman who lives and weaves in Bolivia.

This ties me to the coffee table leg. I also turn the table on its side and use it as a warping board to measure and organize the warp threads.

Ravelry then put me in touch with another Australian woman who has lived and traveled in Asia to study weaving techniques. And, she’s teaching a course in October in the States, and I’m attending!

So much to do, so little time.

Tim corralled me for the road gang yesterday, gang of me and him, to clear the ditches and culverts on the lighthouse road. It brought back physical memories of the last time we did it. He’s been on his own there for a while so it’s time for me to chip in. I think I cleared 100 yards an hour. Hoo boy.

And my garden grows. Maybe, just maybe, we’re at the end of the tomatoes. I cooked up another batch of sauce a couple of days ago and had soup yesterday.

We are eating arugula, silverbeet, green beans, radishes, beets and carrots. Broccoli and cabbage is coming along but not quite ready to harvest. I seem to be winning my battle with the aphids and rats.


These are some of my hopefuls. I have planted cauliflower , broccoli, cabbage, spinach, carrots, green beans, peas, broad beans, beets, and lettuce. Oh yes, and…TOMATOES! I just hope the little seedlings take hold. Beans are doing well, just like Jack and the Beanstalk. The others are slower.



And here’s where I get to prepare our delicious meals. Nice view!


Fiber interlude on Deal Island


This is really a post about fiber so for those of you not interested, here’s the photo of the day.

We’ re here in the autumn and there’s no central heat. It shouldn’t get too cold but both bathroom windows are permanently open with louvers. There’s a portable oil electric heater in a pinch. The old gas heater in the living room doesn’t seem to work. I knew this ahead of time and bought a kit for a merino, mohair blanket from the Elegant Ewe in New Hampshire with yarn from Mountain Colors. I started it after we left home, worked on it in New Jersey, Tasmania and Finished it on Deal Island. It’s lovely: soft, light and warm.

br />

My hair is a bit, ahem, unruly. Especially in the winds we have here. So I knit another calorimetry headband with yarn leftover from the blanket. It keeps my hair in check and my head and ears warm.

I brought a charkha loom with me to spin cotton. I hadn’t been able to use it successfully at home but with time, patience and great instructions from urbanspinner, I made thread. I spent several Hours and literally made a spool of thread. But it’s my thread and I was able to put it straight to work.



I am knitting a Shetland shawl with miles of cobweb yarn, which I wound into balls before I left home. It begins with a provisional cast on and I used my new thread to crochet a chain to use as my starting point. I love the loom for all it’s gadgets. There’s even a skein winder. I wound the skeins on to paper quills and then plied them together using clothes pins to create a tensioned lazy kate. So cute and it all folds up into a little box shaped box.

Finally I need a belt and a pair of slippers. There’s too much Cape Barren Geese poo to wear my crocs inside and out. So I found an easy pattern I’ll make sometime. For a belt, I brought my cards for tablet weaving and some mercerized cotton. I also brought 3 spools of thread if I decide to make ribbons with sewing thread. Or if my spun thread is strong enough, which I highly doubt, I could use that. It may be possible because I brought some silk (empty of their larvae) cocoons and if I can figure out how to spin silk from them, the thread should be very strong.

So anyway, I needed to create a loom on the go. There are c-clamps in the workshop but then I’d have to weave indoors and it is too beautiful for that. I saw an old article in TWIST which showed an interesting tensioning device. It used to pieces of wood that the warp wraps around an holds itself tight. So found a scrap of wood, cut it I two and drilled a couple of holes. A scrap piece of wire holds the whole thing together and laces through two belt buckles on my jeans. So it works like a backstrap device without the back.

Just trying to have fun.





Busy, busy


When the cat’s away, the mouse will play!

Tim’s off hiking in the Grand Canyon and I’ve been tackling mounds of projects. My woven cloak is finished and shipped. I kept dark fur for the collar. I wove straps, with the hope of including a wolf and falcon, but the pattern didn’t turn out as expected. Ah well.


But they are still pretty. I sewed 2 D-rings for the closure and they snug up well.


Several baby gifts left the premises. I made another back zip sweater and a couple of hats for the older siblings.





These blankets went off to swaddle a new set of twins.



I marbleized the wall behind the wood stove because it was all marked up. It was a fun process and I felt very creative.


I’m pretty happy with it. I’ll see what the man of the house thinks.

Best of all, I know my hiking spouse is safe because he is traveling with a SPOT, which is like a personal EPIRB. I received a message Saturday night that he was fine and linked to a map which showed me where he was.


Better tidy up before he gets home.