Monday, August 22, 2016

Dye Day Redux

Today was the day I set aside to dye the skeins for the next baby wrap warp.  The skeins had soaked overnight in an initially hot Synthrapol wash, then rinsed and set to soak in soda ash this morning.  I then made up the dyes, laid the skeins out on plastic-covered plywood on the porch, and proceeded to color!

There is that gut-clenching, will-this-turn-out-the-way-I-envisioned-it moment, but then there is nothing to do but just go for it.  Guess we will see after it batches!

The yarn for the origami shirt has been warped onto the loom.

The purple is definitely a disappointment, but since this is all an experiment of sorts, I'm just going with it.  The yarn is so unbelievably soft, even after dyeing - I can't wait to see how the final cloth feels.

No new pictures of the house.  We've puttied some of the nail holes, and today they came and took the excess insulation out, but we still have the plastic dust wall up in the living room, so not much looks different.  I can't wait to get my living room back!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dye Day Plus One

This is the yarn I'm going to weave into cloth for a shirt, and I thought I would test out some of the colors that I will use on the upcoming dyed baby wrap warp.  The purple is NOT correct in several ways, as it was leftover dye from another project, and there wasn't enough powder for a deep color. There is also a deep navy, and bright blue, and a turquoise.  Not included in this warp are some pinks and a yellow. I'm hoping these chains will dry this afternoon, so I can see what the final results will be.

Yesterday I tried to soak the chains of the Supima 12/2 cotton in the soda ash mixture, but they wanted to float on top, so I left them in for about an hour and kept pushing them in.  I did soak them while still chained, and I think that was a mistake - maybe it trapped too much air?  After that, I placed them on my dye table, unchained them, and started the experiment.

After rolling them up in the plastic, I let them lie in the sun on the porch until the temps started to cool down, then brought them inside and upstairs to finish batching overnight.  I have to say, this dyeing business is quite a project!  No one stage takes a huge amount of time, but allowing for all of the time needed to complete everything does really eat up the clock.

And here's a photo of the house after they finished putting on the last of the clapboards.  The insulation truck showed up on Tuesday morning, and ended up putting a bit too much into the space between the two windows, so someone is supposed to come here soon and cut the sheet rock so that some of the extra insulation can be taken out.  Hate to lose that, but the wall is bowing outward at the moment. I started to putty some of the nail holes today, but there are an awful lot of them, so really finishing this is going to be an ongoing process, I fear.

'Til next time!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Finishing Touches

The craft fair is looming (ha ha!)!  Only a couple of days away, so I've been tagging and finishing up the last few details.

One thing that I wasn't sure I would do was to make straps for the remaining NCW clutches.  These machine-woven ones haven't sold, and they still may not, but I know I find mine indispensable.  I wear mine crossbody, so it's totally hands off, allowing me to select my produce at the grocery store or whatever else I need to do without worrying about my wallet.

I had some material that would match the purple clutch, so I sewed a long, crossbody strap for that. Darned if I can find the photos I took of it, though!  I guess you'll have to imagine it, because the clutch is tucked away - so sorry about that!

The blue calico clutches were another matter, since I had absolutely nothing that would coordinate well with them.  Instead, I wove up wristlet and small D-ring holder straps for the two of them on my small inkle loom.  I was making it up as I went along, but everything worked out well, I think.

I riveted the D-rings onto the clutches - always a gut-clenching moment for me, but they work surprisingly well.

I also took most of the last Western Skies scrap and quickly sewed up some more key fobs this morning.  I think they turned out well, and are surprisingly cushy!

They really highlight the variations in color and design that are present throughout the warp.

The renovation is continuing, and coming close to completion, I think.  Today they blew in insulation and put trim around the inside of the windows.  Right now the carpenter is installing the remaining clapboards over the spaces that were left open for the insulation.  Pics of that next time.

At the end of day 5;

and the end of day7;

There will be a lot of painting going on soon, but what a relief to get the job done and get my house back in order.  And the cats will be soooo happy!

Wish me luck at the fair!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


We are now 3 days into our limited renovation of the west side of our house.  The old aluminum came off a week ago, and then work stopped until this past Monday.  Most of the work has been outdoors, but our weather pattern is changing and today it started to rain.  The poor worker packed up and covered everything, then sat in his car for 10 minutes, then came out again to start work, then had to abort again.  After awhile, he'd had enough and came indoors to do a bit until quitting time.

On Sunday, this was the exterior of the house (note the old leaky picture window);

Monday, this was the interior view at the end of the day.

Windows that actually open!!  I haven't had that option since we bought the place in 1987.

This was the exterior, mid-day;

He did cover everything back up with Tyvek before he left.

Yesterday, day 2, this was the exterior at lunch;

We're going with real wood clapboards, because, well, we're weird that way.  My hubby is a traditionalist.  I'm sure this will come back to bite us with the upkeep, but it sure does look good.

And today, day 3, this is the exterior;

and the interior;

Our poor kitties are having a hard time with the noise and a stranger in their midst, but in the long run they will love having more windows from which to watch birds.

How did I spend my day today, you ask?  Winding skeins of 12/2 pima cotton for dyeing the next baby wrap warp.  I used my mini Square, and the job got done very quickly.  16 skeins, each with 64 ends 16 yards long.

They are so very soft!  I can't wait to see how they look after I dye them.  I still have to wait for a bit to get my supplies and figure out the logistics, but I think the project will be started soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lemons to Lemonade

So. last time I blogged, I mentioned that I had wished I had enough time to weave some summer and winter Christmas tree table runners for the upcoming craft fair on August 20th.  Shortly after I posted that blog, I thought to check my records of that project in my Ravelry account, and lo and behold, one runner initially only took me 8 days, so I thought to myself that I could surely get one done in time.  I had to work during the next two days, but on Saturday, I started winding the warp, and while I'm at it, why not wind for two??  Did I mention I do NOT like the pressure of deadlines?? Why I did this to myself I do not know!

To help speed up the process, I decided to wind two ends at a time, but didn't have two cones of the same color, so I used UKI's Lipstick, and rich, deep red, and Red Hot, a very bright red.  For two runners I wound a 3 1/3 yard warp and dressed the loom, all before lunch.  I didn't get back to the loom until the next morning, when I managed to complete the threading and tie up.  Our community band had a concert that afternoon, so I didn't get too much more done that day, just fixed a sleying error and tied on.

Come yesterday (Monday) morning, I began to weave.  The access to the upstairs was temporarily restricted because of the construction, so I stayed up there for quite awhile, and managed to "complete" the first runner and weave all but two repeats of the tree motif of the second.  The word "complete" is quoted because I had a tie up error that I didn't really notice for the first five repeats - well, I noticed them, but since I was weaving wrong-side up, I wasn't sure it was a true error until I could look underneath.  Once confirmed, it was way too much to un-weave or snip off, so I just fixed the tie up and continued on.  The pattern calls for 17 repeats, but after 15 I threw in the towel, thinking that it was ruined anyway, so on to the second runner.  I don't know what's going on in my pea brain, but lately it seems that everything I weave has a major error of some sort.

This morning I was able to be on standby from work due to a low patient census, so back upstairs I went, finishing the last two repeats of the second runner, plus a small four repeat piece.

The completed runner, which measures 32.25" X 15.25."

Close up view;

Now to the lemonade part.  Rather than throwing the first one out, I cut it an inch and a half into the bad section, and sewed a small table mat/placemat.  One hem is normal, just the Lipstick in tabby, while the other encompasses the error.  I tried to make it less bulky by picking out some of the thicker picks.

The table mat, which measures 18.25" X 15.25."

The hem on the right side is the thicker one.  It also has a small error four trees in from the right on the bottom, but if anyone buys it, it will be offered at a discount anyway.  Sigh.

Here's a photo of what the error looked like:

And the small scrap; I have tentative plans for it, but want to make sure it's doable before making it public.

Anyway, not too bad for 3.5 day's work, but it doesn't mean much as far as display and stock for the fair.

The towels that were in a jumble in the last blog have also been finished, and I think they came out well.  I really like the Bockens cottolin yarn, as it gave the towels a great texture.

and a close up to show the texture;

'Til next time!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Not Ready

Unbelievably, it's already August!  It is so true that the older you get, the faster time goes by, but I am still amazed (and a bit worried) about how quickly the months fly by.  Since my last post, I've been trying to get some excitement going about my two ring slings from the last baby wrap warp, and with a lot of help from a new weaver who is willing to drum up excitement in my chatter group on Facebook, things may be turning around a bit.  I've gotten a lot of new members, and am planning my first hand dyed warp in September.  In the meantime, several weavers have offered to host my slings and try them out, writing comments and critiques and posting photos.  They get to keep them for a week or less, and then send them onto the next tester.  The slings are now on their way to the second weaver, but the first seemed to really like them and posted lots of photos.  It's always so nice to see babies snuggled up in something you wove!  There is always the hope that someone may love something so much they would like to purchase it, and the final tester is the lovely helper, who is also expecting her second baby, a daughter, any day now.  She may want to purchase one of the slings, which would be so gratifying!

The Portland Fine Arts Craft show is coming up soon, on the 20th, and even though I had every intention of bulking up my inventory, I am making little headway.  I will have added a few double-sided cowls made from the baby wrap warp, and am just finishing up 6 cottonlin/cotton towels in my new, favorite 8 shaft towel draft.  It is a broken twill, and the combination of the structure and the cottonlin seems to have made some lovely textured, almost nubbly towels.  No finished photos yet, as I still have to, well, finish them, but here's an on-the-loom shot:

As always, I weave wrong side up on my little jack loom, so those photos won't be quite as representative, but here's a sampling:

And here is my to-do pile:

Tencel/cotton cowls on the left, awaiting hand-stitching, and the washed and dried towels, awaiting hemming.

I was also hoping to churn out some of the Christmas tree table runners like I made last year, since they might be popular, but I don't see how I can get them done.  Here's a reminder:

The other big news around here is that our house is going to get some much needed work done, albeit a bit at a time.  We've hired a local contractor to remove our very old aluminum siding from the west side of the house, blow in insulation and install wooden clapboards, and also remove our leaky, un-openable picture window in the living room and replace it with double hung windows.  This is the room where my big loom lives, and in the summer it is very hot with no ventilation, and in the winter it is so cold that I sewed a window quilt years ago and it covers the whole window all the time; it's like a cave, which doesn't do much for the creative juices.  I'm really looking forward to being able to open the windows in the nice weather!

The work started yesterday when I was at work, so I didn't get a chance to document the "pre" house, but here's a shot of the exterior wall with quickly applied tyvek, awaiting insulation:

And here's the interior shot before we did anything:

And after we moved everything and took down curtains; my husband removed the trim yesterday:

All of the painting, exterior and interior, will be on us, so there's that to look forward to...

Thursday, July 14, 2016


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.