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If we’re friends on Instagram, you’ll already know this…but this past week while I was home visiting family I got OBSESSED with weaving. Fiercely.

I know photography is and will likely always be my true creative love (and has been for a decade now) but weaving swept me under it’s spell too. I’ve tried so many mediums over the years: theatre, songwriting, guitar/singing, art, mixed media, painting. And while I had a blast doing all of them, none of them ever felt quite like my medium. In fact it always felt like something was missing…until I started to see the world through the lens.

And then this week, as I started to weave weft into warp I felt it again. That feeling of home. Which really is no surprise (even though it took me until 37 to realize it) since I’ve been surrounded by weaving my whole life but hadn’t tried it myself. You see, I’m a weavers daughter. My mom is an amazing weaver and started when she was a teen.

Especially as a youth, she made not only textiles but the most amazing tapestries. Growing up I was especially obsessed with one of them full of radiant sunset like tones, reds, blues and I gazed at that tapestry all the time until eventually I convinced her to let me bring it home with me to the west coast where it now hangs on my wall.

But lately I had noticed so many cool tapestried/wall hangings appearing on Pinterest and I’d been getting wildly inspired by them but somehow I still thought that weaving meant having a gigantic loom in your house, which well…wouldn’t work for where I live right now.

So I started to dig into how to make a DIY loom and it looked super simple so when I arrived at my folks house in Ontario this month I asked my Mom if she’d help me figure out how to make a loom PLUS help me figure out the kind of stitches and techniques I was seeing in a lot of the wall hangings on social media.

I thought I’d share a bit about how that unfolded and share a few resources with you that I found super helpful.

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To make a DIY loom you need:

  • A frame of some sort (I went looking around the house and found an unused 18 x 24 canvas that I took the canvas off of and used the frame underneath but you could also go to a thrift store and find any solid wood frame).
  • Nails
  • A hammer

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I then got to work making the frame. I marked with pencil on the frame where I was going to put the nails, a 1/4 inch apart. You could most definitely make them further apart and have less warp (the threads running up and down) but I liked how it looked with so much warp and the way it felt really solid.

Then I put the nails in. It felt like it took for ever and was a big learning curve. In retrospect, the nails I used weren’t ideal for this as they were too big and not smooth enough (and wore at the thread as I worked on it). But only 1 thread actually broke so I’d definitely use it again now that I made it. After the nails were in, I threaded the warp up and down across the frame.

Of course I had yearned to have the nails straight across the frame but well, it ain’t that easy! So I quickly let go of perfectionism around this. Cause it truly doesn’t matter as long as they were the right distance apart.

This post from A Beautiful Mess was helpful in getting started and has great visuals for beginning your weaving.

Having it be a consistent tension is something I’m sure weavers get better at as they continue to weave these but just do your best at first to have them consistent.

Then it was time to begin:

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The first part of the tapestry for me was all about learning how to be consistent with the tension, how to turn it back around and start a new row as I went around and back over each nail.

As you can see in the above photo I chose a few balls of yarn and some raw wool that my Mom had that she let me use. I bought more yarn as I went along but started with what I had. At this point in the tapestry I had no plan other than just to learn and get creative, but at any free moment I was checking out the #weaverfever hashtag on Instagram to get inspiration and start to ponder where I wanted it to go!
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It was mighty fun to have such a transportable frame to work with, one that I could use on a table or have in my lap and flip it around as needed.

I began with the most basic stitch, weaving above one thread and below the other all the way across and back. At times like with the sun below I experimenting with creating shapes and then weaving around it, as well as trying other stitches and using raw wool too.

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Soon a vision started to emerge for it, inspired by the gorgeous sunsets in this area where I was visiting. For reals, there was at least a few nights where the sun was truly this kind of neon orange as it set!

As I worked up the tapestry I experimented with a few different stitches that I had noticed a lot of people using in the photos I was seeing. I found this info a bit hard to find so I wanted to share it with you here.

Techniques & Stitches:

I had started to notice a stitch in many people’s wallhangings that looked like a braid when done in multiple layers and found out it was called Soumak (which you can see in the first two layers of white in the above photo). This tutorial has a great visual for it, head down to #28 in the post to see it.

This post also has a great example of Soumak

Adding shapes to your weaving

How to do tassels.

This post explains roving and how to use it!

I also encourage you to go freestyle and experiment if you’re trying this. After learning a few kinds of stitches I just started experimenting (and sometimes discovered something from making a mistake). It made me feel really in tune with the process and helped me gain confidence that indeed I could do this!

Weaving Resources:

This was the Weaving 101 tutorial I found the most helpful in the process, including stitches.

Loom & Spindle Blog. This blog is packed full of resources for weaving on a frame!

This post has some great visuals and tips for different types of techniques you could do!

You can also make a loom out of cardboard (especially useful for weaving with kids) and here’s a great tutorial. It’s also a great way to weave from a pattern like you can see in these photos. I haven’t tried this yet but look forward to it!

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So have you tried weaving? Any resources you’d like to share with me? I’d love to know!

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  • I love this, Vivienne. I have had so much fun watching this latest revival of weaving. I started weaving in my 20s and had the great fortune of learning very traditional tapestry weaving from the acclaimed weaver Ann Newdigate. http://annnewdigate.ca (If your mum was a tapestry weaver she may know of Ann). She was teaching art at the U of S where I was a student and now she lives on Hornby.

    My one suggestion- I would skip the nails next time and just wrap your warp around the frame. Put masking tape along the top and bottom and use a marker to mark off the spacing for your warp.

    Also, Barbara Heller’s tapestry studio on Granville Island is very inspiring! Worth a visit.http://barbaraheller.ca

    One of my fav tapestry blogs is this one: http://www.afieldguidetoneedlework.comReplyCancel

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The selfie stick.

I’ve gotta confess that I never thought I’d get one.

You see, despite the fact that selfies are a daily self-care practice for me, I like to be subtle about it. Selfie sticks seemed a little too bold for me.

None the less, as someone who teaches and works in the medium of selfies, I felt like I needed to try it. Plus, I was about to head to teach at a retreat for teens and knew that it was something they’d have fun with.

As it turns out, I had a blast using it an my perspective has changed a bit. But there were some clear pro’s and con’s of using one of these tools, and I thought I’d share them with you.

I think there are some pretty divided opinions on this new trend. When shared about it on Instagram it was one of those moments when a handful of people immediately unfollowed me. I think people have lots of feelings about selfie sticks!

But none the less, they are becoming more common and I think we need to chat about them.

So, what do you think about selfie sticks? Do you have one? Would you try one?

It so happened that I was also about to go on a bit of an epic trip back to where my family is from, Latvia, and then a solo stop in Paris. I knew that I likely wouldn’t bring the selfie stick out in Latvia (as I doubted it was really the culture of selfie taking there yet and I was right) but knew that 100% it was coming out to play in Paris.

So I’ve been playing around with the selfie stick for a month now and thought it was time I shared with you both the good & the bad about the selfie stick!

Pros:

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A Wider View

One of the criticisms of selfies is that its all about ourselves, that selfies are all about us taking photos of our face. Of course, selfies are so much more than just arm’s length photos too. What I dig about the selfie stick is that it becomes not just about ourselves but our surroundings too.

With selfie sticks, from the outside it still might look that way but within the frame its not. We get more of the world around us in it. We get more room for our friends or the people around you in it. It actually becomes less about us and more about our context.

Above you’ll see an example of the difference a selfie stick can make in terms of the amount of area surrounding us that can be in the photo.

A definite pro for the selfie stick that you might not know about unless you try one.

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Different Perspectives of Ourselves

While mostly I find that people are using a selfie stick in the same way we’d take an arm’s length selfie, reaching in front of them and upwards, there is actually a lot more possibility than that using this tool. Like the above photos, it helped me get the Eiffel Tower in the photo with me!

  • Try reaching to the side and getting a profile shot
  • Or getting a shot from above looking down at you
  • Or experiment with taking a foot selfie reaching down with your selfie stick
  • Try aiming upwards at yourself too

Just like taking selfies in general, there isn’t just one way to take a selfie. Try taking a bunch of different perspectives of you using a selfie stick and you’ll get quite different photos than you would trying the same things at arm’s length!

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Cons:

Safety

As you may be hearing, selfie sticks are getting banned from a  lot of concerts and events. When they are fully extended, they really are quite long. I totally get why this could be a problem especially within a crowd!

But the truth is many people using them aren’t using them within a crowd. Just the other day I saw a lady in her 70’s in the park using one. Lots of people have them.

So rock your selfie stick if you have one and yes, be careful in a crowd. But I say don’t let that stop you, just use the basic consideration that you normally would when taking a photo. Maybe don’t bring it to that concert but do bring it out when hanging out in a park or a place where you have lots of space.

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Stability

This is where I find the selfie stick super challenging. The longer I’d extend it, the more I felt like it was getting shakey, that my hand was getting shakey holding it out there. And I could see that lack of stability in the photo too.

Some selfie sticks (even the super cheap one I got) have a shutter button near the handle so you can click it to take the picture. At other times I set up the Gorillacam app that I’d normally use when taking a selfie beyond arm’s reach and let it take a bunch of photos at once.

The good thing is that we can use the selfie stick without extending it fully and still get a change in perspective but you’ll find your photos are likely more stable.

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Subtlety 

The selfie stick isn’t really subtle. In reality, it’s not supposed to be! But many of us do like to keep our selfie taking subtle.

But if we follow the same intuition we normally do around taking selfies and find spots where we’ll feel comfortable taking a photo, the selfie stick will feel more comfortable to use. I felt SO comfortable using my selfie stick at the Eiffel Tower as so many people were (and it was the new thing that people were walking around selling, yelling ‘Selfie Stick, Selfie Stick’…for reals) but in other situations where I want to keep it more subtle I might take a different kind of selfie.

Trust your selfie intuition. Rock the selfie stick when you feel like it (even if no one else is using one) and know that there are other kinds of selfies you can take in the moment if you’d like something more subtle!

Should you should get one?

If the idea of using one excites you, go for it. If not, don’t worry…there are so many other ways to take a selfie. I think whatever tools will help us have fun taking selfies.

Will I use mine often? Just like with tripods I tend to go without them and find spots to put my camera or phone down to take the photo, but I think every so often I’m going to bring the selfie stick out for fun.

There really are a tonne of selfie sticks out there and because I wanted to experiment with it, I got the cheapest one I could at a pharmacy but I do feel like it won’t last too much longer (especially with travels) but it’s a great way to just go for it and try it without a big investment. Amazon has tonnes of selfie sticks to choose from in that range.

But if you’re looking for a sturdier, longer lasting selfie stick the My Selfie Plus Selfie Stick is one I’m excited to try. Gorillapod makes one too that looks pretty amazing. You might also see them called Monopods as well, though Monopods have been a one legged tripod for cameras in the past (and the selfie stick is the phone camera version of it these days).

So, what do YOU think about selfie sticks? Have you tried one? Would you try one? Are you having a blast using it? Do you have any other tips to share?

Nextbyobeloved

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  • Interesting post Vivienne! I like the idea of them but am a bit shy of the “being so out there” with them. At this point I have not bought one! What I do do at times though is put my phone on my gorilla pod and use that as an extension…so really it’s similar! I love using that when I want to get more people in the shot! As always…thanks for your views on topics like this!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much Kim! I feel ya about the shyness. The gorilla pod as an extension is SUCH a great idea. Thanks so much for mentioning that as an alternative…one I think a lot of people would be more comfortable with. LOVE that!ReplyCancel

  • This was interesting and I enjoyed reading about your experience, but I doubt I would ever use one myself. It’s like a tripod, which I almost never use despite understanding their advantages. It’s just not my “travel light and keep it simple” style!ReplyCancel

    • I’m there with ya Leon! I never bring my tripod…ever…so I can’t imagine the selfie stick will get remembered either. But it was really fun to bring to a place like the Eiffel tower where it was totally the tourist culture to use one. I definitely don’t think they are for everyone…especially if you’re already rockin’ the selfies without one, like you are!ReplyCancel

  • I keep my selfie stick in my handbag so it’s there if I need it. I must confess that I probably wouldn’t whip it out in too many social situations, but it has helped me avoid the “fish-eye” look that I was getting with my selfies . . . maybe my arms are too short for traditional selfie-taking!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    They are so inexpensive, I bought two, a simple one that plugs into the phone and a Bluetooth one with the remote. My (I thought, genius)plan was to use the best one when inspecting the inside of tanks (for work), but unfortunately, neither of them worked with my windows phone.ReplyCancel

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Every minute, every hour.

It changes.

I follow it throughout the weeks, months: when it rises, when it sets, when that time when the light falls in rays on the ground is.

I can notice what it’s patterns are, where it is in the sky, how it leaves a story in shadows on the ground.

But I can’t control it. Never.

What I can do is build a relationship to it. Meet up with it for a walk around the block.

It is an invitation to live in the moment. Because I know at any moment a cloud could take over the sky and it will be different.

So I step into it. Notice where it is coming from and how it might flow into the camera. And I aim the camera at myself.

What I found when I first started doing this was that for a long time I had been blaming a ‘bad photo’ on my body, on my physicality. But the more I learned to work with light, build a bond with it, the more I saw the light in myself too.

The more I knew how the light could help me shine.

And so I let the sun shine down on me.

Shine into the photo when the day called for it.

Other days tell the story in silhouette.

And, as the light softened near the days end, the light helped soften the harsh words I had for myself.

Something I never thought would happen. The light softened me and invited me to choose a new perspective, to see myself in a kinder light.

So I let it be my guide, my companion, my ally.

I let it guide me home.

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I wanted to share with you how light has felt like a guide for me on my path to seeing myself with kindness. How it can be a tool for us on our paths to seeing ourselves with kindness. In the Be Your Own Beloved class, light is one tool we use but in Be Your Own Light we dig deeper into it and explore 20 different ways that light can guide us to seeing ourselves in a kinder light. Plus, we really learn how to work with light something that absolutely transforms our photography, especially our selfies!

Come join me for Be Your Own Light! Class starts Monday July 13th and the class is only $39!
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So many of us hide our light.

Hide from the camera.

Sure, we may shine in other ways, every single day.

But as soon as the camera comes near, we throw a blanket over our light…of old stories, of beliefs of what the photo is going to look like even before we take it. We don’t give our chance to see ourselves in a new light, from a new perspective.

That’s why I’ve decided to bring back the Be Your Own Light for a community session this summer.

Because I want to see you shine and not be afraid to stand in the light…in your life AND in front of the camera.

Standing in our light doesn’t mean we’re being vain.

It doesn’t mean we want to outshine anyone.

It’s not about that at all.

It’s a claiming of worthiness, a claiming of our right to be in that photo.

The Be Your Own Light, much like the Be Your Own Beloved class, is all about helping YOU let yourself shine. But the Be Your Own Light class is super fun because we also learn about light…literally!

Often I find that when folks might take a photo of themselves and not be able to see it with kindness…often it is that we might not be ‘lit’ well in the photo, that the natural light around us isn’t helping us shine.

So in this class, we learn about light and how to take photos that help us shine in a literal way as we build a relationship to light…but we’re also inviting ourselves into the frame each day with the light and stepping away from hiding into the shadows and letting ourselves stand in the light!

I also wanted to keep it at a summery, gentle price too so you can join in for this class for $39 for these 20 days of light & self-discovery.

Let yourself shine this summer!

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Recently my friend Sylvia shared about this app with me EOS Remote App for Canon Cameras like mine.

OMG….life changed in that moment. What it does is that it allows you to use your phone as a remote to take your DSLR photos as you can see above. Not only that but it allows you to see the live view as you’re capturing the photo. Plus, you can also access the photos you took (and any other photos on your memory card) and save them to your phone.

I know, game changer.

I thought I’d share a bit about how I’ve been using it. At first I was all about using it as a remote to initiate the photo, but after getting quite a few photos like this:

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I realized that I needed to go back to what I know and use the 10 second timer on the camera. You can still use the app to start the timer, but then it gave me enough time to either get to the spot I wanted to take the photo or tuck the camera away in my pocket.

I also started to use it only as a way to see where I’m standing and frame the photo so I’d lean it up against the camera facing me, essentially having it show me what would be on the back of the camera if it’s on live view and I had recently bought a new remote (and have yet to loose this one) and I’ll use the remote to initiate the 2 or 10 second timer and use the phone and app to see where I was in focus, and how I wanted to frame the photo. Fun, right?

The part about being able to save it to your camera…epic. In the past I’ve been pretty stuck on sharing only iPhone photos on Instagram, partly because that’s the way the culture of Instagram started out being our phone photos. But also because I want to not only share fancy DSLR photos with you but more accessible iPhone ones too (as I really believe you don’t need a fancy camera to take selfies that you can see with kindness and love…it’s not about the gear). But being able to skip the step of having to upload the photos to my computer and then send them to my phone and instead save them directly there was seriously exciting.

That’s what I love so much about photography. There is always something new to discover be it a subject through the lens or the technical option we have to take them. I feel like this app has had me falling in love with my DSLR again!

Here are a few shots that I’ve taken recently using the app!

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So yes, you might see more DSLR photos on my Instagram these days, though it will be a mix cause I love my iPhone too and it’s simply easier to take out on an every day basis.

For those of you who have a DSLR you might be wondering if you can use this app too. The biggest factor to whether the answer is Yes or No is whether your DSLR has a Wifi Option. To be honest I knew mine did but had never used it. That’s what this app needs to work. Essentially it makes your camera a wifi hotspot for your phone to communicate with and be able to save photos from it. Without a wifi option it won’t work. To see if it has wifi you could see if there is any indication of it on the camera. On mine I had seen a symbol saying Wifi Off on the top panel where all the information about your photo is displayed or in your menu you may see the option to turn wifi on or off. My camera is a few years old so if you’ve bought your camera recently it may be an option.

Without further ado…here’s all the details: You can find it here and all the apps they have available here, and there are two apps, one for a camera like mine (the Canon 6D) and another for Canon Powershot cameras. Oh, and while I’ve been talking about using it with my iPhone in this post, it is available for Android too! And it looks like there is a Nikon, Panasonic and Olympus versions too. You’ll need to check if it works with your gear, but it’s worth checking out.

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  • Olympus & Panasonic also have apps that work with their camera models that have Wi-Fi capabilities. All my yoga pics are taken using these apps – saves a lot of getting up and down to re-set the camera!

    I agree with you about the saving-to-phone capability – it’s a game changer. I’ve noticed that I’m hardly uploading to my computer at all nowadays – I do all my edits in my phone and then upload directly from there! Which did cause a slight heart attack when I realised I’d cleared the memory card from my mirrorless without saving copies of photos I wanted to my computer. But hey-presto! The magic of shared albums between the iPhone and iPhoto saved me!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much for mentioning that about Panasonic & Olympus apps too! I’m going to add links into the post for those too.

      SO glad it’s making your yoga selfies even easier to do this way! And its a whole new world being able to skip our computer and go right from camera to phone…and I too have almost forgotten to upload them to the computer! Thats the challenge there for sure!ReplyCancel