Friday, January 31, 2014

Ta Ta January

This is the flax pillow that Ian ordered for me online.  It's been more valuable than a heating pad and better than the muscle relaxant Robaxin.  I heat it in the microwave and then scrunch it around my neck.  I can really press it into the sore spots.  In case you want to check this out for yourself, he ordered it from these people.

I finally got my loom warped and wanted to show you how I check for threading errors.  By the time I've slipped four slats through in alternating sheds, I can see if I've made a mistake or not.  Then I remove the slats, because that's a huge waste of warp, and get ready for the header with packing material.  In this case, I used old strips I had cut for a rag rug.

I'm really surprised at the pastel colors, certainly the lightest I've ever woven.  I was tired of cold gray days when I picked out the cones for this set of dish towels and was looking for colors of spring.  I wondered how I had picked such Eastery colors when I realized that these colors are associated with Easter for the same reason I picked them - in anticipation of spring flowers.  And I thought I was being original.

I've been spinning the blended batts for the guild conference and need to get mailed off soon.  I plied the single with a space-dyed 60/2 silk from Just Our Yarn.  I know it's not brilliant spinning so I'll be interested to hear what the judges have to say about this as warp.
The next thing I need to get ready for the conference is a bag.  Guilds are challenged to pick a unifying theme so our theme is winter.  I've made a Kumihimo braid for the strap and want to make a small cross-body bag to wear when I'm working a craft fair.  I only need my phone, the Square, cash and a small notepad.  We've all purchased the same pin of a deciduous tree in winter - the unifier.  I'm stumped on what closure to use.  I bought a zipper but now the reality of using it, open, close, open, close - not thinking that's such a brilliant idea.  Guess I'll go phish on Etsy.
Speaking of winter, it snowed last night for the time in January and today's the last day of the month - just in time.  It's been over a month since we've had any snow so I'm pleased the temps are cold enough that it won't melt for a while.  I had planned to go to town today, but this persuaded me to stay home.

Wednesday was the four-month anniversary of my fall and broken neck.  I was released from physical therapy two weeks ago and have been doing a little light yoga here at home.  I know I need an instructor since mine moved back to PA but when I looked online, I discovered that there are a ton of yoga studios.  I selected one, partly based on location and parking, and went for a self-study session Wednesday morning.  Time got away from me and the next thing I knew I had spent an hour.

I  felt great when I left, but when I woke up yesterday morning, every muscle complained.  And here's the irony.  On the list of classes, the self-study class is entitled "Mysore."  And howdy!  It's obnoxious but at the same time it's a wholesome kind of pain - it says I'm on the path to recovery.  And last night I slept clear through for the first time.  That more than anything says I'm doing the right thing.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taking Care of Business

A scarf weaves up pretty quickly when it's woven so loosely.  Half of the time invested is in blending the fiber and spinning it.  I tried to weave the weft a little more tightly but I seem to have found a groove.  At least I was able to keep it standard this time.
And here it is finished.  I could not be more pleased!
This is the next handspun yarn that I'll use for a warp.  I made it so long ago that I can't remember anything about it.  I think the colorful part is silk that I won in a raffle and the black I plied it with is alpaca - not sure.  
I wanted to clean off the loom and warp it for the next dishtowels.  Maddie dragged all of this waste to the front of the loom and then was protective and resentful while I was removing it.  She made a big mess and she has claws.
 I really need to pay attention to the spinning challenge for the Conference of Northern California Handweavers guild in May.  The deadline to return the skeins is looming and my enthusiasm just isn't there. The chartreuse, pink, blue and black are the base fibers, 2 ounces altogether, and they don't enthuse me.  We're challenged to spin them and return the yarn.  The second phase comes next year when we use the yarn in a project where it is the predominant feature.  I'm adding mohair locks, silk noil and undyed Cormo.
 I have a Patrick Green Deb Deluxe drum carder which is for blending fibers.  It's not so good at making art batts.  I probably was a little over obsessive to make all the blends the same but after all, I am submitting it to be judged.
While I had everything out and the kitchen covered, I made a second set of batts for me.

Melissa left three of these with me last summer.  There's no label so I decided to do a burn test to see how much of it is synthetic.  It's a good thing I did it in the sink because it went up like a torch.  All cotton!  Cotton and linen are the most flammable of yarns.
I've been knitting on this pullover but I realized that if two of those skeins got me this much sweater, and I still have some left, that I probably can make a sleeveless shell for summer with the third one. I'm going to cast on this afternoon so I can knit on it while I listen to the president's address tonight.
Maddie loves little things she can carry around so stole an end of a 8/4 cotton warp spool and this his what she did with it.  Think she can blame the dog?
Today was about paying bills and filing paid bills.  But there's no more space and there was no way around it.  It was time to shred the stack of past payments that I've shoved into the secretary, to the point that I no longer can close the door.  And then I came across medical statements that needed to go in the filing box upstairs, but it's heaped because there's no more room.  Three hours after I started this whole thing, I had made another bankers box and split up the files.  I came across this and had to smile.  Mother had cut this from the newspaper and this taped to the wall in her kitchen.  Across the top she had printed, Reno Gazette Journal, September 29, 2985.  Yup, that's me running the Journal Jog in a wedding dress.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finally - Some Towels

I finally finished the first towels this year and certainly since my accident.  I was really rusty and made enough mistakes in the threading and sleying that I had to cut off the warp to fix them and lost one towel in the process.  This is the "bad" towel and probably I could have continued but it bothered me.  I still love my mini-mangle.  What took an hour with a steam iron can be done in a matter of minutes with it.  You can see the difference, done in about three seconds.  A whole towel is finished in less than one minute.
I still am in love with this draft - seven different towels from one warp!  So pretty.
I've picked out these colors for the next set.  They make me think of spring flowers and after over two weeks of morning temps below 20, I'm thinking about spring.  I'll do two more sets so I have some inventory and then I'll try something else - finally.
This is how my last scarf turned out.  I like the pattern very much and will use it again.  The warp was three-ply and made the scarf heavier than I would have liked.  I won't use a three-ply handspun yarn again.  Now I know.
I finished spinning the batts I recently blended and plyed the yarn with 60/2 silk.  Currently that's my favorite preparation for spinning a warp yarn.  The only Tencel I have is this deep purple and I think it will dominate the warp.  I do have 8/2 cotton in lavender but I think I'll hold off on weaving this until I place another order with Webs and then I'll get a lavender Tencel.
So the next scarf will be from these two yarns.  I still have a lot of skeins to experiment so holding off on the last one I spun isn't a big deal.
I finished winding both warps today with the assistance of my willing helper.  She loves my studio, which is why when I'm not in it, the door is closed.  She loves it very much.

We still haven't had any weather and the Sierras are now brown - in January!  I've never seen it like this in all the years I've lived here.  I'm trying not to obsess since there's nothing I can do about the weather, but thinking about this upcoming fire season is giving me (more) gray hairs. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Scarf Boot Camp

In my quest for interesting handspun yarn for warp, I blended together a couple of batts on my drum carder.  I sampled them on my wheel but they're just too neon for my taste.
I carded up some white Cormo with undyed silk noil and blended it with the bright stuff, 50/50.  Partly I was experimenting.  The bright roving in the bag on the left is part of a program for the Conference of Northern California Handweavers called Return to Sender.  I had forgotten all about it but I signed up and paid in September.  Rae Stuart has been holding it for me ever since.  I stopped by Tuesday and picked it up on  my way to town.  My first comment was - Ugly!  Rae shrugged and said - or you don't have to do it.  I'm going to try to blend it into something else.  Last night Madeline found the bag, pulled out two bumps and mauled them badly.  She made the choice for me.
I went over to Mim's yesterday to buy eight ounces of BFL/silk roving.  This is her new puppy that she recently bought to replace her beloved JoBeth.  Her favorite toy is the toilet brush.  Guess what else Madeline found last night - my bump from Mim!  I can still dye it and it should turn out okay.  I think pulling the other wool out of the bag caused her to lose interest in my roving.  Boy did I learn a lot this morning.
I finished another scarf with handspun warp.  This was spun from a Cottage Creation batt that I bought from Sue Flynn at Spindle Camp a couple years ago.  It was only 6" wide in the reed because that's all the yarn I had.  The weft is an undyed rayon/silk 20/2 and perfect for keeping the texture of the warp.
It turned out great and in spite of the wool warp, it's not scratchy on my neck.  Again, the sett is the same - 8 epi and 10 ppi.  It requires crazy batts to make a yarn like this and I either have to buy them, invest in a different drum carder or just do something else.
I'm going through old balls of handspun, one at a time as I experiment with scarves.  I'm calling this experience my scarf boot camp.  I dyed this silk and then Navajo plied it.  I'm not sure what happened because it's not shiny.  It's either use it or throw it away.
The weft is a bronze 8/2 Tencel, not quite a color in the warp chains but it's what I have.  That's the way we do it in boot camp. Use it or lose it.
This is the beginning.  I'm using a point twill from Anne Dixon's book, p.90.  I used it before but didn't see the note for repeats of the pattern.  It's much nicer done according to the pattern, though I have a hard time keeping track of where I am and it's hard to beat consistent.  I set it at 12 epi and have no idea what the ppi is, though I'm going to measure it soon - any day now.
This is the photo I took this morning.  You can see that I'm having a hard time keeping an even beat.  I don't know if some of this will clear up when it's washed and finished.  I've never done this before so it's just part of the curriculum.  I've had to back off on my studio time.  I'm enforcing two hours and even that might be too much.  I'm still weaving towels on my big Bertha, almost done.  What that has done for my shoulders is immeasurable.  Six weeks ago I could hardly pull off a t-shirt, but now that's just another bad memory.  Now I'm all about building good ones.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making Pretty

I knit up a pullover sweater last year from Cascade 220 and I never wore it one time.   I decided that the perfect solution to this sweater is to pull it out and start over.  I tried to sample it all krinkly like this and couldn't get an even measurement.  It was an ambitious endeavor but it's washed and reskeined, which wasn't easy since Maddie wanted to help me.
I keep forgetting to show off the scissors that my sister-in-law Rochelle gave me for Christmas.  One snip and the warp was cut and ready to twist.  I didn't even know scissors came in this size.
I have obsessed for a year about whether or not art yarn could be used as warp.  The conventional wisdom seemed to be that it was just too friable to withstand the abrasion against the heddle eyes.  I'm here to tell you this scarf wove up without a hitch.  I had *no* abrasion.  The sett is 8 epi and 10 ppi. It's all rayon so drapey and soft, like the faux silk that it is.

This is the same yarn I used for the scarf I gave to Alexia on Christmas Eve.  If you go back two posts you will see how stripey it was and also how wonky it made the selvedges.  I like the stripes to be horizontal, as in this scarf, not Lu's.  I wasn't pleased with it then but I'm thrilled with the yarn now.
This is the first art yarn I ever spun and I did a horrible job, but it has a silk binder which should give it some stability.  I've decided to weave it exactly as I did the rayon.  It's the only way I'll know if my handspun art yarn can be adapted to weaving.  I spun this from a Cottage Creations bat that I bought from Sue Flynn a couple years ago at Spindle Camp.  So now I'm excited about making my own crazy bats and spinning them.  I had ordered Spin Art Jacey Bogg's book on spinning art yarns which arrived when I was in the hospital.  I haven't even opened it but I'm started to get excited about possibilities.  It's time to check out the book.

I walked the dogs about midday today, and no, we didn't get another dog.  Our neighbor's puppy has taken to tagging along.  It warmed up today and was really pleasant because a storm is supposed to come in tonight. That would be fantastic since we've just had the driest water year on record and two ski resorts have closed.  The remaining are making their own snow.  Skier's have a bumper sticker - Pray for Snow!.  Given the wildfire risk, that's exactly what I'm doing!

How to make a bed with a cat:  1) Extricate cat from sheets; 2) Remove cat from room; 3) Close door from outside; 4) Go back later.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Back in the Saddle

The surgery Monday went off without a hitch and I had the stints removed from my nose on Thursday.  How he got those 3" pieces into my nose and stitched them there defies logic.  I was so anxious to move on and leave 2013 in the dust that I stopped the Vicodin cold turkey after taking it before bedtime, ever since I got home from the hospital.  I've lost my appetite and consequently weight since my fall, but I wasn't prepared for the nausea that came with the withdrawals.  It's behind me now and I'm hoping to relish eating soon.  Ian bought pizza for the San Francisco 49ers game yesterday and I fought him for the last piece.  In the past I could only eat one piece.
I had a setback in my car knitting.and I did it right at the start.  I'm just about at the same point having ripped and reknit but now I'm released to drive myself to physical therapy.  Also, I've decided to end my sessions tomorrow.  I've reintroduced yoga into my day to increase flexibility in my neck and it doesn't cost me a thing!
I've also gone back to my morning routine of spinning and coffee with my SAD light for a half hour.  Maddie has discovered that she can create action on my wheel by playing with the treadles.  She's such a helper.
After walking the dogs this morning, I went back upstairs to finish weaving this towel.  I figured I'd correct the error in between towels and start the next one.  The third stripe from the right is too narrow.  I posted this picture of a Facebook group called 4-Shaft Weaving when I realized that what I had done was put four threads in one dent instead of two.  The consensus of the advice was to cut it off, resley, tie back on and then weave the next eight towels.
My biggest problem with Maddie in the studio is that she chews on my packing material, which in this case is contractor's paper.  She can ruin it in no time at all so I have a squirt bottle to discourage her from doing that.  She got pretty wet today.
I really needed to have a positive weaving experience
so I put this slubby rayon warp on Maudie Mae and sampled it with 8/2 pink tencel.  I've worried for close to year about using art yarn as warp.  One way or the other, now I'll know.
I'm using a wide open weave so the scarf is all about the warp.  I wanted so much to keep going but I'd been at it for almot three hours - time to stop.
I took one last look at the towel and realized that there's also a threading error close to the left selvedge.  If you click for big, you'll see the sliver of orange.  I know what I'll be doing on Wednesday.
I selected the colors and wound the warp last September.  At the time I thought they looked like fiesta colors but now I'm not so sure.
All in all, it was a productive day in the studio.  Maddie and I are satisfied and tired.