Thursday, May 21, 2015

Finished!

The scarf that I wove from the Artisan slub silk last time


worked up incredibly quickly.  I liked the result more than I thought I would.  As I said, the yarn is quite thick, at least compared to what I usually use, but the combination of the way the colors changed along with the purple spun silk weft that is barely there made the scarf very appealing.  The entire project only took a few days, working part time.  Even the fringe twisting worked up quickly!
Here are some in-progress shots;




To do the wet finishing, I just soaked the scarf in some Eucalan, spun the excess water out, ironed while damp. and laid flat to dry.





The scarf is nice and long, so it can be worn in any way possible.

I also hinted at another new thing for me, and that would be my new mini inkle loom!


I purchased it on Etsy, from The Weiner Dog Ranch (https://www.etsy.com/listing/163510805/mini-inkle-loom-tablet-weaving-card?ref=hp_mod_rf).  It took me a few days to get up the courage to try it, and warping it is kind of a pain in the butt, but once I started weaving on it, I fell in love.  My first band is far from perfect, but it was quick and easy, and I love the pattern!  I think I will weave another like it, using different colors, for the shoulder strap on my NCW clutch that I'm sewingfor myself.  Perhaps I'll also weave up some key fobs for the craft fair, and/or wrist straps for other clutches.



We're having a cold snap here, so my good intentions of having the heat shut off for the season just went out the window at lunch.  Even with a blanket on my lap and a fleece jacket, I was altogether too cold to sit and eat.  It's supposed to stay cool through Saturday, and our community band has an outdoor gig that day, which should be interesting.  There will be clips galore to try to keep our music from flying away.  The gig is in honor of our veterans, and it's called Boots on the Ground, held at the Montpelier mansion in Thomaston.  We've done it before, and it's a nice program, with speakers as well as music.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Another Find

I'm finding very little time to weave of late.  Work has been consistently busy, and I find I have little energy left after 12.5 hour shifts to do more than flop on the couch.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as I am on vacation!  Well, mostly on vacation.  I have a 5 hour mandatory meeting tomorrow, but then I am off for a week and a half.  I fully expect to get some weaving projects at least started, so that when I get busy again, I'll have no excuses for not weaving a bit here and there.  I managed to wind a single scarf warp yesterday with some Artisan silk from Georgia Yarn company.


This silk isn't at all what I expected.  It is approximately the size of 3/2 cotton and not particularly soft to the touch, but I don't have much experience with silk, so I'm open to the possibilities.  I'll be setting this fairly loosely, at 12 EPI, and using 20/2 silk for weft.  The PPI will be very open, mostly to hold this silk in place.

I'm also planning another run of towels, looking towards the craft fair in August.  These will be 4 shaft M's & W's, so will happen on the big loom.  I'll be plugging some info into my weaving software today, and hopefully started to wind the warp over the weekend.

Speaking of the craft fair, I've just finished four more of the clutch wallets, using all of the blue calico fabric that I have.  There was a lot of do-overs, since sewing has never been my strong suit, but a good seam ripper in hand is a lovely thing.


I embellished the flap with a small button and some applique, which turned out pretty well.  The colors are off here - the fabric is much bluer than this.

This shows the lining of two of the wallets.  I've included a safety strap for the cellphone section, just in case - you don't want to lose that precious phone, right?!?



This is the interior of the other two - rather plain material for the card slots, so I used a nice floral fabric for the zipper pocket to add some interest.

And a better view of the little flower applique - it almost matches the flowers on the fabric.


I really do like these, and will be making more, but I found I resented the time they took from weaving.  I'll just have to "sprinkle" these into my time carefully.

Oh, the "find" I alluded to?  A wooden coat rack that was found at our local Job Lot store.



I think it will make for a wonderful scarf display at the craft fair.  Just a few pegs arranged in a spiral, and away we go!  It only cost $20, so phew!  One less thing to think about.  Please ignore the messy bookcase in the background.  With everything there is to do, my poor house doesn't get tidied very often.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

New Toys!

I'm not sure why, but this year seems to be The Year of New Equipment for me.  First, I replaced the iron that I've had since I was (cough) 18.  It still worked, even though it occasionally left some deposits on items, and took forever to heat up.  Of course, it took forever to heat up even when it was new, so I thought that was just what irons did.  Boy, was I surprised when I bought my new one and it was steaming hot in one minute!!  I like the auto off feature, even though I'm very careful and have never walked away from a hot iron, but mostly the amount of steam and speed of the heating is what wows me now.  Now that I am spending more time ironing it's nice to have a good iron.

To help explain the second purchase, I'll have to show you why I made it.  I came across a pattern for a clutch wallet that someone had made with handwoven material, and I was intrigued.  The pattern is called the Necessary Clutch Wallet (affectionately known as the NCW), and I purchased it on the website Emmaline Bags (http://www.emmalinebags.com/).  Now, I've not done much sewing except for hems in many years, and I was pretty intimidated by the thought of making these, but the directions are excellent, and Janelle is very helpful. She patiently answered several questions, and pointed me to her group on FB, as well as another group that is gaga for her clutch. My thinking is that I could offer the clutch to mamas that have me weave them baby wraps, using the same material. Just to test my abilities, I took some quilting cotton that I've had in the house for eons, bought some interface and a zipper, and gave it a go.  Here's the result:


The real selling point for me is the fact that it has a compartment for just about everything, especially today's large cellphones!  I am forever carrying mine separately, because it doesn't fit in the small bags that I prefer.  It also has 12 credit care slots, and zippered compartment for coins, and several areas for greenbacks, tickets, and other paper.




There are also directions for adding a writ strap, or a removable shoulder strap.  So far, the folks I have shown this to seem to like it, so I'm in the middle of making 4 more.  There will be a few modifications on the next batch, so stay tuned.

Which leads me to my second purchase - a new sewing machine.  I've had an old, no name machine that I bought from JC Penney for many years, and it doesn't have a lot of power, which was clearly shown during the sewing of the NCW.  Many times there have been other problems along the way, so I recently got a Singer 9660, which got good reviews everywhere I looked.  It's computerized, which may pose problems down the road, but right now it is fantastic!  Very powerful, very quiet, has a huge range of stitches - more than I can ever use, I'm sure - and came with many many accessories.


I'm especially excited to have a walking foot, because it will help with hems and other sewing with handwoven fabrics.

And finally, thinking towards the future and my sanity, I decided to splurge on a Mini Warping Square, found here: http://www.sawyerbee.com/warping-square-mini.html.  By now you already know that I've had issues getting warps on my looms without a lot of strumming, plucking, and detangling.  I've been following people who purchased the original Square, which is a free standing one, but didn't want to spend quite that much money.  I also wanted to keep the clutter factor to a minimum, and the mini clamps onto a loom's back beam.  I got the first one he produced, and waited anxiously for it to arrive.  It did, quite promptly, and I put it together and clamped it onto the beam.  I had to have the sectional rakes positioned just so to keep the arms of the Mini free to spin.  You'd think that would have tipped me off to a potential problem, but nope! It wasn't until I tried to load the measured warp onto the sectional beam that the light dawned...The arms of the mini kept hitting the rakes, keeping them from turning. The back beams of most looms are not directly above the warp beams, but at an angle. Mine is directly above, and only 2 inches away.  Mitch tried to come up with a solution, and was very apologetic, but nothing could be done.  I felt terrible, and even tried clamping it to my bench, which worked but ergonomically was a disaster.  I'll be returning it soon, but I would urge anyone thinking about a warping wheel of some sort to give the Square a good look.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Safe to Say???

Winter is over.  I'm almost afraid to say it out loud, lest Mother Nature hears me and decides that one last storm is due.

Do you remember this photo?




And this one, showing the actual pile from the outside...


and the inside?


I can happily say that after a week and a half of temps above normal, meaning the 50's and 60's, plus several more in the 40's, this is what is left of the pile;


It is a testament to the winter that there is this much left this late in April, but it's nice to have a full view out the kitchen window again!  Soon the grass will be green, and there will be color in our lives again!!

The baby wrap is safely in the hands of its owner, who let me know that it suited her very well indeed! She quickly sent a couple of photos at my request, and agreed to let me share them here. Yes, they are a bit blurry, but it warms my heart to see a mama and her baby snuggled up in a wrap that I created just for them!



It is not everyone that can say that they love their job, and their other job!!  How lucky am I??

In other weaving news, I just finished warping the Baby Wolf for a set of 6 turned twill towels for the consignment shop. They will be like these;


I'm also having a bit of an adventure in sewing right now.  I'm attempting to make a wallet from the "Necessary Clutch Wallet" pattern available on the Emmaline Bags website (http://www.emmalinebags.com/).  I've seen a few online, and thought it might be nice to weave some extra fabric every now and then, especially when I'm making a wrap, and be able to offer a wallet with the wrap.  If the mama wasn't interested, it could be posted in my shop.  They can be made as a clutch, or with a wrist or shoulder strap, and they are able to hold a large cellphone, as well as IDs, cards, money...  I'm not much of a sewer, but I'm giving it a go as time allows, and will post the completed wallet when I'm done with this prototype, which I am sewing from store bought material, in case things don't work out great.  They may come in handy as stock at the craft fair in August, as well.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ready for a Squish!

The baby wrap is washed, dried, ironed and ready for shipping!  It's a pretty exciting part of the process for me, to envision it surrounding a little one.  I can't wait for my customer to open up the box and see it in person for the first time!!

Using a sett of 28 EPI did result in a very nice cloth, with a bit more substance to it.  I'll be interested to hear how she likes wrapping with it, and if it is comfortable for her to use this summer.  Because of the denser sett, the cloth didn't shrink any from its off-the-loom width, so the final size is 30.5 inches by 177 inches.






I'd write more, but I have to go into work for an extra shift.  Hoping this can go out on Monday!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Off the Loom!!

The latest baby wrap came off the loom yesterday afternoon after a whirlwind of weaving.  I wove 5 feet of cloth in one sitting, which is a record for me, I believe.  And by one sitting, I really mean one session.  Every time I need to advance the cloth I have to get off the bench, which is a good thing.  I can't imagine how stiff I would be if I sat still for that long!

Surprisingly, I had quite a bit of warp left when I was done with this wrap, so I thought I might continue weaving so I can have some handwoven yardage on hand.  After about an inch, my brain clearly said "Stop! Enough already," so I used the warp-sparing trick that I've seen several places online.


Simply weave a short header after a couple of waste picks for a cutting line, then place two sticks in the two tabby sheds, and weave a bit more.  You can then go ahead and cut on your line, which is what I've done in the above photo.  Once cut, "fold" the sticks on top of each other and lash them to your warp beam.


And a close up;


It takes almost no warp to do this, and you're already perfectly tensioned.  Like I said, I know I've seen this trick several places, but I know for a fact that I've read it on Susan's blog,  http://weeverwoman.blogspot.com/.

The wrap material is now on my kitchen table, where I hope to give it the once over this afternoon if I don't get called into work.  Then it's into the laundry, and soon to its owner!  It's always such a nice feeling to send the wraps on their way.

This past December, the hubby and I decided to get some work done on our house to tighten it up. Since we bought the place in 1987 (!), we've been chipping away at improvements, and we have made a difference in heating costs over time.  Our house is an old New England farmhouse that had no insulation in it at all when we bought it.  We built a small addition to the kitchen and added insulation there as well as in the attic.  Windows and doors were replaced, and woodstoves utilized. Despite that, there were evenings when I would literally have insulated pants, wool socks and slippers, several shirts and a wool sweater on sitting under a folded quilt, and still have to add a scarf and/or a hat to be comfortable.  Last August we had a company with a very good reputation come and encapsulate our very damp basement.  This also included spraying thick insulating foam on our rock foundation walls, and having the water channeled and out and away from our house.  In December, they came back, and did air sealing and insulating in our attic and most walls.  At the time, I remember my hubby saying we picked a great year to have this done, quite sarcastically, because the temperatures were above normal at the time.  Little did we know how true that statement was! While there is still work to do, we've been much warmer this long, cold winter, and our oil bill has been smaller.  As a matter of fact, the room above the kitchen, which I use as a studio, has been too warm at times. I've been up there working, and had to open a window, which goes against all of my frugal tendencies. The company came back today to do the final evaluation, including using an IR camera and a blower door test.  I don't have the final report, but they say the numbers are promising.  There is still room for improvement in the interior air sealing department, but we'll work on that later.

Lastly, I'm struggling a bit with some selling opportunities that have come up recently.  A local store, which has a great reputation and lots of foot traffic, has contacted me about consigning with them this summer.  They do want a goodly amount of products by June, and I'm not sure I can give them what they want.  I've consigned before, and actually have some things in two different stores, but I'm not very good about churning out stock.  At the same time, there is a new fine arts craft fair in Portland adjacent to a sidewalk art show that has been going on forever and draws huge crowds.  Obviously, there is potential for a lot of selling here, but I'm not very good at face to face interactions unless my nursing "hat" is on.  Portland is 2 hours away, so it would be one very long day, including set up, etc, and I would have to have a lot of stock available to make that worthwhile as well.  I need to make the decision by April 6, so the pressure is on.  I can't seem to decide on either opportunity.  I'd like to be able to weave some for myself and/or family/friends, plus there may be some more baby wraps in the wind. I'm stymied.

I know these are not terrible problems to have - I just don't want to disappoint people, or make myself crazy.  Guess I'll have to think on it some more.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to....ME!

Yep, it's the "big" day for me!  I come from a family where birthdays were a big deal when I was young.  Lots of family lived nearby, and there was always a gathering, dinner, cake, presents - you name it.  Fast forward to today, and, of course, the birthday barely registers in many respects.  I always feel like it ought to be special, but the reality is that it is mostly just another day.  I've just come off working 60 plus busy hours in the last 7 days, so I'm pretty tired, but I still spent part of the morning vacuuming, doing laundry, dusting, and putting off cleaning the bathrooms until later today - how does the house get so dirty when I'm gone?  Oh yeah - the husbeast!  I also baked some chocolate zucchini muffins - gluten and dairy free, of course!

The rest of the morning I spent completing the threading on the next baby wrap.  Here is a photo from earlier this week, after I'd loaded up the warp beam;


I do love my sectional beam, I must say!  I would each section on the warping board, and for most I didn't follow the color change gradient exactly due to the extreme fiddliness of the whole business, so the warp will look a tiny bit different once all is tie up.  I'm trying a sett of 28 EPI instead of 24 for 10/2 tabby, just to see what the hand of the cloth will be.  After threading it I had rethought my idea several times (946 threads vs 748), but what is done is done.  And of course I didn't charge any more for this one since it's my "experiment." Don't get me wrong - the client knows she is getting a more substantial wrap, so no surprises.

I think my younger son is coming home for the weekend tonight, and we are going out to eat with my older son and his wife tomorrow night, so that shall truly feel more like my birthday.  There is nothing like spending time with our family, all of us, to make the trials and tribulations of life shrink in comparison.

I did manage to finish weaving two of the eight tabby towels that I started awhile ago.  I used black weft for both, which really makes the colors pop.  The next ones will be deep purple, and maybe charcoal...  Decisions still have to be made on that front.  I took a photo, but left the camera upstairs in anticipation of weaving more, and, frankly, I'm too tired to go get it, so you'll have to wait until next time - sorry!

Weather-wise, old man winter does not want to let go around here.  We are still getting Arctic blasts after each snowstorm, and we have both coming tomorrow, so it may be the first day of spring on the calendar, (and Mr Rogers' birthday; and Bobby Orr's birthday - any old Bruins' fans out there?), but it is still very much winter here in Maine.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Baby Steps...

Slowly but surely, this winter is beginning to ease away from us.  We actually had one day last week when the temp was near 40!  Of course, the next day was back to the deep freeze, but it did give us hope.  The frequency of snow storms has lessened, as have the amounts we get.  Granted, we still have huge piles everywhere, it is still impossible to look for oncoming traffic at the end of the driveway and at intersections, we practically skate when we leave the house, but the predictions are for continuing moderation of temperatures, with occasional warmer than normal days, and still some well below.  At this point, we will take anything that we can get!

This is about how bad our icicle situation got, before the 40 degree day.  My hubby got up on the roof that day and removed all the ice.


On a much happier note, I've started weaving some more random striped tabby towels, which are always cheery.  Here are the colors as they went on my Baby Wolf.


I've finished the first towel, but have now started winding for the next baby wrap, so these will get done a bit at a time.  They are very fast to weave with my EFS, and after spending so much time on the Glimakra, the BW almost feels flimsy, like I'm weaving on a child's loom.  Still, it's nice to sit down and zip zip zip with short treadle drops and a narrow-ish warp.  The first towel was woven with my favorite, black weft.  I will do at least one more like that, a couple with deep purple, and then decide as I go what other colors to use.

I'll have to check with my customer about sharing, but her baby wrap inspiration really touched me. It's to be a rainbow, separated by charcoal.  This is the down and dirty mock up with yarns I had on hand.


And these are the correct colors.


Four of the 17 sections are on the loom, so still a bit to go.  Work schedules do cut into weaving time, don't they?!?

I'm also struggling more and more with the arthritis in my right thumb.  I'm left handed, but my right hand is my stronger hand - it's a right-handed world out there, so I've always used it more.  Weaving is something that aggravates it quite a bit, so sometimes I use a brace, and some topical cream.  It's beginning to look larger, and I can foresee a gnarled hand in my future.  I am certainly not ready to give up weaving (or knitting, or spinning either!).

I took the advice of one of you kind readers and bought the video about rep weaving with Rosalie Neilsen.  It was very helpful in thinking about how I might design something, as well as having some useful tips for the different processes involved.  I'm sure I'll watch it again, and maybe several times as I get closer to my next rep project.  Thanks so much, Cindie!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rep Weave is Done!

I've finished weaving my first rep weave project, the placemats from Handwoven Jan/Feb 2008!  I learned a lot, and I think each placemat was slightly better than the previous one.  The first couple definitely leave a lot to be desired, in that I didn't know enough to really pull on the thick weft with every pick.  Because of that, there are some bits showing just inward of the selvedges.  Probably not a big deal to most, but now that I know better, it bothers me.

I ended up with 7 mats, so I'm keeping one and setting aside the others for gifts, I think.  The one I'm keeping is going on top of our little hutch, which had an old rag placemat underneath our sugar and creamer set.  The rep weave mat doesn't fit the space as well as the other, and you can make that out clearly by the difference in the color of the wood - hey, that hutch is old!.


Here are the rest of them. Not a great shot, just a quick pic on top of the ironing board.


One thing I learned from experience - do not throw these in the dryer!  They come out dry, yes, but severely folded into pleats.  The folds came out fine with the iron, but I think you could save yourself some work by laying them flat to dry.

I'm still trying to figure out a rep weave draft for either a small rug or some bureau toppers.  My original intent was to weave a rug for in front of the stove/sink, but knowing how dirt gets dragged in on hub's boots and shoes, maybe I shouldn't do that.  I could make one for next to my side of the bed, which would get a lot less use, but also be seen less.  I need to learn how to design rep for 4 shafts, and don't know the best way to go about it.  There are no classes locally, so should I buy a video?  On block designs, or rep weave in particular?  Or a book?  Maybe just get a draft that someone else has and use that, since it would be for private use.  Any suggestions out there, oh, weavers?  I do have weaving software but have barely scratched the surface on how to use it, so if anyone has any suggestions for that too, I'd appreciate it!

I'm now winding some warp for another set of random striped towels, similar to these;


They will be woven on my Baby Wolf, even though I could do it on the Glimakra, being that they are plain weave.  I am in the first stages of my next baby wrap, and since that has to go on the bigger loom, I thought I'd start this quick, colorful project on the smaller one so I don't have to rush it.  With the weather that we've been having, I've really craved color, so these towels should do the trick!

Speaking of weather, the continuous march of snowstorms continues here, followed by arctic cold. This month there has only been one day above average in the temperature department, and that was 34 degrees.  People were dancing in the streets because that felt so great!  Last week, I noticed the temp reading in my car was 1 degree above zero, but when I got home, our indoor/outdoor thermometer said it was 20!  I knew that wasn't right, and the next day we figured out why - the snow had covered the sensor, which was more than 6 feet up from the ground, and under the eaves.  My hubby climbed the big mound, cleared it off, and it immediately plunged.  It happened again with yesterday's storm, as you can see;



Trust me, it is not 21 degrees outside!  You can just make out some of the snow with this through-the-screen shot.  Remember, this is a window that is over our kitchen counters, so quite high off the ground.



Here's a couple of views from just outside.  You can also see that our house needs painting, but that's what a brutal winter will do!



I will say that as bad as we have had it up here in the northeast - you know it's bad when there is a 75 car pile up on the interstate near Bangor, where everyone knows how to drive in snow by now - I really feel for the folks in the South, who are not equipped at all to deal with the temperatures and snow that they've been having.  Maybe Mother Nature has been trying to tell us something, and no one's paid attention, so she is hitting us all over the head with extremes.  I sure hope this isn't a trend!  So here's hoping that spring will start inching towards us.  As it is, my crocuses aren't going to be able to find their way up through that snowpile until July!