Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Agenda

My agenda has been all about weaving. I finished my first painted warp. I won't repeat the application of vertical colors but I'm still really pleased and can't wait to make more. One think I also won't repeat is neglecting to leave extra threads hanging from the back of my loom in the event I break one, because of course, I did. I forgot to tie back my exess heddles on the right side of my loom and they rubbed again the floating selvedge, rubbing it in a frayed mess. I had to weave for a while working around the right threads until I could rejoin the broken warp, a painfully slow experience and one I won't forget.

Between the painted warp scarf and these two in the walls of Troy pattern, I have another three scarves to take to the farmers market tomorrow. We have three more before the weather will shut us down and then I'm only doing one Christmas craft fair this year.

I still love the Walls of Troy draft but learned that high contrast colors are needed to make it really work.

I've also finished ten more towels, keeping my weft colors to just three and all in the same family. I really want to try out some other colors but I sell out of these pretty quickly.

Here's another tip I learned from the 4-Shaft Weaving group. Lash on with Texsolv! The ends are secured by the pins so I didn't have to make lots and lots of knots and knots.

I'm sampling for a commission of gray and yellow towels. I had a feeling the colors would wash each other out as soon as they interlaced, which is my I wanted to make a sampler. I've thought about it for a week, when I laid in bed, when I walked the dog, and the sampler proved me right - turned taquete is not the draft for these!

I'm going to use this window pane draft instead and separete the color blocks with three shots of black. I'll hem the towels though. I can't imagine soggy fringe on a working dishtowel! The towels and another scarf from painted warp are on my agenda for this coming week. I hope you have a fun agenda lined up for yourselves too.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Hand Painted Warp

I've been considering giving the back-to-front warping technique another try, but it's been five years at least since I tried it last and I needed to refresh myself by reading that chapter in Learning to Weave. I was struck by Chandler's advice to unhook the heddle bar hooks and slide the heddles to the left. No more threading from the center to the left, and then back to center to complete treading to the right. A complex threading pattern has to be reversed in the second half and I've made mistakes right there.
I got this far yesterday and couldn't decide what weft color to use. I knew that if it was the same as a color in the warp, the pattern would disappear and be lost. I want to show off all of the painted warp so decided to sleep on it overnight.
I usually lash the warp onto the front beam but I learned about this technique on the Facebook 4-Shaft Weaving group and wanted to try it out. Dividing your warp into inch increments, if you swap the last thread in each bout with the last thread in the next bout, the yarns straighten out promptly and produce less loom waste. I did it today and was really pleased at how effective it is, but the problem is that I need fringe so had to insert several venetian blind slats before I could start to weave.
I woke up sneezing in the middle of the night and had to get up to take several Benadryl so I could go back to sleep. My mind wandered while I waited for sleep to come and it dawned on me that the best color for this warp is black and I was right! This is my first hand-painted warp and while I'd do it differently next time, I'm very pleased with my little peacock scarf.

Someone in 4-Shaft Weaving supplied the link to a blog post with two Laura Frey videos with techniques on threading.  She called it fool proof which is like daring me to make mistakes.  But I tried them both and cut my threading time significantly.  Check out the Joy of Weaving post.  The only problem with the loop over the threading hook is that it went so fast that I kept losing my place.  I'd be at the end of my inch of threads but with no pattern.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The 8th Annual Gathering

The morning sky was lovely.  I jumped out of bed to grab this photo as I waited for our guests to arrive.
The first to arrive was a 32' RV from SoCal followed by this rig from Lakeview California.
Josh and Missy rolled in from Oregon just in time for lunch and it's a good thing because they had lunch patrol this year.  First things first though - they're setting up the awning for the "beer garden."
By noon, our place was a pretty full house.
A couple years ago we recognized the need to supplement the indoor plumbing.
Most of the over-nighters were in RVs.  We only had three tents this year plus this hybrid tent that attached to Jerry and Lorrie's SUV, letting them sleep in their vehicle but have stand-up changing room.
The most popular table game this year was Mexican trains because any age can play it. 
The most popular game was again the double elimination horseshoe tournament on Saturday.  It took a good part of the day and most everyone either played or watched.
Dirt was also a huge attraction.  I forget that not every boy has dirt to play in.
McKay our grand-niece and her family flew here from North Carolina.  Her parents shipped out a new-to-us game called Corn in the Hole, which is apparently popular in the South.  It's fun out here in the West too!

We had a little bluegrass pick-up band this year.  Several of us are vowing to dust off our own strings and knuckle down before next year so we can play too.   Alison and I sang along by looking up the words on our iPhones!  How times have changed. 

To give you an idea how eclectic the gathering is, Martha on mandolin is an old boss of mine, John on guitar and I went to 7th and 8th grades together then reconnected through Facebook, and Petey on banjo went to community college with Ian.
The food never stops.  This is breakfast Saturday which Rochelle fixed.  It's almost a bidding process.  People volunteer what they're bringing and when.  We have never had better food than we did this year, though because of the flies, all meals were served in the kitchen.  Rena drove out from Connecticut and got here Thursday.  She's a kitchen maven and worried to me about having enough food since we're so far from stores.  Ice is a problem, food is not.  I told her it's like the Bible story of the fishes and the loaves.  The food is heaping over at the end.  Later she told me that she got my analogy.  We eat well.

Buster and Maddie went to pet camp so Sammie was here on her own.  She did great with the other dogs and was the absolute champ with all the children.  Some of you know that she's an abandoned dog who adopted us several years ago.  

Gavin was our youngest attendee year and loved Josh and Missy's sweet dogs.  You've heard about Burning Man and the playa dust.  That's what we are in outdoors  all day and what the baby is sitting on here.  It is silty but it washes off.
The end to another wonderful year came yesterday.  It's an intense three days.  We come together from all over, family and friends, and we'll do again next Labor Day.  I took 244 photos on my DSLR and whittled that down to about 130 which I uploaded to Flickr.  If you want to take an extra few minutes, you can watch them here.  The slideshow is nice.  

I'm tired and the house is dirty.  I haven't woven in a couple of weeks or read a book either for that matter, but I could not feel more grateful and thankful.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Substitute School Librarian

The Verdi library is where I've been this past week. It's a joint use facilty, a partnership between the department of wildlife, the public library and the school district. Verdi is a small community west of Reno right on the California/Nevada border. The school is equally small, one classroom for each grade, and all the children know each other. It's my favorite school to sub for even though it's an hour from our house. Nothing is close to us and I enjoy the change-up and challenge. Days are a mixture of class visits and kids coming in on recess and lunch hour. They're a reading group!
The school is located on Bridge Street, named for the one-lane bridge that crosses the Truckee River which flows from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. I took this from the bridge looking west at my own peril. It's a busy bridge!
The department of wildlife has supplied "wildlife" as part of the decor. I was straightening books on this shelf of easy-readers and didn't enjoy the frog just above my eye level, sloshing around in its jar. One of the children asked me if it was real and I said yes. She asked me if it was dead. I said yes.
This cougar nicknamed "Top Cat" is perched above children's fiction. Children who have attended here are accustomed to the wildlife and other than the frog question, it was largely ignored until the kindergarten class visit. I was ready for the children to settle down so we could begin story time but I was sadly mistaken if I thought I could begin without first addressing the wildlife. One girl asked me if he was stabbed or shot - not sure why that would make a difference. A friend who used to work here when the library was flush and could afford a fulltime staff told me that she always told the children that the animals died of old age.
And then there's the mountain goat perched over the staff desk. I'm standing in the area of adult books and had to shoo some sixth graders away from it - they got themselves into a giggly scared state, insisting that the goat was winking at them. I found the wildlife a little creepy myself. A third of the building belongs to the department of wildlife which also serves as meeting space for the community. I was a little unsettled one afternoon when their staff had a table piled with rifles that they were checking and blank firing, getting ready for the hunter safety course. I found the stack of picture books that I was reading against the clicks of weapon checks an odd combination.
I read dozens and dozens of picture books, reacquainting myself with old favorites and looking at some new ones, getting my story times in order. The librarian I was subbing for was actually present but testing children in the computer room for learning competency which is why this is such an unusually long sub job. Each morning I'd pick up the key from the office and return it at the end of the day. Friday as I was leaving the principal come in, gave me a big hug and said "We love you!" It's that kind of school.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sagecreek Madness

The lady from Florida who bought my "Fiestaware" towels sent me a photo demonstrating that I had indeed nailed the colors. Even though she also is a weaver, she has her mothers classic Fiestaware and knew the towels would complement them, and thus she complemented me.
I finally got my looms dressed. This scarf is the Walls of Troy draft in 8/2 Tencel coral and pink, the same as my all white one.
I had more mistakes just on his towel warp alone than I have had all this year and maybe even longer. It's made me think that perhaps it's time to try warping from the back again. I haven't done it in five years but after being refreshed through the guild on the technique to teach our newbie weavers, maybe the time has come. And just when I thought all was well, I discovered these two blue threads, side by side. I can't remember the last time I was this frustrated.
I've been second guessing myself on these colors for a "seaglass" colorway and then with all the errors, I finally reached the point where I considered cutting it off, all ten towels worth, and throwing it in the trash.

I've gotten past that and I'm proud that I stuck it out. I do think the light pink is going to be okay. I used Google images of seaglass and light pink was clearly one of the colors.
I had a table at our local farmers market today but before I went I chained my two painted warps - my painted ladies :) It's going to be a couple of weeks before I have time to do anything else with them as I have a school library sub job this week and part of next. More hurry up and wait.
Maddie says she doesn't know anything about a ball of yarn.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Painted Warps

I went to Rae's this morning to learn how to make painted warps. I've wanted to do it for a long time but learning how to mix and use fiber reactive dyes and also the mechanics of applying the dyes to chained warps was just too intimidating for me. This is one of her examples - I love her fringe!
This is a 9" wide scarf but she wound the warp in 1" bouts before dyeing. The color movement up the scarf is wonderful.
I took the dyes I had purchased from Dharma,, and Rae showed me the Dharma catalog where she had marked the dye powders she owns. This was an older catalog and she gave it to me. Her teacher had recommended no more than three colors and I can tell you that picking just three colors was torture. That took the most time of all. I borrowed moss green from Rae and need to order some of my own.
I ultimately mixed up four colors and when I still couldn't select just three, I used them all. She uses 1/2 teaspoon per one cup of water. The hot water is the only hot part with fiber reactive dyes, so different for me than dyeing protein fibers like wool and sillk with acid dyes. I just realized one disappointing omission - I changed out colors and rearranged so much but didn't write down my final choices and I can't remember now what they are. I think the above are Cayman Bue, Plum, Bronze and Moss Green. Or not.
We started first thing by immersing my two warps in soda ash water, which is a mordant of sorts. It's recommended that you soak for at least a half hour and it was longer than that because I was stymied by color.
I had wound my warp in 2" bouts for an 8" scarf and labeled them 1 to 4 to keep them in order for later when it's time to weave. Once the soak was completed, we opened up the three yard warp chain and slipped both ends through dowels. I'm using 8/2 Tencel, a form of rayon.
We blotted the excess dye from the plastic wrap and covered the top with a second sheet of plastic wrap. This is to keep the color from unintented bleeding. It's rolled up tightlly to keep the yarn wet for the next day or two.
The color on the yarn is really dark and looks terrible. These are the colors that I blotted up so I'm hoping my results will be closer to them.
I chose analogous colors for my second warp and just a word of caution. When mixing dye powders, it's imperative that you wear a dust mask. You may not see anything in the air but the risk is serious. I think the colors here are Raspberry, Lilac and Fuchsia Red. Or not.

We put the warp ends on dowels again but this time I scrunched them together and then painted sections on the diagonal. I'm trying hard not to focus on how ugly the warps look at this stage and just believe the colors that are on the paper towels. This is definitely not for someone who requires immediate gratification.
The two warps are wrapped securly in plastic wrap and are batching in the garage. They recommend at least 24 hours and 48 is even better. I'll probably rinse these out sometime tomorrow afternoon. I'm going to our local farmers market on Sunday then have a school library sub job all next week so I wanted to write down the steps that we took today while they are fresh in my mind. And then I need to do it again as soon as I can.