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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Found it!!

My mojo, that is!

I was asked to weave a table runner and 6-8 placemats for a wedding in October, and between work responsibilities and a short trip soon, I felt a bit of a time crunch sneaking its way into my head.  At first I couldn't even decide what weave structure to use, which, of course, led to more panic.  I kept thinking that overshot would work, but since I have yet to actually weave overshot, it seemed like a bad (read slow) idea, not to mention having to weave with 2 shuttles, thus slowing everything down even more. Still, it seemed like the only idea I could come up with, until.... I remembered the wonderful snowflake/crystal draft that I've woven several times in the past.  Except for a bit of math, it was all written down from other projects, so that saved some time.  I decided to go with 10/2 cotton for this iteration, and I think I've made a wise choice.

The draft is an eight shaft pattern, so I dressed my little BW with bleached cotton, planning for an approximately 60" finished piece.  I also decided to do a bit of "fancy" work on the hems, so I wove several inches in white, hemstitched, added a spacer, then started with the weft with some more hemstitching.  Susan Harvey, otherwise known as weeverwoman (http://weeverwoman.blogspot.com/) has an in depth tutorial on some of the ways to increase the wow factor by hemstitching such as this. I've admired her weaving forever, but this was the first time I decided to use the technique myself.



For weft I chose a medium silvery gray, as the happy couple has a black table, and white and silver plates.  When looking at the weft cones that I ordered, I thought it might be a bit too dark, but the next lighter color would have had little contrast with the bleached warp.

Today is a very rainy day here on the coast of Maine, so after breakfast and bit of exercise, I headed up to the loom room, and managed to get most of the body of the runner finished!  I did have a bit of a senior moment at one point and unwove 32 rows because I was sure I had made a mistake.  After weaving another ~30 rows or so, I recognized that, no, the first was correct, so unweave again did I! That wasted quite a bit of time, but the rest went well.  I'm now at the point of doing some repeats that will lead to the hemstitching at the other end.  I just love this pattern, don't you?


There is a 4 shaft version of this made available by Laura Fry on Ravelry, called Canadian Snowflake.  I will use that for the placemats, because it is easier to put a long warp on the Fanny, which only has 4 shafts.  Yes, I do need to do some more math, once I figure out what the finished width of a placemat should be.  Any suggestions out there?

Another conundrum perkolating in my noggin is the possibility of obtaining another loom.  The ONLY reason I am even considering it is that it is the same width as the Fanny (45"), but has 8 shafts and is a countermarche (convertible to a jack?!?).  Theoretically, I could sell both of my other looms if this is a good fit.  I know I'd love a CM loom, and the width is perfect.  It was made by Leclerc, and is a Colonial, which is mostly pegged together, so it will be easy to get it in the loom room.  It is no longer made, which makes me a bit suspicious, though.  Does any weaver out there know anything about this loom?  The seller is being very helpful, and will be sending more photos.  She says it just needs some texsolv and a couple of small hardware bits to be usable.  Temptation, temptation!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stymied

I've had the worst case of weaver's block lately!  It's like the baby wraps sucked every bit of creative juices out of me, leaving only a pathetic, empty husk.  OK, a bit overly dramatic, but it's a terrible feeling. Now is the time to stock up for the holidays (I know, I know - seems way too soon to me too!), but except for a merino/tencel scarf requested by a coworker, I've been unable to come up with any ideas or designs at all.

I know I need to make some more tea towels.  Check.  Structure first?  Hmmm..tabby? twill? overshot? summer and winter?  Um, I dunno.  Maybe if I concentrate on colors, I'll be inspired!  Dum, de dum...  I toodle on up to the studio; look at all the pretty colors!! What if I combined this one with..er, that, or maybe this other.. Oh, I really don't have quite enough of these here to make much.  But I have shelves of yarn!!  Surely something can come of all this!  What if... Or how about...  Nuthin'!  Well, gosh, I'm kind of hungry, so if I go downstairs and eat, I'll have more energy to design something!

Yum, that was good!  So, back to the towel conundrum.  What if I made twill stripes with these two, separated by the natural...well, no, the natural weft would wash out the colors.  I think... no, I'm not thinking at all.  I. Have. Absolutely. No. Idea. What. To. Weave!!

That's the mindset I went to bed with last night. No wonder I had trouble falling asleep!  Got up this morning, read the paper (yep, I'm that boring), finished my breakfast, visited with the Second Son who was up for a visit, and, as is our usual, we went for a walk together.  Miraculously, while discussing everything and nothing on the walk, I realized what I could weave for my next batch of towels.  Nothing earth-shattering, but an eight shaft, turned twill Drall design, with a natural warp, and several different colors for weft.  No stress about having enough of any one color to make a set - each towel can be different from the next one.  I think I just needed to get out of my own head for a bit.  I'll be measuring out a 13 yard warp sometime this week!

And here's a quick shot of the merino/tencel scarf in progress. This yarn is sooo soft!




Those slight irregularities you see will even out in the wet finishing process.  This will be a super quick project, though I have to be mindful of not beating in the weft, but placing it consistently.  Actually, that is a really hard thing for me to do.  Give me a good ol' "wham the yarn into place" any day!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Baby Wraps on the Online Shop Page

I just listed my Rainbow's End baby wraps on the online shop page!  Have a gander and let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear your ideas for how I can make the page better!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rainbow's End!

They're done!! And I'm SO happy about how they turned out!  They have a bit of drape due to the hand of the fabric, the selvedges are woven at a more dense sett for better support, and they weigh under 2 lbs each, so they are light enough to use even in this heat we've been having!

The black weft really makes the colors POP!


 The charcoal weft made the wrap more subtle but still very colorful.



I even managed to list them for sale on my website, complete with weft options and paypal button.  Not bad for an old(er) broad!  http://www.threadbaredesigns.com/.

I've been working on these for what seems like a long time, so now I get to shift gears and weave up some other goodies that have been marinating in the back of my mind.  Hmmmm...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Charcoal It Is!

As I came to the end of the first of two wraps on the present warp, I put out a quick poll on both my personal and business FB pages asking whether I should use the same black weft for the second wrap or go with charcoal.  Personally, I feel like the charcoal washes out the colors, and I'm a big fan of vivid colors, so I would have gone with black, but the majority chose charcoal, so here it is.


The lighter line you can see just above the bottom of the photo is the breast beam, not an anomaly in the weft.  These wraps will be nice and light, great for summer wearing!

I'm still struggling with whether to keep my website or just the blog.  I SO want the website to work, but from everything I've seen, I can only post new information at the bottom of the page, not at the top. This would mean that every time someone went there, they would see old news before the new.  My younger son, who is a programmer, said that I would have to change code to make it work.  Of course, HE could probably do it, but he doesn't like working on web sites.  Well, I didn't particularly like giving birth to him either - just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fixed it!!

Remember that little problem I had, with links taking folks away from the blog?  After sleeping on it, I suddenly remembered that when I opened the little window into which I pasted the link, there was an option to "open in another window".  Simple as pie to fix! Why is it that often answers come to you when you AREN'T searching for them??

I spent most of the weekend online, trying to update this blog and move some things around on my website. I'm still trying to decide if the site is worth keeping.  I have precious little time these days, and maintaining both a blog, a website, and my Etsy shop is stretching me too thin, so I think they all suffer.  I'm still toying with the idea of selling either directly from this blog, or from my website, probably using Paypal, but for now it's just an idea floating around in my head, awaiting further thought.  I would love some feedback on all of this, so please leave some comments about this site, what I could do to make it better, and what your thoughts are on my website as well (http://www.threadbaredesigns.com/).

The other day I got to stay home on stand by for part of the day, so I put the time to good use and wove almost three yards on my baby wrap.  I really felt like I was on a roll!  It was hot and sticky but our house has an uncanny ability to remain fairly cool in the summer, despite the fact that it is freezing in the winter, which doesn't exactly follow the rules of physics, I'm sure.  I still had a fan blowing on my face, and the soundtrack from Call the Midwife on and I felt like I could have woven all day! There's something about the combination of orchestral music used for background, and early crooner and rock and roll songs that is fun to listen to - it helps make the time fly by.  I ended the day with 4 yards+ of woven rainbow goodness!


The plan for the holiday was to play in our community band for the local 4th of July parade in the morning, with an outdoor concert in a nearly town in the afternoon, but a tropical storm is coming up the coast, so things are up in the air.  It all depends on the timing, of course, but it could make for a very soggy Independence Day, unfortunately.  We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.  I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday, filled with family, fun, and fireworks!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pages Added

Even though I have started weaving on the rainbow wrap (yay!), I decided to waste some of today getting a few pages on my blog.  It seems like I'll never have enough time to make a dedicated web site active enough, so I thought maybe I could do it all here.  For now I've placed links to items in my Etsy shop, but am thinking that I may try to sell my wraps directly from the here.  The problem is, I didn't format the links to open in another window, so whoosh! away folks will go if they click.  Does anyone out there know how to do this??

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chores...

...are done!  Not forever, of course, but I just spent the better part of two days completing a big ol' list of things that required my attention, including the dreaded house-cleaning.  I hate doing it, but I have to admit, I do feel better about pretty much everything when it is completed.  This morning was the last of it, including registering my car (the online option couldn't find me this year :->(, hanging around waiting for the satellite repairman to come, and making a yummy chocolate peanut butter pie for my youngest's 25th birthday tomorrow!  Let's see, if he's half a century old, then I must be...precocious???


(Please excuse the out of focus cell phone photo!).

Happily, I can now return to my rainbow wrap warp prep ( say THAT three times fast!).  I started measuring last Wednesday, and wound four sections that day and the next, then I had to work on Friday.  The weekend was very productive, completing another 14 sections.  After three very busy and long days at work this week, I'm back at it and only have another three sections to go!!  I am SO excited!!!

Winding seperate sections on my mill and using the tension box has had a bit of a learning curve, so I'm sure I will run into some snags as I proceed with threading and sleying, but over all, it has gone pretty well for a first try.  After the first couple of sections, I realized that I needed to make sure I laid the warp in the small "reeds" on the box in the same order in which I wound them in order to make the process easier (duh!! experienced weaver here).  I hadn't made any crosses while winding, since I don't really know how to use them with sectional warping, but I finally came up with a plan to take some string, double it, and alternate the two ends going over and under sets of two warp ends.  This allowed me to keep the warp in order at the tension box and VASTLY improved the process.



One more session at the mill and I should have the entire 13.2 yd warp on the loom! I can't wait to start threading, though with the birthday boy coming home for the weekend, I doubt I'll get much done.  It can wait, though - the weather is supposed to be perfect, my older son is coming for a short visit tomorrow to see his brother, and the garden is starting to show some pick-able greens, so there is plenty to do, and I'll get to this soon enough.

The only other news is that the base of my right thumb has been quite painful for about a month.  I'm presuming it is arthritis, although every now and then I get a zing into my wrist, so carpal tunnel might be the issue.  I'm a leftie, so you would think that would be a good thing, but I use my right hand a lot, and not having the same grip strength, along with the accompanying pain has been pretty depressing. The worst is when I pinch my thumb and index finger together, as with holding threads under tension, and when I play my flute, which I do weekly in our community band.  I'll get it checked out at my next appointment in July, but am trying to keep a good attitude.

PS The new issue of Downeast Magazine has a story about our band , including some photos of yours truly and other fine band mates!  I have to wait until it hits newsstands, but those of you who subscribe can take a peek now!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Trying Something New

I attempting sectional beaming for the first time, although I do not have all of the equipment needed to optimize this technique.  Using what I have, I am winding one inch sections on my warping mill, then taking it to the loom and putting it on using a tensioning box.  So far, I've had one broken thread (in my first, and worst, bout), 2 sections go on very easily, and and 3 have varying challenges.  I think the part that is causing the tangling is "sleying" the small reeds in a random order rather than in the order the yarns were wound.  I think I've learned my lesson, though - my next bout will have a "counting string" that I will use to keep the yarns in order.  I could make a cross but can't figure out how to use that at the loom without lease sticks.

This baby wrap is going to be an eight color gradient.  I spent several hours on Sunday working out the math, and then had to work 2 twelve hour days.  Yesterday I started measuring the first bout, and found that doing it the way I am at present, I can wind two bouts and get them on the loom in about an hour.  Because the loom is in the living room, surrounded by curious kitties, I have to be able to leave it in a state where the yarns are safe, i.e. not hanging off the warp beam.  I think I may be able to get more done today, then it's back to work for me.  We'll see how much I get done over the weekend.  And a LeClerc yarn meter in on the way, so I will be able to try this using spools.

These are the colors I've chosen;


and these are the first 6 bouts;



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Available! And Opinions Sought

I finally finished taking photos of the second baby wrap, Caribbean Depths.  I'm a bit disappointed, because the colors seem a bit muted compared to in real life.





I've listed it on my business Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Threadbare-Designs/672160212806803?ref=hl) for now, where it might get better exposure than my Etsy shop.  I do anticipate it migrating over there soon, though.  Just trying to navigate the many groups and sub-groups on FB surrounding the baby wearing world makes me feel old.  I seems to take me forever to understand what I can and cannot do, and where I can and cannot be.  People are very helpful, but that doesn't make me feel any more nimble of mind.

I've almost completed the quickest project I've done in a long time.  I've had some 2/10 merino/tencel in the Ocean Blue colorway that I purchased from Webs years ago, just sitting on the shelf, waiting for inspiration to hit.  I thought I might do a huck scarf, but kept putting it off, never finding the time to decide on the pattern.  After the work of the baby wrap, I decided now would be the perfect time.  I used an 8 shaft pattern from The Best of Weaver's Huck Lace book.  I started winding on Sunday, and completed the weaving today (after working Monday and Tuesday!).  All that's left is fringe twisting and wet finishing.  It's a bit difficult to see the pattern in the photo below, because the yarn gives off such a nice sheen.


As always, I had to make a concerted effort to gently place the weft, not beat it like I do with cotton and most tencel.  I find it is much harder to get an even beat when you don't use force!

Planning has begun for the next wrap, though I may weave off some towels first.  I'm leaning towards a rainbow-like one, using my stash only. I've got to make some room for the next order of yarns!  Which combination do you prefer:

The one with the green (on the far left):


or the one with the aqua?


Inquiring minds want to now!

Until next time...