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!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Good Day!

You know the day holds promise when, after awakening early to go to another 12 hour shift (your third in four days), you get the call that you can be on stand by.  It couldn't have come at a better time, because my son has been home all weekend to visit, but I've mostly been at work, so it's nice to be able to spend some time with him.  There's still a chance that they will need me at the hospital, but so far I've done some weaving that would have otherwise had to wait, while he slept in.

Another plus - this last storm was predicted to give us another 20-24 inches of snow, but we were somehow mercifully spared the brunt of it and only received 6-8 inches.  Since my last post we have had 2-4 storms a week, with the majority being over a foot deep.  I think it is really wearing on people - we all seem to be walking around with stunned looks on our faces.  "How can this be???Again?!?!?" Our front "lawn" has so much snow ("how much is it?" Remember that?) that we cannot see the street or the driveway from the house.  At all.  It's just a wall of white.  So the fact that we only got 6-8" has really raised spirits around here!

While working on my rep weave placemats, I have found starting and stopping the thick weft to be an enormous pain in the...keister.  I'm using 3/2 mercerized cotton, but because it comes plied, trying to separate the two plies so I can only have a single width's overlap is very fiddly.  Often times, the single plies fall apart after separation, leading to a few "hot flashes" as well as choice verbage.  After three placemats were completed, I did some figuring and tried to wind just enough thick weft so I only had to fiddle with it at the beginning and the end.  I had very little trust in my math, and as I was weaving it looked like I would run out.  But lo and behold, look how much was left at the end!  Another plus!


I haven't taken too many photos of this project, but here is the most recent;


I also finished a knitting project I started a long time ago; my hand spun, hand knit sweater.  The yarn was spun during the summer of 2013, in various shades of purple with hints of other colors.  I tried to spin it a bit thicker than I ended up actually doing, so I had 1721 yards from 16.4 ounces.  The sweater was a pattern that I bought on Ravelry, called the "Henni." It is a top down cardigan, with stockinette stitch everywhere except for the cuffs and borders.  This is some of the fiber;


and the spun yarn;



and the finished sweater, drying while being blocked.


That front band had to be reknit, because the first time it was too short, and couldn't be blocked long enough.  This one is a tad too long, but I'm OK with that.  No buttons or closures, although I might get a clasp of some sort.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Uncle!!!

This winter, the snow is the gift that just keeps on giving!!  Three storms in a week has produced more than 43 inches in Portland.  Normally, by this time of year, they have a total of 35 inches that has fallen from the sky for the season.  Instead, they have had more than they usually get in an entire winter, somewhere around 67+ inches.  And Bangor is worse off - they've had almost 90 inches of snow so far!!  Here on the midcoast, we are not wallowing around in quite that much snow, but we still have had more than our fair share.  And the almost constant arctic cold is also unusual for us here on the coast.  Not that we would be warm, but the normal average for today is 32 degrees, and most days we haven't been hitting 20.







And, oh joy, there is more on the way tonight into tomorrow!  I guess the thing to do is just go with the flow, but it's hard to put a positive spin on this.  There isn't anything anyone can do about it, but it sure is making for a lot of extra work for a lot of folks.  And I miss color!  Blue sky, green grass and leaves..everything feels very monochromatic.

The custom baby wrap is safely in the arms of its owner, and she seems very happy with it!  Mailing it off caused a small bit of anxiety, and I think it was not because I didn't think she'd like it - I kept her very well informed via text and photos - but because so much thought/work went into it, that if almost felt like I was sending a child out into the world.  Sounds corny, I know, but that is how it felt to me.

Here is a lovely video produced by the BCIA, the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, which helps us weavers make sure that we are producing wraps that are safe, and that parents wrap their babies safely, among other things.  It is called Visible and Kissable!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziIXyZSQbCA

Up next is a new weave structure for me - rep weave.  I've seen so many examples of lovely mats and rugs that I've finally decided to take the plunge.  I've read a few books, and also read through a very long thread on Ravelry about a rep weave weave-along, which was very helpful.  Many other weavers had never attempted it before the weave-along, so a lot of my questions were answered along the way.

I decided to weave some placemats from Handwoven Jan/Feb 2008, using 10/2 mercerized cotton in bleached and Lipstick.  The thick weft was supposed to be 1/16" piping cord, but I'm going with 3/2 cotton.  I'll decide on how many threads I'll need when I get closer to weaving.  As of today, I've gotten the warp on the beam and threaded.

I may not get to the sleying until the weekend, as I have 2 shifts of work coming right up, but my understanding is that once the warp is all set up, the weaving itself may not take that long.  Famous last words, right?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brrrr!

There is no doubt that this winter will be one for the record books, I am sure!  While I know that NYC didn't get nearly as much snow as predicted, the weathermen were spot on for this area of the state.  It started snowing Monday night, and for an entire day it fell, sideways.  Temps were in the single digits to teens, and very strong winds, near hurricane force in some places, made for an almost surreal landscape when we woke up this morning.  This is a shot (from indoors - it's cold out there!) looking towards our garage and driveway, after plowing and snowblowing.
You can see the sizeable pile against the house.  Some areas were waist-deep prior to the clean up.

And here is the other side of our house, the side that was more exposed to the winds.
Bare ground!!  Of course, the piled up snow near the street is another issue all together!  Since we live near the coast, most of our snowstorms tend to be on the wetter side, with heavy, sticky snow.  This one was all powder, hence the drifts and differing depths.  It's nice to be able to move it without a back ache!  More snow on the way for Friday and Monday, both of which I work, so creeping along in my car is definitely in my future.

In weaving news, I finally finished the custom baby wrap! 

I decided to go with a textural middle marker, so I hand wove in some doubled 10/2 warp colors on one edge.  It it fairly small, so I hope that's not a problem, but I didn't want the marker to be a part of the design. 
It is all packaged up, waiting to hear from its future owner. 

My next project is going to be a first for me.  I've been interested in rep weave after seeing some gorgeous projects on Ravelry, so my first rep project will be a set of placemats in red and white.  I'm not really drawn to this particular project in a huge way, so if I mess it up I'll be OK with that!  If it comes out well, I want to weave a kitchen rug.  So far, I'm having my usual problems with using a warping reel.  It is apparently beyond my abilities to use one correctly, because I always end up with terrible tension/tangling problems, despite doing everything I can to keep the tension steady.  You know there's an issue when putting one section on a sectional beam takes longer than winding it.  I've asked for advice, read books, watched videos, but cannot find what I am doing wrong.  I'm close to selling the reel, I think.  That would leave me with my warping board, which comes with its own issues, but I do get better results winding individual sections on it.  It is a frustration that I cannot fix!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Folly's Progress

The warp is on the loom, and the weaving is coming along nicely!  I really love the bright, random colors, especially with winter playing so rough this year!  Frigid and gray has been the rule of the day lately, so spending some time at my loom helps brighten an otherwise dreary morning.




I love the way the warp comes around the back beam so evenly.  Hard to get a good photo of it, though.

The other day I walked by it on my way through the living room, and seeing the warp on the sectional beam from underneath almost took my breath away.  Of course, I got my trusty camera, but the photo doesn't do it justice.  It also looks a bit too yellow.  You get the idea, though (and a glimpse of my late father-in-law's cat!).


So neat and tidy!!  And then you look at the long shot, and that all goes out the window!!


All kinds of things on the loom, near the loom..  tools of the trade, I guess!

I've woven 2 yards so far, so over one third done.  More work days coming up, though, so no more progress for a few days.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Sley" Ride!!

Yes, I know - a bad pun, but how could I not??

After a few weeks of little to no weaving activity, I finally had some time this morning to start sleying the next baby wrap.  I attempted to speed up the process by using the method advocated on Laura Fry's new video, "The Efficient Weaver."  Basically, it amounts to bringing a number of warp ends forward and holding them between your fingers in whatever configuration they are going to be sleyed - for me, it was 8 ends, held 2 together between fingers.  The reed is horizontal, supported by two loops of string.  Take the hook, bring it up through a dent from underneath, catch the first two dents, bring the hook back down through the same dent, and without pulling those threads all the way through, bring the hook back up through the next dent, catch the next set of ends, and repeat. When the loops of all the ends in your hand have been brought through their respective dents, pull the hook and bring the rest of the ends all the way through.

At first, this felt very awkward for me.  The reed could swing a bit, and I'm still getting used to texsolv heddles, but after a few minutes the process really moved along.  I sleyed 8 ends at a time, and after 24 ends, or one inch's worth, I would check that 2/dent happened correctly throughout the entire section by spinning the reed around so that the side that had been downward was now facing me. Easy to check, then lay it flat again and start the next section!  All 748 ends were done in about an hour or so.



Sorry about the photo quality, but it is really cold here today, and the living room has an old picture window that is very very drafty, so we keep it covered with a quilted window curtain.  The only light available were from lamps.

After that speedy bit of work, I just need to tie onto the front beam, tie up the loom itself (which is still a bit of a challenge), then I can weave!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quick Catch Up

I'm very excited right now, because I just sold my Leclerc counterbalance loom!  This is the one that's been for sale since getting my Glimakra CM in September.  It has been sitting against our fireplace in the living room ever since, which is also the room where the big Glimakra resides, so it has been crowded in there, to say the least.  Anyone that knows me knows that clutter makes me anxious. so except for when I'm weaving, the "living room" has been handed over to the cats.  They sleep on the couch in there during the afternoon, and run through it regularly when they're not.  While I don't see us taking their lair away any time soon, it is such a relief to give that loom to someone who will use it! The buyer is from New Brunswick, and they drove down today (4.5 hour drive) in their Honda CRV.  I don't know how, but the loom somehow fit in the back, and they are on their way home.  She's never woven before, so I'm sure she is in for years of learning and having fun!

Because the Glimakra is so huge, and the Leclerc hadn't been sold yet, I thought I would bring the tiniest bit of holiday cheer into the house, so I did this in lieu of a tree;



Other than that, I've been chipping away at the baby wrap warp.  I managed to finish winding the warp, one bout at a time, and loading each one onto the sectional beam.  I learned a lot from that experience, and each bout went on better than the previous one did.  Unfortunately, now that I'm threading the heddles, those early bouts are showing their ugly side.  Some of the ends are crossed, so threading in order is a nightmare, and I'm sure that I will run into other issues along the way because of it.  I love the colors, though, and it is definitely going to be a bright, fun wrap!


My vacation is coming to a close soon, so all things weaverly will be coming to a crawl.  I wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate!  I hope it is filled with family, fun, joy, and much laughter!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Woven Poinsettia and English Garden

Do you detect a theme here?? Maybe it's all the rain we're getting, or the unseasonably cold temperatures, but my mind is seeing these scarves in terms of plant coloration.  It's probably just wishful thinking!

The "Secret" scarf wove up even better than I thought!  It still needs fringe twisting, so no finished photo yet, but I can't help but love the gentle pooling of color along this warp.  It reminds me of an English garden, yes but more like a watercolor of an English garden.



Those reed marks should lessen in the laundry.  I plan to twist the fringe this afternoon.

The Poinsettia scarf encountered all manner of problems, mostly from the sectional warping process. One section ended up shorter than the others, plus the scarf is more narrow because I ran out of yarn before I could wind the final 2 inch section.  Thus this scarf is more narrow than I usually like to weave.  Setting up the Glimakra totally flummoxed me (again!), so I had to haul out the books and redo everything, which took the better part of yesterday.  This morning I finally got to begin weaving, and that went quickly - that loom may be a bear to prep, but it is a dream to weave on.  Right up until one of my section "cords"came untied from the rod on the warp beam.  I tried to retie it, but could not attain the correct tension.  Luckily that happened close to the end, so with every pick I had to put the shuttle down, reach over the reed and tension that section by hand.  It worked, for the most part, but there will be a few wonky slevedges, I'm sure.



I plan on hemming this today, then into the wash they both will go!  Finished photos next time.

I've also finally gotten back to my hand spun sock knitting. Last summer I spun this Panda fiber (merino wool/bamboo/nylon) from Fat Cat Knits, entitled "Moxie."


It became these 3 ply skeins;


It always amazes me how different the yarn and the fiber can look!

I then started my sock and got this far


before life got in the way.  A month or so ago I decided that I really should get back to knitting the sock, so I picked away at it, never very happy about the project.  I think it was because the yarn felt a bit hard, which hopefully will mean it will last, but it took a lot of the enjoyment away.  As always, I used mill spun for the heels.  Last night I completed the first sock!



Isn't it funny how the beginning and end (toe and cuff) are the same color?  The abrupt change for the cuff was unplanned - it is just the way the colors mixed in the spinning.  I would have preferred a more subtle change, but it is what it is.

Here's hoping for a break in this gray, drab, cold weather!