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Friday, September 12, 2014

Of Course!

So, since coming back from my little musical vacation, I've jumped back into weaving the placemats as much as possible so I can get them done in time for the wedding in early October.  I have the draft memorized, so the weaving is easy enough to get 2-3 done in one session.  Plenty of yarn available, pirns wound - check.  I only had one more mat to go before the project was done!

Weaving commenced, and all went swimmingly.  I wove  three pattern repeats, but as I started the fourth, the measurements were not consistent with what I had measured on the other mats.  So I looked at the newly woven cloth as it was heading towards the cloth beam, and I saw my mistake right away:  I had repeated a section of the pattern that was not meant to be repeated, and I had done it a pattern and a half back.  I started to unweave, but soon realized that this called for more drastic action.

Yep, I decided to cut out all the weft and start again.  You can see the mistake above - the diamond-y shapes that look like mirror images of themselves (the cut line almost reaches the middle of the mistake). Those make up the "arms" of the crystals, and there's only supposed to be one set.  Surprisingly, the cutting was the easy part - pulling the weft out took a lot more concentration and was more "fiddly."   I ended up pulling out quite a bit of one side before tackling the other.

I was feeling pretty good about myself once I fixed that issue!  Onward and upward!!

The original plan was to weave each mat to 26" under tension, but when I wove the first one, including the 4 planned repeats at the beginning and end of each mat, I saw that it was much shorter than 26", so I increased the repeats to 6 for the wedding mats.  (Yes, I know, I should have sampled!!).  Because I had already woven one mat with 4 repeats, I thought I would weave 3 more identically so I would have a set of four to put up for sale in my Etsy shop.  As I got towards the end of the warp, I had just enough left to weave one of the smaller mats, so there would be an extra just in case - bonus!!

By the time the warp was woven, I had had to repair quite a few ends, as you can see.  It was like an emergency room back there!

Yesterday was the big day, the day to take them all off the loom and start what I call the processing part of weaving; sewing, cutting, pinning, sewing some more, etc.  And that's when I saw it, the error that threw a huge monkey wrench into the whole project.  One of the wedding mats (with 6 repeats), did not have the 1.5" of white 20/2 hem on one end.  I had finished the previous mat, including hems, then threw 2 shots of red for the cutting line, then started to weave the body of the next mat without weaving another hem!  I've done this same thing once before, ages ago, and it is one of those errors that you can't work around.  I don't know how I missed such a thing when I did it.  I thought about making two hems from the single 1.5" hem, but then all of the hems would have to be that short, which would create thicker hems due to the extra material, and much shorter mats.  Aaarrgghh!  (Sorry, no photo - I was just too disgusted to think of getting the camera).

So, I am yet again under the gun, and putting another warp on the loom.  I am putting on enough to weave another set of 4, in addition to the one mat I need to complete the order.  At least I can cut the first one off as soon as it's done, so the time committment will relax a bit.

And speaking of warping, I have noticed that since I've started using a warping mill, I am having terrible tension issues when putting the warp on the loom, and I don't know why.  All I can think of is that the ends have to change from one plane to another twice, so maybe that causes the issues??? The pegs are horizontal (parallel to the floor), but the yarn then gets wound and builds up vertically, before going back to horizontal at the other ends.  Does anyone else find this to be the case?  Any sage words from more experienced weavers??  Just putting the second, shorter warp on today, I thought I wouldn't have any problems because it was only 4.5 yards long, but I was mistaken.  I had a terrible time winding on.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I'm back..

I've been remiss in my blogging, but I do have a valid reason for it.  I've just returned from a week at adult band camp!  Ok, ok, you can stop laughing now.  What started as a great Christmas present idea for the husband, turned into a "vacation" for both of us.  We haven't had a vacation away from our house in many, many years, so this was a big step.  The camp was on a lake in central Maine, and it was truly beautiful there.  This was the view from the porch of the lodge where we "slept".

I use the work "slept", but really, it was more of a tossing and turning rest period most nights.  The weather was extremely hot for Maine at this time of year, and humid, so everyone was roasting (no A/C).  Our room was also right above the kitchen, so there was all sorts of clanging and banging going on early in the AM.  I had my alarm set for 6:20 AM, and did not need it once.  The mattress was extremely soft, so any movement by either of us and it felt like an aftershock had occurred.  AND, there was a train.  Or three.  Several nights were filled with the melodious sounds of train whistles.  I think this is where my 19 years of being a night nurse came in handy, since I'm used to being sleep deprived.

There was no lack of things to do.  Different buildings, large and small, were strewn around the property.  Some were tiny cabins that could be used to practice, and some held seminars and/or rehearsals.  Several times a day everyone was seen walking back and forth from one thing to the next, lugging their instruments.  The final concert was held in the "Bowl," the second largest outdoor amphitheater in the US.  This is a photo of it, but not taken when we were there.

There were 120 of us campers, plus faculty, and during the one piece that we all played together, we filled this space.  It really was impressive.  We campers were split into two groups, one for concert band, and the second for symphonic band.  There also were opportunities to play in ensembles large and small, and many did, performing them the night before at a talent show.  I learned a lot, both good and bad, about my abilities and music in general.  There were other challenges as well, especially around food.  I have to eat gluten and dairy free, plus I choose to eat no meat, so you can imagine how little I could eat of the food prepared for us.  It can make for a very strong feeling of isolation, as you watch all manner of food being enjoyed by everyone but you.  But that's a topic for another day.

I finally got back to the loom today, just for an hour, and I had to familiarize myself again with the draft for the placemats.  Unfortunately, some unweaving had to be done, but I think I'm back to where I was before we left.  I return to work in four days, so I'm hoping to have the lion's share of the weaving done before then.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Found it!!

My mojo, that is!

I was asked to weave a table runner and 6-8 placemats for a wedding in October, and between work responsibilities and a short trip soon, I felt a bit of a time crunch sneaking its way into my head.  At first I couldn't even decide what weave structure to use, which, of course, led to more panic.  I kept thinking that overshot would work, but since I have yet to actually weave overshot, it seemed like a bad (read slow) idea, not to mention having to weave with 2 shuttles, thus slowing everything down even more. Still, it seemed like the only idea I could come up with, until.... I remembered the wonderful snowflake/crystal draft that I've woven several times in the past.  Except for a bit of math, it was all written down from other projects, so that saved some time.  I decided to go with 10/2 cotton for this iteration, and I think I've made a wise choice.

The draft is an eight shaft pattern, so I dressed my little BW with bleached cotton, planning for an approximately 60" finished piece.  I also decided to do a bit of "fancy" work on the hems, so I wove several inches in white, hemstitched, added a spacer, then started with the weft with some more hemstitching.  Susan Harvey, otherwise known as weeverwoman (http://weeverwoman.blogspot.com/) has an in depth tutorial on some of the ways to increase the wow factor by hemstitching such as this. I've admired her weaving forever, but this was the first time I decided to use the technique myself.

For weft I chose a medium silvery gray, as the happy couple has a black table, and white and silver plates.  When looking at the weft cones that I ordered, I thought it might be a bit too dark, but the next lighter color would have had little contrast with the bleached warp.

Today is a very rainy day here on the coast of Maine, so after breakfast and bit of exercise, I headed up to the loom room, and managed to get most of the body of the runner finished!  I did have a bit of a senior moment at one point and unwove 32 rows because I was sure I had made a mistake.  After weaving another ~30 rows or so, I recognized that, no, the first was correct, so unweave again did I! That wasted quite a bit of time, but the rest went well.  I'm now at the point of doing some repeats that will lead to the hemstitching at the other end.  I just love this pattern, don't you?

There is a 4 shaft version of this made available by Laura Fry on Ravelry, called Canadian Snowflake.  I will use that for the placemats, because it is easier to put a long warp on the Fanny, which only has 4 shafts.  Yes, I do need to do some more math, once I figure out what the finished width of a placemat should be.  Any suggestions out there?

Another conundrum perkolating in my noggin is the possibility of obtaining another loom.  The ONLY reason I am even considering it is that it is the same width as the Fanny (45"), but has 8 shafts and is a countermarche (convertible to a jack?!?).  Theoretically, I could sell both of my other looms if this is a good fit.  I know I'd love a CM loom, and the width is perfect.  It was made by Leclerc, and is a Colonial, which is mostly pegged together, so it will be easy to get it in the loom room.  It is no longer made, which makes me a bit suspicious, though.  Does any weaver out there know anything about this loom?  The seller is being very helpful, and will be sending more photos.  She says it just needs some texsolv and a couple of small hardware bits to be usable.  Temptation, temptation!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I've had the worst case of weaver's block lately!  It's like the baby wraps sucked every bit of creative juices out of me, leaving only a pathetic, empty husk.  OK, a bit overly dramatic, but it's a terrible feeling. Now is the time to stock up for the holidays (I know, I know - seems way too soon to me too!), but except for a merino/tencel scarf requested by a coworker, I've been unable to come up with any ideas or designs at all.

I know I need to make some more tea towels.  Check.  Structure first?  Hmmm..tabby? twill? overshot? summer and winter?  Um, I dunno.  Maybe if I concentrate on colors, I'll be inspired!  Dum, de dum...  I toodle on up to the studio; look at all the pretty colors!! What if I combined this one with..er, that, or maybe this other.. Oh, I really don't have quite enough of these here to make much.  But I have shelves of yarn!!  Surely something can come of all this!  What if... Or how about...  Nuthin'!  Well, gosh, I'm kind of hungry, so if I go downstairs and eat, I'll have more energy to design something!

Yum, that was good!  So, back to the towel conundrum.  What if I made twill stripes with these two, separated by the natural...well, no, the natural weft would wash out the colors.  I think... no, I'm not thinking at all.  I. Have. Absolutely. No. Idea. What. To. Weave!!

That's the mindset I went to bed with last night. No wonder I had trouble falling asleep!  Got up this morning, read the paper (yep, I'm that boring), finished my breakfast, visited with the Second Son who was up for a visit, and, as is our usual, we went for a walk together.  Miraculously, while discussing everything and nothing on the walk, I realized what I could weave for my next batch of towels.  Nothing earth-shattering, but an eight shaft, turned twill Drall design, with a natural warp, and several different colors for weft.  No stress about having enough of any one color to make a set - each towel can be different from the next one.  I think I just needed to get out of my own head for a bit.  I'll be measuring out a 13 yard warp sometime this week!

And here's a quick shot of the merino/tencel scarf in progress. This yarn is sooo soft!

Those slight irregularities you see will even out in the wet finishing process.  This will be a super quick project, though I have to be mindful of not beating in the weft, but placing it consistently.  Actually, that is a really hard thing for me to do.  Give me a good ol' "wham the yarn into place" any day!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Baby Wraps on the Online Shop Page

I just listed my Rainbow's End baby wraps on the online shop page!  Have a gander and let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear your ideas for how I can make the page better!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rainbow's End!

They're done!! And I'm SO happy about how they turned out!  They have a bit of drape due to the hand of the fabric, the selvedges are woven at a more dense sett for better support, and they weigh under 2 lbs each, so they are light enough to use even in this heat we've been having!

The black weft really makes the colors POP!

 The charcoal weft made the wrap more subtle but still very colorful.

I even managed to list them for sale on my website, complete with weft options and paypal button.  Not bad for an old(er) broad!  http://www.threadbaredesigns.com/.

I've been working on these for what seems like a long time, so now I get to shift gears and weave up some other goodies that have been marinating in the back of my mind.  Hmmmm...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Charcoal It Is!

As I came to the end of the first of two wraps on the present warp, I put out a quick poll on both my personal and business FB pages asking whether I should use the same black weft for the second wrap or go with charcoal.  Personally, I feel like the charcoal washes out the colors, and I'm a big fan of vivid colors, so I would have gone with black, but the majority chose charcoal, so here it is.

The lighter line you can see just above the bottom of the photo is the breast beam, not an anomaly in the weft.  These wraps will be nice and light, great for summer wearing!

I'm still struggling with whether to keep my website or just the blog.  I SO want the website to work, but from everything I've seen, I can only post new information at the bottom of the page, not at the top. This would mean that every time someone went there, they would see old news before the new.  My younger son, who is a programmer, said that I would have to change code to make it work.  Of course, HE could probably do it, but he doesn't like working on web sites.  Well, I didn't particularly like giving birth to him either - just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fixed it!!

Remember that little problem I had, with links taking folks away from the blog?  After sleeping on it, I suddenly remembered that when I opened the little window into which I pasted the link, there was an option to "open in another window".  Simple as pie to fix! Why is it that often answers come to you when you AREN'T searching for them??

I spent most of the weekend online, trying to update this blog and move some things around on my website. I'm still trying to decide if the site is worth keeping.  I have precious little time these days, and maintaining both a blog, a website, and my Etsy shop is stretching me too thin, so I think they all suffer.  I'm still toying with the idea of selling either directly from this blog, or from my website, probably using Paypal, but for now it's just an idea floating around in my head, awaiting further thought.  I would love some feedback on all of this, so please leave some comments about this site, what I could do to make it better, and what your thoughts are on my website as well (http://www.threadbaredesigns.com/).

The other day I got to stay home on stand by for part of the day, so I put the time to good use and wove almost three yards on my baby wrap.  I really felt like I was on a roll!  It was hot and sticky but our house has an uncanny ability to remain fairly cool in the summer, despite the fact that it is freezing in the winter, which doesn't exactly follow the rules of physics, I'm sure.  I still had a fan blowing on my face, and the soundtrack from Call the Midwife on and I felt like I could have woven all day! There's something about the combination of orchestral music used for background, and early crooner and rock and roll songs that is fun to listen to - it helps make the time fly by.  I ended the day with 4 yards+ of woven rainbow goodness!

The plan for the holiday was to play in our community band for the local 4th of July parade in the morning, with an outdoor concert in a nearly town in the afternoon, but a tropical storm is coming up the coast, so things are up in the air.  It all depends on the timing, of course, but it could make for a very soggy Independence Day, unfortunately.  We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.  I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday, filled with family, fun, and fireworks!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pages Added

Even though I have started weaving on the rainbow wrap (yay!), I decided to waste some of today getting a few pages on my blog.  It seems like I'll never have enough time to make a dedicated web site active enough, so I thought maybe I could do it all here.  For now I've placed links to items in my Etsy shop, but am thinking that I may try to sell my wraps directly from the here.  The problem is, I didn't format the links to open in another window, so whoosh! away folks will go if they click.  Does anyone out there know how to do this??

Friday, June 20, 2014


...are done!  Not forever, of course, but I just spent the better part of two days completing a big ol' list of things that required my attention, including the dreaded house-cleaning.  I hate doing it, but I have to admit, I do feel better about pretty much everything when it is completed.  This morning was the last of it, including registering my car (the online option couldn't find me this year :->(, hanging around waiting for the satellite repairman to come, and making a yummy chocolate peanut butter pie for my youngest's 25th birthday tomorrow!  Let's see, if he's half a century old, then I must be...precocious???

(Please excuse the out of focus cell phone photo!).

Happily, I can now return to my rainbow wrap warp prep ( say THAT three times fast!).  I started measuring last Wednesday, and wound four sections that day and the next, then I had to work on Friday.  The weekend was very productive, completing another 14 sections.  After three very busy and long days at work this week, I'm back at it and only have another three sections to go!!  I am SO excited!!!

Winding seperate sections on my mill and using the tension box has had a bit of a learning curve, so I'm sure I will run into some snags as I proceed with threading and sleying, but over all, it has gone pretty well for a first try.  After the first couple of sections, I realized that I needed to make sure I laid the warp in the small "reeds" on the box in the same order in which I wound them in order to make the process easier (duh!! experienced weaver here).  I hadn't made any crosses while winding, since I don't really know how to use them with sectional warping, but I finally came up with a plan to take some string, double it, and alternate the two ends going over and under sets of two warp ends.  This allowed me to keep the warp in order at the tension box and VASTLY improved the process.

One more session at the mill and I should have the entire 13.2 yd warp on the loom! I can't wait to start threading, though with the birthday boy coming home for the weekend, I doubt I'll get much done.  It can wait, though - the weather is supposed to be perfect, my older son is coming for a short visit tomorrow to see his brother, and the garden is starting to show some pick-able greens, so there is plenty to do, and I'll get to this soon enough.

The only other news is that the base of my right thumb has been quite painful for about a month.  I'm presuming it is arthritis, although every now and then I get a zing into my wrist, so carpal tunnel might be the issue.  I'm a leftie, so you would think that would be a good thing, but I use my right hand a lot, and not having the same grip strength, along with the accompanying pain has been pretty depressing. The worst is when I pinch my thumb and index finger together, as with holding threads under tension, and when I play my flute, which I do weekly in our community band.  I'll get it checked out at my next appointment in July, but am trying to keep a good attitude.

PS The new issue of Downeast Magazine has a story about our band , including some photos of yours truly and other fine band mates!  I have to wait until it hits newsstands, but those of you who subscribe can take a peek now!