Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting Excited

We had a much different group at our guild weaving outreach this year, and if you're interested, you can read about it here.  Last year was predominantly older women but this year the response was from families with young children.  This boy's dad (in the blue shirt) is at the loom in the background.  Of course, we did have very stiff competition from the most beautiful Saturday we've had yet this year.
Alexia and I wove a little tapestry on one of the cardboard looms last week so she could assist at that table, which draws a lot of interest from kids.  Virva had helped her rewarp her old cardboard loom and so she started on another project in between helping.  DD Chris sent me a picture of the project she finished after she got home.  She has rya knots down pat!

She worked hard and stayed focused the whole time, helping managing yarn ends and then removing projects from the looms and getting them tied off. By the time her mommy came to pick her up, she was utterly exhausted.  I was proud of my little ten-year-old helper.
The next day she sent me  this picture.  She had warped her loom on her own and started another project, this time incorporating a technique we saw on one of the YouTube videos we watched together.  It seems that one of those we reached out to was my very own granddaughter.

I wanted to get her a loom of her own and I kept thinking in terms of a rigid heddle loom,when it struck me that what she likes is the free-form creativity of the tapestry style of weaving.  I found this on Amazon, ordered it and it will be here tomorrow.  Alexia is on spring break so I'll take it to her on Friday and we'll get her started on something with a little more versatility.  I'm going to have to learn right along with her if I'm going to give her any help.
And while I'm on the subject of workshops, I learned something the hard way.  Is there any other way??!  I lash my warp onto the front apron rod which works fine for my floor looms because they're under tension.  It does not work fine for a folding loom because once the tension is lost, the lashed-on cord slides all over the place.  I'm going to have a mess here on my hands, getting this ready for the student to use next month in our learn-to-weave class.  I won't do this again!
I'm under the gun to get these towels finished so I can submit them to the Handwoven contest.  Yes, my towels were accepted but they were from a four yard sampler where no two towels are the same, even the same size for that matter.  I would never have submitted them had Sarah Jackson not invited me. I wound most of the warp yesterday, dressed the loom this morning and have begun to weave them as the towel I liked the best according to my notes.  There are only four towels so I hope to pull them off the loom tomorrow afternoon.  I need to get them washed and ready to hem since I'll have to stitch the hems by hand.
These are the cones I'm using on this set.  It takes me a while to pick my colors and then I leave them sit around like this for a couple of days while I play around with the pairing, because this draft is worked in pairs of colors.
 I was absolutely giddy this morning when I warped up and got to see how successful the colors are together,

I'm playing around with the idea of some "serape"colors.  I'm on the fence because I know a bright yellow is required and I only have butter yellow.  Buying a single cone of yarn plus shipping is nothing to sneeze at.  I'll leave these here and look at them over the next week.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Break a Leg!

This wildly variegated silk is one of the eight or so skeins I bought from the Yarn Barn mill ends club several months ago.  After being so excited about ordering the cones, I realized that I have no idea what to do with them, with any of them.  I decided to take a break from towels and experiment. To go with the silk I chose this purple 8/2 Tencel as weft.

I used the formula from Peggy Osterkamp's book to calculate yards per pound, and at 1850 yards per pound, calculated that the maximum twill would be 22 ends per inch, so I set the scarf at 18 epi.  It's a 2 1/2 yard warp, 6" wide.
I just not pleased with the results.  For one thing, I realize that I prefer a wider scarf.  I have a whole cone of this stuff, so wound another warp, this time 3 yards long and 8" wide.
I decided to go with a neutral weft and realized that I was losing the colorful warp so tried black. And it was time to unweave.  Black it is.
Everyone has a way they like to leave room for fringe and get a nice firm and even line for hemstitching.  I just watched Tom Knisely's DVD again and he has his way.  This is mine.
And once the hem stitching is done, I pull out the blind slats and the area for fringe is preserved.  Now I'm cooking with gas.

The information that Yarn Barn supplied with their samples said that this yarn is great for weaving, knitting or crocheting, so I knitted up a quick swatch.  It was transformed when I washed it to a lovely drapey fabric so I decided to cast on a sweater and knit the rest of the cone.  Now I'm looking at the other cones I bought from the mill ends club as possible knitting yarns. Maybe my knitting dry spell is ending.
I'm having a hard time with Maddie's attraction to my packing paper.  It's her favorite place in the studio.  She loves to lay in it and she loves to shred it with her claws.  And when I have a weighted thread, I live in dread that she'll tear it off, though so far she just gently bats at it and watches it swing.
By the time I had finished weaving this morning, this is what she had turned my paper into.  It's going to be a matter of me training me to put the paper on top of the loom when I'm not working.
I have my Dorset studio loom warped and ready for the outreach tomorrow.  I bungied it to the dolly upstairs and brought it down that way and have left it lashed to the loom so I can just wheel it out of the car when we get there tomorrow.  The car is loaded and I'll pick up granddaughter Alexia about 10:15 so we'll have time to stop for sub sandwiches on our way.  I hope the outreach is successful in attracting people who are interested in learning to weave - break a leg!

And great news this afternoon.  I got an email from Handwoven magazine informing me that one of my submissions, the mission-style towels, has been accepted as a semi-finalist to their contest.  The next step is to put them in the mail.  Break a leg!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Still Sampling

I am following the instructions from the Iowa Weaver's blog.  She gives directions for both a single shuttle and for two shuttles.  I'm pleased with the window pane effect I'm getting from a single shuttle but this is a 4-yard sampler and I'm planning to try four things.
I told Melissa that I just can't see two weave on Maudie Mae when it's cloudy and she said - why don't you order an Ott light?  So I ordered one from Amazon that came two days later, free shipping.  Maddie didn't care about the light but loved the box.
The light is made by Verilux and I chose the one with the most high ratings.  The gooseneck feature is fantastic.  I get light where I need it but the base sets the stand aside so I don't run into it with my shuttle.  I've needed this for years and I'm glad to have it now.
And it's allowing me to warp my studio loom on the poorly lighted balcony for our weaving outreach this Saturday.  I reread Chandler's instructions on warping from the back and was very careful to follow every step.  I learned from last year that it's an uncomfortable reach to thread the heddles from the back.  This is going pretty well and having great light is a deal maker.
Because I ordinarily warp from the front holding the cross in my hand, I don't use lease sticks.  But after watching Tom Kniseley's DVD I know I'm going to and so I bought two of these rings that he recommended to hold them together.  What a great tip.  It's literally a snap.
And because my Dorset is shorter, I started to lower my piano stool.  After lowering one side I realized that I had inadvertently turned it into a weaving stool, higher in the back and lower in the front.  I removed the reed and am pleased with how much easier it to is thread the heddles from the front.  I'd heard that some looms decide for themselves if they will be warped from the front or back, and this is one that decided it must be warped from the back.
I've finished my samples.
When they're flat and open, I think they look fantastic.
But I fold my towels in half in the kitchen, and when I do that, the pattern gets lost.  I'll go back to six blocks instead of five.  The towel on the left is the one two shuttles and my least favorite, which is good news to me since it was tedious and fiddly. 

I have a 7" two-yard warp on Maudie Mae right now set at 30 ends per inch.  I want to settle for myself whether that's the preferable sett as Marg Coe steadfastly maintains.  I hope not since it would take a lot more yarn and require me to raise the price of my towels.  I'm anxious to have this resolved but can't until I get the studio loom warped and ready to go.  It's getting a four-yard warp because after the outreach, it will be used by a student in our guild's learn-to-weave workshop.  We warp looms for the students so their first experience is weaving.  The following workshop session is teaching them to warp a loom for themselves.  That way we set the hook before they have to roll up their sleeves and go to work.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What a Nice Surprise

I just could not stop weaving on these and you can see why.  I was even planing the next sampler warp before I had even finished this one!
This was completely experimental, though most of the trial and error is in the warp so once it's on, the only choices left to me are weft color changes.  I love these.  I even like that the stripes and boxes aren't the same which is surprising for this Libra weaver.
These are the next colors I've chosen.  I'm going to pair the two partial cones of greens and blues together and see if I can use them up.  More space on the shelf for me!
This is what it looks like so far.  I've had to stop and get my head around which harness and which treadles raise which threads.  I hope I understood it correctly and I hope it looks like what I have planned.  The colors remind me of the shag rug in my bedroom growing up.  I thought it was beautiful - then.
Alexia spent the night Saturday while her parents spent the night at the Lake.  She wants to be a volunteer again at the guild weaving outreach in two weeks but neither of us knew how to weave on a cardboard loom, which is what she will be helping with.
We watched several YouTube videos and with Alexia's basic understanding of weaving from using my floor loom, she was well on her way.
We finished her's up as a wall hanging and it's adorable.
I had Christina take a couple of pictures of us when she picked Alexia up.  It's been a while since she's spent the night and it's been a while since I've had my photo taken with her.  She's getting tall!!  And grown up!!!!
I posted a picture of these towels to the 4-Shaft Weaving Facebook page sometime last week.  It's a group developed for learning weavers and I think turned taquete is the perfect draft to make a new weaver feel competent and happy.  I've posted towels from this draft several times so was very surprised when I got a message Friday night from an editor at Handwoven Magazine, asking me if I'd be interested in submitting these to their home textile contest.  She provided me her email and asked me to send her some photors, then emailed me the contest link.

Saturday morning before I went to book club, I spent about an hour taking photos outside.  It's overcast and the indoor available light isn't available.  This is one of the pictures I took, though it's not one I sent.  I ended up making two entries to the contest after Alexia went to bed.  The deadline is this Friday and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss it.  I subscribed to the magazine last month but haven't received my first issue.  I doubt I would have entered the contest anyway, even if I had the magazine.  I just don't do stuff like that.  I'm flattered to death however.  The editor and I have since exchanged a couple more emails.  It turns out that we have a mutual friend and read a lot of the same books - my other favorite thing besides weaving.  What a nice surprise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Trying New Things

Monday was so pretty that I finished up weaving after lunch and went outside to read.  Usually by this time of day the wind has come up, but it was perfect - or not, considering it's March.
I have wanted to weave blocks of color using turned taquete since Marie Houk posted about them last year in the Facebook group, 4-Shaft Weaving.  The hold-up was that I needed to order yarn but shipping is so expensive that I refrained until I knew exactly what I wanted to order.  Now I'm ready and these are the six colors I've selected.

I got nervous, feeling that there wasn't enough variation between the colors so wound a section of warp using two lighter colors - big mistake.  I knew instantly when I stepped back to evaluate my selections that it was wrong.  The offending section is in the trash and fortunately it's only a four-yarn warp.
I wove the first towel in gold.  I don't know why with all the brilliant jewel tones I would have picked the meekest color and I don't like it.  I'm much happier with the strawberry in the second towel.  This is completely experimental.  I'm figuring out what I'm doing as I go along.  They're going to be smaller than I like so I'll revisit the size of the blocks on the next set.  The squares are 2" and the strips are 1/2" and maybe I'll just make the blocks 2.25" next time so I can make the towels wider and longer.
I'm weaving a couple more huck-lace scarves on Arthur, this time in 8/2 Tencel.  Changing tie-up is no fun so I've decided to use this tie-up again and some more.  It's really so much prettier in the 16/2 bamboo that I'll do that again too.  I find huck lace is really easy to weave and keep track of where I am.  I'll have to order the yarn so I'm trying to think of something - anything - I might need to knock down the price of shipping for one small tube of yarn.
Nothing pleases Maddie more than when I stop doing stuff and start reading because she's a bibliocat.  We like our afternoon ritual.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Getting It On

Excuse me while I blather on about how amazing our guild is becoming.  At the February meeting it was reported that we had 13 new members from last year.  The attendance at Wednesday's meeting was double any we've ever had and it was only a business meeting followed by study group reports.  Between the outreach last March and the launch of our blog last September, we are generating interest and excitement.  We have always been a weaving guild but Victoria said she doesn't want to weave but doesn't want to leave the guild either, would we consider a non-loom study group?  So in September that group launched as off-loom bead weaving and what they showed at the study group reports was jaw dropping.  Keep in mind that Karen Huntoon is a member of that group so the bar is set very high.  Victoria is a collector of found objects and this is how she incorporated them with beads.  She calls the collection Artifacts.  The bottom center artifact is simply torn cardboard, only not so simple. And that's where I see the distinction - Victoria is an artist, I am an artisan.

And about me - I finished my recent towels, again using colors I find in Fiesta Ware pottery, though after my wrist slap for naming them that and then listing them on Etsy, I'm going to come up with a new name.  I am thinking about closing my Etsy shop anyway.  Something about them offering an IPO and going public turns it into a business, and I'm not a business - I am a hobbyist.

Our guild is a member of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers, CNCH, or cinch as some pronounce it.  CNCH came up with a new idea to incorporate handspinners last year called "Return to Sender" and I signed up.  I bought the packet of four hand-dyed rovings, I think it was 2 ounces of wool.  We could buy more than one packet or add 50% of our own material to supplement, which is the avenue I chose.  I started on the scarf, which weaves quickly at 8 ends per inch, after I finished the towels.  I'm waiting on a yarn order for more towels but this time I'm going to weave the blocks I have seen on Iowa Weaver's blog.

Meanwhile I've wound another warp for the 8-shaft huck lace, this time in 8/2 tencel, set at 20 epi.  Huck is an unbelievably easy pattern to thread.  I was ambitious with the last scarf at 30 epi and have decided to take a step back.  Maybe I'll try that again later, we'll see.
 What, me naughty??  Maddie was laying on my feet while I threaded the crimson warp, but when she wouldn't stop chewing on my ankle, she got banished to the other side of the room.
And I finished the Return to Sender scarf after lunch, ready to return to sender, i.e., CNCH.
I've been waiting for the Brown truck all day and while I was typing away here, Ian saw that he had come and gone - Christmas!!!!!
I bought this on the recommendation of Cindie Kitchens who has been a wonderful help to me as I struggle to learn this craft.  I'm excited about eight shafts but didn't want to copy patterns from Handwoven magazine.  Right now, my 8-shaft loom is all tied up.  HeHe - weaving joke :)
 The large box held ten cones of 8/2 cotton from Webs.  I love Web's bright crisp colors though I'm questioning what I must have been thinking the day I ordered these - all the greens and blues.  I find that UKI has a warmer palette but I ordered quite a lot of it last year which might be why these cones by themselves and not in my "8/2 cotton library" seem so bright.  I wrote out a color chart for my next towels but that will have to wait until tomorrow.