Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This and That

I've been moderately busy since the last post, weaving off the planned-for rug, and playing a bit with tablet weaving.

The rug was certainly a quick project, but it was fraught with indecision and uncertainty.  I had based my calculations on a similar project on Ravelry, which had 30% shrinkage.  I also messaged the weaver, who assured me that she did indeed have 30% in both length and width once the rug was completed.  I hemmed and hawed over the angle, wondering if it really would fit the space once the rug was off the loom.  I took a large piece of cardboard and cut it to fit the space, only to discover (er, remember) that not only would that not account for shrinkage, but that my big loom doesn't have a space over or under which I could hold the cardboard as a template - too many strings.  So I thought some more, did a bit more math, and came up with the brilliant deduction that a 45 degree angle should just entail decreasing in length at the same rate as in width - duh!  So, an inch of warp equaled 10 ends, and an inch of weaving equaled 6 picks; I just had to decrease by both of those equally.

Then my true nature, which is really quite hesitant and chicken-like, prevailed, and I just wove the rug straight to the warp's end, which ended up being a good thing.  I only had 8% shrinkage length-wise, and almost none in width!  I don't know why it varied so from that other project, but I now have a rug measuring 65.5" X 26.5."

You can see how washed out the colors became, but I still kind of like it.  Unfortunately, the cats also like it, and even with a pad under it, I keep finding it bunched up in any number of configurations. So, for now, it is upstairs in the spare bedroom, where I store my yarn and smaller loom.  As for the problem corner, my hubby went to a local Job Lot and bought a small, inexpensive oval "braided" rug that fits the space nicely and seems too inflexible to be bothered by the cats.  Wish I'd thought of that before.

I also dipped my toe into tablet weaving.  I borrowed two of John Mullarkey's DVD's, "Tablet Weaving Made Easy," and "Double Faced Double Weave."  I watched them twice, and first decided to try the double weave because the warping procedure is waaay easier.  This is the resultant sample band, woven in 10/2 mercerized cotton.

I started with the Greek keys design;

I really love how the design is mirrored on the opposite side;

I then worked on some diagonals.  The first diamond needed to be restarted when I realized that I was weaving wrong side up (not shown).

After that, I tried broken twill but got confused about the set up, so I just wove a few more designs and a couple of letters.

That undulating twill-ish design in also woven wrong side up, by the way.  Here are a couple of letters along with some diamonds and the Greek keys.  I'm not really sure why the "w" is so elongated...

One of my goals is to weave a key fob for my son's birthday using tablets to weave the letters of his name, but since his birthday is on the 26th, I may miss that window.  I'm not sure how many ends will be required for a band to fit the hardware, and the different fonts available require anywhere from 24 tablets to more than 50!

Today I started to warp for a "threaded in" tablet design, which is slow going for me and a bit frustrating.  The weaving part should be easier and quick, once it is warped.  I'll have to blog about that next time.

That's all the weaving news I have for now.  My next big project may be some huck baby blankets, or more towels.  I'm really trying to slow down a bit since the big software update at work is happening soon and the stress level is through the roof over there.  I don't need to add to that here at home.

No photos, but a slightly amusing story.  I was at my computer the other day, when I heard that very distinct meow that cats make when they've caught a mouse and want to show you.  Now, my cats are indoor cats only and neither one has ever caught anything.  (I know that meow well from our years with outdoor cats).  So I looked over, and Dinger, my former father-in-law's cat, was coming from the bottom of the stairs with something dangling from his mouth.  He kept meowing, and came closer so he could carefully set down his prize.  He then looked up at me ("Look, Mom, look!  See what I brought you??), and then carefully pawed it a bit.  It was  not a mouse, thank goodness, but some leftover dyed cotton from my last wrap warp, complete with the numbered tag still attached. Turquoise, no less.  Somehow, he had gotten into the spare bedroom and decided this small, loose bundle of soft, turquoise cotton was a thing he should conquer and deliver to me.  Gave me a chuckle.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Belated Wish

Hello again.  I have been quite remiss in my efforts to keep blogging of late, but I think for good reason.  There were the upcoming holidays, of course, but also a slight shift in my thinking about my weaving future.  I wanted to take some time to really consider where I was and in which direction I was headed.  Though the thought processes are still not totally solidified, I do feel confident that I am getting out of the baby-wearing realm, except for gifting or perhaps a favor here and there.  The new regs are finally being considered, and though there is to be a 12 month grace period. my life and all that is required really doesn't allow me to be as active on social media as I have to be to succeed. I was finding myself pulled in too many directions, and always trying to cram in more weaving to keep the business active and exciting, along with everything else that one has to do with a full time job and a house to run.  This past year was my most successful as a business, mostly because of the several wraps and slings that I sold, and I do love that my creations are out there, snuggling babies to their moms (mostly).  One of the reasons I did have a bit of success was the addition of a helper for my FB page, and she was HUGE in driving interest and sales.  She now has her own online weaving business to attend to, and does some amazing work with hand dyed warps.

So, after some thought, I have decided to scale my weaving back a bit, starting with actually trying to weave somethings for myself and family!  To start, I am warping for another try at a rug for my kitchen to help cover up the ratty floor near the sink and prep area.  The sink is set at an angle, and so trying to weave the 45 degree angle the correct length will certainly be my challenge, but, hey, it's just cotton.  As a reminder, this is the space I am trying to cover up.

I've just finished winding the warp on my board, and I found that trying to remember how to feed warps through the tension box strained my brain a bit - that Warping Square has spoiled me!  This warp is only 3.5 yards long, though, so using the Square really didn't make much sense. And, this is my first time warping with cotton rug warp, and I can see how it could be used for baby blankets - it's much softer than I imagined.  Photos to come.

After that, I think I will warp for some huck baby blankets using 12/2 Supima cotton.  I'm thinking I will weave three - one in all natural, and two with different colored wefts.  One (or more) will be for a hypothetical grandbaby that supposedly will be coming sometime in the near future.  In that vein, I am also spending my evening craft time doing a counted cross stitch Christmas stocking for said baby.  I purchased two, and this is the first one I am working on:

It is from Dimensions Crafts, and is called Welcome Santa.  I've done counted cross stitch before, and I'm sure it will be fine, but I miss knitting socks!  I may have to take a bit of a break along the way, but I'm not one to have projects languish, so I'll have to dig in.

I also bought myself a larger inkle loom, from Windhaven Fiber and Tools on Etsy.  I want to try tablet weaving, and have borrowed DVDs from John Malarkey to try to learn how.  I'm thinking of some more keys fobs for craft fairs, as well as gifts.  The problem is, I also think I need to actually DO the warping and weaving with the DVDs before I have to send them back in the middle of the month.  There really never is enough time, is there?

So, here's to more frequent blog entries, and a less stressed out weaving experience in the future.  I wish you all a happy, healthy, and joyous New Year!  See you on the other side!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

My First Inkling (Pun Intended)!

As promised, here is the outcome of that new inkle band project I last wrote about.  Aren't they cute???

The idea is from Handwoven Nov/Dec 1993, and they are called Inklings!  Pretty easy to make, and oh so appealing, at least to me!  

The inkle band was cut into 4-10 inch sections.

They are then sewn into a loop and turned inside out.  (I don't have any pictures from here on out of the process, because I was too excited to stop and take any!).  The folded edge is brought to the sewn edge, and then you stitch up the seams, keeping them flat.  Leaving a space open, they can be stuffed and a head can be inserted. Several people have used felted wool heads, or wooden beads with faces already imprinted, but I decided to go with small styrofoam balls inside nylons.

Though the inklings  are a bit fiddly to sew up, I really enjoyed making them, and cannot wait to give one to my Christmas-obsessed DIL!

I've also finished the Baby Surprise Jacket project, another quickie.  You remember how amorphous it was pre-stitching;

Here is a photo of the sweater blocked after stitching;

Pretty amazing, right?  That Elizabeth Zimmerman was a genius!  (The colors in the above photo are pretty true to life.  They are NOT, however, in this next one, with the buttons sewn on).

I will probably make more of these as the need arises, I think.

Floor loom weaving is still on hold, because the loom room is still semi-torn apart for electrical work. Hubby seems able to work only in short bits here and there, either because he is still tired from his pneumonia, or he is easily distracted, which has been the truth his entire life.  It will get done eventually, I hope!  In the meantime, I'm enjoying slowing down and relaxing.  'Til next time!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Next project underway!

Just a quick post to show progress on a new (to me) and different sort of project.

I didn't create this draft; it was kindly shared on a Facebook Inkle group.  Isn't it great?  And the bands themselves weave up so quickly!  I started the actual weaving yesterday evening, by mid morning today, I had 4-10 inch bands, separated and sewn.

The elastic you see was necessary, as there were 121 ends in this draft, and that really stretched my mini inkle to its limit.  I'm still waiting for my larger inkle loom to arrive.

Next, finished objects, I hope!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Talk about lag!

I've really let this blog slip more than I intended to.  I could blame the holidays or work, but that would only be partially true.  I've simply lost the urge to weave at present.  A big debate is raging in my mind (again) about the future of my weaving/crafting, and more and more I am leaning towards getting out of the babywearing biz.  As much as I love creating something that brings moms (and dads!) and babies together, there are aspects of that business that are becoming more difficult for me to engage in.  I've always been "behind the curve" as far as generating excitement on social media, and now there seems to be some other conversations, expectations, and "drama" (for lack of a better word) that make future prospects seem unappealing.  I still have that last piece I wove available, but for now I think that I will weave a few non-BW things and see how I feel after that.

First on the list will be a simple kitchen rug that needs to fit into an odd space.  My kitchen needs redoing, but especially my floor.  In front of the sink it is worn through, and though my hubby keeps saying that he will put down a new floor, I'm not holding my breath.  We've had the replacement bamboo for several years now!  Our sink is in a corner of a U-shaped space, so of course making a rug that will fit in there is challenging my brain cells.  Here is a photo of the space, warts and all.

The counter towards the right is the one that leads to the stove and where most prep is done, so I would love to have a rug that fits this odd corner and continues to the right.  I have some cotton warp and mop cotton at hand, but wonder; can I somehow weave the rug into this shape on one end by bringing the shuttle up between the warp at increasingly shorter lengths?  Then maybe weave the warp ends back in once the rug is off?

Mind you, the only rug weaving I have done was a small square rep weave piece for this very space, but the rug was too thin and wouldn't stay in place, despite a "non-skid" mat and double-sided tape.  I'd appreciate any advice more experienced rug weavers can give me on this.

After that, my next project may be some huck baby blankets.  I seem to be feeling a bit of the "nesting" urge that some pregnant women get towards the end of their pregnancies, but mine isn't for me, but my hypothetical future grandchild.  Elder son and his wife recently bought a house, and say they may start trying soon, so all of a sudden, I have the urge to weave and knit things for a baby.  Kind of crazy that a baby wrap may not be one of them...  I have plenty of Supima cotton for the warp, and I may weave several and offer some up in my Etsy shop if they come out like a hope.

I also just ordered some counted cross-stitch Christmas stocking kits for said future baby.  I have made crewel-work stockings for everyone in the family in the past, so it only seems right that I should continue the tradition, but my eye-sight is certainly not what it was, plus stitching may take a lot of time away from other things. Hopefully I can start working on them in the evenings when I don't really weave much anyway.

On the knitting front, I've finished the knitting on the Baby Surprise Jacket, and it is blocking at the moment.  I need to find some cute buttons, and it will be done!  Here's a photo of what it looks like when the knitting is done.

So hard to imagine that this amorphous blob turns into a cute baby sweater!  I ended up knitting an i-cord around all the edges except for the cuffs, and it really gave it a nice finish.

This morning I just finished warping my mini inkle loom with a holiday-colored band, hopefully to be woven quickly for a really cute Christmas surprise.  The pattern has 121 ends, which barely fits on the loom, so I've put some elastics on the ends of the pegs to help keep the warp from slipping off.  I ran out of heddles half way through, so I made some new with some waxed cotton that had been recommended to me quite awhile ago. Well, THAT turned out to be a mistake!  I can't even get the ends to move past them to make a shed.  What was supposed to be a quick weave will end up being a struggle, I fear.  Photos to follow, if I can get it done on time.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pardon the Lag

I realized I haven't posted in awhile, but, well, life has been even busier than usual.  At first, there were added responsibilities at work, as we are prepping for a medical records software changeover in January.  I am among many SME's, or subject matter experts, who are folks who have a fairly good grasp of using electronic medical records already in the day to day care of hospital patients.  We were to receive training in the new system early on, so that we can practice to become more comfortable with the changes and then be a resource for everyone else as they learn and after the switch.  These classes were 4 hours long, and we had 2-3 of them a week, along with our regular shifts.  This past week was the end of them except for one, which happens after Thanksgiving, and is basically how to teach people the skills necessary to document in the new system.

As soon as those classes were done, my husband got sick.  I got home from my regular shift on Thursday night and he was on the couch, complaining of being cold and feeling lousy.  He didn't have a fever, but definitely had other signs of the flu - body aches, malaise, no appetite, a terrible headache.  I encouraged him to hydrate and watch the temp, but had to work the next day, so I got up before him and headed out the next morning.

When I got home he wasn't any better, but he wasn't any worse, either.  Still thinking it was the flu, we went through the weekend without too much change, until Sunday, when he seemed a bit better. He had a bit of an appetite, and was up and around.  That all changed on Monday, when I took his temp again and it was 103+.  We ended up in the emergency department for hours, where the doctor was sure it was a tick-borne illness, only to discover it was a very bad pneumonia.  He was so dehydrated that his lung sounds were not junky at all, but the x-ray was impressive, I heard.

Long story short, he was admitted and spend the next 7 days and 6 nights as an inpatient, getting heavy duty antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, and other supportive care.  He showed signs of improvement after a couple of days, and just came home this noon time.  What a relief!  He will be on oral meds for a few days, and have to check in with his PCP soon, but should be able to start slowly building back his strength and stamina.

In weaving news, I forgot to take photos of the baby wrap woven with the dyed peppermint weft, but here are a couple of shots of it that the customer took after she received it.

The third piece, woven with indigo Zephyr (wool/silk), ended up being 2.81 meters long (unhemmed) by 29.25 inches wide.  I've offered it up as is, hemmed, or converted to a ring sling.  It has still not been claimed, and so it sits, awaiting its forever (or not!) home.

As for other weaving, that may or may not happen for awhile.  After all of the extra responsibilities and running around, I feel the need to take it easy for awhile.  I may change my mind, since the weaving bug usually doesn't take too long to strike.

Oh, and I'm knitting my first BSJ, or Baby Surprise Jacket!  For those of you who don't know. it is a baby sweater that is designed in a most bizarre fashion, but gets folded and sewn into an adorable little sweater.  Here's a photo taken yesterday.  I am just at the point where I start increasing.  More photos to come.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, drama-free Thanksgiving with family and friends!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Number One Done!

I am so happy to announce that the troublesome baby wrap will be winging its way to its new owner tomorrow morning!  I spent most free of my free time over the last two weeks hunkered over it with magnifying headgear on in order to needle weaving the repairs for over 80 threads.  Happily, once the wrap was wet finished, the repairs are pretty much invisible.

This pima cotton is so very soft, I just wanted to bury my face in there, but I refrained...

There did end up being a single mistreadle that I couldn't repair well, so I gave the customer a small discount after showing her photos (error is marked by clips).

The outer side;

and the wrong side;

Another interesting "feature" is the slight scalloping of the selvedges that seem to be common with these so-called crackle drafts.  The draft, #63044 from, isn't a true crackle but a close approximation created by a mathematician who was fascinated by weaving.  In conversing with other weavers, most if not all experience this anomaly in their selvedges when they weave drafts from this collection.

I'm so happy to have "weathered the storm" of this particular wrap.  I can't wait to see photos of it in use, snuggling a baby up to its mama.

The second wrap, woven with peppermint weft, has been waiting patiently for me to inspect it, but it will have to wait just a bit longer, since my work schedule is going to keep me busy until the weekend.  We are starting our training for our new computer system for electronic medical records.  It is very different than the one we've been using, and there is a lot to learn.  I can easily get ahead of myself and feel overwhelmed because I don't "get it" right away, but I've only had one day of training out of six, I think, so I keep reminding myself to relax.  Hard to do, and health care is complicated enough, but you can't stop progress, so train I will.

A couple of parting shots of Paradise Cove, and I'll see you next time!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Highs and Lows

I've been MIA for a bit because of several factors.  First and foremost, I wanted to complete the weaving portion of the Paradise Cove warp.  At last post, I was ready to start the Zephyr wool/silk weft, and I found that to be a wonderful yarn to work with.  The patterning became apparent again, but in a much subtler way than with the black tencel.  I had almost memorized the 146 pick pattern, so was happily weaving along, and then...

It became apparent that there would not be enough warp left to weave the size baby wrap that the customer wanted.  I felt horrible, having let her down.  I wove until the bitter end, but only ended up with 118.5 inches STIH off the loom, pre-wash.

I set that aside, because I had planned on finishing the wraps in the order in which they were woven, so I took the first piece, woven with tencel, and found 25 inches of multiple long floats that covered the entire width of the cloth at the end of her piece.  These floats were underneath and so, impossible to see while weaving. One or more of the texsolv treadle cords had become loose while weaving.  I let the customer know, and have since spent every available day hunched over the kitchen table, which magnifying head gear on, needle weaving in every single thread for the full length, plus overlap.  As of today, I'm about half way done.  I do believe that the repairs will work and be virtually invisible, but the disappointment in myself and my ability to do this work to the standards I have set for myself are in my thoughts constantly.  I haven't dared to look at the second piece yet to see if these floats are present there as well.  Here is a cell phone shot to show the floats - for some reason, I couldn't get my good camera to take adequate photos of this.

So, after the elation of my first big dye job, and the joy at seeing the complexity of the draft play out, I am now faced with the possibility that I may not continue down this road.  I will complete these wraps, offering the third, shorter piece for anyone who may want it, or convert it myself into a sling, then take a bit of a break until I can figure out where I want to go from here.  I know the weaving bug will strike, probably sooner than later, but at this point, I feel like I have poured almost every free moment into this part of my life, to the detriment of almost everything else, and maybe that's not the smartest move, either.

On a another note entirely, while weaving I usually will listen to music, often through Pandora, just to give my mind something else to think about besides saying the treadling pattern over and over in my head.  For this warp, because it was fairly complex, I didn't listen to anything.  At all.  And I missed it.  So once I knew that there would be a chunk of time spent repairing, I happily turned the music back on, lightening the mood a bit and passing the time in a more positive way.  Then I remembered that I had started to listen to podcasts for the first time a few months ago.  One of the ones I found entertaining is The West Wing Weekly, which reviews each episode of the The West Wing.  It sounds fairly boring, but it is a great mixture of insight, comedy, and civics.  They often have guests on, some of whom were actors on the series, but others from government and other related areas.  Back when the series was on, my older son was in a youth orchestra in Portland, which is an hour and a half commute. We went weekly, on Wednesdays, and were delighted to find that occasionally, on the ride home, we could pick up the audio from the television broadcast on AM radio.  We both really enjoyed the witty repartee and were always disappointed when we couldn't tune in.  It was a great bonding experience.  Now that we are in the age of Netflix, he and his wife have binge-watched it, and my husband and I spent much of the summer's dearth of watchable shows rewatching the series. If any of you enjoyed the West Wing, I would highly recommend this podcast.  It has made me smile and laugh a bit through this less-than-stellar episode of my weaving career.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Peppermint Done, Now on to Zephyr!!

Just a quick note to say that I finished baby wrap #2, 4.5m using hand dyed peppermint weft!  It's been fun, and once I had some time to spend at the loom, it worked up fairly quickly.  Yesterday I ended up weaving ~80-ish inches, including a very long bout of unweaving twice in the afternoon.

It's amazing how the actual pattern is so hard to see at times with this weft, but up close, like in the above photo on the cloth beam, the pattern becomes more apparent.

And my usual "hyperspace" shot:

The Zephyr (wool/silk) weft coming up is in the indigo colorway, so the pattern should be apparent, and I can't wait to weave with that soft silky stuff!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weft Dyeing

The weaving on the Paradise Cove warp came to a screeching halt last Monday when I finished weaving the first wrap with the black tencel weft.

The next semi-custom slot holder wants hand dyed peppermint yarn for her weft, which arrived in the mail last week.  The decision was made to have the yarn speckle dyed, so I planned to do as much as I could on Wednesday, knowing  would be away the next day for a nursing conference, and then have to work today and tomorrow.

Being the way I am, I ended up completing the process all in one day, which is a lot.  I set up the table in my garage, adding plastic and bringing out the dye powders that I would use.  Mind you, the night before the temps had dropped into the 30's, and the garage is unheated, so it was very chilly out there.

The skeins had been already wound, so I put them in hot soapy water (I used Synthrapol) for about 30 minutes, then rinsed and soaked them in a soda ash solution for another 30 or so.  Then one by one I set them on the table and began to sprinkle dye on randomly.  When one side was done, I flipped them over and did the other side, then wrapped them in plastic wrap.  I did a non-traditional speckle dye, in that I decided to try to cover most of the yarn instead of leaving a lot of the natural showing. The yarn has a slight grayish tone, and the slot holder had wanted color, so I left little undyed.

When all 4 skeins (and one mini skein) were done, I placed them all in a couple of foil roasting pans, then set them in my oven.

I turned the oven onto warm, but only for a few minutes, then left the yarn in there for a couple of hours.  That afternoon, I soaked the skeins in cold water for an hour, then a hot Synthrapol solution for another hour, then rinsed, rinsed, and rinsed.  Finally, I put them in a hot soak with Milsoft, to help the yarns be more soft and easier to manage once they dried.  By the time that was done, it was 3 PM and too late to put them outside to dry, so I set up my old laundry rack upstairs and laid the yarns out on that.

This morning, a day and a half later, I found the yarns still slightly damp, much to my surprise.  So they are now on the line outside, and I hope they dry before I have to leave for work this afternoon, or they will one again have to come inside.  The days are expected to be relatively warm, but nights are quite cold and dewy, so leaving them out won't help matters.

I can't wait to start weaving with this yarn and see how the patterns and colors change!