Category Archives: Works in progress

Two new bead tapestries in progress

I am so fixated on writing helpful posts that I forget one other use of a blog: to keep track of what I’m working on. Duh. Here goes:

A couple of weeks ago I started working on one of the Christmas presents I’m weaving. The pattern is based on an old black-and-white portrait of ******** (in the unlikely event that he/she/they read this before Christmas 2014). The process of getting from an old photo to a new pattern was trickier than I expected, and I will post a separate article about what I did. Soon.

The second piece is for the “WeaveWith” event hosted by Mirrix Looms. It’s a riff on an Internet favorite, the *-along, where * could be knitting, crochet, weaving, etc. In their traditional form, the *-alongs involve a group of people all working on the same design at the same time. I have a great time with them because there’s always someone to talk to about what I’m doing (or where I’m at, or what I can’t figure out), and because there’s so many ways to interpret any given design.

Mirrix has sponsored a number of weave-alongs but I’ve never participated in one, mostly because I’m completely focused on whatever design I’m doing (which hasn’t been and isn’t likely to be what the group is working on). But a couple of weeks ago, Sara Figal (a member of the Mirrix Facebook group) posted pictures of her in-progress tapestry, which was inspired by a Robert Frost poem. The tapestry is gorgeous, and the combination of the two art forms works really really well.

The odds of getting a group of weavers to agree on a single poem didn’t seem very good. This led to the WeaveWith concept, in which the organizer picks a general theme, and participants then pick their own design to play along.

[As it turns out, a couple of participants are using the same poem — Joyce Kilmer’s Trees, and there’s a lot of Emily Dickinson.]

Overkill being my middle name, I have patterns for three different poems now, but I’m guessing I’ll only get one or two of them done (see “Christmas Present” above). First up on the list is another portrait of Squib, set to a poem called “The Cat,” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from The Great Cat: poems about cats, edited by Emily Fragos for Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets.

This is the photo I chose:

The Sphinx….from which this pattern was designed:

Sphinx Pattern…to illustrate this poem:


The Cat

The cat
licks its paw and
lies down in
the bookshelf nook
can lie in a
sphinx position
without moving for so
many hours
and then turn her head
to me and
rise and stretch
and turn
her back to me and
lick her paw again as if
no real time had passed
It hasn’t
and she is the sphinx with
all the time in the world
in the desert of her time
The cat
knows where flies die
sees ghosts in motes of air
and shadows in sunbeams
She hears
the music of the spheres and
the hum in the wires of houses
and the hum of the universe
in interstellar spaces
prefers domestic places
and the hum of the heater.


The tapestry will be 4-ish inches by 6-ish inches. I passed the 25% mark last night — here’s where it’s at now:

The first quarter of the Sphinx bead tapestryI’ve got two additional poems and patterns worked up, but as this post is now ridiculously long, I will introduce them when I start working on them.

The Dangers of Weaving Your Own Pattern

I’ve noticed in the past that if I’m using someone else’s pattern or tutorial — beading, knitting, whatever — that I may make changes to the pattern at the beginning, but once that’s done I just go with it. With my own patterns, the “edit” part of my brain never really stops. Most of the time it’s a good thing — I like the changes and stick with them. But this weekend it seems to have led to lots of weaving and a lot less forward progress than expected.

The first setback was that my “original” pattern had way too much going on in Squib’s face. Some non-black colors are necessary, because without them her face turns into a blob with eyes. So I spent a good part of Friday redoing that part of the pattern and then weaving it.


Too many stripes!After:

Final (I hope!) pattern)There are still stripes, but far fewer, and the colors cover a much narrower range of black, greys and browns than the first pass.

I finally arrived at  Row 1, Column 5 on Squib’s portrait on Sunday afternoon. [Remember I am working the pattern in sections, 3 rows down and 6 rows across.]  This is very exciting because it’s the section that contains her left eye — so I can finally see the expression on her face. I got through about fifteen rows or so (each section is 50 rows) when I realized that I’d inadvertently stacked one entire column of beads with opaque black. Again, Squib’s a black cat. But there aren’t really very many places in her portrait where she has hard black edges. So that vertical stripe was painfully out of place.

Vertical black stripe[This picture is taken from the original pattern, the first picture above, not the tapestry.  It didn’t occur to me that it might be useful to take a picture of how it looked before I fixed it. Still figuring out this blogging thing, too.] I “smeared” it out by following the general colors of her right ear, which looked fine. [How did I miss that in the pattern?}

I didn’t go to bed last night until I had gotten her eye finished – she can see me now.

Update 1 Sept 2014