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:


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


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


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??

Monday, May 2, 2016

Oh, My Aching Back!!

When I last left you I was waiting for the correct jacks to be sent to me from Glimakra for my Standard's upgrade to eight shafts.  I didn't have to wait long - the correct jacks were at my door 3 days later!

Here are the shafts, all loaded up with new texsolv heddles;

Little by little, I crawled under the loom to finish the conversion.  This was done during my "busy" week at work, when I only have a couple of days in which to do chores and "play."  I also wanted to take time to do this right.  When I first got the loom, I was totally overwhelmed by how different the process of tying up was from my jack loom.  I feel like I was adjusting things with little knowledge as to why lamms, shafts and treadles should be a certain way.  Along the way, I've jiggered with the tie ups a bit, but each time felt like I just needed to get it done so I could get to weaving.  Because I was starting from scratch this time, I wanted to ensure that everything was where it should be.

Once the correct jacks were installed, I brought the countermarche back to the loom and place the shafts in the shaft holders.  Then I moved the countermarche to the back of the loom and placed the bench inside the space so I could sit there to thread.  Well, what a difference a few shafts can make! There was so much less room in which to thread!  I had to contort myself to be able to see the 7th and 8th shafts well enough to thread the warp. Needless to say, that part of the process has fallen further down my list of "things I enjoy about my loom."  Does anyone out there have any pearls of wisdom about a better process?

Ready to be threaded;

When I am threading a new-to-me pattern, a little trick I use is post-it notes.  The little mini ones are perfect for framing however many threads my memory thinks it can handle in one go.  Then the notes just get re-stuck at the next interval of threads.  Easy peasy, and a great help to this aging brain.

Once threaded and sleyed,  the countermarche assembly was moved to the front of the loom so that I could lash onto the front beam.  Then it was time to tie up the lamms.  At this point, I would usually leave the shafts in the shaft holders as I tie up the lamms, but in the past I think that has led to some issues with the shed.  This time, I removed the holders, so the subsequent tie ups of the lamms would be based on where the shafts would actually be during weaving.

Here's a photo of the lamms, all nice and even;

Once the lamms were done, I had to put this project on hold to start a quicker but secret project that I can't disclose here.  Safe to say it will be revealed soon, and is almost completed after only a few hours of work.  Right now I'm just waiting for it to dry before the finishing touches are added.

While I was waiting, I went back to the big loom and tied up the treadles.  Again, a much more onerous activity with the smaller amount of space under the loom, hence the aching back reference.  I did this last night after dinner, and that was a mistake, because it really affected my sleep.  Note to self...don't do that again!

This morning, I removed the jack pins, always a nail-biting moment for me, as I wait to see if the shafts stay even.  They did (yay!), but upon testing the shed I found a bunch on sleying errors - grrrr! I think I got it all sorted by lunch time, so hopefully this afternoon I can at least sample a bit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Conversion on Hold

Apologies in advance to the non-weavers out there.  This is a loom "tech" heavy post - no yummy new weaves to look at!

After my last post, I decided that I did indeed want to upgrade my Standard to eight shafts as my next "project." Once I gave myself a moment to think about it, I realized that it shouldn't take too much time to do, once the missing metal parts were obtained at the local hardware store.

On Monday, I took the morning to organize the rest of the texsolv that came with my loom when I purchased it. They were all in a ziplock bag, and looked like this - some were grouped together, some were not.

As you can see, I also had my partial tube of texsolv that I purchased when I decided to redo the treadle tie-ups. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough, but after measuring and grouping the texsolv together by size, it looked like this;

I should have more than enough for the upgrade, including the necessary treadle tie-ups for treadles 5-8!

My first step this morning after breakfast was to put the new treadles on the back rod - the easiest part of the project, I'm sure!  I then put the new short lamms on the rod - also very easy.  The new long lamms are too long and need to be cut back to 40 inches, so they are not installed yet.

After that was all done, I took four of the new shaft bars and, one by one, laid them on top of the old bottom shaft bars, making sure to not miss any heddles.

Once I was sure that everything was in place, I undid the restraining line on the old bar and retied it to the new one.  I carefully pulled out the old bar, repeated this for the other 3 shafts already on the loom, and, Voila!

Four shafts with old bars on top and new bars on the bottom, just like I was instructed to do!  You can see the newer treadles on the outsides underneath.

I then brought the remaining old bars and new bars (4/4) to the dining room table to put on the new heddles and restraining ties.

Luckily, my kitties were napping during this adventure!  One loves to chew on plastic, and the other is fascinated by string of any kind. Lots of opportunities for them to get into mischief here!

Once these new shafts were done, I took them to the loom to place in the new shaft holders.  I had temporarily hung the holders from the side frame of the loom so I could take the countermarche off.  Here's the original countermarche on the table;

I was really on a roll at this point, and thought that the whole thing could get put back together by lunch! Removing the pivot rods from the countermarche proved to be a bit of a challenge, but after trying several different tools, I removed them and got ready to install the four new jacks.  But then I saw this;

Notice anything?  None of the holes line up with the pivot holes on the old jacks.  Instead, the new jacks have three holes, and don't line up no matter how the pieces are positioned.  I'm at a loss about this.  Perhaps the nice Glimakra folks accidentally sent me the wrong things.  I did double check my invoice, and the listing seems correct.  I've emailed a photo to Sarah, who was so helpful when I ordered, so I'm hoping to hear back from her soon, but in the meantime, I'm stuck with a half-taken apart loom, and strings all over my table for the cats to play with.  My hubby offered to cut new holes, but I'm just not sure if the wood will still be as strong and hold up well.

I've since worked up my first project on the loom for when it is complete - an eight shaft towel warp, which I can start measuring today onto the sectional beam.  But should I?

The saga continues...

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Since completing the competition wrap I have found myself dead in the water when it comes to weaving.  Lots of "I should's" swirling in my brain, but very little action.  Do I wind a quick tencel scarf warp on which to try dyeing for the first time?  Or design some towels using random pinstripes?  Or maybe an eight shaft heart weave of some sort?  So many ideas that my poor noggin basically just says, "nope" to all of them, and it just lays there, paralyzed by indecision.

I did manage to weave the turned twill towels off the loom, but only because the shop that wanted a half dozen sent a deadline.  I ended up with 10 towels instead of 12.  I used the same "recipe" as I have in the past, yet the towels came out a bit long.  That was the warp from, well, you know where, and I'm very glad to get it off the Baby Wolf.  I didn't end up with too many issues with tension, once it was all tied on, but the beginning of the process was so onerous that I think I will steer clear of trying to use my warping square to wind warps for looms that don't have sectional beams.  So the shop that requested 6 towels received them on Wednesday, and my shop will have 4, once I can force myself to take those glamour shots.  All I have right now are in progress pics;

In other news, I am happy to announce that someone wants to buy my competition wrap!!  Good news indeed!  I discounted it quite a bit to make up for the repaired mistreadlings, but I'm just so glad that it will be loved.  It should be on its way back to me after being tested locally by a fellow weaver, after which it will soon be winging its way to a happy mama!

I'm also looking into weaving a baby blanket.  I have Tom Knisely's book on the subject, and just started to thumb through it for ideas.  I love the fact that he recommends carpet warp as a yarn to use - it's hard to imagine that it results in a nice soft blanket, so I'm intrigued.

And, of course, the other option for a next project is to finally take the parts that I purchased after Christmas to upgrade my Glimakra loom to 8S/10T out of the box!  I think I'm a little afraid to start the project.  Maybe I'll end up messing up the heddles by accident when I take all of the shafts off in order to rearrange the shaft bars. Apparently all of the new ones have to either be the top or bottom shafts, so the entirety of the shafts have to be removed.  And what if I don't have enough texsolv to hang the new shafts and/or tie up the treadles?  It's pricey stuff, so I don't want to buy it if I don't have to, but I also don't want to be in the stuck with a half taken apart loom while I wait for an order to ship.  But it is mid April, after all, so the box has been standing in the living room since January.  Do you see how ridiculous it is inside my head???

In non-weaving news, hubby decided that we needed a new fridge, which I secretly think was in response to a bit of guilt over the new tractor.  To be sure, we had had our old one for 23 years, and though it was still working well, it seemed to be running more often lately, and occasionally made some odd noises.

After much research, we (I) decided on a freezer on the bottom, two "French" door model from LG.

It does take a bit to get used to, and we're still playing with food placement, but I am looking forward to our next electric bill!  This fridge is larger in all dimensions than our old one, and the cabinets that used to be over the old fridge won't fit, so for now the space is bare.  Hopefully, that can be remedied soon.

And a last shot that really proves that Mother Nature has such a silly sense of humor.  All winter we have been blessed with little snow and milder than normal temperatures, all of which were much appreciated after the very harsh winters we've recently experienced.  So what does she do?  When it is officially spring, she sends snow. And cold.  Over and over.  No, the snow doesn't last very long with the sun closer to us, but still..  Here is a few of our crocuses, which somehow escaped our garden and came up on the lawn, only to be bent low with snow.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Love's Emergence

Here's the big reveal!  My entry in the Spring 2016 Competition of Weavers!

You can see the inspiration photo in the upper right.  It's a micrograph of Pitocin crystals.  Being an OB nurse, Pitocin, or our endogenous oxytocin, has all kinds of meaning for me. In the contest, besides a 4-photo collage, we were to write a 250 word or less blurb on why we picked this particular project.

Here's what I wrote:

Pitocin. A word that can strike fear into laboring women. It represents pain that comes in
uncontrollable waves, strong and stronger, powerful enough to propel a baby through the birth canal,
stretching and sometimes tearing tissue. After the birth, it is often used to control post partum bleeding,
encouraging the uterus to continue contracting, closing off the many micro vessels that are left open
after the delivery of the placenta. And yet...
Pitocin. The love hormone. The snuggle hormone. It brings us closer to our baby, even through the
exhaustion of early parenting; the late nights, the need to fulfill the baby's needs over our own. It plays
an important role in breastfeeding, causing the let down reflex. Not only does it support and strengthen
the bond between mother and baby, but it also has a strong affect on the closeness we feel with our
partner. Per Wickipedia, “[Pitocin] evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings
of calmness and security when in the company of the mate.”
Working in labor and delivery, I see the opposing effects pitocin can have every day. I chose to use this
micrograph, courtesy of Alfred Pasieka, because the colors clearly symbolize the two sides of the
hormone: the fire-y oranges and yellows represent the intensity of labor and birth, while the cooler
blues/greens are for the calm and closeness afterwards."

Maybe a bit too technical, not warm and fuzzy, but it's what came to mind.  Anyways, I didn't make it past the first round of voting, which I expected but still somehow feel badly about.  Today I'm in the consolation round, but expect to get booted from that as well.

I have to say that I love taking part in these contests, not necessarily because of the great exposure, but the camaraderie that takes place between the competitors is amazing.  Everyone is so supportive and helpful.  I didn't see or experience any one-upmanship, only praise and encouragement.  Truly a great group of weavers.

Here are a couple of other photos to give you an idea of the plan I followed.

I decided to use a Fibonacci sequence to place color gradients on the tails and as middle marker.  Yes, there was math involved, but I was very happy to see that the middle marker is indeed in the middle!

What do you do when you don't have a baby to wrap for photos???

On the smaller loom now is another set of turned twill towels.  A shop asked for some, so I'm weaving 12, 6 for her and 6 for my shop.  After that, I need to weave some chenille shawls and some more towels using drafts I haven't tried before.  But hopefully, the next thing I will do is put the extra shafts and treadles on the big loom so that I can use it to weave 8 shaft drafts!  I'm a bit nervous about trying to get it up and going, but hope I will figure it out.