Friday, June 16, 2017

A Short (Weaving) Public Service Announcement

Just a shortie post today....

Can you see it?   The faded portions on this cone of 8/2 cotton.  This will serve as a horrible warning that no matter how appealing a convenient window ledge is in your busy studio, don't leave your yarn sitting there.  This was just a week sitting there with the sun not shifting to this side of the house until 3 pm or so, plus a generous eave overhang  on the house.

So what does hanging laundry to dry outside do?    Whites only from now on!   I have a clothes drying rack that I can tuck well back under cover.

Still busy around house and studio but I've been a bit distracted in the past few days by a broken molar. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when you feel something in your mouth 'let go'. Seems I'm going to get my very first crown next week, and I'm getting to know my new dentist quite well.          😳💉

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Long Time Coming

My title says it all for this post!  Time has just slipped away on me and we find ourselves rather busy around house, yard and new town. When we moved in October 1st, we went straight into months of rain and snow and so much was left 'as is'.  So there has been much wrangling of stuff in the garage, garden sheds resulting in yet more stuff to donate, sell, or dispose of.  I have embarked on some deep cleaning projects such as windows (with walls and doors to come). Working away in and around the frames with my handy dandy tooth brush brings out dirt, debris (such as dead bug bits) and bring back the inner frames back to the white vinyl and clean screens too. They are so much easier to open now! 

Anyway.... you get the idea of what's been happening around here.  We have had delightful tea breaks with our new neighbours on the west side of us and got to know them better. They moved in just a couple of months ahead of us.  Also taking some days off entirely  to drive around and get to know the area better. Sometimes just sitting watching the waves roll in at the beach.

Your reward for being patient ( hopefully you haven't given up on me entirely) is the beauty shot right at the start.   This is the second shawl off the 10/2 white tencel warp, and same little 12 shaft point twill pattern.   This time I used a 55% / 45% silk yak blend from Treenway Silks as my weft. Its a 30/2 in size so quite fine.  It has the loveliest silvery-beige natural colour and picked out the pattern nicely but not loudly.  

Its a chameleon as the light changes, so does the colour!

I watched my friend Gudrun sit and sketch this draft out quickly. All the pattern is in the tie up, so its easy threading and treadling.

It has a lovely drape and is as soft as a cloud.  I decided to add some seed beads and tiny pearl accents along the fell lines.  The fresh water pearls are 2-2.5 mm in length, all with perfect tiny holes right through.    I buy them from this Etsy shop.

As I worked at twisting the (seemingly never ending) fringe and later hand sewing on the beads / pearls, I came to realize that I simply could not sell this shawl.  I'm going to keep it.  I have nothing suitable to wear with it, and not sure where I would wear it, but I'm ready if the  event comes up in my social calendar!   My next realization is that in 20+ years of weaving I have only kept a cream silk M's and O's scarf for me..... and a whole lot of seconds for kitchen towels and table runners for the home. But they were for the household and not me per say. 

Long time coming, and I'm not entirely sure why that is.   (hey, that's a rhetorical question!)

So, normally I have my standard loom waste allowance,  a few inches for samples and another allowance for take up.... plus the  lengths of the items to be woven and it all works out fine.   So imagine my surprise when I wound the shawl onto the cloth beam, including its fringe allotment. and could see and feel there was much more warp on the warp beam!  So no samples this time and lets see if I can get a nice table square!  I chose a light silver 10/2 tencel as its fairly neutral for any decor and should weave up 50/50 (or close to it).  

I end up with a 22 inch by 37 inch table runner and three inch (more never ending) twisted fringe!  I must say it did take me longer to do this fringe because although the turns were less and all the steps the same.... it was fiddly and awkward and some days I just didn't have the patience for it. Finally I just wanted my desk back and got it done and dusted!    Another long time coming....

As an aside,  our house plants love all the light and sunshine in this house and all are growing well.  So imagine my surprise when my little hoya plant gifted to me by my late friend Gudrun in 2013 when we visited  *finally* produced flower buds on all its few little stems!   It produces a light fragrance that smells like you could eat it and its stronger at night.

This is the first bunch to open up. The flower clusters hang face down so you only see the tops of the heads but underneath they are so pretty!

So what's ahead?  Well, in the pictures above you probably noticed the teal warp on the loom. That's for two scarves in this same pattern  and then as you can imagine, I will be thoroughly sick and tired of this draft. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) I'm well into weaving scarf number two. Then time to move on to something new.   I have two client commissions to weave so one of those will be next.  Time to get the warping mill busy.

More deep cleaning jobs and ongoing gardening as well.....   good thing we're retired!  😳

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Get me to the Church on Time!

It was back in mid February when I was beaming the Lusekofte warp that I got a message from Jeanne, a weaver and fellow "Warped Weaver"  group member from Ravelry.  She wanted to know if I would weave a shawl for her?   She had no less than three weddings to attend, starting in May.

Initially it was about 60/2 silk in a soft lavender colour..... but I thought it was too pale for the strong colours in her dress that she had purchased.  I also have only woven with 60/2 silk once before and it had not gone well. The warp and weft threads 'fused' with each other and unweaving was a nightmare.  I suggested something more neutral that could be worn with any dress she chooses for the weddings and not tied to any one outfit.  So we settled on 10/2 undyed tencel as warp (sett of 28 epi) and I just happened to have 200 grams of this yummy 30/2 silk. Its a lovely creamy white which is rare nowadays as most coming from India is quite yellow.  It had been a very generous gift from a friend some years ago. Where she got it from, I have no idea!

So, while I wound the 702 ends of tencel for the warp, I also wound the silk skeins into cakes. Then the thought crossed my mind: "would it be enough?"

The warp winding was endlessly going on while I was weaving the lusekofte shawls.

I discovered that I only had one cone of 10/2 undyed tencel and so was hoping it would be enough!  Meanwhile I  quickly ordered some more.... 
I could have sworn I had two pounds last time I looked.

Each bundle represents 100 ends, all 7.5 yards long, with one last bout still being wound on the mill.   I'm going to make two shawls, with long fine fringes and, of course some samples.

Yes, that's the tapestry loom and yes, its still empty. Well it does hold my pre-wound warps and such quite nicely.  It was bought just a couple of weeks ahead of my knee operation and then when I was feeling better we decided to sell the house and move. That took a big chunk out of last year!  Then when we finally got unpacked and settled I found my Etsy shop stock situation was low, so priorities has been on floor loom weaving for now.   Its day will come!

There is something so mesmerizing about a warp ready to be beamed. The orderliness of the threads....

I must say that I love the Louet method of beaming warps.  I know that every type of  loom has its particular steps and there's a routine for each. These  Louet looms make it an simple job to do. The only 'rub' can be when the threads themselves misbehave such as sticky yarns but for most smooth yarns, its straightforward.

I have it all set up to beam once I get Bruce's assistance.  He adds the paper and turns the back beam while I tension the warp and keep order at the front.   As you can see I simply coil the warps into rounds side by side on a plastic  lid from a bin (to keep it from tangling with treadles).  Mind you I don't have cats, kids or other people wandering through my space.   If you were my student, I would tell you to chain the warp!  😊

I timed the beaming and it took fifteen minutes for the two of us to wind on 7.5 yards.  The tencel just glides through and all went smoothly.

Threading is a few straight runs on either edge for a border and in between its all a twelve shaft point twill. All the pattern is in the tie up!   I have used this draft twice before but this time I took out the network twill section. My client Jeanne preferred the small over all pattern and I must say she was quite right.... but I'm getting ahead of myself now.

One pattern repeat  at a time and eventually you get to the end, no matter how many ends!

There is a line over to the left but its not an error. I checked threading and sleying and its fine. Its where three ends through the reed coincide with a portion of the pattern and it concentrates the ends together.  Its distracting as heck!

The spring loom tucked into the alcove. The weaving went fine and soon I was cutting the shawl off and then re-tying on to get the second shawl ready to weave off. 

The fringe twisting took a fair amount of time as I wanted a fine fringe (four ends plied to four ends.... over 702 plus two floating selvedges, times 2 !)   I used my usual method of the fringing board

It was late when I finally finished and called it a day.   I use a double fringe twister with four clips but it still takes time.  I count the turns in either direction.

The shawl looked lovely but it needed a little something 'extra', so I dug through my bead collection and came up with two types of creamy white seed beads and tiny grain of rice sized fresh water pearls.  I have one uber fine beading needle and I use a good quality cotton thread (used by quilters).   I must confess that I got out my large size pick lens and used it to thread the eye.  I need new lens in my progressives apparently!   I added grouping between the fringe bouts and so they are visible no matter which way the shawl is facing.  They add a little bit of sparkle and some people may not even notice they are there when its being worn..... but the wearer knows and it adds to the pleasure.

There is a colour difference in the containers, but it disappears on the shawl!  I gently hand washed the shawl and then draped over a towel on a clothes rack to dry over night.  I carefully pressed both sides firmly to set the threads and pattern and trimmed up the tassels with a rotary cutter.   Time for the glamour shots!  The sun popped out briefly one day for roughly twenty minutes but I was ready!

Taken in our early spring back gardens....and its almost like it was too bright.   I'm a firm user of 'auto' settings on the camera and so lack the ability to compensate for the conditions.  I do okay with my pictures but I'm not technically minded with it at all.

Jeanne is quite tall at 5' 9"  so the shawl was woven to 86" (I normally weave to 80") and the fringe measure seven inches.

As you can see the bead colour all works out in the end and blends in. Just poking their little heads out to catch the light.   Its hard to capture the pattern with tone on tone weaving, especially with white. Its one reason you very seldom see all white projects in the Handwoven magazine.  They like colour!

Here's a peek.....and it actually doesn't resemble the true pattern very much at all!

I took the shawl back inside the studio and snapped a few more and they actually turned out better in many regards.   Go figure!

Here you can see some of the pattern better!

The shawl was carefully wrapped and boxed up and sent on its journey to Colorado. I think I held my breath the whole time it traveled until I got the message it had arrived safely.  Jeanne absolutely loves it and says it will see a lot of use!   I'm happy...... but of course if she didn't like it, it would have to come home and be mine.  There's one refund I'd happily make  😀  

Oh, and there was just under half a bobbin left of silk.... in case you were wondering!

Finally, here's a picture of our spring 2017 back garden...... taken late April. We've been having a cold wet spring and a bit behind. wasn't too long ago it looked like this:
December 10th, 2016

and mid October 2016 just after we moved in.

... and finally from last July when we viewed the house on the internet and in person! Looking forward to see it soon!

Thursday, April 13, 2017


 Lusekofte What's that?   Well, its pronounced "Loose-coff-ta" or so the  online audio Norwegian translator told me.   If I'm wrong about that, please let me know ....  They also said it means cardigan in Norwegian.  I've also seen the term Mariusgenser and also Selburose So why are we discussing foreign words and meanings?  Because I saw the most amazing Nordic sweater in a movie one night and I was driven to learn more about them!   

You may have seen them on skiers and other people enjoying a frosty winter.  Stunning knit sweaters, some with sliver clasp closures, some with zippers, some are pullovers and some are cardigan style. All speak to the craftsmanship of the knitters and their designers.  They also indicate a proud tradition among Scandinavian countries.

Now, despite my mother's best efforts, I am not a knitter. Oh, I play at simple patterns but all the fun comes to an end when I drop a stitch.   I am a weaver and so this is my medium to express creativity.  So with a quickly jotted down pattern and colour arrangement on a scrap of paper, I went looking on line and found these two images. They are close but not the stunning sweater I saw (and sadly I can't even recall the movie's name now)

(I'm not crazy about the orange or green accents, so ignore those!)

This one is lovely but not enough red.

Eventually I rediscovered an old draft I found years ago at  A twelve shaft Gbrochene hind und under that I modified to fit my shawl and concept.    So far, so good.

I went through my tencel stash and found the black, and undyed tencel which is just off a pure white. I had four reds to choose from: fuchsia , ruby, burgundy and a newer colour called new red.  Fuchsia was too pink, burgundy too plumy, and I found the new red unappealing.   Ruby conjures up that deep gem stone richness. This ruby red has a slight orange undertone when seen against other reds, but paired with the black and white, it has a warmth to the bright tone.  It was perfect!

So I worked out my project details and started to wind my 700+/- ends on the warping mill and soon they were hanging about waiting their turn on the loom.

Then after the table runners had had their debut, this warp was beamed and during threading I discovered that was short a few ends (oops). Even allowing for two black floating selvedges, I still needed two more blacks and two more reds.  Not entirely sure how that happened but it made for some interesting  stretch breaks.  Rolling up the paper, unrolling canisters, weave and then do it all again.

Below is one full repeat of the pattern before starting again. I used a 15 inch Schacht end delivery shuttle with great reach across and bobbins hold a good portion of weft yarn.

....and here's a six inch ruler to give some perspective of size.

In this picture (please enlarge) and you'll see the intricate pattern work that reminds of the pattern in the sweaters.

The weaving went along just fine and after eleven repeats, plus a portion to balance the pattern, it was done.  The wet finishing was done in the bathtub allow some wriggle room. I generally keep the fringe off to one quiet corner and out of any agitation.   After a good rinsing, I spun it out in the washing machine.   I laid it to dry over a towel on a drying rack.

The next day I brought out the steam press and warmed it up.  It won't do the entire job but it would get 95% of it pressed and my arthritic hands would be very grateful.  The only spot I have where I can use it is on the kitchen counter, which got a thorough cleaning beforehand!

It takes a big of planning and finagling, but you can get a long shawl in behind and onto the pad, and not burn your fingers! Its the top part that heats up. It would be easier if it opened up more vertically.

I had it laid over the left hand side and gently pull it across and onto the pad.   I couldn't do near the fringes and you inevitably get a pressing lines.

So out came the ironing board and my handy T-Fal steam iron.  This flattened and produced the deep sheen I was looking for and I'm able to work the iron from the centre to the edges and generally improve the over all appearance.  I hand sewed on my label and trimmed up the fringe tassels.

Madge wears it well!

The finished dimensions are 22 inches by 86 inches; the fringe is finer and 8 inches long

Here's a close up of the pattern area, after wet finishing and pressing. Its much clearer now.

....and don't ask me why, but I wove two of them! so this is the other one hanging around.

I'm back weaving yet another shawl but this one is a special commission and for now, secret!