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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bumberet!!



What a fun name!  I'm not even sure whether it's pronounced bum-ber-et or bum-ber-ay, though I prefer the latter.  Either way, what a quick weave, and the towels have a nice texture to them.  These are the first towels that I've woven using Maurice Brassard 8/2 cotton, and I really enjoyed using it. The colors aren't as vibrant as 10/2 mercerized yarn, but it has a much better feel to it than the 8/2 unmercerized cotton from Halcyon. That yarn has quite a rough texture.

As you can see, I ended up with 6 towels instead of the 4 that were expected, so BONUS!  I also have a bit of scrap that I'll be able to use for something, I'm sure.  I wove 2 towels using 2 different shades of purple;



Two from a black cotton;


and 2 from black cottolin. Although that yarn was 8/2, it seemed a bit thicker, and so the towels have a different feel to them.



When you look at a closeup of the cloth, you can see a small pattern that seems to remind me of cloven hooves, for some reason.




All in all, these were a fun, quick project that used stash yarn only, so a win-win.  They will soon be listed in my Etsy shop, after I come up with some text that sounds knowledgeable.

I got word last week that a long time coworker was going to resign after 40 years as a nurse!  She and I have had our moments, but I've learned so much from her over the years that I wanted to make something for her that she would like, so I temporarily shelved my next project and whipped up a tencel scarf for her, using a draft that is so intricate and popular.  I originally found it on a blog, http://weeverwoman.blogspot.com/, where on Nov 23 2009 Susan graciously shared the draft.  I've woven this several times, and I know my coworker once spoke of wanting one, so I quickly measured the warp and dressed the small loom.  After I lashed on, I wove a few inches, when I found a sleying error.  I just couldn't bring myself to unweave, or snip out all those weft ends, so I cut the warp, resleyed and lashed, and started again!  Good thing I found the error so quickly - with the new shortened warp, I was just able to weave the correct length.

Here is a photo of it on the loom;


I hemmed it this morning, wet-finished it, and it is now laying flat to dry. Just love this draft!

As bad as I am about keeping up with this blog, it's going to get worse, I fear, as the next Competition of Weavers is happening over on Facebook.


I wasn't sure that I would be taking part this time, but the theme is "Under the Microscope," and I very quickly had what I feel is a unique inspiration, so I'm all in.  If you remember from last time, everything surrounding this competition is top secret, so I won't be sharing any details until the voting is over on April 7th.  There have been rule changes, though, one of which is that the wrap has to be a one of a kind, so no long warps.  Barring unforeseen issues, my entry should work up fairly quickly, after which I can start my next, public project.

Weather-wise, we have emerged from 2 weeks of the deep freeze, and have experienced 2 days of relatively mild weather, with temps in the upper 30's-low 40's.  We were very fortunate to have missed the blizzard that affected so many on the East coast, and we watched and remembered that last year on this very day we ourselves got 2 feet of snow.  It was the beginning of what was to become one of the worst winters on record for cold and snow.  I hope everyone stayed safe, and that things are returning to normal, with power and passable roads. This El Nino is really crazy this year!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Next Up!

Well, the draw for the wrap was a flop.  No takers, so it's gone into the bin until someone decides they want it.  I don't have any others in stock at the moment, so eventually it will go, I hope.  I've yet to list it in my Etsy shop, but plan to soon.

The cowls had a much warmer reception, with two of the three being sold.  All that is left is the lighter-colored one, woven with natural-colored weft.  That is listed on my chatter page on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1657157491162412/ - along with a couple of inkle bands.

This morning I wet-finished the second wrap, woven with black 8/2 tencel as weft.  I love how the colors pop!  I hope to take photos later today, so look for them in the next post.  The final length is 4.35 meters, so it is longer than the other wrap.  Not sure whether I'll list it in a draw, or just straight up for sale.  I have to work over the next two days, so it probably won't be listed until Sunday or Monday.  I still have to sew the ring sling as well.

On the big Standard, I've put on a quick towel project to try out a new-to-me structure, Bumberet.  On Ravelry in the Warped Weavers group (http://www.ravelry.com/groups/warped-weavers) there was a thread recently filled with colorful towels woven using this structure, and I was captivated by them. Turns out that this is a very old draft, and it has several treadlings.  Some folks found it on Handweaving.net, but most used a draft from Handwoven magazine, March/April 2015, which is what I decided to use.  I also wanted this to be a stash-busting project, so I used 7 colors of Maurice Brassard 8/2 unmercerized cotton.


This photo is a bit over-exposed, but you get the idea.  443 ends, wound in groups of three, 6.5 yards long.  I used the Warping Square, and this time it performed perfectly.  I'm not sure whether it's because I did something differently, or because it was such a short warp, but what a pleasure to use! Yesterday and today I finished threading and sleying, and hopefully I will be able to lash on later today.  More pics to come!

I did (finally!) realize that I had the answer to the question of "How do I wind a warp with many color changes without hurting my back bending over to retrieve the yarns?"  My Glimakra bench! My cone stand fits perfectly on it, and as a bonus, it seemed to stop all the tangling that would occasionally happen has yarns came up and over the top of the stand.


A perfect solution staring me in the face all this time!

I'm still knitting on my socks that I'm making using some yarn I bought from another knitter on Ravelry.  The socks are working up quickly, and I'm almost done with the cuff of the second sock (I knit toe up).



 I'm looking forward to starting a few more pairs soon, with some of the yarn I got for Christmas, plus a skein I bought recently in Portland that has a touch of cashmere in it.  Excited!


                                                                                                                                                                              

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ready for Prime Time!

Most of the cloth from the wrap warp is wet finished, sewn, tagged and ready to go!  Presently, the shorter of the two wraps is complete.  It was woven with the same blue yarn as the body of the warp, so all cotton.  The length ended up being 3.69 meters long, and 28" wide (why the length in meters but not the width, I do not know!), which makes it a size 4.

The middle section:

right selvedge:


left selvedge:
I loved these rolled shots!



I love how the few shots of bright color pop!

I will be discounting this wrap a bit, as there were a few places where I was, erm, a bit overenthusiastic with my beat, as well as makeing one mistreadling.  The areas are visible but subtle - here are a couple of shots.



How can you mess up 1-2-3-4??  Anyway, this will be going up for a draw this weekend, I think.  I'd do it today, but have to work for the next 2 days and so will be away from my computer.

The other wrap pieces are almost set. The ring sling is just waiting on the rings to arrive tomorrow; then it will be sewn and tagged.  At that point I will decide whether to sell or put it away for a potential grandchild someday.

The longer wrap, which was woven with black tencel, is awaiting the arrival of tencel/cotton care tags.  When they arrive, I will sew it up, wet finish it, etc.

I also sewed 3 cowls from this warp, and I really like how they came out.  I watched a tutorial on how to make them, then after starting one, I thought it looked wrong and so decided the tutorial must be wrong. So I forged ahead, ripped out the stitches, and sewed one, only to find that, or course, I was wrong and the tutorial was right.  I can't get it to make sense in my head, how a long, narrow tube, which has one end pulled through to meet the other end, which is then sewn together, thus creating a shorter but narrow double sided tube, then gets turned inside out and becomes a donut shape.  I hate not understanding things, but I can verify that a wrong-side out donut shape, becomes a long narrow tube when turned right side out.  Anyway, I finally trusted the process, and these are what resulted.

Woven with black tencel weft:



with blue cotton weft:




and with natural cotton weft.  I'm surprised by how much I like this one!



These will also go up for draw this weekend.  If nothing sells, I will list them in my Etsy shop soon!

In the meantime, I am chipping away at the business books for my hubby's business - always a challenge to make them come our correctly - as well as getting myself familiar with some new bookkeeping spreadsheets to use for my little biz.  It's all a bit much, but I'm hoping I'll figure it out without too much ado.

I'd like to throw out a huge thank you! to anyone who has purchased my meager offerings over the last few years.  It looks like 2015 will be the first year I made a profit, albeit a tiny one!  I'm humbled and honored.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy New Year!

Another year has come and gone, and yet again I am astounded by how quickly the time goes by.  I know there is a mathematical reason for this, or so they say:  if you are 5 years old, one year is a fifth of your life, so a very large chunk.  If you are 50, it is one fiftieth, and so a mere snippet.  I don't know if that is truly the one and only reason; it may have something to do with perception, experience, etc, but it is almost scary how quickly the days/weeks/months go by.

I now have the Twilight warp off the loom!  On the 16/5 yard warp I managed to weave 2 wraps, one ring sling, 3 cowl pieces, and a bit of scrap.  The best news is, after all of the repairs I had to do in the beginning, I had very few problems right until the end.  On two of the sections large clumps of very loose ends showed after the first wrap.  They looked as if they built up against the rakes and so were not tensioned well.  I was in dread, waiting for those ends to come off the beam and wreak havoc, but they never did.  Somehow, and I have no idea how, those ends remained loosely wrapped around the beam, even as the knots came off.  I had to cut where they came out of the knots, but it is like they were beamed ahead of the rest of the sections.  I should have taken a photo, but I think it will remain a unexplained phenomenon.  I'd be very happy if it did not repeat itself!

Here is the cloth off the loom, ready to be zigzagged.


At the very top you can see the cowl piece I wove with a natural 10/2 cotton weft.  I never would have thought of it, but several people said they would have liked to have it used as weft for the wraps, so I figured it couldn't hurt. I think I kind of like it - it's a very different look.  The other cowls I wove with blue cotton and black tencel.

The next post should have completed photos, then on to the next project.  I'm thinking some towels, perhaps some short warps to try some different structures.  I'd like to try crackle, both with and without tabby (I will definitely leave enough for sampling), bumberet (which was a very popular thread on Ravelry recently - the towels were stunning!), and perhaps some Echo and Iris.  Yes, I received that wonderous book for Christmas from my sons (after explicit instructions), and I think my brain imploded after reading one third of the book or so, but perhaps I can try a simpl-ish version. These will have to be on my Baby Wolf, since the effect is much more impressive with 8 shafts than with 4.  I'm working towards buying parts to make my big loom an 8, but for now it remains my 4 shaft workhorse.

Here is some of the fiber-related things I received this year.

Weaving books:



and some sock yarn and wool/silk fiber to spin for socks.  Yeah, I have an addiction of sorts...


I wish each and every one of you a healthy, happy, a prosperous new year!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dyeing to Show and Tell (nyuck nyuck!)

Back again for what will most likely be the last blog before the holiday.  Yes, there's been weaving - more on that in a bit.  I'd first like to share the completion of the long, drawn out spinning/dyeing project that I've alluded to here and there.

As a quick refresher, I purchased some merino/mohair/nylon fiber to spin for socks after hearing that it will wear well and be a bit warmer thanks to the mohair.


I spun it on my spindle because I seem to spin better on it, especially with prolonged periods of ignoring it. The wheel always takes awhile for me to refamiliarize myself with, so here and there, as I had time, I pulled out my wonderful Golding ring spindle and spun up the 6 plies.

I had already decided to try dyeing this yarn, but was waffling between trying some "real" dye or using a food-based one.  I did not want to go the Koolaid route again, but was intimidated by the scope of using real dyes.  I would have had to purchase several containers/pots to keep everything safe, so ultimately I decided to go with food coloring.  I bought some Wilton icing dye to try, since I couldn't find our ages-old food coloring in the pantry.

I knew I wanted something more interesting than a monochrome design, but felt unsure of mixing colors.  I've read about color theory, and have seen color wheels.  I also have the book "Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece" (http://www.amazon.com/Hand-Dyeing-Yarn-Fleece-Hand-Painting/dp/1603424687/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450549709&sr=1-1&keywords=dyeing+yarn which has tons of information on colors, but ultimately I decided to go with a two color blue/purple attempt.  After putting it off for several days, yesterday was finally the day!

I gathered everything I'd need - 8 containers for dye (two for the more concentrated solutions, the other 6 for 3 varying shades.


Already I could see that these wouldn't be the vibrant colors I saw in my mind's eye, but at least I was forging ahead.  Next I soaked the two skeins in a vinegar/water solution, drained them and arranged them, one at a time, in a plastic garbage bag with the middle pulled up to help control the "cross contamination" of the different dyes. This was done in a large roasting pan.



I then tried to add dye, a bit at a time, and work it into the yarn as I went, while sopping up the extra with paper towels before it could do much damage.  Some of the purple seemed to "break" into blue, which was unfortunate.  Also, the light colors were way too light, and the darks not dark enough, so a couple of times I added a touch of the concentrated solution directly on the yarns.  These are what I ended up with.  As you can see, the blues are really more turquoise or aqua.




They really looked so much more pastel-y than I was hoping for, but I didn't know what else to do, so into the microwave they went, one at a time, for 2 minutes on high, followed by 2 minutes rest.  After 4 rotations of this, the dye solution ran clear.  This is what they looked like at this point.



(By the way, the smell of steaming animal fiber is NOT particularly wonderful!).  I rinsed them under the faucet and was pleased to see that no excess dye ran out.  After a quick spin in the washing machine, I hung them to dry, which didn't take long.  These are the completed skeins (please excuse the blue acrylic ties).


There are a few spots of vibrancy, but mostly they'll make some toasty socks that remind everyone of Easter!

On the weaving front, I've completed the weaving for the first wrap on the warp, using UKI Cobalt Blue as weft. After I repaired many many ends, which of course slowed everything to an almost-halt, the weaving went quite well.  The greens and pinks popped better than I thought they would.



 I ran out of the weft yarn at ~165 inches, and even though I ordered more, I worried about dye lot differences, so I stopped the wrap there.  Finished it should end up being a size 4 or so, around 3.7 meters.

Then I started the ring sling piece, using 10/2 mercerized black as weft.  This may be kept for my daughter in law, who is hinting that they may started a family soon!  I decided to weave it less tightly packed, so that it can be a bit more moldable and easier to "bunch" at the shoulder.




It's so much easier to beat evenly when you are beating firmly.  I'm sure there will be all kinds of small variances in this piece, some of which might even out some in the wet finishing.  It worked up nice and quickly, though, and I managed to finish it this morning.

Next up comes the second wrap, this time woven with black tencel.  The beat will be firmer, since tencel is such a slippery yarn, but I also fear that the tension issues will soon be rearing their ugly heads again, as I am started to see some loose ends appearing on the warp beam.  I'm not sure how I will deal with them, but all I can do it take them one at a time and try my best!

Wishing everyone who celebrates the holidays this time of year good driving weather, wonderful times with family and friends, and memories to last a lifetime!!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Liar

Yes, it's true.  I'm a liar.  I don't know how I have become such a disrespectful, loathsome creature, but alas, I have.  I'll blog more often!  Next post will be more colorful!!!  Blah blah blah.  Don't believe a word I say (or write).  So, no promises.  I will strive to be better, to write more often, to fill your screens with vibrant photos of all kinds of yarny goodness.  But, y'know, I wouldn't hold my breath...

In the last post I wrote about my spinning, and I have just finished spinning the third ply of the second skein, so the sixth ply in all.  It is sitting on my spindle, waiting to be wound off with the other two plies to form my plying ball.  When I do this I have to make sure I have more time than it would appear I would need, because inevitably one ply runs out way before another, so I have to use the Andean plying trick (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5VlaR3t_7M).  I've been pretty busy between working extra shifts (lots of sick babies!!), practicing, rehearsing, and playing a Christmas concert (with one more coming up this Saturday!), and a bit of furniture purging/rearranging, so I've put this final spinning bit off, but I'm hoping this evening I can get it done.  If not, it will have to wait until next week, what with work, rehearsal, the concert, and a sojourn to Portland to see the symphony play their Christmas concert, which is always wonderful.

I've also been a bit distracted thinking about dyeing this sock yarn I'm spinning.  I've only dyed once, using Kool-aid and some store bought yarn.  I liked the final product well enough,


but they really smelled like that sicky-sweet drink mixture for months.  Ew.  I have a book on dyeing, and have been perusing the web (ahem - time suck), but haven't come up with a plan yet for this soon to be born yarn. More research (read surfing the web) is needed.

I don't know if you remember, but last year was the first Christmas that I had the big loom in the living room, and there was no room for a tree.  Of any size.  So I strung a few lights on the loom and called it good.  The real tree lived on the porch.


You don't really get a sense of how the living room was laid out, but I had already removed a coffee table that lived in front of the sofa you can glimpse on the far right.  We had the loom jammed as close to the wall as we could, which meant I couldn't bend over and pick up an errant shuttle if one flew by my hand without getting off of the bench and contorting my body in ways that cannot be described. After we moved the loom out just a bit, another problem was created.  Trying to wind warp onto the sectional was an exercise in flexibility, because there was a stuffed chair just off the back beam.  So, Square mini mounted on the beam, yarn cone holder on the floor at an angle, tray table open to hold notes, and I was again twisting and bending in order to move around.

This room used to be the room that we used to watch TV in the evening.  We had our flat screen (an "enormous" (at the time) 40") in there, and this recliner sofa, along with a rocking chair and the stuffed chair.  Over time, it just felt really silly to sit in the family room off the kitchen to watch the evening news, or read, or socialize, and then troupe into the living room, especially after the kids were grown. The wood stove is in the kitchen, so the family room is more comfortable than the living room, which is situated in the northwest corner of the house.  So we moved the TV into the family room, and the living room became the room for weaving and queueing up the stereo.

After warping this warp from you know where, with all the issues I had with tension, I was fed up with the contortionist act.  Actually, I was fed up with just about everything, loom included.  But calmer heads prevailed, and I offered the couch up to anyone willing to take it.  I posted a few photos on Facebook but got little notice, until I contacted a former coworker who knows EVERYBODY.


It was spoken for within ten minutes, and gone the next morning!!  And, yes, we kept the cat!

Now it was time to move the loom to that end of the room.  Um, the loom that weighs a bunch. Hmmm, how was this going to work?  I know it comes apart easily, but with that yarn on there I was not going to try that.  So off the the hardware store we went, where we purchased some of those teflon-like sliders.  I didn't believe they would work on our old, gross carpet, but boy was I wrong! The loom easily moved to its new home.  (Photo taken from the stairs).


So much space around it!!  I don't do well with clutter, so this can only lead to good things.  I have plans to paint the living room one of these days, but we all know how that goes.

The warp you can see is the next batch of baby wraps.  I'll show better photos after I tie on this afternoon, but despite the many problems I had to deal with, I do love these colors together.

So, as a final shot of colorful woven goodness, here is a photo that was posted on my Facebook group showing the competition ring sling piece that I wove this fall.  This wonderful mama has generously shared these and other photos, and says that it is their favorite wrap piece.  It is even used as a blankie when her child is in the car. Things like this bring such joy to my heart!




"Til next time, whenever that may be!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On Hold

Since last blogging, I've run short of the ink blue yarn that is one of the main colors in the baby wrap warp, so I ordered some pronto.  Unfortunately, it has taken it's good sweet time getting here, so most weaving has stopped altogether.  Very frustrating for me, since my time is already quite fractured. I'm hoping this week it will arrive, and warping will restart.  In the meantime, I have gotten out my spindle and spent a bit of time here and there with some wool, mohair, nylon that I purchased quite awhile ago to use for hand knitted socks.  I love the pairs I have already knit over the years, but find that on the coldest days, hand spun wool/nylon socks aren't quite as warm as ones knitted from commercial wool/nylon.  After inquiring on some knitting sites, adding mohair was highly recommended, so I purchased some and promptly set it aside while I went on with other things.  It is undyed as well, so after I spin it all I'll have some dyeing to do.  The mohair is very fly-away, so every spinning session ends with me covered in fine, off-white fibers.  Fun!

No new photos of this, but here are a couple I took when I first started spinning it - not sure when these were taken.



I love how easy it is to pick this up and spin for a minute here and there, as opposed to my wheel, which is harder for me to use.  I've been winding each ply off of the spindle into a small ball.  Once I have all three plies spun, I wind them together into a plying ball, which I then twist using my wheel.

It's a nice set up for me.  Projects like this, ones I have to concentrate on, help me cope with difficult times.  I was at work when I found out about the terrorist attacks on Paris, and we all were looking for information where we could.  Of course, this brought back many feelings and memories of 9/11, so by the time I got home, I was very sad indeed.  My heart goes out to all affected by these latest attacks.  So senseless.  Sitting and working to make this fiber into yarn just settles me somehow.  I'm very grateful that I have things in my life like this.

Next blog will be more colorful, I promise!