Thursday, June 25, 2020

🎁 Towels for the Times

There is an awful lot going on in the World right now and frankly, not much of it is good. I guess that's why many weavers are doing just that... weaving, or spinning.   

Counting our blessings where we find them.   

In the evenings we find ourselves watching movies and seeing people in them all gathered together for meals,  concerts and wonder at it all.  People hugging one another and walking side by side.  We took such simple things for granted.

Its almost like someone did open up Pandora's Box and let the demons out!

I started winding this warp  in the 'before times'. Ten yards of  soft,  nice quality Egyptian cotton.  It was in my stash as a large three pound cone, along with another three pound cone of black. Not entirely sure where I bought it but its lovely. (I think it was Lone Star Loom Room.)

The idea behind this warp was to simply sit and weave  and enjoy the process. Listen to music or podcasts or just the silence.   Then the pandemic hit and we  stayed inside our homes and the choice to use bright cheerful colours as weft really made sense to me to help lift spirits.   Little dancing boxes. 

I wish I could share the soft lofty feel of these towels. You can see how squishy they are!
Grape, creamsicle, honey, and key lime.

Then there are the blue cool tones: bubblegum, peacock, blueberry and raspberry.

Towel number nine was created from having left over yarn on many pirns. So I created a colour way that worked together to use them up.  I call this one Candy Mix..... but it easily could be called "All colours under the sun matter".   This towel  is winging its way to my daughter as she is trying to work out what colour to paint her kitchen so something in this one will work!  😁  🌈

The 16 shaft draft was sett at 24 epi and they were woven to 35 inches. Width in the reed was 24 inches.  After a small turned hem they measure  21 wide by 28 inches long. So a fair amount of shrinkage.   The threading is a point twill and so is the treadling; all the pattern is in the tie-up.

A couple with the hem flipped to show the other side, which is equally nice. Boxes again, or if you look at them with a tilt of the head, there is almost a Celtic like intertwining.  If I had woven two towels in each colour, I would have turned one towel the opposite way and so they would be a nice set.   Maybe next time....

Here's the draft from that I used showing two repeats of the treadling.   The draft is our road map to a successful project, along with some 'local knowledge'.

Maybe that's why everyone is feeling so discombobulated right now? There's no clear road map to a goal. Life feels on hold and if things are opening up again, it feels weird.   
So perhaps the little daily personal successes mean so much more right now. 

Some lovely peonies from a friend's garden.... and left on our front doorstep as a gift.   Huge blossoms and so lush.  The white ones were especially fragrant.   Thank you Donna! 💞

Friday, May 29, 2020

Inspired by Nature

A view of a coastal region somewhere on Earth as viewed from the International Space Station.

Maupiti, in the French Polynesian Islands

Kalamalka Lake, and Rattlesnake Point, near Vernon, BC, Canada

Maligne Lake, with Spirit Island, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

So with these natural beauties in mind, I  have this warp from Iridescent Fibers  in my stash that they call "Across the Universe."   

I had this 8 shaft crackle draft that showed great potential!   The white sections in the draft are where the painted warp would go, along with a soft gold and dark teal tencel borders. Its rather difficult to translate a diverse painted warp to colours in a weaving draft.

From the initial start of weaving, I was very pleased with the results! I used dark teal as my weft colour on the first scarf. On the second scarf I used the colour azure which is a medium bright blue. 

Finally they were woven and final finishing completed. Yesterday I took "Judy" outside into the garden for a photoshoot. It was a lovely day with a breeze blowing, so you might notice the fringe looks like its moved or the bottom of the scarf as ballooned out a bit.

So the next three images are of the scarf woven with dark teal as my weft. Its difficult to get the colours shown to their best advantage  as depending on the light, the  camera settings, and your computer screen.... it changes colour!   Its quite the chameleon!

I call this scarf Kalamalka Lake as we used to live nearby to it and go and dabble our toes in this gorgeous coloured water in the summer.

Now, all the pictures below the line of asterisks are of the scarf woven with the azure blue weft

The greens are still there but more subtle now.   I call this scarf "Blue Lagoon" after all the beautiful atolls and coral reefs in the south Pacific.  I was lucky to walk a beach like that near Fiji many years ago as a 14 year old wondering how the water got to be that colour.

I also took some pictures of our snap dragons and irises in full bloom. Its such a lovely time in the gardens right now with all the flowers and all the greenery out and looking lush.    Our back yard has a few nests and lots of babies (who are as large as the parents) running behind them begging for food.   We had a baby robin sitting on our front doorstep who clearly was too young to have left the nest.  His or her feathers were just coming in and the poor thing had no tail feathers at all.    I sure hope it makes it!

Weaving in the studio is carrying on at a leisurely pace as both looms have ten yard warps under way.  I have been taking advantage of the better weather to open up the French doors and sit outside and keeping busy oiling some of my wooden tools for their annual spruce up, which is only three years late!  Oops...    My warping mill looks brand new again.    I've decided that once the warp is off the Louet Spring, that loom is getting a tune up and resetting of shafts and lamms.  Something is a bit off and I'm not enjoying the weave as much.  Its been 12 years since I got it brand new so its well overdue for the overhaul.

I hope you continue to be safe out there..... the virus hasn't gone away.  😳   Not yet anyhow....

Friday, May 8, 2020

All in Good Time ⏰

It would appear that some things in Life simply can't be rushed.  They evolve " in the fullness of time".    Okay, I get that and can even appreciate it.

But this project borders on the ridiculous!

I wound this ten yard warp  four years ago just before we moved in 2016. I thought it would be great to put a nice long towel warp on the Megado and weave off some kitchen towels.   It was tucked away in a box and forgotten until I found it in January.   The project notes were long lost and so I sat and counted every last warp end to see what I had to play with.  I also wondered what was in my head by using this heavy cream beige colour! It doesn't easily pair with much..... but I soldiered on.

I played with some drafts at, which by the time they made it to the actual warp on the loom, didn't thrill me very much.  The pattern was too diffuse, no clarity to it, or too intensely busy.  So the threading remained the same as it was already in place and I 'borrowed' tie up's from other drafts to see what I could come up with.   

I got this below and I liked it. 

It somehow reminded me of hardanger embroidery.   All was going well until the dobby died on me. Repairs were impossible as it contains all 1990's technology bits and pieces that no one can even get spare parts for anymore.  So there was a delay for a new refurbished dobby from Louet to arrive and set up.  (See older post for details)

Weaving resumed and just in time for a medical crisis with hubby Bruce in mid April. It involved large kidney stones, blocked plumbing, infection and a hospital stay.   It is still to be continued as he's waiting for an urgent medical procedure. I found I was alone at home and could weave 24/7 if I liked, but I simply could not focus on either loom.   Oh, and throw in a pandemic for good measure!

I wound warps instead.... and found it strangely calming.    Two warps, ten yards long for future projects! Incidentally they are both on the looms now....

So here's my melded draft, which is woven " as drawn in":

I wove seven towels and decided towards the end of the warp to weave a long runner as a change.  Finally the cloth beam was unrolled to produce a nice satisfying mound of fabric, and I got stuck into finishing right away.

I want to wet finish before hemming but the cloth is simply too long for the washing machine which would just twist it up, so I like to serge the towels apart and wash the shorter lengths.  The edges are very secure this way, and later when I use my steam press, the edge is totally flat for hemming.

That's when the old serger died.    It was 19 or 20 years old so not totally unexpected but  really?  It had to go now?

Two days later I was back in business with this younger model with more bells and whistles! 😊   (The old serger will eventually be repaired / tuned up and sold in time.   More waiting again)

So here are six of the seven towels  in a nice satisfying stack. I'm calling them my " Country Kitchen Towels" as they have an old timey look to them.  They are approx 20" by 30-31" and all are hand sewn so can be used as either a towel or small runner. 

Cinnamon Stick and Peach Cobbler

Plum and Vanilla

Herb Garden and Sage

Towel number seven is a compilation of all the colours as I had part pirns of all colours left over and this was a neat way of using them up. It reminded me of some 1930's table cloths I saw in a museum once.

So, last but not least there is the table runner. That turned out very nice and looks good on my large dinging room table!   Same warp, same pattern but this time I used 8/2 bamboo weft. It wove up beautifully, looked even better after wet finishing and pressing.   Fringe is a neat two inches and the runner measures 19.5 inches by 62 inches.

A final close up view: you can see the sheen which picks out the pattern beautifully.  The tea cup and saucer is part of a small set brought back from Hong Kong in 1953 by my Dad, who was in the Royal Navy, for his mother. The dragon on the china is raised  and is hand painted.   I just found out last evening that a friend inherited a cup with the exact same pattern from her grandmother. It must have been a thing back in its day.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

🎁 Pandora's Boxes

The days here are running from one to another and weeks are going by.  What a strange year this is turning out to be.   I'm feeling calm and anxious all at the same time. Safe inside my home but anxious about how we go about resuming life again when history says that there are second and third waves of infection?   As someone over 60 and with underlying health conditions, I won't be venturing far from my door for some time to come.

So life has settled into a sort of routine of morning coffee, household tasks, figuring out our supper based on what's in the freezer and keeping ourselves busy, or not as the mood takes us.

Its a slower pace of life for sure and I'm okay with that.  There's no great push; there's time to smell the flowers.  I can't help but feel that this gift of time is what we all had hoped for, and perhaps is one of the blessings in disguise of this pandemic?

That, and seeing that Nature is responding to the lack of humans polluting  by healing itself  and surprisingly quickly too.   No more arguments about whether or not we have a detrimental impact on the Earth  anymore.....   One can only hope the scientists are gathering the data to present to us later as solid proof, just in case jellyfish and dolphins in the canals of Venice isn't enough for some.    🌎

Meanwhile, here at home.... I wove off the last of the warp on the Megado and have been working on the final finishing of 7 towels and one runner.  They need to be photographed when the sun shine returns as we are having a bout of rain and wind right now.

I had another warp already wound and ready to go on and Hubby and I worked on the beaming together. Lucky for me, he seems to enjoy helping and I'm very grateful. If I had to do it all by myself again, I'd be in trouble as I would have to work out how to do it all over again!

The new replacement dobby is working well and we have settled in together nicely.  I can get by the metal box now that I have come to understand its other charms.     

So what is going on now?  Glad you asked!  8/2 Egyptian cotton, which is soft and of very high quality from Lonestar Loom Room, and no they don't have any more sadly and most likely won't for some time to come as I have checked.   I threaded a 16 shaft point twill and this is # 34281 from and I'm calling it "Pandora's Boxes".     The Greek myth is there at the link to refresh your memory.

The 6th-century BC Greek elegiac poet Theognis of Megara states that 
Hope is the only good god remaining among mankind;
the others have left and gone to Olympus.
Trust, a mighty god has gone, Restraint has gone from men,
and the Graces, my friend, have abandoned the earth.
Men's judicial oaths are no longer to be trusted, nor does anyone
revere the immortal gods; the race of pious men has perished and
men no longer recognize the rules of conduct or acts of piety.
The poem seems to hint at a myth in which the jar (or box) contained blessings rather than evils.

So here are my little dancing boxes as viewed on Fiberworks as I started this new weave.  I decided to embrace the hope and have fun with them. I'm going to change weft colours every towel length and keep it bright and cheerful. 

Future weft colours below. This will take a while to weave as it is 10 yards!  So I will be keeping busy here as I also have scarves on the Spring loom to finish weaving up as well.   I hope to have another post ready for early May once my photographs of the towels are done. 

 I have nothing but time right now.  😊

Meanwhile, our ornamental cherry tree is simply loaded with lush double blossoms. Here's the tree in the front yard.

... and here are some small boughs we brought into the house to enjoy. 

Other delights of our spring garden