Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Well.... that didn't go as planned....


I have been merrily weaving away on the towels on the Megado every afternoon and there's not much warp left.     Mid towel my dobby just up and died!    I pushed cords and cables around and it started up again and so I did an extra push to get the towel completed "just in case'.

Today the loom started but when I enabled the solenoids to start the pattern, they all clicked very loudly ..... and died. This time more permanently.  😢



I took these pictures and sat and wrote support at Louet with my problem and got a speedy reply back which said that they had bad news for me.


This loom was built in 2001 and bought new in 2002 by my dear friend when she attended Convergence in Vancouver.    Dave at Louet North America tells me that the interior workings are all 1990's technology which is no longer repairable as they can't source any of the parts.  They will only fix dobbys from 2014 vintage onwards.    

See the pale cord in the photo? That's a serial port cable.  It was common on 9 pin printers.... in the  1990's!    I have an adapter so it takes it from serial to USB  for my computer.    Its either an antique... or a dinosaur. Take your pick!    

I told Bruce its more of a paperweight now and I have a loom that doesn't work until it gets a new brain. 

So I'm ordering a refurbished computer-dobby that is much more modern that what I have been using and is fully warranted  by Louet. They can ship it this week apparently.       So that warp will sit until it arrives.

Tomorrow, I'll work on the Spring....   that one uses my brain, so we're not out of the woods yet!  😳



Thursday, March 26, 2020

🌎 One Day Among Many


Welcome from the  'bunker' formally known as our home.  We enjoy our house and yard, but the instant you are told NOT to go out, you are suddenly filled with a desire to go shopping, visit friends and just get out there.  I can get over that urge!

Well, we tend to stay home a fair amount anyhow so there's not much change really.  We got some groceries ordered on line and delivered to our front door, we both have three months worth of our medicines, the car's gas tank is full and we have propane for the BBQ.   We have scads of books, internet, on line streaming services..... and even some toilet paper left.  We're just fine here.

Hubby is puttering around the house and yard. Fixing irrigation lines and doing light garden work.  The primroses, crocus, heather and tulips are up.  Everything  that needs pruning has been done and the hedges have been trimmed up. Power washing was done  two or three weeks ago.    I guess window cleaning is next up soon. Maybe when it warms up some more?

The Covid 19 pandemic is top of mind for everyone and the uncertainty is the hardest part.    I have seen some interesting memes on FaceBook:

Your grandparents had to live through and fight in World War 2.... you are being asked to sit on the couch. You've got this...."

The virus doesn't move, people do..... so practise social distancing!

Adopt the attitude that you have the virus and then work hard to prevent passing it to others.


Our days seem to have settled into a routine.  Coffee and news in the morning, then house chores and / or laundry.... then lunch. I go into the studio after lunch and work on several things, all of which are under way and not close to being finished.

I have been spending all of my weaving time on the Megado and my 9.5 yard 8/2 towel warp.  I have about five or six towels done. This the one currently underway and its a muted plum shade


The roll is starting to build nicely  and its a great stash buster as I dig through the cottons looking for choices for the next towels.


Here's the winding station with all the part pirns of colours and I may just do a towel with multi colours for each pattern change to use them up.  The blue and teal is for the crackle weave on the Spring which hasn't advanced at all  and is patiently waiting for my attention. 


I've been doing project planning and warp winding.  I have several projects and drafts all worked up.


I like having a longer warp on the Megado for towels and so dug around in the stash and found a lovely  two pound cone of natural 8/2 Venne cotton and have been winding six bouts of  one hundred ends, ten yards long.  I have also wound another warp, also ten yards, of 10/2 cotton for table runners. Here they are hanging on the beater bar assembly of the tapestry loom.  (This weavers equivalent of "laundry on a treadmill" right now  😁 )


I still have one more bout of one hundred ends to wind of the cream cotton. This is where I confess to a guilty pleasure. I like to stream nature shows on my computer and sort of half watch, half hear them as I wind away.  David Attenborough has a delightful way of narrating the episodes and no matter how dire the situation environmentally, he always ends them on a positive note.


Here's the colours for the runner and the cream is the Venne cotton.

Here are the drafts:



So between what's under way and the warps waiting, there's lots of daily activity here.   I have taken my Etsy shop off line and in 'holiday mode' as I don't want to deal with post office trips.  So that's why there is a large white empty box on the right hand side of your screen.   We will get back to normal eventually but I believe it will be many weeks of social distancing as areas of infection peak and diminish.   Past history of pandemics show second and even third waves so we must be very careful. It could come back to bite us on the arse otherwise!  😳

I don't believe that people will return to normal spending habits for some time as they recover their financial lives.  So things like my scarves and shawls are not essentials.   I'll keep weaving to keep myself busy and build up my inventory for the better times to come. 




As you can see, I have many scarves, and a good number of shawls on hand.  Towels and runners are my only gaps  ..... and one runner will be for our large dining room table and will be 98 inches long!   I've been promising to weave one for us and apparently I have the time right now. 

So if you are at home  refusing to be an Uber ride for a virus bug, enjoy the time that comes along with this situation.  Read a book, watch movies, write, paint,  spin or weave.  Whatever your heart and mind feels like doing.   If somedays, its to simply do nothing, then that's okay too.   This is a stressful time for everyone and we must be kind with each other, including ourselves. 

Some humour for you:   





Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"May You Live in Interesting Times..."


I try to keep my blog to weaving with a dash of grand kids and only pinch of my personal life, but as the  subject line says, "these are interesting times".   Actually, its more like scary times with this Covid 19 sweeping the world.

This is a natural disaster. 

But the world has gone through and survived such pandemics before. It will pass, but it will take time.  It will take much patience.

Please check your local health authority web page for up to date information and advice and take them seriously.

Wash your hands...    soap and water, for 20-30 seconds,  is actually more effective than hand sanitizer.

My husband and I have cancelled all medical appointments, planned visits with friends and family and will be staying home in isolation for the duration.  We both have underlying health issues and so feel this is best for us.  We took care of much of our future business via phone calls and on line and  have arranged for grocery shopping on line with delivery to our front door.  Due to high demand I must shop on line at midnight and they are limiting certain items, but we are fortunate to have this option in 2020.

We are also very fortunate in Canada to have excellent healthcare system and very dedicated staff but there are limits to what they can do if the system is swamped by vast numbers of infected people.  This is why they want to flatten the curve so please self isolate and stay home.

As weavers and spinners, we have wonderful tools at hand and large stashes to play with.   I'll be weaving and enjoying the back patio when its warm enough to sit out there.   Hubby is planning to progress with his music lessons on line and get proficient with his ukulele and new guitar. He also has art supplies and will be dabbling in paints.    We have streaming services and internet so we are all still connected.  FaceTime means I can talk to the grandkids and  see how they are.

Grand daughter Madison had her 5th birthday party cancelled but she and her mother played with paints instead.


She and Grandad can compare their art via FaceTime !


Flattening the curve saves lives but it does extend the duration that we must self isolate.   Pace yourself and be prepared for  many weeks and possibly months.   You can still go outside and go for a walk..... just by yourself or with your housemate. We plan to go for a drive and maybe sit on a log by the ocean to get fresh air and connect..... but by ourselves.



The phone works and so call friends, email and see how everyone in your social circle is doing.  Call a neighbour to see how they are.  Stay connected.

An interesting side line to all this enforced isolation is that there are less cars, planes and people moving and so pollution levels have been dropping worldwide. They can actually see and monitor the drops in levels from satellites in space.  Venice's canals have cleared and they can see small fish in the waters.  The  yellow clouds above some cities in China have cleared up.   Maybe the planet will use the pause to heal?    It will at least demonstrate the real impact that we have on the Earth and make the climate change deniers think twice.




For those of you who must work, please do so from home if you can, and if you still report in, keep your distance.  Two meters or 6 feet of distance. Wear gloves if you have them  and always wash your hands!   Cough and sneeze into your 'chicken wing' (elbow).

We have been complaining about how modern life is too fast paced and so consider this  time to slow down and smell the spring flowers and reconnect with your spouse.   😊  🌷  😷



And now for some historical trivia ....



Kelowna is a city in south central British Columbia, Canada ..... but this flu spread around the world with the returning soldiers from WW1.

100+ years ago... Kelowna was experiencing the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Here is part of an article from the November 7th, 1918 Kelowna Record an a Public Service ad from the same edition.
"Dr. Knox has made some observations on the epidemic in general which might be useful. The vast majority of deaths are caused by pneumonia developing, and fully 50 per cent, of these are caused by going out too soon and returning to business before complete recovery. Many cases not serious in themselves have through carelessness of this kind developed a relapse and pneumonia. 
When a case occurs in a household put the patient to bed at once, phone the doctor, and he will give instructions as to the method of isolation, protection for the balance of the household and treatment. 
Children should not be allowed to play in groups in the street and parents must realize that to obtain the full benefit from the closing of the schools children must be kept at home. They should not be allowed downtown unless accompanied or sent on some specific errand. People in stores should be careful to sneeze or cough in a handkerchief and refrain from spitting on the floor or sidewalk. Hands should always be washed before eating. People suffering from colds or sore throats would be wise to remain home if possible until recovered. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Snow Roses 🌹


Yesterday we took a drive south of our town of Campbell River to Oyster Bay and this was our view  at sunset.  Those are the coastal mountain ranges over on the mainland and the fresh snowfall from the day before was being kissed by the last rays of sunshine.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
There are literally miles of beach like this here and you can pull over and sit on a log and enjoy the view and wildlife.  We just love living here....



The one below is cropped to see more detail of the mountains.  We only had our cell phone with us so I hope you can see the beauty of the moment. The full moon was rising behind the mountains too.



The rosy tones of that sunset remind me of the pink tones of this cone of rose yarn.  So what is it exactly?   

Rose fibre is very similar to bamboo in appearance and feel. Silky and shiny. It is a new cellulose fibre made from rose bushes. The rose fibre has been extracted from the natural waste of rose bushes and stems.  This fibre is an environmentally friendly, green eco fibre and it is bio-degradable.

The cellulose is basically a neutral white and so the pink has been added. It's available as both yarn and as spinning fibre.  No, there is no rose scent! 


I'm going to pair up this new yarn with an old favourite.   Its been a couple of years since I last wove snowflake twill and decided to dust off the draft and weave up a couple of scarves.   I have literally woven a mile of snowflake twill in the past 24 years and so can recite the treadling in my sleep!  


It can be both visually complex and intense and I tend to go with softer, more neutral colours.  Where the play of light can reveal the pattern, and so using undyed tencel was my first choice of weft yarn.  Both warp and weft are 8/2 in size and my sett was 24 epi.



I always snap a picture at the start of a project so I have a record of how it looks and what I did for the starting runs.  Notes can get lost!   Photographs are also a valuable tool for discovering if there are any threading errors your eye may have missed.  They will stand out and wave a flag at you!   Happily, this time all was good. Always a good feeling....

Scarf number two: well, I made a commitment to dig into and use my silk stash more and so after a search through a couple of storage bins I found this pink variegated 20/2 silk called 'candy'.  I had two 50 gram skeins from an Etsy shop called Sericin.  I wound up both skeins into cakes and then onto pirns.  The pink has some purple hints through out which gives it some interest.  Its also a bolder choice for the pattern too.



They were woven up on my Spring loom and it sits with two windows with views onto the back garden.  Just before this last weekend we found the chestnut tree was full of redwings blackbirds as they took a rest on their way through.   They were all 'boys' heading to find the perfect nesting spots ahead of the ladies who follow at a slower pace.  We also have primroses, crocus and lots of new shoots coming up for the gardening season to come.


The scarves are all done, fringes twisted, washed and pressed.   I wove them to approx 74 or 75 inches on the loom, but they now measure up at 69 and 71 inches after wet finishing. The take up in length came as a surprise to me!

Rose yarn is smooth, beamed onto the loom easily and took tension very well. There was no abrasion on the floating selvedges and very little 'lint'.   It became very soft with washing and while not too shiny like bamboo or tencel, it has a crispness to it.    Both scarves are drapey and soft, with the silk weft scarf being as light as a feather. I only used 50 grams on the scarf and so have the other cake tucked away for another project.


I call this colour a 'tender pale pink'.  For those with colour experience, I can detect a just a trace of yellow in there somewhere which makes it appear a smidge salmon.   This is my favourite of the two.



The second scarf with silk weft looks a bit stiff here but let me assure you that's only due to being freshly pressed. Its buttery soft.  Its like wearing a cloud around your neck!





I have an 8 shaft crackle weave on the Spring loom now (just started) and the Megado has a warp for 16 shaft towels (also just started).   I've also been working on our tax document preparations and other office minutia which is tedious but necessary.

Spring means we have had some repairs done to the garden sheds and power washing of all walkways, patio and driveway done.  Next up? hedge trimming, pruning and then window washing.   It seems we are eager to enjoy the sunshine despite waking up to  5 centimetres of snow two days ago!     Snow roses indeed.... 🌹❄️

Friday, February 14, 2020

Tropical Sunsets 🏖🌴



This is the  sort of image that I saw in my mind when I saw the painted warp shown below.  This picture of the warp is 'borrowed' from Carr Park Artisans (at Etsy) as Christine uses it as her header image.  Her name for it was Dazzling and it didn't disappoint. I sadly didn't take a picture of the warp all chained up before loading it on my loom.


So what goes with all these colours and does them justice? I auditioned many colours from my stash, but only two did the trick.   Black and a touch of gold.   Next up was what pattern would accentuate the warp and pull the eye along?    A twill progression / advancing twill?    I set up a simple 8 shaft point twill on the Megado and let it keep track of an extensive treadling plan.    It worked... the pattern just slowly drifted through the colours.


Here's the draft showing two versions of threading and treadling. I used the point twill and treadling as shown on the right.


These were taken soon after loading the loom and getting started. They show the colour transitions along the warp.  The weaving was always fun as the view was always changing!



A closer shot showing the black and gold border and how the pattern played through the gold stripe.


Ending the shawl got tricky as I got closer to my planned 85 inches. The pattern fell short and so I did one more repeat and then went over.    A case of 'close enough' and it was time to move onto the second shawl. 

Again, I wanted the feeling of movement through the colours and played with this advancing twill.  I simply inserted my draft on the right and took a look at what it looked like.   It resembled flowing raindrops.  Nothing more tropical than a rain shower !   I can recall visiting Fiji many years ago and it rained every day about 4 pm.   It was like clock work!


We had a particularly cold and snowy January and so I had plenty of weaving time.  Next thing I knew I was bumping into the back of my heddles!  I was able to get two full sized shawls plus a bonus table runner from my 8 yard warp.  I decided a runner was preferable to a few samples and lost warp.   I have contented myself with pictures of the shawls and a thread or two of the painted warp  for my sample notes.


Then life conspired to get in my way of taking pictures!   If the sun came out, we always seemed to be away from home.  At home?   it would be a dark and dreary day.  Finally, it all came together a couple of days ago.

Tropical Sunset Feathers


I must admit this one is my favourite of the two.







As my cousin in the UK said "all you would need is a black dress to be totally elegant".    I agree with her completely.


Tropical Rain Sunset


Here it is completely undraped to show the full range of colours.


Now, all swayed up and as elegant as having no arms can do!  


Not the best shot but it does show the pattern and how deep the colours are.



Then we have the bonus table runner!


It was 34 inches before hemming  so that was a lot of left over warp!  I did my usual small turn and hand sewed. After the steam press did its magic, it lays perfectly flat and no obvious stitching shows at all.  It looked kind boring so I plonked a little plant down.


Close up of my favourite part of the colours! 


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🌷🌷

I almost have two more scarves woven off on the Spring, so you should see them here soon, and a new 9.5 yard cotton warp for kitchen towels has gone onto the Megado.   In the garden we already have primroses and crocus up, with flowers on the viburnum, and the heather is in it glory. The camellia buds are opening by the front door. Ducks are back on the pond and its definitely lighter out each day.

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