Friday, April 18, 2014

Plum Perfect

So when I left you last time, I had the second shawl under way with a slightly different treadling variation and a different weft option.  The warp is Italian tussah silk that isn't quite as soft (before laundering) as bombyx or mulberry silk  so I wanted a softer weft yarn. What I found in my yarn stash is a silk cotton blend that I had bought from Treenway back in 2000 when I attended a silk workshop with Karen Selk (former owner of Treenway).   I believe the split was 55% silk and 45% cotton.  Its quite fine and would equate to a 30/2 for grist.  Then, sometime after that workshop it had all gone into a back yard dye pot and become this soft plum shade. It 'matured' in storage nicely and was ready for a new look!

The treadling variation was to simply treadle from one to twelve and back again. No network treadling this time round.  Easy to remember, and gave me more of the interesting motifs and both legs shared the load.  I have to ice the knee now in the evenings so this is my last twelve shaft project until after the replacement is done and healed.

Same concept as the first shawl off this warp,  I wanted a small tidy row of sparkle along the edges but nothing over powering. I settled for alternating a freshwater seed pearls about the size of a grain of cooked rice and opalescent beads that have a slight sheen.

The pattern is fully reversible and so the pearls and beads can be seen from either side as well.  There is a slightly more colourful side (seen above) and the other side is a mirror image but more cream than plum. The wearer can choose which way they want to go depending on their mood or the occasion.

With the softness of the cotton, the shawl is quite lightweight  and makes a pretty accent for spring!  With the silk in both warp and weft, pressing brought up the sheen that only silk has. Its more of a deep glow really.

We  had bright sunshine while the fringes and beading was under way and that all disappeared today and rain has settled in for the long weekend.  I didn't want to drag things further waiting for the sun to return so set up all my lights and tried to get some decent pictures.

The drape is lovely. You have to love a twill for beautiful drape....

Close up of the finished beading and border pattern...

Today is Good Friday and the sun came out this morning! I quickly dashed outside with the camera and took some nice shots. Behind, our large magnolia is just coming into bloom

Here you can see the network sections. I sure wish you could touch this fabric! Its like a cloud.

So its Easter weekend and whether you celebrate it or not, I hope you all enjoy your time with family and friends, or just spend the day relaxing.  We'll just spend the time quietly here at home and no doubt just putter doing stuff we enjoy in the house given its going to rain all weekend long. No chocolates here! There will be a turkey though as we missed that this past Christmas.

Next week my grandson Ethan turns two! Where the heck has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was telling you about his arrival!  I'm going on an adventure to Vancouver by myself next weekend to  visit with my Dad and then go celebrate at Ethan's birthday party.  I'll have pictures to share from the festivities!    

 My Dad, as you may recall, had a hip replaced in December.... and then again in February. He was hospitalized from December 10th (with a few days home at Christmas) until about three weeks ago. He had a very long and hard winter and so spring flowers must be so much sweeter for him right about now. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Signs of Life

I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth....  I'm still here and hobbling around. Its a bit troublesome coming up with some weaving for you when I'm so slow now and this is a weaving focused blog!  Mind you in time, you will be learning all about knee replacements and the road to recovery later this year  :)

With longer days, more sunshine and things starting to grow again (well, here at least!) our attention has been diverted by annual events such as taxes,  and some early spring clean up around the house. With my wonky knee, I'm close to useless outside and so have to learn to 'not see' stuff outside that needs doing.  (Hard for my personality type to do!)

All in our garden at present. (including the weeds :)

Last fall we debated what to do with our car and its elderly age. We decided to leave it till spring. Its a 2001 Toyota Sienna and has over 260,000 km's on the engine. It's been a totally reliable car, no major issues, good on gas and room for the stuff and dog kennel we  travel with.

The car started making noises late fall and earlier this month it started a front end wobble so we suspected the wheel bearings. The trouble is, the repair would cost more than the vehicle is worth and we'd still have an older car with other expensive issues starting. We were grateful it lasted the winter months at the least!   So Bruce started looking around at our options. We had to have a similar seat height arrangement due to my joint issues (my hips can not be lower than the knees so many sedans are out). We need room for Calli and that means a kennel.  She is not a "just jump in the back" kind of dog. She gets all silly and wants to climb around, bark at other cars and stuff going by.  No, she goes in a kennel and it also keeps all the associated dog mess in one spot too.

Here she is with her fresh new spring hair cut. Don't let that innocent look fool you!

On  March 18th, Bruce found this beauty here locally:

A 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe LE, with low mileage, just brought in as a trade in the day before.   On the 19th, it was ours!  That's our old Sienna in behind the new vehicle. The Santa Fe is higher and although narrower than the Sienna, its roomier inside.   Its very nice to drive too.  So no more over heated me when we drive to the Okanagan. We have AC again now.   So pardon my excitement at a new car. It doesn't happen around here very often and the last time was fourteen years ago. We literally wore the last one out. She was destined to be recycled for parts as there was no value to selling her again.  Sad huh? 
I must admit that it feels good to have a new ride.  We signed the papers on my birthday and Bruce tried to say it was my birthday present, but I straightened him out on that point!

I have been able to spend some time in the studio but once again I have been setting things aside for more downsizing. I will be setting up a separate sale page and advertising items for sale on it. Watch for it very soon just under the Thrums banner and along with the other page tabs.  There will be books, various magazines, some yarn, and small equipment as I photograph and set them up.   Its now clear that living in a two storey house with a flight of stairs to the main floor is not going to work all that well (plus the acreage) and so we are voluntarily downsizing and getting ready to put the house on the market next year in 2015. Its just too much to sell and move now with an operation coming at any time.  So we will be having garage sales this summer and paring down.  (That's the plan....)

After wading through all this personal stuff, if you are still with me, you deserve some weaving content now!   In my last post you read all about the slow start to this current silk shawl project. The beaming was an education in patience for both myself and my helper Bruce.

I'm using a fine 30/2 Italian tussah silk that I bought from the Silk Tree at Diana Sanderson's Silk Weaving Studio at Granville Island. (Yes, those are three separate links for three locations. Check them out if you have time to browse. )  The sett is 36 ends per inch and I used a 12 dent reed, with three ends per dent. No problems with the threading, none either with the sleying. So nice when it all works out like that!  Its a twelve shaft, twelve treadle twill pattern that I received from my friend Gudrun. She found the draft at from an old German manuscript.  Gudrun modified it and so did I a bit to suit my needs.  I had the information, even a copy of the draft she sent me but in the transfer and set up of Fiberworks between three computers being set up and decommissioned, its gone missing!  All I have is the single sheet hardcopy paper variety sitting on my desk. It will have to be re-entered all over again when time allows.  Its a combination of point twill and network twill in both the threading *and* the treadling.   Where you have point twill and treadle point twill, you get stars and diamonds, and where there is network threading you get this interesting design. Network on network is another look altogether...   Sounds confusing huh?   You can see the point twill with network sections in the draft below:  

The warp was planned for two shawls and to economize on warp, I laced it on and got under way using the two stick method. I used a fine 55% silk / 45% yak blend that I purchased from Treenway Silks when they were still on Saltspring Island.  Its a lovely soft grey beige and works so nicely with other colours. The tussah is a mellow gold tone and the two looked great together. This project cleaned me out so I did place an order for more silk yak blend from the new Treenway.  Great service and quick delivery.

I wove a border using a half run of one through to twelve for a few repeats, then I moved into some point twill runs of one to twelve and back down to one again.  Then I shifted into the network twill treadling which is a series of twill progressions. The border and network section measured roughly twenty eight inches. I wove  point twill runs again for roughly thirty two inches, back into the network twill again and shifted into a short run of point twill for the border and finally with  half runs of one through to twelve to complete  the eighty five inches for the shawl.  The shawl design is in three sections with a slightly larger centre section. I pictured that on the wearer's back and the two other reversed sections draped in front.   Clear as mud?   Here's a picture (please click on it to enlarge and see better):

Here the shawl is folded in half on the ironing board. At the fringe end you can see the border section and then the network twill portion and then near the iron, half of the centre section of stars and diamonds.  I was experimenting when I wove it this way. A concept project.  A calculated risk I know but if it works out, it will be great!.  At the very least, it would make an amazing table runner for a large dining room table. (Sorry the picture is so yellow... not sure what happened with that!)

It looked a bit 'blah' so I added some sparkle:

I had a box of beads in a tricolour arrangement that picked up the grey beige, cream and the centre bead is more amber in tone. Just small groupings between the fringe. Adds a little something but doesn't over power. Due to fine silks being used, its not a heavy shawl at all and somehow the beading needed to reflect that.  (If it does end up being a table runner, they can be easily removed.) 

Gentle hand wash in warm sudsy water, with a steady squeezing to help threads to shift about. Three ends per dent can give you some reed marks for the first wash or two.   Two rinse water changes and much  squeezing. I hung it over a rod to dry overnight.  Then my gut told me to go back and give it a pressing while still damp to remove crease lines!  I'm glad I did as the next day, I gave it a hard pressing and it was smooth, smooth, smooth! Any lines or creases can seem to sett if left to dry first.

It measures nineteen inches by eighty inches plus a six inch fringe. I lost an inch in width and four inches in length *more* than I had planned on for shrinkage! The tussah silk wasn't finished being annoying it seems. I have made notes in my records to allow greater shrinkage than 10%, and also about the cling problem!  I still have some left for future projects, so forewarned is best!

So, hopefully my grand experiment works out okay? What do you think.....

The network section on the left hand shoulder

The center section

The border and beads.

Bruce says that from a distance it looks a bit like snake skin.  There are shifting patterns all over it so it plays with the eye! Its light and neutral in tone, but the pattern is definitely there but not overpowering.   Its going into the Etsy store and so we'll see what happens from there.

The second shawl is underway....and it will be a slow time of it again.  Made some changes to my treadling plan and also my weft yarn. I'm using hand dyed silk / cotton blend in a plum tone, also from Treenway Silks from my stash. 

I hope you are all enjoying the extra daylight  and looking forward to more spring-like weather.... and for those of you with snowbanks and blizzards,  want to buy our property on Vancouver Island?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Threads Behaving Badly!

Well, the snow is gone... melted away in the rain and the early spring flowers are making an effort to resume growing. We have crocus and snowdrops. The greenest things in the garden are the weeds of course.  I've seen hummingbirds, swans and geese all back at the Somenos Marsh.  I think I even saw a red wing black bird today as well.

For my readers stuck in snow drifts, take heart... Spring is coming for you too!

I saw my surgeon this past Monday and its now official that my left knee replacement will be first up and right hip will be second some months later. So the knee surgery will be approximately  late summer or fall.  Now if my knee can hold out for some treadling until then, I'll be a happy camper!

We took a couple of days to go and visit my Dad who is *still* in hospital. That's three months in there for him now but he does seem to be slowly making small improvements now.

We had an upfront view of things on the return trip! This is a view up a cloudy Howe Sound from Horseshoe Bay. We're cosy and warm in the car and the ferry turned left soon after this was taken and headed across the Strait to the Island.

Another change for me is a new computer and I have been  learning the ropes for a new operating system on my new Mac Air.  Its amazingly thin and light weight on the lap, which is good for my cranky knee. No moving parts and so no overheating issues too. While I still have alot to learn,  I am enjoying the change! I bought a visual guide book to assist me.  I still have my old Dell laptop for the PC stuff and a ton of my pictures stored there! So this blog post is a joint venture between Apple and Dell. I'm happy they 'hand-shake' well!

I  have my priorities straight as the first program loaded was Fiberworks- PCW! I have a new manual to read up on that too now... A big thank you to Bob at Fiberworks for his help!

There has been some weaving going on here.  The Woolhouse Tools loom is all dressed up with my odds and ends coloured 8/2 cotton towels as shown in the last blog post. The loom has now been additionally advertised up and down the Island, Sunshine Coast and Vancouver and Kelowna area now.

Meanwhile on the Louet Spring.... is Italian Silk (from Diane Sanderson's Silk Weaving Studio) in a soft gold for two shawls. I bought it a few years ago when we were there visiting on Granville Island.  I'm using a 12 shaft 12 treadle draft sent to me by Gudrun.

Looks nice here doesn't it? Well, trust me,  its nothing but trouble just waiting to happen!   I set it up on the back beam and placed the ends into the built in raddle, sett for 36 epi. 
I enlisted Bruce's help with winding on and its just as well I did. We had a nice long afternoon together "inch-worming" the warp on.... literally inch by inch!

The fuzzies on this silk grabbed onto each other. I call it halo'ing. Bruce had to maintain tension and clear the raddle slots and I wound for an inch or two and then used a needle to work apart the warp ends, then pick off fuzzies for all eight yards of this warp! We had a great chat, sang some songs and had more than a few laughs along the way!
Here I am... picking away!

So finally I got the weaving under way and here's the first edge of the first shawl.

The weft is a silk yak blend in a beautiful silvery beige. Its the equivalent of a 30/2 for size and weight.  I will go into more detail in my next post on draft and project details. I plan to cut off the first shawl and finish it while weaving the second. I'm trying a special effect with the treadling plan and hopefully it will turn out as I planned.

This will be my last full twelve shaft draft and twelve treadle until after my surgery is done and I'm stronger again. The weight of the shafts and treadles is too much for me now.  So there will be more eight shaft projects (and perhaps even less?)  in the near future while the knee holds out.... or is that hold on?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Then Winter Found Us

I have been watching the rest of North America and Europe suffering through a terrible winter. Endless snow, ice storms, floods, wind storms and power outages.  Polar Vortexes (formerly known as a blast of Canadian Arctic air) and Snowmageddon and other colourful descriptions of what some call " formerly, a normal winter".

I have very much appreciated the more moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean and the occassional warm air flow up from southern regions, usually California or the "Pineapple Express" from Hawaii.
We have buds forming on trees, the hellebore was sprouting and the snowdrops are up.

Or, they were.... they had better live up to their name as they are well and truly buried now! In fact we have had snow falling for over three days and nights. Its not the light airy stuff but heavy and wet. Its collapsing hedges, trees and plants. Bruce has been out three times using a rake to get the poor things unnburdened and no doubt will have to go out again tomorrow.  We haven't been out anywhere and so no tire tracks in the drive way. We had a young friend call today to see if we are okay! That's comforting that someone thought of us senior  "shut-in's". 

There were wind storms last week and we dutifully prepared with candles, extra water and provisions. Nothing happened.  But with silent and never ending snow, the power outages sneak up on you and we sat in the dark and chilly house at 8 pm on a Saturday night and decided we might as well go to bed. The power came back on at 4 am and all the lights you had on, came back on. Bruce stayed up to watch the Canadians win the gold medal for men's hockey.  I reckoned the hilights on the news would be enough for me and went back to bed.

The only family member really excited about the snow is Calli...

These were taken the first day and the snow is now up to the top of her long legs and she's pushing through it with her chest.   She throws the ball into the air and then shoves her face into the snow drift and tunnels to find it again.  There is much running to and fro and general goofiness that Airedales are know for.

When she's done, she packs her ball to the back door and waits.  Then the snow ball removal begins!
Snow days means prime weaving weather so I have been working on getting the big loom all set up with a 8/2 cotton short towel warp.  Its a multi striped coloured warp that changes every eight ends, with a black every third stripe for continuity and contrast. The colours are chosen from many cones that are down to their last third or less and I was able to recycle several tube centres into the recycle bag. 
It was a spontaneous selection of colours. Pick a pair that go together nicely and the third stripe was black.  The only organisation was I placed the pair of colours on the far right and when the top of the table was full, then I went back to the original pair and then split them up or,  at least, reversed the colour order.  (the cones waiting south of the bobbin winder are wall flowers waiting to dance .... they may or may not).
I would wind on each one inch bout as I went. Twenty four in all; seven yards long. I hung the lease sticks from the upper castle and threading started.
It made for a bright collection!  It was a straight draw of one through to eight and the sett is 24 epi.
So this warp will take time to weave off as its for a half dozen towels, plus the last towel will be left for the possible new owner of the loom to try their hand at throwing a shuttle.  I did promise you a peak at the pattern as it will be a long time before you see the finished towels!

The pattern is Breaks and Recesses from Carol Strickler's 8 Shaft Pattern Book. I have done this pattern before   here   and here and here. I love the way it produces tidy little boxes of twill that will make a nice thirsty and colourful towel. No long floats and an easy threading and treadling. I'll post update pictures of the progress from time to time. First towel is an all black weft for now.
Now to see if we can get out of our driveway and get to town for groceries and a post office visit. We are getting cabin fever after four or five days of togetherness!
Parting shot:   our back deck late last night.... and yes, it was still snowing.


Thursday, February 13, 2014


close up before wet finishing...
Quite some ago I found a draft I really liked from a Weaver's magazine issue 44, Summer 1999 and playing with it on Fiberworks, I adjusted it from sixteen shafts down to twelve shafts. I wound up a warp  for this project and it was originally slated to go on the Louet Spring, with its smooth warp beam. It was hung up on the side of my big loom where I store future warps so they are handy to go on as soon as a loom is empty.
 Then stuff got in the way... time passed. Then, I got caught up in the hurry to get shawls ready for the Christmas sales and then there was that runner commission to do as well.  I decided to switch that lattice project to the big Woolhouse loom and take advantage of the 20+ tie up assist to do the daunting 144 cord tie up.  So I took the sectional rakes off, and dusted off the raddle, and beamed the warp up. It was a taupe 8/2 tencel, with a sett of twenty four ends per inch and it went quite well. It was a straight draw of one to twelve for threading and the same again for treadling. All the pattern is in the tie up.

I have lower back issues (to go along with the wonky hip and knee) and so weaving on this loom is hit and miss unfortunately.  It seems to aggravate my lower back so it took a *long* time to weave the scarves off, especially when one is in a very fine black silk, as shown below. Such a shame as its a beautiful loom. {She's still for sale and the price has even dropped a bit.}

Here's the draft adjusted to twelve shafts from sixteen:

Taupe is actually difficult to cross effectively as its such a neutral mushroom shade. It needs a sharp contrast so black was an obvious choice and the 30/2 silk worked up nicely. Much finer cloth when you check its 'hand '*. For the second scarf, I went with a deep eggplant tencel and the contrast worked nicely and didn't look so dark.   {* Definition of Fabric Hand: “The quality of a fabric assessed by the reaction obtained from the sense of touch” }

So, finally they were done (we won't talk about how long they took okay?)  Fringes twisted, a few baubles added and then, a nice wash and press. They are ready for their close up's


The drape on this one is beautiful and light!

The selvedges were quite nice but there was a slight pull in at the little border after wet finishing. It was perfect until I washed it, so I think this is due in part to the change in pattern plus the shrinkage of the silk. Its more balanced between plain weave and twill in the section above and so doesn't pull in. Its not a big problem and the close up picture exaggerates the change. 

Not sure if you can see it here but on the tencel scarf, the edges have a slightly scalloped effect on both sides. So it looks planned (right? :)
This time the border didn't pull in. I believe the tencel weft has more 'presense' in the cloth and held its own. (The silk was finer and perhaps compressed too) So each is unique despite being woven up identically, treadle wise.
The only annoying  problem between the two scarves was the right hand floating selvedge frayed and broke every 6 to 10 inches. No matter what I did, changed or shifted.  Oh, well... it was consistent the entire way!
The Woolhouse is being prepped for a seven yard "one of a kind" coloured striped kitchen towels. This is where I'm using up small bits of 8/2 cotton cones. Once loaded, I'll weave when I can and putter along.... so no holding your breath for the finished towels! I will show you the warp once its under way. I'm weaving eight shaft "breaks and recesses" of my favourite stand by's, which I haven't done in awhile.
On the Louet Spring, I have a silk shawl project and I'll save the details for another post but my weft yarn has arrived.
This is a silk yak blend and this is the natural colour when you blend bombyx silk and the yak beige brown. Its the equivalent of 30/2 so quite fine. My original stash of this soft yarn has finally twindled down to nubs and it was time to spend some of my Christmas sale money and  reorder.
Treenway Silks used to be just off the coast from me on Saltspring Island but now is being operated from Lakewood, Colorado. My order took a bit longer to reach me as a result but I'm thrilled with the yarn. Beautiful quality and I really like their paper skein wraps. It lists size, yardage, weaving setts and more. Very helpful information!

I will leave you with this final picture and some news:

There's my little family, Bruce and Calli working on a project in the laundry room together. I couldn't resist this shot...  She's ready to lend a hand paw anytime!  There is a toy or ball just out of the shot in case he changes his mind about working.  She's just as helpful with my looms and stuffs toys under the treadles.

I'm very happy to share that as of yesterday we now know that my hubby Bruce no longer needs abdominal surgery and we can cross that off our list!  Such a relief!   Last week my Dad had a second surgery and is well on the way to being on the mend again. He will be in hospital for a time yet.  Its been an unusual winter this year to say the least....   So sorry to take so long to post but as you can see there has been a bunch going on behind the scenes...