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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lots Done!

Sorry about the long absence!  Life, as always, gets in the way of blogging, but also I sometimes have a hard time formulating "interesting" and coherent prose.  I suppose I could just bombard everyone with photos..

The never ending warp did, in fact, end, and I came away with 12 twill towels, plus one with a treadling error.  For weft I used a dark green, light blue, a medium ocean blue, jade green, aqua, two slightly differing reds, 2 slightly differing purples, and a silver with red accents, as well as magenta (the one with the error).


I really like having the narrow white borders - they seem to highlight the contrasting colors well.

Here's another view of them;


It's a really fun pattern to weave!  I have meant to list these in my Etsy shop, but finding time for this always seems to be a problem, plus I still have to come up with decent text.  Grumble grumble..

I also wove up a couple of merino wool/tencel huck scarves.  Hard to work on when it's hot outside, but a nice quick project, and by the time the craft fair rolls around, it should be a bit cooler; folks might have autumn on their minds.

No beauty shots yet - they are still on my camera waiting to be edited, but here are a couple of shots.



I love the subtle sheen the tencel brings.

My next project is a short run of towels on the big loom to try out pebble weave.  On the baby wrap groups on Facebook there is a huge interest in that structure right now, and it looked intriguing, so I warped enough for 4-5 towels using purples and blue, with a touch of green.  It was a chance to try out my mini Warping Square for the first time since Mitch altered it. It worked very well!

This is the yarn loaded on the sectional beam.


I initially stopped and tied new yarn on thread by thread to follow the draft, but that got old VERY quickly, so I grouped yarns together, planning on threading them slightly out of the order they were in on the lease sticks.  I got the loom threaded and sleyed in record time, and began weaving yesterday.

Black 8/2 weft;


and purple 10/2 weft;


Now I see what all the hubbub was about!  The combination of plain weave and twill makes an interesting texture with very short floats.  The treadling is simple, as is the threading.  I'll be using this more in the future, both for towels and wraps.

Speaking of wraps, there is a friendly competition starting over in Facebook land.  It's called the Fall 2015 Competition of Weavers, and those who participate are charged with creating a wrap using the theme Children's Lit.  I signed up, even though I know I won't win, but because it seems like it will be fun and I had an idea of what I wanted to weave.  No spoilers yet, but the finished product has to have it's photo submitted by October 1.  I don't know when the public group will be up, but will keep you posted.  What I can't do is keep you posted on my progress, because one of the rules is to not let the voting folks know who they are voting for, just what they are voting for.

My other task is to sew up a few more wallets for the craft fair in August.  I have some material already cut out, and have meant to get back to sewing, but when the weaving mojo visits, it's hard to turn away! The plan is to start them after the pebble weave towels.  I swear.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Never Ending Warp

I'm still plugging away at the tea towel warp that I put on the big loom awhile back.  Much has happened with it since I last posted, and not all of it was good.

The first issue was that the warp was NOT 8/2 mercerized cotton, as the label stated.  I had noticed that it seemed finer than that, but I tend to believe what I read, so when I tried to weave using 8/2 weft, the pattern wasn't even visible.  This meant that I had to cut and resley the warp at 27 EPI, so the towels are going to be quite narrow, truly fingertip towels.  I settled on using 10/2 merc cotton (what else??), and being careful to beat semi-gingerly.

After that was settled, the first towel I wove was with a red weft, called Lipstick, and it was a joy to weave;


The second was a different shade of red, a bit brighter, and it also wove easily, until I came to the hem at the end of the towel.  I was using 20/2 bleached cotton for the hems, and I had had no problems with the previous three hems, but then this happened:


The temple broke several weft threads, along with 6 warps in a row on the left side, and one on the right.  I couldn't figure out the reason, since all had been well before.  All I can think of is the the tension on the warp was high, the temple was set at exactly the width of the warp (and had been), and I may have beat the 20/2 more firmly.  I hung some repair warps off the back of the loom, weighted, but to have 6 in a row meant lots of problems starting to weave again.  The ends could easily be pushed out or drawn in, so I had to loosely weave quite a bit with some green 3/2 cotton, careful to leave the left selvedge edge a bit loose, until I had enough "cloth" to weave normally. I don't know if the second red towel will be sellable, with the wonky hem.



After all of that, I was so frustrated that such a basic warp was so slow to progress, but now I'm having a slightly different feeling about it.  I. Am. So. Bored.  I've woven 10 towels, and am more than halfway done with the 11th, and I really wish I was done.  With all of the mistakes, I was sure that I would get fewer towels, but I think I have enough for 2 more.  The treadling is like a mantra now, but not in a good way - 4,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,3,2,3,4,3,2,1.

These are the colors I've used so far (after the lipstick):

The first purple;

A bright blue - I wove two of these!


A beautiful, rich medium marine blue;


Forest green and jade:



Magenta;


Dark Turq, which is actually a very bright aqua;


And the not quite finished Purple Passion;



I need your input!!  Should I just repeat some of what I've already done, or do you think that some more unusual colors might interest people?  I have more yarn from my autumn-themed towels (brown/rust/bright yellow), or a light silver, or charcoal??  I also have two pinks, one brighter than the other, and two oranges, but it's hard for me to choose colors like that when I don't personally like them much.  That's why I need others' opinions!

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.