Thursday, July 23, 2015

What's New? I'm On A Roll !!!

I have gotten my mojo back!  Yippee!!!!

I'm weaving, sewing, washing fleece, dyeing fleece, and spinning again!

I hate slumps.  However, it seems that once I've worked my way through the slump, I seem to do better on the other side of it.  Nothing wrong with that.

I finished weaving my black and white cloth.  The warp was cotton, the weft was all tencel in black and white.  It was a learning experience for me.  I've woven with tencel before, and I know how it feels when it's finished.  However, I haven't sewn cloth made with tencel, and that was a learning experience for sure!  That stuff can challenge a person with good sewing skills, let alone someone who manages.

I tried to get good photos, but on the gray background, it looks a bit washed out.
Five yards.  I only used 4 in the sewing so I have those "plain" sections left over.  I can always combine them with something else to make a new project.
Here is the finished shirt.

This is the first time I didn't have to add fabric to the side seams.
The tough part, was sewing the hem.  Holy cow, that thing gave me some problems!  I got it done though.  I'm pretty proud of this one. It's much prettier in person.

I do wish I could get my husband to take better photos.....

I did a special technique on the shoulders.  It's fun to wear and fun for others to notice it.


I took the fringe ends, and tied knots in the ends of them, then sewed them by machine, onto the back from the front.  This made the shoulders be open.  The photo on the left, the fringe is much longer than the photo of the right.   Again, photographer could have gotten better shots.

I've been doing some spinning also. I started some mixed BFL, which is lovely.  No pic right at the moment.

I've also been dyeing fleece.  I bought 2 of these really nice BFL/Wenslydale fleeces from a wonderful shepherd on Facebook.  The fleeces are really soft, and crimpy, and make pretty lock spun yarn.

Isn't it gorgeous?  Since it comes straight from the sheep, it's dirty.  It has hay bits, grass bits, and dirt.  Hey, sheep live outside, what do you expect?  Though I have to say, this is some of the cleanest fleece I've ever gotten.

I did dye some of it.  Here is the yarn I spun from what I dyed.  I didn't do a good job on the dyeing and the colors are sort of pastel.  More so than I like.  Supposed to be purple, gold and teal.

However, it is a really pretty yarn. I haven't washed it or set it yet, so these photos are the unfinished yarn.

I also did some solar dyeing.  I did gold (yeah, I love this gold color) and spruce.  However, I felted the gold fiber.  I will have to use it in another project, and dye some more of it gold.

I can hardly wait to dive into this and spin it!

I have lots of other fiber that is commercially prepared, which also needs to be dyed.  That will come.  This solar dyeing is quite fun.  It has to be quite hot out, and I have to leave the jars in a black plastic bag, for 2 days.  The variations in the dye taking to the fiber is fun too.

Well, that's about all the news I have for today.  Time to go to the gym (yuck).  Have a great day and I hope you enjoyed all the photos.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Standstill? Slump? Redirected Energy?

It could be any of the above.....I haven't wanted to weave, or sew rope bowls, or much of anything else. I have, however, worked on getting a website - well - sort of.  I went to Word Press (I know, shame on me for turning my back on Blogger).  I paid for a .com - but I find Word Press SO difficult to deal with. I feel like I go in circles, trying to get to the page I need to blog from, only reaching that after about 30 minutes of going in circles.  It's NOT my favorite place to play.  I like Blogger SOOOOO much more.  More better.  Better.  Whatever.

I really WANT to get back to weaving. I want to finish my black and white Tencel on cotton and make a shirt.  Or a tunic.

I'm in a slump because I'm trying (I REALLY am!) to lose weight.  I'm moving more. I'm eating a LOT less.  Yet, here it sits, on my legs, belly, butt, boobs, and well, generally, all over my body.  Almost 2 weeks now, and I've only lost 2 lbs.  My weight keeps fluctuating.

Back in 2007, I lost about 40 lbs over 5 months.....then commenced to have a major heart attack and died.  Thank God, my husband had gotten me to the hospital (rural living means you KNOW the way to the hospital, but there's no guarantee that the Paramedics will know the way to our house in less time), before I actually died.  The hospital personnel brought me back to life.

Since then, I have struggled with energy, stamina, and weight gain.  I do blame some of it on the fact that I was also going through menopause at the same time.  Then, in 2011, I had to have a hysterectomy - which of course, slowed me down even more.

So what's a woman to do?  I'm missing all the chocolate, sugar, and biscuits I was eating, and yet, I'm NOT losing weight. I'm not eating potatoes, or rice.  No bread.  No sugar.  I just can't figure it out.

I'm upping my water intake to see if that helps.  If it doesn't and I continue on in this manner, the doc and I are going to have something to talk about!

Today we did go to a local lavender farm.  It wasn't huge, and it wasn't anything like what you've seen in photographs of rows and rows of huge lavender plants that are just purple everywhere.  This is a small, local farm.  Nicest people.  The teenagers were helping out and they were very sweet, and the young man knew his stuff about lavender.

Here are some of the photos.  ©Martha Manigross

Butterfly on Lavender.
©Martha Manigross
 They had bunnies.  This one LOVED being fed the clover from outside the pen.  It was my favorite.
©Martha Manigross
This yellow butterfly kept flitting away if I got too close so it was difficult to catch a good photo.  I love the gold on the lavender though.
©Martha Manigross
 See the bee in the flower????
©Martha Manigross
Can you see the black and yellow bird?  I think I need to get a better distance lens for my camera.  Hubby will be SO happy to hear that - NOT.
©Martha Manigross
Maybe well go back next spring. Did you know that most lavender is harvested by the end of July?  Yeah, me neither!

Till next time, take care.

Friday, June 12, 2015

What's Happening!©

I've been busy again.  I love making and the more I make, the more I love making!

This is my latest wall hanging.  Titled: Fall Into Winter
This wall hanging is based on what I see when I'm looking out my window in the middle of late Fall into Winter.  Trees that have no leaves; brown leaves sitting on the ground; brown grass; cold; barren; then, eventually, snow.
Materials include: hand spun yarn, locks; commercial yarn, cotton and wool; wooden beads; hung from a Japanese Maple branch.

©Martha Manigross
I've also been going NUTS with making rope bowls/baskets.  I made one with a cover on it.  It's perfect for hiding that extra roll of toilet paper.  All neutral colors so goes with anything/everything.

©Martha Manigross
I've also chosen to change the name of my business. I think it still has to be under Spinning My Wheel Fibers, but I'm going to go by "Martha Manigross, Fiber Heartist."  I need to work on getting another website built, and it's going to have to include a shop to sell from.  Doing the research for this overwhelms me to no end......but I'm going to have to dive in as I have a TON of stuff I really NEED to sell, and Etsy just isn't doing it for me anymore.

I'm setting up a new photography area.  I have the foam backing, the neutral (gray) fabric to cover the foam backing, the pins to hang items from, the light bulbs which are 35W but have 5000K (whatever that is) which you can't buy in stores, so have to get online. What a freaking joke that was - it took from May 19th to June 8th for them to arrive!  Once I get it set up, I'll take photos (appropriate, no?) to show the setup - IF it works.  It's based on a tutorial I found online.  Guess I'll have to find that again so I can reference it here (if it works).

My Saori loom is empty of a work in progress right now, because I took the last project off (see photos below). I'm contemplating what I want to make next, with a specific idea in mind - I just have to figure out the yarn I want to use in it.  I think I'm going to start working on Fall and Winter problem is, I want to do just ONE more summer top as the ones I've made are too heavy for the really HOT weather we're now having.  I realized, after reading someone else's post, that I'm beating WAY too hard, and that makes a heavier, thicker fabric. DUH.  Beating hard has always been my way.  I need to lighten up!  So maybe I will work on that first, then start the Fall and Winter wear.

©Martha Manigross

©Martha Manigross
The shirt above is one of my favorites.  I am still working out my body shape and how to fit myself.  A WIP in itself.

I also have been having a blast watching the Hummingbirds outside my office window, and living room window.  The birds are INSANE!  Chasing each other around constantly.  Crazy!  Here are just a few of the 100+ photos I took and most of them are really amazing.
A male and female sharing:
©Martha Manigross
This male is very protective of this feeder - he chases absolutely everyone else away!
©Martha Manigross
©Martha Manigross
I have to say, I'm really liking the photos I took, especially how the background is very blurred and looks like lights shining (to me).

That's about it for now.  I'll be busy "making" again so I'll get back when I get back!

Take care and thanks for letting me share.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Forever Evolving.....

It seems I've only been able to post something on my blog about once a month.  Mostly, lately, because I'm still healing from the knee surgery, but that only explains the last 2 months.  Ha!

I've become addicted to a new craft.  Making the rope bowls/baskets.  I guess they are sort of a combo basbowl?  Bowlbask?  I dunno.

Here is a photo that has most of the things I've made since starting:

©Martha Manigross
There are coasters, bowls, baskets, and one little handbag style.  They are all useful.  Some I've made, aren't in the picture. I have one holding my headphones over by the t.v. (where I use my iPad and sometimes want to hear something on YouTube).  I have one very small one holding my Ikea measure tapes I use to measure when I'm weaving.  I have one that I use on the floor, that holds the rope I make these with. I have to unwind it from the holder it comes on, so it's not all twisted while I'm trying to sew it.

The one on the far right, holds 4 bathroom type hand towels.  PERFECT size. I'll be making more of these to sell.  The one on the far left under the other bowls, is with black thread.  I don't like it at all.  Someone might.  I dunno.

There are some coasters there in the front too.  They are nice - work great.  I have a couple we use ourselves.

A friend asked me to make one she could put 4 prescription medicine bottles in to place next to her bed.  I sent her one and it fits perfectly. She's happy with it.  :-)

Most of these have been sewn with regular quilting thread from the large spools available in some stores (like Wal Mart and JoAnns).  These things go through thread like crazy!  One or two have been sewn with upholstery thread, that is very strong.  I did, however, figure out the hard way, that those spools of thread have a lot less on them, than the average spools of thread.  DUH.  I went through 2 spools (winding bobbins included) making 2 small bowls!

I also tried some variegated thread on one of them, and it's quite subtle, which I don't mind.

However, I tend to like the thread that blends in the most - a cream or beige thread.  The zig zag actually is shown INSIDE the bowls, where the outside shows the underneath part of the zig zag.  I like the neutral look of this.

I have not sold any yet, however.  Sadly, I've put a couple on Etsy but no takers yet.  People are still going to my Etsy site to view fiber stuffs.  Since I'm getting out of the fiber selling side of things, it doesn't really do me any good to have the views.

I'm convinced that evolving my business to the "made things" side is going to be even more difficult to market and sell, than the fiber selling side was.  If it were up to me, I'd still open a physical shop, and sell both types of things.  Of course, for the optimum advantage, I'd have to open the shop in a well known, well shopped area - and that - I can't afford.

So evolving from reselling the fiber, to selling made goods, is going to be even more challenging than I thought.  However, I'm enjoying MAKING so much more than I was just reselling it's all a trade-off.

Now, I am trying to find events I can sell my items at, that won't cost me an arm and leg to attend.  I'm also looking for galleries I can submit to, for juried shows that both show and sell.  It isn't easy!

I'm almost finished with a 5 yard weaving that will be cloth for another garment.  It's sort of an eclectic mix of patterns and colors because I was in various moods while I was weaving.   I'm not sure how cohesive the look will be of the cloth, but I decided not to worry about that!  Isn't that the entire idea behind Saori???  Why, yes, it is!

I'm also working on changing the name of my company.  It needs to be something more......evolved....more general....more......I dunno.  Since my first and last name both begin with M, I'm thinking of a large M and the rest of my first and last name after it.  I'm pretty sure I can't do it here, which will also make it difficult to do on a business card but it can be done....  I've seen it elsewhere like that.

Anyway, that's about it from me.  I'll try to keep up better from here on out, but no promises.  No one really reads this anyway.  It's sort of an outlet for me, that's all.

Take care,

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


May is my birthday month.  I don't get all crazy about it, but I still like that I have a birthday.  It's a celebration of ME.
I have a new friend that also has a birthday this month, on the exact same date!
There are no special plans.  There never are.  The other half, doesn't even think about doing something special for me.  That's okay. I've gotten used to it.  It's sort of like living with the Bah Humbug master.

In June this year, we'll be married 40 years.  I'll turn 59 this month.  You do the math.  Ha!

Healing from knee surgery has been.....up and down. I had some bad days.  I had some breakthroughs.  I had some very good days.  At this point, I can walk with a small limp, in the house, with no assistance.  No cane.  The crutches and the walker have been relegated to the basement.  The cane resides here, but only gets used when I go out.  That's only because I feel insecure still, when I'm out.  Plus, I get tired.  Which means, I have to start working on my stamina again.  I'm hoping that by next week, there will be no cane.

I've been weaving.  I have not been spinning, but the "need" is there, so I know I'll be setting up my wheel and getting to it soon.

Let's see....I think  I showed you the white one last, so I'll see what I've done since then....

copyright Martha Manigross
This is "Black and White and Red All Over"  - even though it sort of looks green in the center where the red runs through it, it's black- thin black.  So the green background shows through it.
Copyright Martha Manigross
Copyright Martha Manigross
Copyright Martha Manigross
I really like this one, as well as the others I've made.  I find a peace in weaving these wall hangings.  Some call these prayer flags, wall hangings, or banners.  I'm not sure I go along with prayer flags.  I think something more like zen flags.  That's the mindset I get in.  When I start one, I must finish it and I work on it till it's done --- unless, I feel like I'm not focused on what it wants to be -- then I have to take a break.  When I return, I always know what it's meant to be.

I don't have a vision when I start.  I have a sense.  I pull out certain colors, and sometimes I stick with that, other times, as I move along, it tells me that I need another direction.  So I search around, and figure out what that direction is, then get right back to it.

These come from my heart.  It's really hard to describe.  I'm not sure I've ever felt this way before about something I create.

I believe there is one more I haven't shown here also.  Let me go get it!

Copyright Martha Manigross
This is called "On The Beach"   It's been so long since I've been to a beach.  I'm not one to lay in the sand for hours, but I do love the waves crashing into the ocean, and the gulls overhead.  I long for a nice quiet vacation, where I can walk on the warm sand, hear the ocean, and just sit and soak it all in.

The above pieces have been created on my Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom.  I find a peace with weaving these on the little loom, manipulating the yarn, playing with the colors, and just playing with the senses.

I've started a new piece on my Saori loom also.  This is going to be more cloth, I believe, for another garment.  I fight with myself on the Saori loom sometimes.  I want a certain cloth, but then I fight in my brain that the cloth I want, is just too traditional.  I need to work and letting it be free-flowing.  More Saori.  More from the heart, like my wall hangings. So there is a battle going on, and the cloth isn't always what I think it should be, while it's still on the loom.  However, the last cloth I made that I struggled with, I ended up liking very much, when it came off the loom.  So, I'm pushing forward.

It's also time for me to start spinning. I  just get an urge.  A need.  Something that needs fulfilling. Too difficult to describe.

I'm also enjoying the warmer weather, although, it warmed up way too fast and immediately felt like summer - hot, humid and oppressive!  The next 2 days are supposed to be beautiful though, so I'm going to enjoy them.

The studio/office is going to be rearranged again. I have to be able to take my photographs and the setup I have now, is blocking the only wall that I'm able to take decent photographs on.  Everything is going to have to shift.  I'm not happy about it, and neither is the other half.  He bolted the grids into the wall even though I was trying to avoid that.  I really WANT a bigger room, but since one doesn't exist in this house, it isn't going to happen any time soon. I just make this work the best I can.  Which means it's constantly changing.

That's about it from me.  Take care, and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What I've Been Up To.....

I can't believe we are at the 20th of April already.  April has been......well.....different for me this year.
I'm certainly glad spring has arrived.  It's still cool most days here in central VA, but the birds are singing outside my window, the flowering trees are blooming everywhere, and at least for today, the sun is shining, though we've had a LOT of rain.  The rivers are muddy and flowing and the creeks are almost out of their beds.  The grass is SUPER green, so much so, we've had to limit the time the horses are on it.

On March 31, I had arthroscopic knee surgery.  I had been looking forward to getting it done because my knee was so painful.  Though I'd had this same surgery, well, almost the same, 25 years ago, I guess being not so heavy, and not so old before, the healing is taking it's time this time.  WAY too much time!   I'm 3 weeks out (today) and I'm a bit frustrated.  I think at first, I pushed it too much, knowing what the doctor expected of me.  When will I ever learn to take care of myself, and not CARE what I think someone else expects of me????  Sigh.....

I won't post what my knee looked like, 2 days post surgery.  I don't want to gross anyone out.  It's just swollen and puckered and 3 little stitches.

I haven't been very creative during the last 3 weeks.  Which makes me unhappy.  I've been tired, and trying to recuperate, and now, I'm going to PT too.  That takes time and energy.  Hubby has been very good to me, and takes me out.  It's good that he does.  I get cranky otherwise!

I also read a good book, by Barbara Delinsky, called Sweet Salt Air.   It was distracting and that's exactly what I needed.

Yesterday, I decided I just had to do something creative, so I sat down at my little Cricket 15" loom, and this is what I made.




Black cotton warp, naturals for the weft.  I used beads, and some silver sparkly bits, commercial yarn, and hand spun yarn, and a bit of white nylon fiber I had.

I have to say, I LOVE this wall hanging.

I will be doing MANY more of these wall hangings.  There is just something about them.  Freeing.  I let loose, and the fiber talks to me, and tells me when it needs more, when it needs less, and when I need to add something special.  I sometimes wonder, if I'll lose that somewhere along the way - the freedom to create, and not care whether anyone else will like it or not.  I just love this feeling and I hope to hold onto it, and not over think it each time I approach another hanging.

Tomorrow will be my first time driving in 3 weeks.  I hope I don't get anxiety over it. I'll be going to my massage appointment, which I really am desperate for, which is going to be a challenge, with the place I go being on the 2nd floor and no elevator.  I'm stubborn.  I'll make it!

That's about all the "news" from me.  I hope you are enjoying life, and taking it one day at a time!

Friday, March 6, 2015


This morning is yet another morning of the last few, that I've awakened with a feeling of disconnect.  There is a lot going on in my little brain - that's not anything new.  The thoughts I'm having aren't all that new either, but I can usually shake them off within a day or two.  Not so much this time.  That's ok.  Being reflective is a good thing for me.  I just know that anyone that knows me, can tell what's going on with one look into my face.  That part, I really wish I could hide.  I am who I am, and there's no hiding anything.

When I'm feeling this way, I tend to either veg a lot, or be creative. I've been doing both.

If you remember back a few months  almost a year ago, I said I was involved in the Journey to the Golden Fleece course.  This course sort of opened up a lot of feelings for me, and it also taught me about following my heart, not my brain.  The heart says do "this" and the brain says, "no one will ever like it."  This thinking, along with some other things that happened, led me to the year I'm having this year - all about finding Martha.     This has been good in most ways, but it has also made me realize some things I've been stuffing inside.  Which then makes me face those stuffed things.  Which isn't easy............more on this down the page.

Yesterday we had a snowstorm blow through.  Thor.  Thor was interesting.  Thor started out with mild temps and rain, then turned to freezing rain as the temps dropped, and finally, dumped about six inches of snow on us.  The previous snow had just melted and gone away, literally, the day before Thor arrived.

The ground is white, and pristine looking.  It won't stay this way, but for now, it's absolutely beautiful.  Yes, I'm crazy.  I love the look of fresh fallen snow.  That's probably because I don't live in a snow belt, and haven't had feet upon feet of snow fall on me, like my friends and family in New England have had......on the other hand, watching the snow fall and blow around and the peacefulness it causes, is magical to me.  I have no other way of explaining it.

So after hanging out on the computer for awhile, and having a couple of conversations, I decided to do some weaving.  I had done a wall hanging, my first with weaving, a few days ago, because I needed to finish up the Journey course.   During the course, I'd fall behind, then do a couple of modules at once, creating the yarn I needed for those modules.  Then I'd fall behind again, and catch up the same way.  It was my creative process, so I told myself, however I got through it, was what it was going to be.  I made some pretty plain yarn, and some really fancy, colorful yarn, and I  made corespun yarn with wire, and I made yarn with colorful feathers sticking out all over.

I was going to weave it on the circular loom that we got to work on during the course, but because my yarn had some special features, I couldn't see myself tearing it apart by pulling it in a circle and possibly damaging some of the yarn, and I figured it would also cause me to struggle, and I didn't want to struggle while weaving.  I decided to weave it on my 15" Cricket loom which was warped, and I had enough black cotton warp left on it, to weave this wall hanging.

©Martha Manigross
This wall hanging used each of the yarns I made during the Journey course, and I wove them in all in a row.  Although I feel like no one else would understand the cohesiveness of this piece, that's not what this is about, and I'm extremely happy with it.  The weird thing is, it felt SO good to be weaving a wall, it is meant to be that I do this.  It's been a long time coming.  Something I realized just around the same time I completed this, is that it brought me back to high school, when I did an art piece in macrame'.  I was told at the time, the piece was accepted into an art exhibit that would be photographed, put in a slideshow, to be shown in schools across the country.  I never got the piece back.  That makes me sad to not have it, and no one else really ever knew it happened, and I never got to see the who knows what really happened to it.

At any rate, I felt grounded to have made this piece.  Which led me to making another piece yesterday during Thor......

©Martha Manigross
I call this piece, roots.

I'll be making more wall hangings.  Which means I'll be spinning more yarn, to get the textures and colors I'm looking for. It was very calming and meaningful for me to do this wall hanging and there are MANY more in me to do.

Well, that's it for today.  I have much more I could say, but I have PT this morning and many things to get done.

Take care,