Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wall Weaving – What I learned/tips & tricks:

It's no secret that the seventies have come back with a vengeance. One of the amazing things about fashion revival, in my humble opinion, is its tendency to resurrect the best of any given era.

I think most of us will admit that with any generation there are always horrendous trends we’re happy to bid adieu (goodbye neon and first generation stretchy jeans), but the ones that make their way back around seem to withstand the test of time; especially when integrated into fresher trends (hello Birkenstocks and minimalist fashion).

Wall weaving I think falls into the latter category. With the popularity of the gallery wall in residential homes these days comes the need for additional aesthetic interest in the form of varied textures. Weavings satisfy this need magnificently. They look fantastic on a wall mixed with framed prints; they add warmth by breaking up the glass, metal and wood; they’re easy to make and customizable to any pallet your room decor may embody.

I won’t bore anybody with a detailed tutorial on how to actually make a wall weaving. It’s been done; and done fantastically. You don’t need to go any further than these tutorials from Honestly WTF and A Beautiful Mess. As far as steps and visual aids, you need go no further.

However, I did learn some things in my personal weaving experience.

First, before I tell you what I learned, here’s some basic jargon just so you know what the heck I’m talking about.

Warp – This is the base of your weaving, or the vertical threads.

Weft – This is the ‘rest’ of the weaving, or the fun part that threads horizontally throughout the textile. This is where all the creativity comes in. The weft can be any type of yarn in any thickness or color.

Okay, here’s what I learned:

1)      Don’t be afraid to incorporate beads into your weaving.

I didn’t happen to do this for the weaving shown in my images, but it’s a nice addition. BUT, it’s much easier to incorporate the beads in the WARP instead of the weft. This is mainly because, more often than not, the weft consists of thick, bulky yarns and such.  It’s very hard to thread a bead onto a thick yarn. As your setting up your warp, however, throw on a few beads of your choice and weave around them as you go along.

2)      If you have a fuzzy pet you WILL get fur all up in your weave.

You can see dark dog hairs embedded in the roving and lower left side...
Don’t fight it, it’s going to happen no matter what you do. You could weave in a hermetically sealed room in your home and still get fur all up in your weave. Just accept it and do your best to pluck them out with tweezers when you’re all done.

3)      Use textures OTHER than yarn:

You can see the hemp I braided in the middle.
To make your weave more interesting, incorporate avant garde textures like leather, hemp, twigs or scraps of fabric. I happened to have a giant ball of hemp sitting around, so I wove a few strands into a braid as long as the total width of my finished weaving and wove that braid through the warp in lieu of other yarns. Let your creativity shine though. Think outside the box. In the spring I’d love to weave fresh herb sprigs into my textiles to add interest and (bonus!) a heavenly aroma.

4)      Don’t use more than (about) five colors.

This rule excludes your ‘avan garde’ textures. Here, I’m just considering the yarns themselves. Here’s how I like to do it: pick three colors that are all a part of the same family. In my case I chose four neutral colors in creams, grey and white.  The remaining two yarns should be accent colors not in the family of the previous ones. In my case these were the mustard yellow and lavender. I thought they complimented each other nicely, worked with the colors already in my room and didn’t fight with my neutral yarns. Follow this rule and your weaving will never look like bag of skittles slapped on your wall.

5)      To finish off your weaving tie knots at the top:

Some tutorials will tell you to cut the loops at the top, tuck the extra threads back into the weaving and add new loops to slip a rod through. Personally, I found it much easier to just slip the warp off the pegs and tie knots flush with the yarn (weft) all across the top. This method keeps all the yarn in place, while also providing a loop to slip your rod, pole or branch through. Of course, if your loom doesn’t use pegs and instead requires that your wrap the warp around the loom in a crisscrossing fashion, then you’ll be forced to cut the warps.

6)      If at all possible, don’t cross the warps:

The picture frame DIY method works wonderfully, but it does force your to cross the warps. When this is the case, weaving the weft over and under becomes much more difficult because the warps are not all on the same plane, if you catch my meaning. So, the first several rows are difficult to start. To avoid this problem, I used the peg loom. I found it much easier. They’re not all that expensive and especially worth the investment if you plan on making several wall weavings for a gallery wall or as gifts. Another option is to hammer in some nails into a picture frame to make a peg loom in a pinch. Just make sure the frame is sturdy and protect yourself accordingly when using a hammer.

7)      Mix it up by changing the color of the warp:

Above the roving is the remaining unused warp. Change the color to mix things up!
You can add a whole new layer of interest to your weaving if you change the color of the warp threads. If you’re clever enough you could even come out with a plaid effect.

8)      Wool roving is great:

Roving is the big chunky loopy stuff at the top of my weaving. Essentially, roving is the yarn before it’s actually spun into yarn. It adds great texture and makes your weaving look a cut above the rest. Roving is a little more expensive per pound compared to most yarns but it goes a LOOOONNGG way. I bought a pound of it and this particular weaving didn't even make a dent in my supply. I could probably make 20 more weavings with what I still have left over.

9)      Leave some of your tassels in loops:

If you’ve perused the tutorials mentioned above then you’ve learned how to make a tassel. If this is the case then you’ll know once you’ve made your tassel, some of the threads will be looped. Why not leave them in place? The tassels on the bottom of my weaving I cut, but the ones in the middle I mixed up a bit. As you can see I left the yellow ones partly looped. I just liked the way it looked. Also, it was a small feature that made the yellow tassels on the bottom look different from the ones on top.

10)   Balance out the focal points:

By focal points I mean things like tassels, extra-large textures (roving), incorporated twigs/herbs, and unusual textures. These things all add interest, but less is more. I balanced out my focal points by limiting myself to three: the yellow and grey tassels at the bottom; the white, lavender and yellow tassels in the center; and the wool roving at the top.  By limiting my focal points to three and placing them the way I did, I invite the eye to wander across the whole weaving instead of landing on any particular spot.

11) Weave in different patterns.

You can break up the monotony of using one particular yarn by weaving it in a different pattern.

I hope these tips help you on your own weaving adventure!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The thing all your flower bouquets are missing

Fresh flowers always add a little something special to any room, don’t they? Adorning your home with bouquets of lush blooms is one of the easiest ways to freshen up a space, add a pop of color and instantly make any occasion celebratory.

Have you ever noticed, though, how the larger your bouquet, the harder it is to arrange? 

Long-stemmed flowers want to droop, fall on top of one another or fall right out of the vase. Here's what all your bouquet endeavors have been missing:

Flower frogs are the perfect example of ‘vintage’ items that never go out of style. Why? Because if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

These handy little gems (usually) sit on the bottom of your vase and ensure that every single one of your blooms and stems stand upright and exactly in place. They’re typically made from heavy materials like glass or various metals. You’ll see them in one of two forms; giant clusters of small, slim spikes; or perforated with many holes, each about a quarter of an inch in size. My personal preference is the latter.

To arrange your first-class bouquet, simply place the flower stems into the holes of the frog, or, if you’re using the spiked version, press the stems into the spikes. I like to work from the center, out.

See how the flower droops before we use the frog?
After using the flower frog: Now the flower stand beautifully upright!


Never before have your bouquets been so full and stunning; fit for any magazine spread!

If you’ve never had the opportunity to use a flower frog, but you’re eager to try, you’re in luck. You can find them in droves at any given antique fair, shop or market.  Check out places like Ebay, Etsy and Amazon too. Some of the really nice ones act as both frog and vase, like the one shown below, which happens to be one of my mothers. She snagged it at the Brimfield Antique Show last year. As a bonus, they’re very inexpensive; definitely worth the minimal investment for such a magnificent return.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A bookworm's thoughts on coffee table styling:

As a proud bookworm myself, I have to say that I'm a little… aghast at the current trend in coffee and console table styling.

I scroll through dozens of posts of beautifully styled homes on countless blogs, Instagram pages and Pinterest boards and although they are all without a doubt beautiful and lust-worthy, I can't get excited about the typical choice in literature that so invariably ends up on all of those oh-so-stylish surfaces.

Many bookworms, I imagine, are introverts. Or, at the very most, what a friend of mine likes to call -- introverts with extrovert tendencies. And, like any introvert worth their salt, I enjoy quiet nights at home with a book or curled up with my dog on the couch watching an entire season's worth of shows on Netflix. I want a comfortable home; a beautiful home. I can't be the only bookworm who feels this way.

So that's why I've become increasingly more confused by the "fashionista's library" trend that has swept the world.

Let's face it, visit any stylish blog and you'll find their home is likely scattered with the traditional coffee table books. Large. Hard-backed. Fashion or home d├ęcor inclined. I'll bet you there's at least one silver screen beauty icon featured in at least one of those books neatly stacked in aesthetically pleasing piles. There's probably one or two books dedicated entirely to several decades worth of fashion magazine prints too.

Now before people start hating me for judging them, let me stress that I pass no judgment. I love Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Bette Davis. Is it within the realm of possibility that I'll one day have a giant book celebrating one of them gracing my console? Yes. Why wouldn't I want to gaze at their timeless profiles every day? Is it also possible that I'll feel inclined to purchase a twenty pound book I could do reps with at the gym that showcases Vogue spreads over that last several decades? Yes. Do I realize that not all coffee table books are created equal and I should maybe give more of them a shot? Sure.

None of this is to suggest that just because someone might decorate their entire living room with coffee table books instead of Steinbeck, Rand, or Fitzgerald means that they aren't well read. Nor would I suggest that just because I decide to display my favorite novels instead of picture-heavy man-hole covers means that I'm well-read. I don't care about being well-read. I don’t care if others think I’m well-read. I just care about reading a great story; a story so compelling that I want the cathartic emotion I felt upon finishing it to be instantly re-transferred to me by a single glance in the direction of its spine.

Here’s the difference in my humble opinion: the inclination when presented with a book is to read it cover to cover, whereas the inclination when presented with a coffee table book is to browse through it.

If I'm honest with myself, however, I'm NOT going to flip through a coffee table book daily (or even weekly). Why? Because I have more compelling things to read. Nor am I going to lay it open to a different page daily like The Book of Kells. They'll sit there like stylish sentinels, fashionably (and unemotionally) guarding my car keys in their abutting bowl.

Also, I have to confess, the one and only time I attempted to actually READ a coffee table book from cover to cover (because how can I display a book I haven't read?) didn't go well. The book featured Edith Head, who, as any film buff will tell you, was one of the most famous costume designers in all cinema. All information aside, the book itself was remarkably ill laid out. I even found some spelling errors. I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

This is why I promote styling my rooms with my favorite novels – new and old.

I'd much rather have my room strewn with familiar friends than cold, sterile acquaintances that I can't care enough about to get to know better. That's how books present themselves to me. Some I know well. Some I couldn't get to know because of where I was in my life at the time. Some I have to keep in my life and in perpetual close proximity because I can't bear to tear them from my side. I need to know that I can pick them up whenever I want and feel their familiarity. Like any steadfast companion, I need them nearby.

With all that said, I'd like to present my kind of coffee and console table styling; the realistic kind of decorating. The kind of decorating that allows the memory to travel to many worlds while never leaving one room.

[This is not a sponsored post. I was not paid to promote any product in this post.]