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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meeting Fellow RV Bloggers Cheri and Dean - Warping up a Sectional Loom

We spent a delightful evening with fellow RV bloggers Cheri and Dean of Travels With Bentley blog.  They came for a few nights at High Cliff State Park on their way to Door County, and then on to the U.P. of Michigan.... after that they are heading east to New York.  They have been reading my blog for quite some time.  I was so glad she reached out to us and we got to meet up face to face!

They are not quite fulltimers, 
but they travel in a big rig fifth wheel
and have a home in Kansas. 

After Steve came home from work, showered, ate supper, then we hopped back in the car and drove right back to High Cliff to visit with Cheri and Dean. We brought out our lawn chairs to sit in around the campfire.  PS... my chair is now done too!  Please see last week's blog about fixing our chairs:

We sat around a campfire and enjoyed the evening... filled with stories of travels, camping, families and fun.  The evening went so fast, and before we knew it, the clock said it was almost midnight by the time we said our goodbyes and headed home!!!  

Safe travels to Cheri and Dean.  
See ya down the road somewhere! 


One of my Newcomb Studio Looms has been "naked" for a while and needed to get warped up.  That means getting 360 threads... can you imagine handling 360 individual cotton threads, each 150 feet long, all wound on evenly and neatly, no criss crosses, no snarls, and perfect tension????  

With the right tools and preparation and practice, it CAN be done!   


I have a self-produced and self-marketed DVD of how to do the entire process, complete with hints and tricks learned over the years.  If interested in buying it, it can be ordered from: 
 my Etsy Store
my Ebay link of

First Step--- is to gather all the materials.  I have 24 tubes of rug warp (cotton string) to wind on.  Each tube is 800 yards.  I have a rack to slide all the tubes on so they can unwind freely without tangling. I have a tension box that lets all 24 threads slide under even tension through little slits in metal combs and onto the loom in each section. I have scissors and blue painter's tape. 

And most of all, I have PATIENCE! 
This is not a job to be rushed. 

The back of my loom has a special beam with little pegs on it. It guides my 24 threads into each section. It's one yard around, so I am cranking 50 turns, thus 150 feet for each section (approximately because as the threads build up, they gain circumference and take up more space)

I tie each bout of 24 threads with a slip knot onto the back straps of this loom. They are straps with ends similar to the buckles on overalls and work very well. If they can keep up Farmer Jones' pants, they can hold my rug warp threads! LOL

I line up the rack as close as I can get perpendicular to the loom, I am a bit limited on space. Right now I have three rug looms and two table looms in my Loom Room.  Gets a little cramped.  Now I am ready to wind up the warp.

It is very important to keep accurate count.  If one section is lacking even one or two revolutions too short, you end up wasting all the strings in all the other sections at the end of the weaving space. So keeping count is imperative. No interruptions, No tv, No telephone calls, No husbands asking questions.....   

My friend Rosie Dupuy of http://www.applewoodhandwovens.com/  gave me this nifty digital counter.  Each time I turn a full revolution of the back beam, I tap the button of this device that is strapped on my finger.  Neato! 

Look now neat and even those 24 threads are going on!  
This makes a weaver's heart go BOING! 

I wound on the first section and put double pieces of tape to hold the ends in place.  Now moving onto the next section, I double check each part of the process.  As I turn I do five turns and double check everything again. Then I can weave the next 45 turns knowing it's evenly filling each space without any "snowdrifts" to either side.  That would cause uneven tension, thus uneven rugs!

The clear plastic tubing is formed in "arches" that can be moved from peg to peg across the beam as I work.  It helps to guide the threads into the proper space without them jumping a peg and getting inbedded in the next section.  That is a mess you DON'T want to deal with!

See how the threads unwind from the tubes, go through the box with a tension peg, and then down onto the back beam?  This is called "Warping a Loom" or "Dressing a Loom".   I have the excess straps clipped down out of the way with temporary plastic clips while I wind the upcoming section.

And ... HERE IT IS!  

 Be Still My Weaver's Heart! 
Pitter Pat Pitter Pat for an evenly wound warp! 

The project tomorrow is to thread all these sections through to the front of the loom.  The painters tape holds them all in order so I can thread them up a section at a time without messing them up.
The threads need to ride though various heddles (wires) on each of the four harnesses to make patterns. From there, they go through the beater and reed to be tied on the front beam.

Being thrifty with my time, I saved the remaining threading warp threads from last time and tied them off in knots hanging off the back of the loom.  See the old warp threads in various tones of blues?

Tomorrow I will tie 
each and every new white thread 
in a little knot to
 each and every old blue thread.

Yup... all 360 threads! 

Once they are all tied, I will gently pull them through the heddles and the reed up to the front of the loom.  Then Steve will help me slide the loom back into place.  I can tie on the front beam and start weaving!  I have two more rug orders to get done this week. Glad I am inside and cool in the air conditioning to get these done.   

In Conclusion:
150 feet is 50 yards---
 which is enough for about 30 rugs
30" wide and 60" long, approximately

Oh.... I forgot to mention.  

Meet my "Helpers" 

My Loom Room Doggies! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Our Old House - Making a Whole House Attic Fan

Whew.... it's hot!  I know that is the story all over the country.  Us folks in Wisconsin are not accustomed to this heat nor the humidity.  No thank you, you can have it in the South.

As for us, we are lucky to have central air conditioning in our 2 story 102 year old home.  But like all two story homes, the main floor stays nice and cool but the cold air really doesn't reach the upper floors as well.  The ductwork goes up that far, but does't blast good cool air into the upstairs rooms.  By bedtime, it's usually quite hot up there even if the main floor is a comfy 70 degrees.  Since the thermostat is on the main floor, it doesn't call for any more coolness throughout the night. That leaves the bedrooms rather warm in the 80 degree range.  With this type of weather we don't open the windows when it's so hot and humid even at night.

We tried to solve the problem by adding a small window air conditioner in the bedroom walk-in closet.  It blows into the master bedroom, but we have to keep the door closed out to the hallway just to keep our room cool. That works for our room, but not the rest of the second floor.

If I want to sew in my sewing room, it's quite hot even during the day. That is not acceptable to be leaning over a hot sewing machine with and extra full spectrum light aiming down on the work too.

If we have company, the guest room, which faces south, is too hot as well.  It shares a register with the bathroom and if you open one all the way the other side of the register is closed.

All in all, often our upstairs can be 10-15 degrees hotter than the downstairs.  Not good.  With my lung damage problems, it's tough to handle the humidity as well as the heat.  So central air is appreciated and comfortable on the main level but we don't want to sleep on the livingroom floor either.  LOL

Well.... one day I saw a PBS episode of This Old House.  They were installing a permanent whole house attic fan and cutting a hole between the ceiling rafters and putting in this really expensive whole house fan unit that ran $600-800 and used a remote control.  Cool!   It sucks the air from down below upwards into the attic and increases the amount of cool air reaching the second floor.  I like that idea, but not the price.

Sooooo Googled and I found this idea on YouTube! 

Wow... that made sense! 
We want to suck up the cool air from the main floor 
and the basement 
and help move it upwards.  
Without cold air returns on the upper floor, 
this hasn't been possible before.

We measured up our existing attic scuttle hole, which happens to be in the middle of our upstairs main hallway. A perfect location for this device----  and we can remove it in the winter months and put the original insulated wooden attic cover back in place.

We found a super duper fan that moves a lot of air ... and best of all it has a remote control!  So we don't have to have a cord hanging down or wire in a switch to the wall.  $39.99 at Walmart.  $10 less if you want the one without a remote. 

Steve cut a circle shape out of a square board. 
We removed part of the fan housing to get it to fit in our scuttle hole.
We have an outlet to plug it into up in the attic.
He set it right down into place in the opening and it works great! 

We just aim the remote upwards and voila--- 
instant air movement!  
What a great idea....

The cool air now comes upstairs, and moves down the hall, into all of the bedrooms, the sewing room, and the bathroom.  In our attic we have ridge vents, and three gable end vents to move the air out.

Keep in mind, this is not running all of the time. This is only for those few days or weeks (like now) during the hot humid streak we are having.  Otherwise, we can manage fine the rest of the season with open windows and fresh air.

Since we installed it, we are now comfy and it's been easier to sleep or sew or even wash up in the bathroom without getting heat stroke!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Rained Out Camping - A Sheltie Kind of Day

We woke up at 5 am to a weather alert on the cell phone ---  storms a coming!  Downpours, heavy winds, hail and lightening. Not fun!

Sooo we hopped outta bed, tossed on our clothes and started to put away things on the outside of the motorhome.

Patio lights unclipped, 
awning rolled up, 
lawn chairs stowed away, 
grill stowed in the compartment, 
patio mat folded up, etc.  
Soon our campsite was ready to leave....   

We had the John Deere ATV vehicle here on the campsite, because we did some subbing for the camphosts this weekend. Steve also did some electric troubleshooting on a campsite over the weekend.  A maintenance guy's work is never done, even on the weekends!

We were debating about starting the noisy ATV up that early in the morning.  It was about 6 am and we didn't want to wake the neighbors.  We went back inside and gulped down a cup of coffee and decided by 6:30 we should run and put it away.  Others were getting up and about in the campground to fold up tents, take down popup campers, and get ready for the storms.

The rain was just starting to splatter as Steve drove the John Deere up to the shop, and I followed with the car to take him back to the motorhome. It was looking pretty grim in the early dawn hours, and you could feel the electricity in the air.  It was one of those mornings where you hairs stand up on the arm. You know it's coming.

We got back in the rig just as the downpours started! Those pretty new windshields were showing the water pouring down as it was slowly getting lighter outside.

We will wait till it lets up a bit, before the second bank of storms come on through. The news station weathermen are saying about 11 am there should be a break.  It's not too windy, so I think we will be okay for now. We can raise the levelers then and pull out the wooden planks from under the pads so we can roll on home. It's only 14 miles home, but Steve would like to stop and dump the holding tanks too.  Less rain is better for that task! 


Yesterday was a lovely SHELTIE DAY!!!!   Yes, our two darling shetland sheepdogs got doggie company!  Mary Kultgen from the Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue Group stopped on by to visit with her three dogs: Lexi, Reese and Jazz.  What a nice surprise!   

Mary also knows Steve's boss here in the park and had visited with her, and asked which campsite we were on to visit with us.  Soon Mary was doling out the treats to a very attentive group of shelties!

While we were sitting there enjoying our dogs, up comes ANOTHER Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue Adopter---- Vicky Kania and her dog Tara stopped by too!  Vicky and I have been trying to coordinate a time to walk the trails at High Cliff together with our dogs.  This worked out great, because now we could invite Mary too and take ALL SIX dogs for a walk!  LOL

We put on a few miles on the trails throughout the park.  At one point, I decided that all of the dogs needed a break so we put them all up on the bench to rest. LOL .... Left to right are:

Tara, Finnegan, Binney, Lexi, Reese and Jazz

What a great day for a walk.  It was not too hot, the breezes were blowing and we enjoyed the paths and nature and greenness of the woods.  We saw a few chipmunks and squirrels, to the dogs' delight.  Every now and then we would have people coming up the path, and we would make all six of our dogs pull to the side, sit and wait.  It worked quite well.  I said we were having a Puppy Parade!  Got a some remarks about six dogs of the same breed out for a walk.

We got down to the bottom of the cliff area, near the beach parking lot.  That was enough.  I wanted a ride back.  Tried to call Steve four or five times back at the motorhome, but he had accidentally set his phone ringer volume down to silent. We had to call a friend to come and pick us all up and take us back up to the campground.  There was no way I wanted to walk back UP that cliff.....

Later than evening, 
Steve and I took a walk with just our dogs
 to catch the sunset over on the cliff.  

 It was soooo pretty!   
 Every thing was calm and quiet
I love the golden sunshine of the setting sun

This is the end of another weekend at 
High Cliff State Park. 

Just waiting for a break in the rain
 to hightail it on home.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reweaving a Woven Macrame Lawn Chair

If you have spent any time in picnic areas or campgrounds, you may have seen these wonderful woven lawn chairs.  The uncomfortable plastic webbing is removed, and replaced with intricately woven designs using polypropylene macrame cord.

The cords last almost forever, but sadly the frames break and wear out long before the woven portion does.

My sister and I have woven many of these chairs together as a team.  Here are photos of some other chairs we have done over the years. My sister and I usually sit side-by-side to work on them while we are camping. We will call out the pattern back and forth to each other, and each complete a chair at the same time: "2 under, 4 over, 6 under, 2 over, 4 under and loop loop" !!!  Then we would stop and take a drink haha!!!

If you would like to learn how to weave the lawn chair,
here is a good link with step by step instructions: 

But, like I said, the frames will break. Usually at the joints where cheap rivets are stuck through the aluminum tubing at stress points. We try to be careful with our chairs but often it's other people who sit down on them too hard and break them. When that happens, most people just toss the chairs away.  But if you have ever had to go through the work to make one yourself, you would HATE to throw away such a beautiful chair...

OUCH! The rivet tore right through the frame pipe! 

We LOVE these chairs that I made just a a year after we were married.  They were our anniversary presents to each other.  The seats are wider, the backs are taller, and they have nice wooden handles instead of plastic (that breaks too) ...  Unfortunately this style frame is not around in the stores any more. We got our original chairs with flat woven web at Fleet Farm almost twenty years ago. Then we cut off the webbing and I wove these designs for us with braided macrame cord. The pine tree motif is the same one we had on the shutters of our old log house in Oconto. The seats are all little pine trees.

The frames of both of our chairs had broken --- Soooo I want to repair the frames we have.  The only problem is I would have to completely tear out the cord and redo it again once the frames are repaired.   Ugh! 

Of course, we could try to locate new frames.  My friend Connie found me two wonderful heavy old chair frames, of the rocker style. I could remove the entire woven sections and move them over to the new frames, but the seats on these other frames are much narrower and the backs are shorter.  I don't think I can preserve the original pattern and style and total lettering of our names if I put the woven sections on the smaller frames. Thank you Connie for saving them for me.  I think I will use those frames for redoing my father-in-law's and step dad's chairs.... which are also both broken!

I still want to use the larger frames,
and would love to locate some like ours.
 We cannot locate any of this original size
in any stores anymore, nor online. 

(=== side note === my neighbor Diane 
has TWO of those original Fleet Farm chairs, 
still in original shape, 
and just sayin, someday,
hers might go missing!) 

My wonderful Steveio long ago determined that he could repair the frames if I would remove just the side cords where the woven portions are wrapped around the sides of the seat. The rest of the chair can stay intact.  After looking closely, I figured out how to remove the woven portion in order to repair the frame!

One of my Top Ten blogs that I have written, with over 3,000 views, is my blog about fixing and re-weaving the broken lawn chairs. I wrote it about five years ago when I had to repair and reweave a lawn chair due to the broken frame:


Today, I decided that this time I will write a new blog post about removing a section of the weaving, and repairing a frame.

First I needed to go through a process to secure the woven portion of the chair. I ran a long string in crochet fashion up both sides to help secure the woven pattern. Hopefully, the cords will not slide out of order and I can easily put them back in the same pattern.

I carefully unlooped (is that a word?) the side sections of the seat.  Besides the crocheted string, I also secured them in bunches of every three loops with little plastic clips.

Now it was Steve's turn to do his magic for me!

Steve drilled out the flimsy aluminum rivets and was able to reinforce the sections of pipe by sliding in some narrower pieces of stronger conduit. Then he used grade 8 heavy duty stainless steel bolts and nuts instead of the rivets.

Look what a great job he did with his repair!

Now it was time to reloop (is that a word too?) and secure the cords back around each of the side bars of the frame seat.

Although I'm slowing down in my old age, my hands take a real beating when I do this part of these chairs.

I use these size N crochet hooks to do the work. Notice how they are tapered down some before the hook portion? Some brands of crochet hooks are straight. Those are more difficult to work with.

I tied the original starting cord on in the lower right corner and started to restore the loops back in their original places.

My Oh My----  this really hurts my hands! I can only do a few loops at a time before I need to take a break. Here is a short YouTube video I made of how I actually do the looping and tugging with the hooks. Now you can see why it hurts my hands so much.

Getting Started--- first three loops done

Halfway There

I worked on it on again off again all afternoon and finished it up right before suppertime.  When the final portion is tugged and pulled through, then you tighten up the knots and flicker a flame from a lighter over the knot.  It melts it just enough to secure it without burning it all the way through.

And there you go, the chair is finished!

This chair was Steve's chair, of course. Mine yet needs to have a small section of the frame repaired at the hinge before I can finish it too.


Note--- I am writing this blog while we are camping at High Cliff State Park this weekend.  Situated on the northeast shore of Lake Winnebago, halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay, WI.  Ahhhhh  what a nice place!

It's great to camp here, and we are subbing for the current hosts today for a few hours while they attend a birthday party. We are the camphost coordinators for the park. We train and set up one month long stints for hosts for the camping season.  Steve has such a short commute back to the campgrounds from the shop. For those readers who do not know, Steve is also the Facilities  Maintenance Specialist Advanced state park employee here.  But he is known as The Fix-It Guy here at the park!  LOL 

Campfire is ready for company with our other chairs around it 
(we try to save our woven ones for just us....)

We picked up some new patio lights for our motorhome.  World Market has them all at 50% off plus a coupon for 15% additional off.  It's a nice long string of 30 lights and is longer than our whole awning.  Often patio lights are short strands of 10 and you need 2 or 3 strands connected to complete the whole awning.

The dogs are happy to be camping too,
lots of new places to sniff! 

We had over Steve's brother Pete and wife Cindy for dinner and a campfire last night. We made BBQ ribs, sweet corn, and salads. Food tastes so much better when cooked and eaten outdoors!

 It was a pleasant evening, and we didn't get to bed until midnight!   

Nicely, our doggers let us sleep in till 8:30 this morning... 
what a treat!