Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Bit of Organization

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a bit, um, tightly wound.  I like things in order, or my little brain has a hard time thinking clearly.

You can imagine my difficulties after I received that big box of yarn I posted about last time.  That yarn had nowhere to live, because my one and only yarn storage looked like this:


(I took that picture after I had organized the second shelf down.  Believe me, it was as bad as the rest!).  The yarns are "organized," in that similar sizes and materials are together, but I found it harder and harder to function in that room as it is, and now I had all that extra yarn to deal with.  My hubby made a few simple half shelves, but even so, they sat on the floor for longer than they should have.  I was truly overwhelmed. So I started by organizing the yarns that I had just purchased, so I could see what I had.  That big jumbled box o' yarns went from this;


to this;


When I look that this photo, I see a beautiful gradient baby wrap in there!

I then took all of the yarns off each shelf, one shelf at a time, and tried to replace them in some kind of order, still keeping similar yarns together.  The half shelves helped a lot, though there is definitely room for improvement.


At least the big box is off the floor.

I also finished another wallet.  This one also used handwoven wrap scraps for the exterior, and several different fabrics for the interior.  I made this for one of our travel nurses, who swooped in and has helped us so much! She'll be leaving soon, so now she has something to remember us all by.


I thought I had done a better job of matching the stripes, but no dice!


I've started a new project on the big loom - more towels for the craft show, this time four shaft M&W twill.  The warp is 8/2 mercerized cotton, and I will mostly use 8/2 unmercerized stash for weft, but may sneak in a bit of the new yarns.  I also tried a new method for tying and spreading the warp.  It's called "Magic String," and is described in the book "Dress your loom the Vavstuga Way."


It's quite simple, and seemed to do a good job.  Now I have to start weaving and hope I don't muck it up!  Any hints on starting with a temple would be much appreciated.  Any time I use one, I adjust it at the reed, so it's the correct width, but the cloth behind it is much more narrow.  When I take the material off, the selvedges almost seem a bit wavy, which mostly resolves with wet finishing.  I've seen some incredible photos of cloth in progress that is straight and flat from reed to front beam.  I'd love to achieve that!

Two long days of work ahead, then the weekend off, so I should be able to get a good start on these.  I really need to finished bricking the edge of the garden too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stash!!

I finished weaving the autumn themed towels last week, but just got around to taking photos of them.
I put a 7 yards warp on the loom, and ended up with 6 large towels, and one mini.  And the best thing?  I wove them all from stash!  Nothing like a good stash-buster project!



You can see the two different designs in this slightly blurry photo:


It was a fun and quick weave, so I'm sure I'll use it again.  I'd really like to add some shafts to my big loom, because weaving on my Baby Wolf, though fast to set up, is problematic at times.  The weaving area is so small that it is easy to have the shuttle catch errant warps and cause skips.

I also used my mini Warping Square again.  I had taken it apart, to be returned to the manufacturer because of its incompatibility with my loom.  Mitch has been working on redesigning it so it will work mounted on my back beam, but the process is taking a long time.  I was itching to start another large towel warp, in anticipation of the craft fair in August, but really wasn't looking forward to winding a 12 yard warp by hand.  Then I had an idea! Shocking, I know.  I clamped the Square to my weaving bench, and then put my bench on two step stools.  That made the height much more back friendly, and after I fumbled around a bit trying to remember how to use it, I got all 11 groups of 40 ends on the loom in no time!  I'm hoping to start threading either today or tomorrow, after I warp my inkle loom for another wallet strap.

I also just finished sewing another NCW from wrap scraps today.  It is going to be purchased by our wonderful travel nurse at the hospital.  Because she's leaving in mid-July, I felt like I had to give that project priority, hence the delay in starting the towel warp.

This is a shot of the interior of the wallet, with completed credit card slots, and an unsewn zipper pocket.


The exterior is very similar to mine,


with the colors and stripes slightly different.

I've also cut out the pieces for the exterior of the wallet for a few more, this time with store bought material:


I swear, one of these days I will get out of this persistent purple phase!!

I spent the day yesterday going to see the play "The Full Monty" at the Maine State Music Theater in Brunswick. It was great, very funny and well done.  Despite that, I still felt guilty all day, like I should have been home working.  I have a really hard time giving myself permission to "goof off."

And look what showed up at my house yesterday while I was gone!


Many, many cones of used and unused 8/2 unmercerized cotton from Maurice Brassard!  I purchased it from another weaver on FB.  I've yet to use this yarn, but it receives high praise among other weavers.  The texture is a lot smoother than that of the Homestead cotton from Halcyon - not quite as smooth as mercerized, but it will be nice to try it and see the differences for myself!  I'll probably use some on the towel warp, though I do want to use up some of my other 8/2 as well.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Next Steps

After successfully weaving my first inkle band, I created one that is intended for the reason I picked up yet another hobby in the first place - as a strap for my handwoven clutch wallet.  I used a wrap scrap for the exterior of the wallet, and then used the same yarns to weave the band.  It's nice to have the strap match the purse perfectly, plus the band wove up in a little over 2 hours, start to finish! Who doesn't like a quick project??

I used material from the rainbow wrap that I wove recently

and decided to make the purse purple, so I centered the pattern over the purple and magenta sections. This was the final result;

I then warped up my mini inkle loom with the same yarns - 10/2 UKI mercerized cotton in charcoal, purple, and magenta.


The band came out a bit longer than I needed, and I had a lot of difficulty advancing the warp towards the end.  I even removed the lower, tensioned post, but I still couldn't quit weave the full available length.  No worries, though, since the band was too long anyways.  I used some Fray Check to stabilize the yarns before cutting, and sewed them to some swivel hooks, snapped the hooks onto the D-rings, and voila!  Instant purse/wallet that is small enough to carry yet able to hold everything I need.


In other news, I haven't been able to weave on my big loom because there's been some sanding on the living room stairs, so I warped up the Baby Wolf for some towels for the craft fair.  For some reason, I was drawn to autumn colors.  You'd think after the long, cold winter I'd be itching to weave summery things, but I had some of these yarns in my stash and wanted to use them.  I chose to weave the draft "Breaks and Recesses" from Strickler's book.  I've admired several weavers works that used this draft, and had wanted to do it for some time.

Above is the first towels I wove, and I extended the striping so that it isn't in the same ratio as the warp stripes.  For the second one, I wove smaller stripes.
Which ones do you like?

May is drawing to a close, and it has been so very hot here, way above the average, and also very dry. Nothing compared to California, but some of our farmers are having a hard time growing grass for hay, so feeding livestock will be more expensive for them.  I heard on the news this morning that Portsmouth NH is considering issuing a water advisory because they are so dry.  Hard to believe that you can have a winter with so very much snow, and yet be this dry!  It is raining today, but because of the lack of rain, our azalea bush, which usually blooms just before Memorial Day, was a bit late, but very welcomed.  I'm not very good at landscaping/gardening, but this one plant has never failed to please.  Motorists and walkers always comment, and some stop to take photos.  The flowers don't last very long, but are very vibrant.  So I will leave you with this image, taken yesterday, before the damp weather.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Finished!

The scarf that I wove from the Artisan slub silk last time


worked up incredibly quickly.  I liked the result more than I thought I would.  As I said, the yarn is quite thick, at least compared to what I usually use, but the combination of the way the colors changed along with the purple spun silk weft that is barely there made the scarf very appealing.  The entire project only took a few days, working part time.  Even the fringe twisting worked up quickly!
Here are some in-progress shots;




To do the wet finishing, I just soaked the scarf in some Eucalan, spun the excess water out, ironed while damp. and laid flat to dry.





The scarf is nice and long, so it can be worn in any way possible.

I also hinted at another new thing for me, and that would be my new mini inkle loom!


I purchased it on Etsy, from The Weiner Dog Ranch (https://www.etsy.com/listing/163510805/mini-inkle-loom-tablet-weaving-card?ref=hp_mod_rf).  It took me a few days to get up the courage to try it, and warping it is kind of a pain in the butt, but once I started weaving on it, I fell in love.  My first band is far from perfect, but it was quick and easy, and I love the pattern!  I think I will weave another like it, using different colors, for the shoulder strap on my NCW clutch that I'm sewingfor myself.  Perhaps I'll also weave up some key fobs for the craft fair, and/or wrist straps for other clutches.



We're having a cold snap here, so my good intentions of having the heat shut off for the season just went out the window at lunch.  Even with a blanket on my lap and a fleece jacket, I was altogether too cold to sit and eat.  It's supposed to stay cool through Saturday, and our community band has an outdoor gig that day, which should be interesting.  There will be clips galore to try to keep our music from flying away.  The gig is in honor of our veterans, and it's called Boots on the Ground, held at the Montpelier mansion in Thomaston.  We've done it before, and it's a nice program, with speakers as well as music.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Another Find

I'm finding very little time to weave of late.  Work has been consistently busy, and I find I have little energy left after 12.5 hour shifts to do more than flop on the couch.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as I am on vacation!  Well, mostly on vacation.  I have a 5 hour mandatory meeting tomorrow, but then I am off for a week and a half.  I fully expect to get some weaving projects at least started, so that when I get busy again, I'll have no excuses for not weaving a bit here and there.  I managed to wind a single scarf warp yesterday with some Artisan silk from Georgia Yarn company.


This silk isn't at all what I expected.  It is approximately the size of 3/2 cotton and not particularly soft to the touch, but I don't have much experience with silk, so I'm open to the possibilities.  I'll be setting this fairly loosely, at 12 EPI, and using 20/2 silk for weft.  The PPI will be very open, mostly to hold this silk in place.

I'm also planning another run of towels, looking towards the craft fair in August.  These will be 4 shaft M's & W's, so will happen on the big loom.  I'll be plugging some info into my weaving software today, and hopefully started to wind the warp over the weekend.

Speaking of the craft fair, I've just finished four more of the clutch wallets, using all of the blue calico fabric that I have.  There was a lot of do-overs, since sewing has never been my strong suit, but a good seam ripper in hand is a lovely thing.


I embellished the flap with a small button and some applique, which turned out pretty well.  The colors are off here - the fabric is much bluer than this.

This shows the lining of two of the wallets.  I've included a safety strap for the cellphone section, just in case - you don't want to lose that precious phone, right?!?



This is the interior of the other two - rather plain material for the card slots, so I used a nice floral fabric for the zipper pocket to add some interest.

And a better view of the little flower applique - it almost matches the flowers on the fabric.


I really do like these, and will be making more, but I found I resented the time they took from weaving.  I'll just have to "sprinkle" these into my time carefully.

Oh, the "find" I alluded to?  A wooden coat rack that was found at our local Job Lot store.



I think it will make for a wonderful scarf display at the craft fair.  Just a few pegs arranged in a spiral, and away we go!  It only cost $20, so phew!  One less thing to think about.  Please ignore the messy bookcase in the background.  With everything there is to do, my poor house doesn't get tidied very often.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

New Toys!

I'm not sure why, but this year seems to be The Year of New Equipment for me.  First, I replaced the iron that I've had since I was (cough) 18.  It still worked, even though it occasionally left some deposits on items, and took forever to heat up.  Of course, it took forever to heat up even when it was new, so I thought that was just what irons did.  Boy, was I surprised when I bought my new one and it was steaming hot in one minute!!  I like the auto off feature, even though I'm very careful and have never walked away from a hot iron, but mostly the amount of steam and speed of the heating is what wows me now.  Now that I am spending more time ironing it's nice to have a good iron.

To help explain the second purchase, I'll have to show you why I made it.  I came across a pattern for a clutch wallet that someone had made with handwoven material, and I was intrigued.  The pattern is called the Necessary Clutch Wallet (affectionately known as the NCW), and I purchased it on the website Emmaline Bags (http://www.emmalinebags.com/).  Now, I've not done much sewing except for hems in many years, and I was pretty intimidated by the thought of making these, but the directions are excellent, and Janelle is very helpful. She patiently answered several questions, and pointed me to her group on FB, as well as another group that is gaga for her clutch. My thinking is that I could offer the clutch to mamas that have me weave them baby wraps, using the same material. Just to test my abilities, I took some quilting cotton that I've had in the house for eons, bought some interface and a zipper, and gave it a go.  Here's the result:


The real selling point for me is the fact that it has a compartment for just about everything, especially today's large cellphones!  I am forever carrying mine separately, because it doesn't fit in the small bags that I prefer.  It also has 12 credit care slots, and zippered compartment for coins, and several areas for greenbacks, tickets, and other paper.




There are also directions for adding a writ strap, or a removable shoulder strap.  So far, the folks I have shown this to seem to like it, so I'm in the middle of making 4 more.  There will be a few modifications on the next batch, so stay tuned.

Which leads me to my second purchase - a new sewing machine.  I've had an old, no name machine that I bought from JC Penney for many years, and it doesn't have a lot of power, which was clearly shown during the sewing of the NCW.  Many times there have been other problems along the way, so I recently got a Singer 9660, which got good reviews everywhere I looked.  It's computerized, which may pose problems down the road, but right now it is fantastic!  Very powerful, very quiet, has a huge range of stitches - more than I can ever use, I'm sure - and came with many many accessories.


I'm especially excited to have a walking foot, because it will help with hems and other sewing with handwoven fabrics.

And finally, thinking towards the future and my sanity, I decided to splurge on a Mini Warping Square, found here: http://www.sawyerbee.com/warping-square-mini.html.  By now you already know that I've had issues getting warps on my looms without a lot of strumming, plucking, and detangling.  I've been following people who purchased the original Square, which is a free standing one, but didn't want to spend quite that much money.  I also wanted to keep the clutter factor to a minimum, and the mini clamps onto a loom's back beam.  I got the first one he produced, and waited anxiously for it to arrive.  It did, quite promptly, and I put it together and clamped it onto the beam.  I had to have the sectional rakes positioned just so to keep the arms of the Mini free to spin.  You'd think that would have tipped me off to a potential problem, but nope! It wasn't until I tried to load the measured warp onto the sectional beam that the light dawned...The arms of the mini kept hitting the rakes, keeping them from turning. The back beams of most looms are not directly above the warp beams, but at an angle. Mine is directly above, and only 2 inches away.  Mitch tried to come up with a solution, and was very apologetic, but nothing could be done.  I felt terrible, and even tried clamping it to my bench, which worked but ergonomically was a disaster.  I'll be returning it soon, but I would urge anyone thinking about a warping wheel of some sort to give the Square a good look.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Safe to Say???

Winter is over.  I'm almost afraid to say it out loud, lest Mother Nature hears me and decides that one last storm is due.

Do you remember this photo?




And this one, showing the actual pile from the outside...


and the inside?


I can happily say that after a week and a half of temps above normal, meaning the 50's and 60's, plus several more in the 40's, this is what is left of the pile;


It is a testament to the winter that there is this much left this late in April, but it's nice to have a full view out the kitchen window again!  Soon the grass will be green, and there will be color in our lives again!!

The baby wrap is safely in the hands of its owner, who let me know that it suited her very well indeed! She quickly sent a couple of photos at my request, and agreed to let me share them here. Yes, they are a bit blurry, but it warms my heart to see a mama and her baby snuggled up in a wrap that I created just for them!



It is not everyone that can say that they love their job, and their other job!!  How lucky am I??

In other weaving news, I just finished warping the Baby Wolf for a set of 6 turned twill towels for the consignment shop. They will be like these;


I'm also having a bit of an adventure in sewing right now.  I'm attempting to make a wallet from the "Necessary Clutch Wallet" pattern available on the Emmaline Bags website (http://www.emmalinebags.com/).  I've seen a few online, and thought it might be nice to weave some extra fabric every now and then, especially when I'm making a wrap, and be able to offer a wallet with the wrap.  If the mama wasn't interested, it could be posted in my shop.  They can be made as a clutch, or with a wrist or shoulder strap, and they are able to hold a large cellphone, as well as IDs, cards, money...  I'm not much of a sewer, but I'm giving it a go as time allows, and will post the completed wallet when I'm done with this prototype, which I am sewing from store bought material, in case things don't work out great.  They may come in handy as stock at the craft fair in August, as well.