Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bookmarks!

Lately I've been spending my after-dinner time weaving on my mini inkle loom.  Maybe because I haven't felt like knitting socks, my go-to activity at that time of day.  Or more likely because I've been inspired by some amazing bands shown in inkle groups on Ravelry and Facebook.  Recently there were several bands woven that were inspired by the American flag, no doubt because of the 4th of July holiday.  I was intrigued, but had the Baltic pick up sample band to work on, so I designed a flag-inspired band and set aside the draft until my loom was empty.

That time came last weekend (better late than never!), so I warped the inkle with 10/2 mercerized cotton in good ol- red, white and blue, and have been happily weaving away ever since!  It was nice to just have the two sheds to work with - so much faster than pick up!  I have a hard time creating something that has no obvious use, so I decided to go with bookmarks on this warp.  I know so many people now read e-books, but we're also big paper book fans in this family, and I'm hoping that is the case with the customers at the Portland Fine Arts Craft Show this August 20th on Congress St.


I finished the bands up this morning, and will soon list them in my Etsy shop.


They measure 6 inches long, plus an inch at each end of fringe, and one inch wide.  (Only now as I look at that photo do I realized that I should have oriented the bands with the blue on the left - sheesh).



I've also just finished sewing another ring sling from the tencel weft piece from the Western Skies warp.  I think it will work fine, but am toying with sending it out to be tested, just to make sure the weave is tight enough.




The rest of the warp will be used for cowls, I think, unless I sell/use it for scrap pieces.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ring Sling

The Western Skies warp is off the loom, and I just finished sewing up the ring sling from the piece woven with natural 12/2 Supima cotton.  I love the feel of this cloth!  It's very, very soft, and makes me want to weave more with this cotton.  I'm thinking I may end up weaving some yardage for a shirt soon, maybe hand-dyed?

The cloth:




The sling:




The other piece, woven with tencel, may or may not become a wrap/sling.  I can't decide if the ppi was high enough.  I think I'm going to wash it again, then take the magnifying glass to it and check. It's really hard to see the actual pattern, which is another reason it's hard to determine whether or not it would be suitable.  I mean, I know I can't poke my fingers through the cloth or anything!  I'm probably over-thinking it, but hopefully the answer will be come clearer soon.  If I determine that I'm not comfortable with the cloth as is, there will be many, many cowls available!

Speaking of cowls, I did deliberately weave a bit of cloth for those.  I ended up with three - one with the natural Supima cotton weft, and two with plum Tencel.






Now I just need to find the time to write up copy and post these for sale in my Etsy shop.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Definite Progress

Another quick-ish post to show how I've spent my (rare) spare time lately.  The baby wrap warp is getting most of my attention for now, although I will say I'm starting to get just a wee bit tired of the same treadling pattern.

The wrap portion, woven with the plum 8/2 tencel weft, is finished and languishing on the cloth beam.

I love these shots - they remind me of "hyperspace" in the Star Wars movies!


The ring sling is 2/3 done as of this morning.  I'm using the 12/2 Supima as weft, and WOW, is that stuff soft!  I can't wait to use it in other ways, perhaps for woven clothing???


Hard to believe this is from the same warp!  I'm hoping there is enough warp left for a cowl or two...

During the early evenings, we tend to watch the local and national news, but I like to keep my hands busy, so I'm usually knitting socks.  Lately, I've been learning pick up on my mini inkle loom.  Not one to learn things the easy way, I chose a thirteen pattern thread draft from the Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory by Ann Dixon.


This is a cellphone shot, and so not very accurate in its depiction of colors.  The yarns are 5/2 mercerized cotton, in a medium blue and red, not the firey orange/red seen here.

I got bored with that one pretty quickly, so I moved on to others on the same page, but forgot to take photos. Then I wanted to see if I could find the pattern for Celtic Knot, which was one of the reasons I first got interested in inkle weaving.  Pinterest to the rescue!  I found this draft quite easily, and was surprised that it is only a 6 row repeat.




I think I'll end up trying a few more before the end of this warp.  Guess I get easily distracted sometimes.

We are enjoying beautiful weather here lately, although we really could use some rain.  My heart goes out to those who've had too much and lost everything in W. Virginia, and those who need some much more than we do in California.  Hopefully, the patterns will change soon for those folks.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Quick Update

I'm still working on the next baby wrap warp.  So far in two available days for weaving I've finished 80 inches, with a few more to go this afternoon.  It's really too bad that LIFE and WORK get in the way!  Each time I have to take a break of two or more days away from the loom, I find that my rhythm gets disrupted and I have to proceed at a much slower pace until I find that magic rhythm again.  And to make matters a bit more complicated, I'm trying to weave this warp with a slightly lighter beat, and trying to keep that consistent takes a bit more attention than just wumping the beater into the fell with every pick.

After lashing the warp on, I tried a couple of wefts to check for threading errors and to audition wefts. I had some 8/2 tencel in plum and I really wanted to try the 12/2 natural Supima cotton that I had purchased from Georgia Yarn co.


I fell in love with the natural, mostly because this is my first crackle, and I LOVE how the pattern shows up!  But I put it to a vote, and plum won, so the plan is to weave with the plum for the wrap, and use the Supima for the ring sling.

Here's a couple of photos to show the on-the-loom progress.  Weft is 8/2 tencel in the plum colorway.

Left side:



Right side:



Centered:


Hopefully I can finish weaving this soon, but I have a busy week of work ahead, so I'll sneak in as much time as I can, when I can.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In Progress

I've finished winding the warp for the next baby wrap, Western Skies.  There were lots and lots of color changes, so to keep the process moving along, I count the number of each color in each 2 inch section, then measure them in groups.  Yes, this means crossing the threads within each section, but so far I have found that it works for me without any issues.  I just have a system when I thread so that the threads all cross in the same direction.


This will be a very vibrant wrap, to be sure!

I'm hoping that this project doesn't take too long, as we are having some construction work done in this living room (read "weaving studio") in July.  I still have the Portland Fine Arts Craft show to weave for, so I can pop onto the smaller loom upstairs while the work is being done.  We are replacing a very old, leaking picture window with some double hungs so that I can open the windows and let some fresh air in!  We are also having all of the old aluminum siding taken off and new clapboards installed.

I just received the informational email regarding the craft show, and they provided a logo to share, so here it is!


It takes place August 27th, right in downtown Portland, along with the WCSH6 Sidewalk Arts Festival, so there should be quite a few visitors.  I always worry about having enough and varied stock, but I can only do so much. I'd love to improve my booth - does anyone out there have some suggestions for a welcoming, impressive booth set up??

Friday, May 27, 2016

Busy, busy!

As you know, I've been on a much-needed staycation for almost two weeks now, and, for the most part, I have put that time to good use.  The first week was spent cleaning and painting the stairwell and continuing to weave on the advancing twill towels.  Those towels took a good, long time to complete, but complete they are!


I ended up with 6 towels (2 of the same color), 5 of which measure 17.5" X 28."  The deep purple towel is smaller, only 24", but it's still big enough for someone to make use of it.  I have to say, I LOVE the organic linen/cotton from Maurice Brassard! The towels came out very textured but soft, almost nubly.  I think they'll absorb really well!



I also did my first experiment with dyeing non-animal fibers.  I had wound a scarf warp from some undyed tencel for this project, but had set it aside until I could do the dyeing outside, knowing it would be quite messy.  Last weekend proved to be a good time, so I set up my plastic on the porch and prepped my dyes.  I decided to go simple and just use 3 colors; green, blue, and purple.  I wanted them to be quite saturated, so I added 1.5 teaspoons of each dye powder to 8 ounces of urea water.  I was working with a hybrid of directions, as well - the tutorial from Dharma Trading Co, and the directions that came with the kit I purchased from someone.  This kit was originally from Halcyon Yarn, and much to my dismay, the two sets of information did not agree.  I was assuming that there would be soda ash in the kit, but there were two baggies of different dye fixers, one of which was supposed to be used in a 24 hour soak.  I wasn't prepared to do that, so I guessed at which one was soda ash-like and proceeded to prep via the Dharma tutorial.  Nothing like winging it!!

After the dyes were ready and my warp had soaked for an hour or so, I wrung the warp out and laid the two sections on the plastic on the porch.  I planned to line up the dyes, more or less, so that when I wrapped everything up, I wouldn't have to worry quite so much about colors running into each other and getting muddy.


Sorry for the over-exposure, but you can see that the ends were purple, the middle blue, and at the apex a bright green.  I then carefully rolled everything up, remembering to first fold the ends in to contain the excess dye.


I left this outside for the rest of the day, but the night was supposed to be cool, and since the tutorial stated the dyes should set in at least 70 degrees, I folded this up and put it in a bucket to take upstairs, aways from curious cats.  Unfortunately, I didn't apply my good sense about containing the dye to the long ends of the plastic, so when I picked up the roll, this was the result.


Not a huge deal, since the deck of the porch needs refinishing, but you'd think that I would have applied logic to all parts of the situation!

After ~30 hours, I took the roll back outside and started to rinse it.  Boy, what a mess!  Once the excess dye seemed to be less, I brought the warp inside and added some Synthropol, which itself needed many, many rinses to remove.  I noticed that there continued to be some excess dye, so I just kept running the yarn under running water until it seemed clear.  After wringing the yarn out, I hung it in the bathtub to dry.  The next morning, I found some faint stains which easily cleaned up, but also some very stiff yarn.  I was afraid to try to put it on the loom; it seemed almost crispy, so while I was ironing the towels, I spritzed the yarn and then ironed it a bit, improving its texture by a bit.

Today, I loaded the yarn on my little loom.  I may have been a bit too enthusiastic about the green dye concentration, but other than that, I really like the colors, especially the transitional areas.







Hopefully, threading will commence this afternoon.  My son is coming home for the weekend, and very little gets done when that happens.

I also alluded to the next baby wrap design in my last post.  While I really like the design, you would not believe how complicated it was to get the threading right.  I think it has to do with doing the design work on my desktop, which is a Linux OS, and then trying to work with Fiberworks through an application that allows Windows programs to work in Linux. In the end, after many failed attempts, I ended up loaded the image into Gimp, then writing the thread by thread order on a piece of paper. Yeah, I'm that devoted.  Or crazy.

May I present....Western Skies!



The image was offered up by a member of my chatter group on Facebook, and it is of Spokane.  I just fell in love with the colors!  The yarn has been purchased, and as soon as the hand dyed tencel scarf is done, this will go on the loom!

In addition to all of the fiber-y activity, my hubby caught a bad cold on Monday, so there was a lot of nursing care going on - c'mon, you know how men are!  And mine is so generous, he gave it to me on Wednesday!!  So that has slowed me down a bit these last couple of days.  Nothing like ending your vacation with a bang, er, sniffle.

Lastly, I want to share our annual gardening success story.  We are not very good about our gardening attempts, but many years ago, we planted a small azalea in front of our unused dug well, and it has flourished despite our best efforts!  Usually near Memorial Day the flowers are at their peak, and it makes for some stunning color. Yesterday, the weather was at its finest for the weekend, so I took a couple of photos to share, even though it's not completely open yet.



Isn't it pretty???

I wish everyone a wonderful Memorial Day, however you celebrate it.  Remember the ones who have served our country, past and present.  Our community band is playing at a ceremony with the Traveling Vietnam Wall, which arrived yesterday at the Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston. It will be here through Monday, and there are many ceremonies being held.  I'm sure it will be very moving to see it and all the names.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Vacation!!

Or should I say, staycation!  I am in the middle of two weeks off, and at my last day of work, when people would ask, "Where are you going on your vacation?", my answer was "Not here!"  I love being able to be at home and get things done, without the pressure of only having 1-3 days in which to do them.  It's not that I'm against travelling, but with my diet restrictions, I'm always worried about finding food.  It is easier now to find gluten free vegan food, so there will be some travelling in my future, but for now, I'm happy at home!

So far, I interrupted my advancing twill towels on the Standard (its first eight shaft draft), to do a quickie project for my sister.  She called to ask if I would sew a curtain for a bathroom in her cottage. The window is in the bathroom, so I figured there had to be a need, so I jumped right on it when the cloth came.  No photos, but she got the cloth at Jo-Anne's, and it's a bright, almost lime green flowered print - not my taste, but hey, not my window, either!

After that, I started a short warp for a few bumberet towels for a new nurse to give to her mom for her birthday. Angie had seen my purple ones and liked them, then asked if I would weave two for the birthday in early May.  I told her they would be late for sure, since she asked me a week prior, but she was OK with that.  She showed me some pictures of her mom's curtains and plates, then picked out the colors of Maurice Brassard 8/2 cotton from my sample card.  I had every color but one, so ordered that from the Yarn Barn, which came right away.

The color combo was, again, not my idea, but she asked for towels with an almost mint green and natural, and bright teal, red, silver, and pale yellow.  I warped for three towels, just because warping for two seemed so wasteful.  I wove two towels with the green as weft, and one with pale gray (silver). Personally, I really liked the silver one.  To me, the green made all the other colors look a bit off.

Here is a photo of them completed, but it's hard to tell them apart (over exposed).  The middle one has the pale gray weft.


Angie loved the photo I texted her, but will happily wait until I returned from vacation to receive whichever two she chooses.

I then decided to tackle a job that I've wanted to start for some time, the painting of the living room. Right now, it holds my Standard, plus a rocking chair and a recliner, but it is really used mostly for weaving.  The stairs leading to the second story are there, though, so we walk through it several times a day.  My house is quite old, having been built in 1870, and this room has a very high ceiling and is quite chilly in the winter.  It also has a very large picture window with side lights, all of which leak air and don't open.  I contacted a local contractor about replacing that and doing some outside sheathing work this summer, but in the meantime, the very old white paint desperately needed an update. Here's a photo of the stairway before;



The owners before us painted over wallpaper - you can just see the pattern in the first photo above - but in the interest of actually getting the job done, we decided to just paint on top of that.  I've had my eye on a lovely shade of green called Sanctuary from Behr, so despite my hubby's unease, I bought the paint last week and everything else I'd need to get the stairwell done.  First, however, I had to wash the walls, and oh my, how filthy!

The next day, I taped off the trim and started to paint.  The plan was to just paint the two walls you're seeing on either side of the stairs, since with work being done this summer, there's little sense to do too much beforehand.  After painted both coats yesterday, I came downstairs this morning and was a little unhappy with the results.  The green looked two yellowy, kind of like pea soup.  But then I realized it was being contrasted again the bright kelly green of the frog tape.  Once I removed that, I really liked how the green looks against the white trim and the new stair treads.  What do you think?


There will be some kind of trim between the blue paint from the upstairs and the green; maybe a chair rail, or something similar, painted white.

As I finally got back to my project on the Standard this morning, it was lovely to glance up and see my new, colorful wall right in front of me.  Hubby likes it too.  I can't wait to paint the rest of the room!

Here's an in-progress shot of the towels I'm working on now;



Oh, there are some design elements in there, but I still like them.  Plus I'm learning that instead of doing "walking" type treadling with my feet crossing over each other, with this larger loom having my left foot being responsible for the four left-most treadles and the right for the others works better, but it is an adjustment.

I've also just designed my next baby wrap, based on a photo from a member of the chatter group on facebook. Still working on nailing down the treadling and ordering yarn.  Photo next time!

Tomorrow, I plan to dye a tencel scarf warp.  First time dyeing a warp, as well as a non-animal fiber. Should be interesting.

Azalea is almost in bloom, two burning bushes have been purchased and planted, and my flower garden is starting to see its first perennials come up!

All told, it's been a busy week, but so much fun!

Till next time!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mondays

Believe it or not, and unlike most folks, I like Mondays!

Two reasons, I think; one, because I don't work on Mondays, always a good thing.

And two, because it is hand knit sock washing day!


For years I have indulged in this small passion (the knitting, not the washing!).  I love the way hand knit socks feel on my feet, and they are such a portable and affordable hobby, as well as a nice way of expressing myself.

I have many older pairs that I have just thrown in the laundry for years and washed and dried with other items, and while I can still wear them, and do, now that I have a nicer washing machine, I am more careful with my newer pairs.  During the winter, I have a small mitten tree near the wood stove that I use to dry them, and boy, does that work well!  But I always look forward to nicer weather, in part so that I can hang my socks out to dry. There are even a couple of hand spun socks in that group, on the ends - the right hand socks were also dyed by me, so triple play!


How can those colors fail to make me smile??