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Sunday, November 15, 2015

On Hold

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

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

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

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

Next blog will be more colorful, I promise!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Curious Problems

I'm starting to measure warp for a set of baby wraps, using 10/2 mercerized cotton and my trusty Square Mini. The sett is quite dense, at least for me - 30 EPI - so I need 60 ends for each of my 2 inch sectional sections (that seems a bit redundant, doesn't it??).

I'm having a terrible time getting the yarn off of the Mini without having to release some threads manually, and as I wind on some ends are tangling, a sure sign of tension issues.  The length of the warp is 16.5 yards, which is a record for me, but nowhere near what the Mini can handle.

In order to wind the correct length, the Mini has to rotate 8 times for each end.  I'm making sure that the newly wound yarn is landing on the wooden arms of the Mini, and not on previously measured yarn, yet when I try to wind it off, the ends are "stuck," and seem to be buried under other yarns.

This happens before I can even place the little reed into the arm that is attached to the beam, so while holding that with one hand, the other has to loosen these ends one by one.  The tangling happens only during the first quarter or so of the measured warp, but by the time I reach the end, there are all kinds of tangles.

Now that I've started it, I have to finish the warp this way, since I don't have a board large enough to measure 16.5 yards.  I think that the weaving, which is usually so enjoyable, is going to be a nightmare.

Here is a shot of the first couple of colors as they were wound on the Mini, before I knew what lay ahead.

I'm at a stopping point right now, since I'm about to run out of the blue, and have some more on the way. Six sections wound, ten to go - who knows how this will all turn out??  I thought I did, but now I'm not so sure!

We are having a bit of a break this fall in the weather department.  This week our highs will be in the 50's, maybe low 60's, all the way until Sunday.  Last year, much of Maine got its first snowfall the first week in November, and in some places it was a foot deep!  Little did we know that it was only the beginning of what would be a banner year for snow and cold.  Hopefully, this mini warm spell portends something a bit more pleasurable!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Rep rug!

This is my first rep rug, and only my second rep project, the first being some placemats (meant as a gift, so no photos yet!).  I made many errors along the way, some of which I mentioned in another blog, but the final one was a common one amongst weavers, I think.  I saw that the end of the warp was getting closer, but thought I just might be able to eke out one last pattern repeat before weaving the ending sequence and then the hem.

As you have probably guessed, I should have stopped right there, because I ended up being able to weave only one row that should have been six, and two rows that should have been three, in order to be able to weave the hem.  Even then, I had to back way off with the tension.  I ended up with a shorter-than-planned rug that is asymmetrical to boot!  Here's a photo of it still on the loom, waiting to be cut off;

Once cut off the loom, I folded the hems in thirds and hand stitched them down, scratching my right thumb and jamming the tapestry needle under my right thumbnail in the process.  Ouch!!

Here's the rug on my cutting board after hemming;

And on my very old and very dirty kitchen floor.  We have a sink in the corner, so it actually worked out well that the rug was smaller than planned.

I didn't wash it first, as I do all other handwovens, because this fabric is very dense and doesn't need a wet finishing to coalesce into fabric.  I also didn't put down a rug pad, but the rug is quite slippery on the floor, so I put some carpet tape under the corners.  I'm not sure what will happen when I do have to wash it, whether I can get the tape off prior to laundering or not.

Despite the errors and issues, I really love the clearly delineated geometric designs in rep weave.  I will definitely be weaving another rug in the future, putting to use all the lessons I've learned along the way.

I now have two naked looms, which is a rare occurence for me.  I've designed my next baby wrap warp, but, am having difficulty getting my design to open as a .wif file.  I use Random Weave Stripes (http://kajwiklund.github.io/random-weave-stripes/app), and have successfully gotten wif files from it before, but am having difficulties modifying and downloading the correct format.  I may have to figure out a way to recreate the thread by thread color order some other way.  Ugh.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wrap Scraps!

Awhile back I found a tutorial online for sewing Dumpling pouches, and I saved the site and promptly forgot all about it!  So, after the rush of the competition and a holiday commission, I found the time to attempt to sew some up, using scraps materials leftover from the loom.  This is the site:


And here are the resultant bags:

They measure ~6 inches by 3.5 inches, with a 2 inche base.  The blue/purple/green bag is ever so slightly smaller.  They open up nice and wide, too!  But the best part is that they didn't take very long to sew, compared to the larger clutch wallets I've been making.  It's nice to have a quick sewing project for a change!

I'll most likely post these on my FB page soon.  I have to work for the next couple of days, so I'll wait until I'll be around to attend to the computer.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pulled in Several Directions

I was really excited to finish off the red table runner I showed last time, so I could finally devote some time to trying to weave my first rep rug.  We need something for the kitchen floor in front of the sink, because the vinyl has worn through, so I thought a small rep rug would be just the thing.  I used the drafts from Rosalie Neilson's Handwoven's Master Weaver Collection, "One Warp, Four Rugs, Eight Looks."  Since this was my first try, and I didn't want to lay out a lot for materials, I thought I would just warp for one rug, so I carefully divided the measurements by four,  including the loom waste.  Yep!  So now I have a very very short warp!  Such a dope!

I also decided not to purchase the Borg's Maxi String yarn for the thick weft; instead, I would eight strands of the thin weft, 3/2 merc cotton.  I've seen that a lot in reading on rep rugs, that the thick weft be 8 of the thin, but when I again did the math, taking the Maxi ypp (124), and the 3/2 ypp (1260), I thought that approximately ten strands of 3/2 would equal the maxi.  Luckily, I went with 8 strands, and even at that, I am nowhere near making ppi. I have my big Standard, and am beating several times with all my might, so I don't think it's because of my beat, but I've been wrong on so many counts with this project, that anything is possible!  And clearly, I should stay away from math.

Here's a photo of the beginning of my rug;

It has sat there, looking like this, for a couple of weeks, because I got a commission to weave two more of the Summer and Winter Christmas tree runners from a colleague at work.  As usual, I worry about meeting deadlines, so I've done little else with my free time.  The good news is, I just took them off the loom today!  I warped for three of them, added a "design element" to one, but still managed to get them done quickly.  I still need to do the finish work, but that shouldn't take long.  I got to the point where I didn't need to look at the treadling, but said what each shuttle was doing for each pick, to be sure to not make a mistake.  So, no music, just my voice monotonously saying the same things over and over.  It worked well, but I am very happy to be done weaving these, at least for now.

While weaving the rug, I also plan on designing my next run of baby wraps.  I think I'll be using this photo for my inspiration,

although the shot I took of our calendar is very tempting as well.  Not a great photo, but it's Thunder Hole at Acadia National Park.

So many colors, so little time!

Till next time...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Month???

Has a month already flown by since I last blogged??  Sheesh, I must be getting old!

The babywearing weavers competition has ended, thankfully.  I had a bit of scrambling to do at the last minute, not because my entry wasn't complete, but because of uploading information issues. Stressful to the very end!

All told there were 91 entries.  Most were unbelievably beautiful, so much nicer than anything I could come up with.  I didn't finish dead last, and ended up getting 76 votes over all.  The best part is that the competition was a great vehicle to increase exposure.  I more than doubled the membership in my little chatter group, so now more folks will see all of the handwovens as I post them.  My piece did sell after I put it up for a random draw - the mama should get it tomorrow!  She's promised to post some photos as she uses it over the weekend.

Since I was trying to use yarn I already had, the best fit I came up with was using the book "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak.  Always one of my kids' favorites, it allowed me to use some purples and a dark, dull brick red.  It was woven with 8/2 unmercerized cotton, warp and weft, using pebble weave.

Here's a couple of photos:  one of the cloth as it fed onto the cloth beam on the loom - I love this perspective!

And a couple off the loom.  I find that the colors almost look brown somehow.

And here is the final collage that I used for the competition.  I should have included a photo of the book, as so many others did, but an action shot would have also been nice.  Unfortunately, I don't have any babies I could use to model at the moment.

After the stress of the competition, I decided to weave something that's been on my wish list for a long time.  The structure is summer and winter, which I once attempted for a decorative edging on a towel.  I loved the way it looked, but made many mistakes.

Christmas table runner, as printed in Handwoven, Sept/Oct 1992.

The extra challenge for me was the skeleton tie up.  It is the first time I've ever woven using one.  It took awhile for my feet (and brain!) to know where to treadle.  Eventually I got a bit faster at it, and I do love how it turned out. Also, it ended up being quite a quick project.  It only took me a week to complete, start to finish, including the days I was away at work all day.  I think it would look great using green instead of the natural - I may make another this fall.

I'm now focussing on finally starting the rep weave rug I had all planned out a year or so ago.  So many other things came first, to the point where I couldn't remember the plan I had made. Consequently, yesterday was spent mostly unwinding, detangling, and rewinding onto cones - NOT a great day.  I had hoped to use my Warping Square mini, but because I'm only making one small rug, its smallest circumference is 2.5 yards, so that was out.  I also forgot to divide the yardage called for by four, because the draft is for 4 small rugs and I only wanted to make one.  What a wasted day.  I am now winding the bouts on my warping board, then painstakingly laying the yarn in the two reeds of my tension box, trying to keep everything in order, then winding onto the sectional beam.  Only three more bouts to go, but I have to redo one because I loaded it in the wrong order. That should be a fun fix.

I've finished sewing three more NCW's with wrap scraps, and spent a couple of days using my mini inkle loom to make shoulder straps.  Those three will most likely go to folks at work who've shown interest.

There is another one similar to the one on the right.  Sorry there are no photos of the straps..

I have a couple of smaller scraps that I may sew into smaller bags if there's time.  I also have to decide if I want to take part in the Christmas craft fair that work is putting on.  I went last year, and ended up doing fairly well, but I don't have a lot of stock right now.  Two stores are asking for product I don't have, and I'm not sure I want to ramp up the pressure again right now.  Maybe I'll go every other year.

I'm also developing my next design for a baby wrap or two. so stay tuned for that!

Other than that, not much new to report.  Hopefully, it won't be another month before I have something bloggable!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Emerald City

As always, time flies around here.  It's been awhile since I posted, mostly because I was taking part in a weavers' competition on FB, and anonymity was the (almost) only rule.  The goal of the group is to weave a baby wrap, at least 2.1 meters long, using the theme "children's lit."  At first, I had absolutly no ideas, and really, not much interest in taking part, but when an idea popped into my head I was all in.  It seemed it was meant to be - I had most of the yarn I needed, the loom was empty, and I had vacation time in which to work.  I had no illusions that I was going to win, but I was very excited to take part, especially since my idea felt so right to my very Type A brain.

So why am I telling you this, since anonymity is obviously being broken here?  Because I screwed up.

I posted this photo

in another group, to show how closely the knots came to the heddles as I finished the piece.  Someone immediately requested to the admins of that group that the photo be taken down, as it broke the rules.  I felt so stupid, even though when I posted it, all I saw were the knots.  Later that evening I was informed that because I broke the rules, I was out of the competition.  I was heartbroken.  She pointed out that the patterns of light and dark yarns is viewable on the right, and that they had to enforce the rules, despite the honest mistake.  I really couldn't argue with that, and she was very nice about it, but for two days I was just sick about it.

After I got over the shock, I realized that I could now post photos of my finished piece, so here they are!

This was to be the collage that would be submitted for voting.

And here are some more photos;

And my favorite;

This one makes me think of hyperspace in the Star Wars movies!

I used a modifed Fibonacci series to lead the eye towards the center with darkening greens, adding random shots of 2 yellows to represent the yellow brick road.  See? A very literal translation of the theme, at least for me.

I leave you with this, since I'll be away for a bit, busily trying to finish something else for the competition.  The deadline is October 1st, and this time the secret is so big that I'm not even telling myself!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Home Again!

I made it back from the craft fair in one piece, and that's saying something.  I don't know why, but the thought of interacting with the public is very difficult for me, both because I'm quite shy, and because part of me feels like I (and by association, my wares) won't measure up.  There were a lot of nerves working up to the date, but by the time it rolled around, there was so much to do that I forgot to be nervous, at least at first.

We got up at 4 AM, and arrived in Portland at 6:50 or so.  The directions were a bit nebulous, so we took a few extra minutes to find the street.  Both ends were blocked by police, who would wave you in if you were part of the show.  After that, there was a bit of mayhem, with folks driving their vehicles in to off-load, and tents already set up on the sides of the street.  These are old time New England streets, so not very wide.  There just wasn't room, so lots of stopping and squeezing by before we could get all of our stuff off of the truck.

I've never been very good at setting up a display for shows, and this year was still a work in progress, although I think it was an improvement over other years.  Here are three shots showing the three sides of the display.

I've used this rack for scarves before, but it definitely worked better with towels.

The table set up towards the back of the tent.  We had a rather nice backdrop behind us.

This side was the weakest display, I think.  Originally, I was going to use the dress form for my tencel shawl, but then I thought the wrapped teddy would be an eye catcher, which it was.  That left the shawl to be folded and draped over pegs with the other scarves, which did not work.  We eventually moved the shawl to hang from one of the tent supports in the middle, and later moved a few of the scarves to the support on the side of the tent.  A bit better, but scarf display still needs improving.  And yes, we got a few smiles from adults, and a few "can I touch him?"'s from little ones towards Ted.

From 9 AM to 2:30 PM, I had only managed to sell 4 items, barely making back the cost of the show. Standing up to greet people isn't too hard, but selling is.  I dislike being pounced upon, so I tend to not engage potential customers much, but after awhile I felt comfortable enough to ask if there were any questions I could answer for them, which helped.  In the last hour or so, two customers came and purchased several towels, the shawl, and a scarf! Plus, the weather held all day and we didn't get the predicted rain!!

We were both exhausted when we packed up to leave, and I was unfortunately dealing with some gluten contamination issues, so we were very happy to stop off at our son's place just 25 minutes up the road to get a bite to eat and visit for a bit.

At that point I was thinking that I would not be doing another fair, but now I may consider signing up for this one next year.  I'd like to get a better handle on what sorts of things people might like, but I'm not sure how to go about it.  Any advice from more experienced vendors out there??

Till next time...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Last Push

Finished up the last project for the craft show - inkle band key fobs.  I was going to use half for fobs and half for bookmarks, but wasn't sure how many people read real books anymore, so I went with the fobs instead.  Of course, many folks have a black plastic fob for their cars already, so I might have made the wrong choice.

The band off the loom;

Have I said how much I love this pattern?  And the colors make me smile!  Yes, the selvedges still need improvement, but I still get a bit of a thrill that I can create something that looks like this.

With the hardware attached;

Besides creating my treadle gate, which I showed in my last post, my hubby also used his creativity and skill to make a postcard display for the show;

Sometimes I don't know how he comes up with these things, but I sure love it when he does!

He also built a display rack for the wallets that I've sewn.  It will work well, I think, but it really looks like the Starship Enterprise, don't you think?  It will work for displaying some towels, too.

The shelves slide in and out easily without fasteners, so it will be very packable, always a good thing!

(Lest you think that his talents are always at my disposal, we have many many projects around the house that have needed attention for many years.  I'm just grateful that he was willing to help as much as he has this time around.).

I've also decided that instead of using my dress form to display my tencel shawl, I would use it to display my one remaining baby wrap for sale.  It was sent out as a tester and so has had light use, but I washed, dried and inspected it yesterday, and it's in fine shape. Even so, I have marked it down a lot, so I hope that helps it go to its new home.  And because I don't have a baby around to wrap, or a doll for that matter, I decided one of my kids' old teddy bears would do.

Crappy photos, but you get the idea.  It's standing in our kitchen right now, and every time I go by I think there's a person over there!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Treadle Gate!

Ever since I bought my Glimakra Standard loom, my biggest complaint has been that the rear-hinged treadles move side to side when in use.  This makes it hard (for me) to find the correct treadle with my foot without looking, plus they clack together quite a bit.

After much cajoling, my hubby made me a treadle gate!  I'd done some research and found a couple of photos online of some, but he took it to the next level, as he is wont to do.

It is movable front to back, but fits very snuggly, so it doesn't move at all when in use.  The pegs are just the right height to rest the treadles on while doing my tie up, so no more balancing them on my knee while sitting on the floor.  If I ever get around to adding more shafts, there is plenty of room to add to the treadle gate as well.  (Please excuse the dust - woodworking does create a lot of it!).

I've been pretty busy these last few days before the fine arts craft fair this weekend.  Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating, so we'll see how many folks are out wandering the streets of Portland in the rain they are predicting.  I pulled out my inkle loom the other day to see if I could quickly weave a few key fobs/bookmarks. This time I used 5/2 cotton, instead of the thinner 10/2 that I've used for my wallet straps, and they are working up very quickly.  Still having some issues with the selvedges, and the 5/2 won't advance without a struggle, but I am liking how they are working up.

Wish me luck!!