Possum family

Mission Im-possum-ble

If you grew up with Disney, like I did, possums were the cutest thing ever!

Bambi Possum

When we moved to possum country, my image of them changed. We started seeing them on the side of the road, and they were flat enough, we knew they weren’t just playing possum. We even saw one waddling down the street on her own Sunday morning walk of shame. Their noses are pointy, their teeth are sharp, and their tails have just enough hairs on them to make them really yucky looking. Over the past few years, my mental picture of possums changed to something like this:

Vicious

Needless to say, I was less than happy when Peanut brought me….this:

maybedead

Even in the dark you can see its teeth. Shoot! It looks dead. But those teeth look awfully sharp. Charlie’s out of town, so I’m on my own to decide what to do with it. And then actually do what I decide. This is going to involve touching the possum. Did you see those teeth? I know, I’ll post this picture to Facebook, and see if it’s still there when I come back.

Oh, my gosh! Um. It moved. I’m so glad I didn’t pick it up by its tail. That would have left those teeth open to bite me. Wait, I know, the dogs must have moved it. Except they’re now all inside with me. Hmm. Now what? I look a little closer, and it’s actually breathing. I should have known Peanut would bring me a critter she thought needed help. She doesn’t usually bring me dead presents. I guess that whole “playing possum” thing is real.

MovedNow that I know it’s alive, all pictures will be taken through the window. Because those teeth are an active threat. As she starts coming out of her daze and looking around, she really pretty cute. And now that her mouth is closed, the teeth aren’t nearly as threatening.

If I go out to check on her, she might jump on me and attack my face. But it’s cold and raining. I could bring her a towel and some food. That would help her feel better. But the towel will just get wet. I know, I’ll pull something over her for shelter. Like a table. Hmm. The patio table is too big. The kids’ tables are too small. I know, the plastic patio table would be just right, and it’s easy to move.

I grab a towel and find a jar lid to put food in. A little dog kibble with an egg on top should do the trick. I’ll cover her up, give her the food, and bring the table out so she doesn’t get too wet. Maybe if I’m nice to her, and feed her, she’ll come back and visit. We could have a possum pet. That would be pretty cool! Because she really is pretty darn cute.

But when I get to the back door, she’s up and moving. I don’t want to scare her by opening the door. (I also don’t want to find I’ve misjudged her, and have her run into the house and terrorize us all.) I guess I’ll watch and see what she does.

Upandatem

Now I’m sad. She waddled off into the night. I tried to see which way she went, but she disappeared. I put the food out, anyway. She might come back hungry.

Scarf

Peg Loom

Charlie and I have wanted to try weaving for some time, but didn’t want to invest in a pricey loom until we knew it was something we would do. In our imaginations, we would make large, beautiful pieces on a big, complicated floor loom. In reality, we’re very aware that something that large could easily become an expensive coatrack, that takes up a lot of room.

We went to the Fiber Fusion show in the fall and discovered something new: a peg loom. Even when we had our weaving tutorial at Spinners Guild, peg looms weren’t mentioned, so I have to believe other people haven’t heard of them. Then again, if anybody has seen one on a shelf, with nobody using it, you would have no idea what it was.

Loom and pegs

Yep, that’s it. A board, maybe 1″ x 2″, with holes drilled in it; another board, I’m guessing 1″ x 3″, attached to the underside, blocking the holes; and a set of pegs. I don’t know about you, but I would never have looked at this and thought, “Yeah, I could weave something with that.”

Peg looms come in different widths, from about 6 inches to 3 feet. I imagine you could make it as wide as you want, but if it were too wide it would become pretty difficult to work with. We selected one with two rows – one row of big pegs and one row of small – but they are also available with a single row of one or the other.  The thick pegs would be used for something like a rug or blanket, while the thinner pegs would be used for something like a scarf.

Here’s how the set up works:

First, decide how long you want your project to be, and cut your warp strings to twice that length, plus 6 extra inches at either end. (Warp: the strings that are set up ahead of time, that you will weave through) The measuring part can be a little tricky. Since each warp string will be doubled, they will need to be cut 2 feet longer than the final length – 6 inches at either end with each string becoming 2 ends. Since I wanted my first piece to be 5 feet long, I measured my warp strings to 12 feet each. I put two chairs, spaced 6 feet apart, and wrapped the string around and around and around. It may seem weird, but I really didn’t want to measure out 12 foot strings, one string at a time.  After I had enough threads to fill the loom, I only had to make one cut through the top row of threads in order to have 12 foot segments.

Set up

Next, you thread your strings through the little hold drilled at one end of each peg. Our loom came with a threader that the pulls the string through the hole. Remember, the wider you want your project to be, the more pegs you have to thread. Pull the string through until both ends are even.

Peg threading

As you thread each peg, place it in the loom. I felt pretty lucky that my dining table has these handy dandy grooves along the sides. It helped to keep the strings from tangling while I got the whole thing set up.

Loom threaded

Once all the pegs are threaded and inserted into the loom, tie ten or so strings together into a loose knot at the end. This prevents the strings from getting all tangled up while you’re weaving.

Threads tied

The first project I set up took about 2 hours, but part of that was figuring out the easiest way to cut 12 foot lengths of string. I imagine future large projects will probably take about an hour to set up.

Once you’re all set up, find a comfy place to sit and start weaving! The project in the following pictures in going to be a scarf, made from the alpaca yarn I spun last summer. (I used just 16 of the thinner pegs, instead of using the whole width of the loom) All you do now is slalom your string back and forth through the pegs. These strings are called the weft. scarf weavingAs your strings reach the top of the pegs, pull each peg out, push the string (weft) down the threads (warp), then return the peg to the hole. Since the string is threaded through the peg, it will just pull through as you go.

Scarf

When there are about 12 inches left at the end of your project, stop weaving. Push your strings down until there is 6 inches of thread at either end of the project. At the loose end of the project, tie together 4 strings at a time. Then remove the pegs from the loom, cut the threads, and tie them like you did at the other end.

The weaving goes very quickly, and is very easy. There are limits to the designs or patterns that can be done, but it’s a great way to start.

Originally, Charlie and I looked at these looms and thought, “We could make one of these!” Of course we could, but then we also realized we wouldn’t take the time to make one. If you wanted to make your own, I’m sure you could. Just Google “How to make a peg loom” and lots of tutorials and videos come up.

If you’re like Charlie and me, you can get one from Lavender Acres Alpacas like we did.

Lavender Acres