Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And Still Learning

I spent about an hour at Linda's, watching how she warps from the back of her loom using "angel wings" which are really like another set of hands.  She first slipped the end of the warp through a supplementary rod and lashed to the apron rod and then slipped the cross through the lease sticks which are securely held in place by the angel wings.

She didn't have any space at the back of her small loom for her raddle so secured it to the beater bar. Using the crochet chain known as a "counting thread" that separates the warp into one inch sections, she slipped each section between the nails, then removed the counting thread.  A Schacht loom raddle comes with a cap which she subsequently placed on top.
The raddle is a bit too far from the back to spread the yarn out so she spaced the threads by hand.
She reached this point in no time flat, and that included walking around and talking.
Cindie Kitchens sent me this picture she took while recently warping her loom.  For one thing my loom is big and looks much more like this one, including the wooden raddle.  I also watched a Webs video and took away some ideas from it.  I think this is where my raddle needs to be.
Yesterday I decided to try it again.  I'm also moving the cross one peg to the right though as you can see by the ambient thread, old habits are hard to break.  I bought this ball of thick-and-thin at the guild weft-over sale for $2 so am not too worried about the investment
.I had placed the counting thread to the left of cross while winding the warp so wasn't able to put the raddle on the back beam like Cindie did.  Instead I ended up putting it on the front beam - it's too big for the beater bar.  I learned that it doesn't do a great job at spreading the warp that far away.  I'm still struggling to make this a smooth process and I'm getting closer. I get frustrated but I like it that I'm finally understanding this process.  As in all things weaving, there is always something new to learn.
I find that threading the heddles from the front isn't has hard on my neck but there's another reason I'd like to get this under my belt.  To warp from the back I have to remove the warp beam, and Arthur's 40" beam is super heavy.  I can't help thinking that it's only a matter of time before I can't muscle it anymore.

I'm looking at these three for weft.  It's 8/2 Tencel and I have no idea what the warp is, though it's very soft, fluffy and light.  I used most of the ball and have a 12" wide scarf in the reed  It's for me to wear around the house this winter.

Thursday will be the end of of two sessions-a-week of physical therapy and acupuncture.  I'm doing a lot of muscle building exercises and wearing scarves all the time like my therapist recommends.  This is my sixth week and I try not to be sad that I didn't have this caliber of treatment right after my accident.  I'm getting the help I need now and notice it most when I'm backing out of a parking space - because I can!

I finished weaving the ugly towels which was hard to take so was happy to also finish at the same time my red Christmas scarf though I plan to wear it all the time after I take it to the Guild meeting for show-and-tell tomorrow.
I cannot believe how pretty huck lace is - and how simple!  I had to order knitting yarn for Christmas sweaters for my great grandkids and while I was at it ordered a cone of this 16/2 bamboo in white.  I think it will be absolutely exquisite.  Now that I'm done getting ready for the holiday show next month I am weaving for me, me, me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Still Learning

I know I said the last time that I tried to warp from the back that I would never do it again but with 30 threads per inch, I was motivated to make it work.  I read Chandler's chapter on warping from the back and thought I was following along step by step.  The other end of the warp chain was wrapped around the front beam which I thought was well secured, but when I started to wind it on to the back bean, the slick bamboo unwound itself and the metal apron rod hit the floor.  The problem is that the rubber bands on the raddle released the threads at different lengths and produced a tangled mess.
I was lucky that Laura was coming to town the next day so had her take a look at it to see if the warp could possibly be salvaged. I totally lost the cross on the 3" bout but the threads were in pretty good order in the raddle so she put the tape on it to secure it.  I rebuilt the cross one tedious thread at a time.  It's not that I stubbornly refused to learn to warp from the back, I just don't get it.
Once the cross was repaired I found that the rest of dressing the loom was pretty easy.  I was especially concerned about how it would feel to thread all eight harnesses from the front but I think it's actually easier on my neck than from the back (which is done when warping from the front.)
I'm using the same huck lace pattern that I used on the baby blankets but with 16/2 bamboo it's a much different cloth.  I got it in my head that it would be fun to have a red scarf to wear during the holidays.

Once I got the warp secured I was pleased with warping from the back.  I'm still missing a step and will have the same experience if I do this again on my own, but Linda Gettman came to my rescue.  I'm going over to her house tomorrow afternoon because she has offered to show me how you're really supposed to do it.  I can see the importance of warping from the back, especially when weaving with small threads because I had absolutely no threading or sleying errors.  If you recognize Linda's name, that's because she just had her Crackle Weave runner published in the most recent issue of Handwoven.

She also told me that you can use sewing thread as weft for dish towels hems.  She showed me one of her finished towels and boy does it make a nice flat hem.  I forgot completely about that on these towels until nearly the last one.  She said she just slides the spool onto a boat shuttle.  An empty spool on either side should make it even more effective.  I'll empty a couple of sewing thread spools with ugly colors before I get to the other end and see if it tracks better.

One inch of thread and now I'm back to weaving with 8/2 cotton.  I wish I had known about this a long time ago.  I've never been happy with my hems because they're just too thick.  It's one of the things I love about weaving - there is always something else to learn.

Ian had happy news today.  Yesterday he went in for an x-ray and today his urologist told him that the stone is gone.  The next step is an appointment to talk about a lifelong diet and strategies to keep kidney stones from being a recurring problem.  The doctor's parting words were "stay hydrated."

Thursday, October 06, 2016

My Favorite Month

I took a class last Sunday on how to print with Japanese woodcuts which A6 was offering as part of their exhibition of Japanese Prints.  Several classes were offered during the time Ian and I were supposed to be on vacation so I had grabbed this on, the only one available to me.
This was my first try.  While the perfect one on the left is a computer image, mine suffers from a slip in the registration, good lesson.  Using three lino blocks (cut by the staff) we printed three different images. I had so much fun that I signed up for the two-day class the end of this month on how to cut your own woodblocks.  I'm calling it a birthday present to myself.  Oh man, I love October.  Lucky me that I was born in the best month of the year.
I came home to see what wood tools I have and they're pretty dated plus I know they're dull.  I was really into the 60s Mother Earth ideal and made Christmas and greeting cards from lino blocks. I pretty much quit after my divorce but the interest never died, hence all my old blocks. Amy Shannon is making marvelous things with woodblocks so I asked her for advice on wood tools.
She sent me a link to this set which I ordered and now have, so now it's hurry up and wait until October 29th.
I finished weaving the baby blankets and can't help think they look like a cross between bandages and a bedspread.
Very often the magic needed is a press with this dandy mega-iron.
I made three - 30", 35" and 40"

I'm going to tag them as baby blanket/lap robe and see if I can get any interest at the holiday sale. The press sure makes the huck pattern shine and it's disappointing to think that once it's washed, unless it's pressed it will look like a Red Cross bandage because after all, who wants to iron a baby blanket?!
I thought I saw antlers in the brush by the garage when Ian and I headed out to tai chi Wednesday morning.  When I walked around the car to check, this guy stood up and when we drove out, he just watched us go.

There's no change on Ian's medical situation - we're still in a watch and wait mode.  I concluded my fourth week in physical therapy today.  My PT session is now coupled with an acupuncture session. It's pretty exhausting and progress is slow but it's finally progress - finally!

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Not According to Plan

I stopped what I was doing and went for a walk in the field yesterday because if the forecast is correct, it's the last day of Indian Summer.  The forecast is for rain tomorrow and snow in the mountains.  I believe it - it's cold and blustery today!
I've made a number of routes through the field but I always try to finish up along the irrigation ditch.  It will go dry very soon when the irrigation district shuts off the supply for the winter.
I'm not the only one who likes to walk along the ditch.  It looks like an entire raccoon family went for a stroll!
I finished weaving the rest of the warp on Dora, my workshop loom.  I zigzagged the edges and threw the sampler into the wash along with the rest of the towels. I think the plain weave tracking is really attractive.
This is the sample on the left from the above photo which was woven as double weave, double width.  My crease shows but I'd still like to try it again using my handspun yarn for a wider lap robe without wrenching my arms out of the shoulder sockets on a wide warp.
I was introduced to pick-up in an Andean Pebble Weave class and didn't like it one bit - too fiddly!  But boy did I like pick-up in double weave and after struggling with it in class, the right sample, I did the same thing again at home and thought it was very cool.  I want to do it again but in wool and a more interesting motif.  It seems like a good cold-weather project for this winter.
Remember my inspiration picture?

The colors are absolutely right but the towels are a disaster.  All my previous colorways have come from nature and the colors appear together in harmony.  The values are off here and I have complementary colors crossing together on every towel with muddy results.  Lesson learned - Mother Nature knows best!
Ian and I have been taking Tai Chi for Health classes at the Oregon Tai Chi school since February and I'm ready to step up to the next level.  We've become friends with Joanie, a lady who drives down from Redmond, and after two years taking our class she also wants to enroll in the school.  We met for QiGong this morning, plunked down our money, got our uniforms and are now official students of the school.  I'm really excited.
This is the beginning class that she and I will be taking and it's held five times a week.  Beginning next Saturday we've decided to make this our class so stayed to observe for a while.  Master Chen asked one of his Washu students to lead the stretches.  He can't be more than ten years old and we were encouraged to see all levels in this class.  I know we will fit right in.  One of the students is a young man who is recovering from a traumatic injury and if he can do these two sessions back to back, so can we.

It's been an interesting week in the Campbell household.  I went with Ian to Urgent Care Saturday night when it became clear that he doesn't have the flu but is passing another kidney stone.  As the time stretched on, I felt like I was going to fall over if I couldn't like down and since we only live five miles away, I came back home and stretched out on the bed, waiting for the call to come back.  Yet another reason why I'm glad we live here.

He had an x-ray and saw his assigned urologist on Thursday.  The short of it is that he has two options.  He can take Flomax, drink more water and wait for it to pass naturally, the doc's preference, or if we decide to take our New York trip anyway and he hasn't passed the stone by Tuesday, he'll do surgery on Wednesday to remove it.  At this point, Ian has decided to let it pass naturally and if that hasn't happened by Tuesday, then he'll cancel our reservations and tickets.  Old age adventures - ugh.  Things are not going according to plan!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Natural Dye Workshop

I was back at the Retreat Center on Tuesday for the first day of a natural dye workshop.  The same workshop was offered on back-to-back days because the instructor, Francisco Bautista of the Portland Handweavers Guild, wanted to keep the class size down to ten a session.
These are skeins he brought for demonstration.
He is a third generation weaver/dyer from Oaxaca Mexico, dating back to when only men were weavers and women worked in the kitchens, though he says that has changed now.  He has woven since he was eight and his wife began weaving when she was 14. This cochineal rug is one of the sample rugs he brought.  
 He brought bins of dye stuff but we only had time for yellow onion skins, marigolds, cochineal and black walnut which he is pulling apart here.
Everything went into the pot, walnuts, stems and leaves.  He used a gallon of water to cover these plants for four ounces of wool.  He didn't premordant for this or cochineal and sometimes he said he will put premordanted and unmordanted yarns into the same dye pot to get different shades for his tapestries.
We did the same with marigolds.  He soaked the yarn for 30 minutes while preparing the next dye bath and he counted cooking time as the dye bath time.  He didn't count the cooking time of the yarn, just the soaking time.  When the dye bath had boiled for 90 minutes he removed it from the heat.  The time the yarn had been in the pot wasn't relevant since they're going to sit together for the next three days.  He calls this method fermentation and says it's the way he learned it from his grandfather. Again, no mordant.
We compared the two yarns at the end of their cooking period.  The marigold yarn is yellow and onion skins made gold.  He doesn't often use mordant, even alum, over concerns of their toxicity.  Nevertheless, he gave us a recipe for mordanting wool: use 15% alum and 5% cream of tarter, and that is percentage is calculated per weight of wool.
For cochineal his mordant is the juice of one lime and 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar for four ounces wool.
To show us how to get purple, he crushed some of the cochineal beads in his palm.
Then he added baking soda and squeezed lime juice into his palm.  That's his recipe, just keep mixing until you like the color.
Our workshop went from 9:30-4:30 and it was crammed full, every minute of it.  We poured the yarn and due liquor with plant material into large baggies for the three-day fermentation process.  To get even color he recommends stirring and turning the yarn three times a day.  Volunteers took these home to babysit.

It was a cold blustery day but we were enthralled by the easy way he approaches natural dyes.  I have always enjoyed the colors but I have never been able to think of a practical way to use the wools. And in spite of owning five books on natural dyes, I have never gotten much of any color besides yellow. Francisco also teaches a class on weaving tapestries on floor looms.  I hope our guild will bring him back for that.  I can see me doing that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Double Weave Workshop

Saturday was the first day of a two-day Double Weave workshop so I got up extra early to allow time for a morning walk, knowing I would be sitting for the next two days.  As you can see, summer is all over but the shouting.
I loaded up the car with my loom, my piano/weaving bench and the crate/loomside table and still had plenty of room to spare.
We are very fortunate to have the use of the Diocesan Retreat Center in Powell Butte for our workshops and at a very reasonable price.
The room was filled with sixteen weavers, looms and equipment and we still had room for a lecture area.  Our teacher was Patty Huffer from the Eugene Textile Center who is also our very own guild member.  We'd gather for a period of instruction, then take ourselves and the information back to our looms and work until Patty called us back for the next set of instructions.
This was my little work station, little loom, little bench, little table, big weaver!  I'm really too tall for this set-up but it's adequate for a workshop.
Only six of the looms were floor looms and the rest were table looms.  I don't know how they did it, but they stood all the while they were weaving.  Carolyn bought her table loom from Craigslist and wasn't aware it was missing a spring until she removed tension to advance her warp and it came apart and dumped her warp.  Several ends broke when they went to wind it back on but Patty managed to get it cobbled together and running. I really admire the resourcefulness of fiber artists.
Speaking of resourcefulness, Laura had a few hours to kill the other day when she was in town so stopped by for a little while.  When she saw my jumbled Altoid utility tin she suggested I put magnets in the top to hold my needles separate from the rest of the stuff.  What a great idea!  It's part of a little pouch that accompanies me whether I'm knitting, spinning or weaving.
Double weave is fascinating since it's a technique to weave two layers of cloth at a single time.  It makes interesting intricate designs and it's especially useful to weavers who want to weave wider than their looms using double weave, double width, i.e., a 24" loom can weave a 48" blanket.  What I didn't expect to love was pick-up double weave.  This is Patty's sample that she used to demonstrate for us.
She gave us sample designs and graph paper and gave us 20 minutes to create our own pattern.  This is mine and clearly I didn't get the hang of it right away, but when I finally understood it, I thought it was great fun.  I'm repeating this exercise at home and then will weave the remaining warp as double weave, double width.  I want to make sure I understand this draft without the benefit of an instructor before I cut it off my loom.