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I didn't say much before the holiday because my first real weaving project was a gift for my mother, but I've been using the last few weeks to learn more about my new hobbies. On the weaving side of things, I'm officially on Ravelry now. Which has made The Mama insanely happy. She's been teaching me the proper way to data-enter yarns, which photo goes on a project front page, and how to find various craft groups. I'm "WarpedShepherd" if anybody is interested. For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, Ravelry is the world's largest online fiber community with something like 2 million people. Lots of knitters and spinners and crochet types from around the globe. It's social media that allows you to keep a record of your projects, yarn stash, connect with others.

My first attempt was a table runner in blue and white cotton as a Christmas present. It was fun in that I got to see it from start to finish--tying the fringe, soaking, blocking, etc. Not half bad even though I've picked it up quickly enough to be annoyed by little imperfections. Our joke is that I'll ask for it back in a year or two to make an improved version. It's not embarrassing, but I did too many weft changes and didn't do them correctly. My edges (selvedges in weave-speak) were a bit strange...too tight, too loose, not uniform, odd angles. The warp ended up having some strands that were too tight or not tight enough...unequal tension. Which I now know was from the way it was rolled onto the loom. We'd been using whatever was on-hand to keep the layers separate--in this case, 8.5 inch paper--which wasn't wide enough for the 10.5 inch loom. So the warp would slip. Looking back, I'm darned lucky I made it through the whole piece without a mishap. It was a great learning experience.

Speaking of "learning experiences," my second attempt (in pink and orange for our own table) was a disaster. A foot or so into weaving, a warp thread broke when I went to (over) tighten the tension which left me trying to unweave and pull clogged orange yarn out of the pinch points of the rollers. It was so wrong. Basically, the only ways to fix it were: 1) use extra yarn weighted off the back to weave in new warp...but I didn't have any extra orange 2) glue the yarn together 3) Russian join the two snapped warp strands with a bridge. None of these really helped save this monstrosity. Which is sad because it was beautiful. The colors were specifically selected by The Mama and they really went well together. But I opted to rip the whole thing out and toss it. Well, not the weft yarn. And we had more pink.

So my third--if you want to call it that--project is a pink/gray/pink warp with the original striped I had planned for the weft. I'm not sure it's quite as gorgeous, colorwise, but it makes up for it in improved skill. It's in-process so I don't want to say too much for fear of jinxing it, but I've cut full-width cardboard slats to keep the layers from slipping and my selvedges are even and balanced tension. I'll post some photos when complete.

On the photography front, I've been watching a lot of tutorials and taking a lot of photos to teach myself. My Christmas gift from The Mama is 2 hours at a local nature museum before it opens to the public. They let 15 photographers in to get shots of the butterfly house and other creatures before people get in the way. My kit lens takes "ok" photos up close, but I am going to purchase a few cheap extension tubes to let me get even closer. For you non-photography geeks, by creating space between your lens and the sensor of your camera, you move the focus point so that macro photography is clearer. You lose far focus ability with the spacer tubes on, but it should hopefully let me get some awesome insect-on-flower shots.

Oh, and I solved the raw-file mystery over Christmas as well. The (admittedly cheap) software I was using to try to open Nikon's NEF files was washing them out. Nikon sends along its own photo editing software that I finally got around to installing. Problem solved! Imagine that, Nikon's NEF files open best in their own software. Maybe I'm a newbie who wants to take photos rather than edit, but I can't tell the difference between the jpegs and the NEF. I know, I know, I'm supposed to make sure the exposure was correct and fill the histogram and improve the shadows. But that's boring. My hobby, I'll do what I want. I'd rather be out taking interesting photos. Also, my dad brought along his old tripod from his 35mm film camera back in the day. It's been sitting in his garage and my new DSLR bolts to it well. I wouldn't trust the connection to go carrying the mounted camera over the rugged mountains, but it will do for family portraits and the occasional low shutter speed night shot.