Thursday, September 25, 2014

The State I'm In

Can you see my mistake?

How about now?

It was relatively easy to undo the bundles since I had used Texsolv for tie-up. I just popped out the plastic pin, pulled the Texsolv out of the last two bundles, and had the thread free to fix the threading error.
The threading error was a little more complicated. I held up the harness with a cone of yarn so I could insert a string heddle (in orange) on the second harness. I had threaded two heddles on the third harness. People comment to me that they've always wanted to learn to weave and I'll bet this is not the image they have in their heads.
I have warp for four scarves and until they're finished, they look like medical gauze. I'll dye them with acid dyes (for animal fibers) which means the rayon which is plant based doesn't take up the acid dye like the silk noil. It comes out looking like I watercolor painted the scarves with the bright pops of color from the silk. Weaving is not for people who require instant gratification.
I took my bins of fiber down to the kitchen while was fixing the warp. I didn't want to forget that I need to pick out fibers to blend into batts for spinning. Mim is letting me use her super-carder which is electric and holds a lot more fiber than my Deb Deluxe. I came down to find that Maddie had already been here and she has expensive taste. The only fiber she trashed was the camel, the finest fiber I own.

I pulled everything out of my bins and starting throwing stuff together and weighing it; 3-4 ounces is sufficient for a scarf.
These are the bright blends that I came home with, based on some felted silk I got from Rae Stuart.

These batts will make two scarves. I've already made two, one for me and one I sold. The scarves will look like granite when I'm done.
This is as far as I've gotten on my towel warp. I have a lot of things going on over the next five days so hope I'll be able to weave a little now and then since I've gotten this far.
We went in for my MRI this morning and I was such a nervous wreck. The last three I've had were in narrow dark tubes, the last one being sheer torture, dark, confining and noisy. My doctor gave me a Xanax for today which really relaxed me. I was stunned to see that device of torture is no longer used. It's now bright, white, short and open. My x-ray tech had an MRI of his back so his head was out of the top of the scanner and he said he just watched the trees.
It turns out that I didn't need the Xanax at all. We went to lunch afterwards and I was really a little too relaxed, but we went to Macy's to shop for New York after that and I came right to life. I'll see my doctor on Tuesday and we leave the following Tuesday.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Just Another Day in Paradise

We were trapped in the house for about four days with the smoke from the King fire 100 miles to the southwest of us. During that period listed our area as the most toxic air in the US, thanks to atmospheric conditions. The arsonist has been arrested but meanwhile, the fire is only 10% contained and Desolation Wilderness, on the west side of Lake Tahoe, is threatened and closed to hikers. There are so many fires every year with the unrelenting drought that I wonder that anything is left to burn. Our air is better now but the fire is over 80,000 acres with nearly 5,000 firefighters. They've divided it into two zones, sharing air power, trying to establish a perimeter.
This is my second painted warp and instead of a high contrast weft, I chose to monochromatic one. I talked to Laura about it, worried that the pattern would disappear. She said I should try it, that it will be subtle but could be quite elegant.
I was disappointed at first after I finished it. The weft did disappear but I realize that the warp that I worked so hard to paint is the star on this scarf.
Here are both painted warp scarves from the same draft and they are very different. I got excited and went out into the garage to set up for more scarves, but it was just too smokey. I'll have to wait and boy do I hate to wait when I decide to do something.
I'm weaving a couple more log cabin baby towels on my 40" loom and really not loving the two-shuttle shuffle. I realized once I got started that I didn't like it last time either but love how soft they are when they're finished. I need to buckle down and finish these to clear the loom. Why?
Because this just came in the mail. It's Texsolv tie-up so I can finally use the other four harnesses. I realized while weaving these last two scarves how much I limit myself on drafts with only four harnesses. It's time to push myself a little more and I'm ready for the challenge.
And what is this you might wonder. It's a very odd two-dimensional courier bag, just big enough for my iPad, phone, credit cards and cash. I plan to use it on the subway as it's pretty pickpocket proof. It's hard to believe but we'll be in Manhattan in just 2 1/2 weeks. We planned this trip to celebrate my recovery.
It will be a year since I broke my neck on Monday the 29th and I'm having lunch with my daughter that day. I'm not cleared by my neurosurgeon yet, have some unfinished business there. This Thursday I'm scheduled for a 45-minute MRI (groan) but we're going shopping at Macy's after for trip clothes. I see my doctor on the 30th and we'll talk about further treatment options. The bad news is that the movement in my neck hasn't improved in six months; the good news is he has plans to improve that.
Just another day in paradise? That's the motto of our property owners association: Rancho Haven - just another day in paradise :)

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.