Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It Happens....

❤️ Happy Valentines Day  ❤️

 I finally have some weaving to show you and I have mixed feelings about it.  I used 9/2 French linen from Brassards as I have done many times before. This time, a new to me colour called brick. Its a coppery red and really a rich, deep colour.

It beamed on with no issues, threading went well and I laced it on okay. There were no threading errors or denting errors.... always a nice treat no matter how many years you have been weaving.  Its an  eight shaft huck lace draft, similar to my usual diamond lace but this one has two sizes of diamonds, that in turn have lace floats and all surrounded by all over huck lace.   I was looking forward to seeing it.

That's when the trouble started...

I couldn't really see it! These two pictures were taken to help me see the lace and if I was on track.  Photography is a good way to spot errors ( and recall what your start looked like!)

I had an overhead light, a floor lamp to the right of the loom, and a second one with two halogen lights to my left. What ever daylight there was was 'encouraged' by lifting venetian blinds up but it was dark and dingy out with heavy rain and the inevitable shorter winter days.   I was double checking the pattern as best I could along the edges and literally calling out the treadling as I went along. I placed large numbered pieces of tape on the treadles to help and took my time.   I caught a few mistakes and corrected them and literally crossed my fingers and hoped that was all of them!

A second issue arose but it was one I was expecting actually.  There is a difference in take up between the plain weave border edges and the all lace centre to the runners. The lace is thicker and builds up on the roll faster than the edges. Eventually it starts to cause some distortion at the fell line.   You can either cut off and re-lace on again, which gets expensive with linen, or try this trick.  Set in a round of warping sticks, best is only a bit longer than your warp is wide,  all tight up against each other and carry on weaving.  I had three runners on the cloth beam, each with a round of warping sticks. (I use warping sticks at the start to cover knots and such at the start, along with my two stick start method ).

I serged my runners apart where I had woven some scrap yarn.... then pressed the hem allowance into thirds.  I wanted larger, more generous hems this time and so wove six inches on either end of the three runners. It really shows the nicely tucked and tight ladder hemstitching off too!

I was amazed that I had a thread colour that was a close match and made a tiny stitch at each ladder and ran the thread through the fold to the next spot. I call this a running blind stitch but I'm not sure if that's the proper name or not...   I quite enjoy this step and usually do it while we watch TV, but once again I found there wasn't enough light on the job. It meant I had to do it in daylight, while under a halogen light. Don't let these bright pictures fool you.... they were taken with a flash.

The picture below shows the lace off tension and relaxed. You see a lot more of the pattern now but its still difficult. Only wet finishing will shift the threads to their proper places.

So a good long soak. Twice in fact as some fugitive dye come out in the first soak.  A rinse and then I rolled them into older towels to absorb the excess water. I had pulled them into shape and gently pulled on  the edges.  Then I lay them flat on counters overnight to dry.

The next morning I set up my Singer steam press and gave them a good fine misting of distilled water and pressed the heck out of the hems first.  Then I shifted to pressing them firmly down both sides of the runners, front and back.   This took a lot of the heavy work out of the job as I have arthritis in my hands and wrists.  Next was the ironing board to do the final finishing touches.  I  start in the middle of the runner and then pressing firmly move the iron out to the sides of the runner.  I do this 'pushing' motion all the way down the runner, then flip and do to the other side.  I find it stops that bowing  inward effect from the defined plain weave hems to the  central lacy part of the cloth. Your runner actually regains some width and looks nice and straight from hem to hem.

Now is it necessary to do this every time you launder the runner?  I don't think so. As weavers we are 'finishing' the cloth and that includes the heavy pressing that sets the threads into their final position. It is most likely that in the future all that will be needed is a normal ironing, although linen needs a hot steam iron to be wrinkle free (or a cold mangle).

So the runners were completed in January but as I mentioned it was simply too dark to take pictures. I tried though and deleted them all.   Then in early February the clouds parted for a brief hour and I dashed for the camera and runners!

The pattern really shows up nicely now. This runner is forty six inches over all and is error free. ๐Ÿ˜Š

This one above is thirty six inches and has a small error. I got the wrong lace treadle on half a lace unit. ☹️  Can you see it?

Here's a close up of the lace floats and all over lace... after laundering and hard pressing. It brought out the shine of the linen beautifully.

Then there is a seventy six inch long runner that is beautiful and also flawed.  ๐Ÿ˜ข  Some how, I missed treadling the reverse side of a small diamond shape. No other errors, just that..

A close up of the thread world.   So two runners out of three woven not 'perfect'.  I was pretty bummed out for a few days.   I started doing a mental review of the project of what I had done wrong and what I would do differently next time.  The answers are: get better lighting or simply don't weave such dark colour in mid winter. Especially lace weave that doesn't show its structure fully until washed. Weaving linen mid winter with drier interior air isn't a good idea anyhow....

The over all effect of the lace.

So the two runners are being sold as seconds as it would take a practised eye to find the spots. You and I could as weavers but it simply may not be that important to someone else.  They are hand made and 100% linen and quite lovely.    Very few things in life are perfect..... but that takes us down a  philosophical road.....

Friday, January 26, 2018

Stash Yarns: The Game All Weavers Play

It seems that you are a brand new weaver one minute, nervously buying your first yarn for your first project. Mine was wound off into a cake as I couldn't afford the whole cone. What does the 2 in the 2/8  stand for? why does every type of yarn have its own measuring system?  (cue endless questions here!) ..... then suddenly twenty years (+)  has gone by and you basically have a yarn store in your closet, or bedroom, basement or where ever you have it squirrelled away!

Every yarn purchase was accompanied with a wonderful vision in your mind's eye of how the project would look, or could be. (well, in my case it was!)  It was tucked away and was waiting on the right time, the right weft yarn, the right draft and then forgotten in a bin.  The picture above was taken at our last home where my stash was pretty much out in the open and on display. That's just the tencel and a small portion of the cottons. There are also silks 3 bins, linens: 2 bins and a shelf, bamboo,  and exotic blends.  There's alpaca, and wools as well but not so much, and also some acrylic / cotton blends,  chenilles and.... well you get the idea.

I like to bead some of my hand wovens..... so that started the bead collection.  Now there's a dangerous stash!  They are so pretty, come home fitting discreetly in a purse and fit into a small drawer or case. The cases even stack together for convenience as they magically grow.  You are ever on the search for the right shade of red, or the new Japanese Delica seed beads.

I'm also a spinner so there is a fibre stash but that appears to be under control and I haven't made any purchases for that . Oops, told a lie.... I bought some Gotland fleece last May.  Oh, and a second wheel.....  Let's move on okay?

Then there are the Temptresses of Colour! The women who paint warps in gorgeous vibrant colours, all ready for beaming and you to create a masterpiece.  They call to you, much like chocolate or wine does until you give in.

painted warps from Blazing Shuttles

Since we moved  in late 2016, my stash is neatly tucked away in a walk in closet.  Acquisitions have slowed to a few  several  many additional cones of 10/2 cottons, some silks for commissions but over all there are much more that I can use in my lifetime.  

So I have been culling....

When you are new to weaving, any yarn enhancement opportunities are fabulous and eagerly attended.  Yarn swaps are great for this and from time to time, a weaver sells off their entire stock, or sadly has died and the yarn and equipment being scattered where ever it will go.  I have been culling yarns for the past 4-5 years now and it frees up space in the stash,  provides money and also feels great  to have only  the 'good stuff' you like left.  You have to be clear in your mind that the yarn can move on because replacing it will be expensive. 

Even with culling and reorganizing, the fact remains, eventually you have to start using the 'good stuff' over buying more.  ๐Ÿ˜ณ  (sorry)

I'm a Ravelry member and belong to some weaving forums that have carved out niches there. One is Warped Weavers  and shortly after the start of the year someone suggested a weaving stash moratorium for 2018.  I read all their comments and it seemed like a good idea and so I have agreed to do my absolute best to use only yarns from my stash for this calendar year. 

There are some 'loose and fast' rules.
  • if you have a project in mind and you truly do not have anything suitable, then you can buy.
  • if you need a particular colour or are low  on the right one, then you can buy
  • if you are running out of weft (or warp) yarn chosen from stash then you can buy
  • if you are overwhelmed  and held hostage in a LYS, you can buy your way out! ๐Ÿ˜‡
Okay, so there are no real rules or repercussions if you back slide...... but its simply group support to encourage you to focus on the commitment  and use what you have on hand first.

So, I'm going to give it try and my end of the year review will include a count of what came from the stash and where I fell down and succumbed to some yarn. 

If this sounds like fun, or is timely for you.... come and join the group. We'd love to have your company!

Silk wall at Diane Sanderson's Silk Weaving Studio

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Drum Roll Please

 The comment counter says 37 but a couple of those were second comments from two people, and one who asked to sit this out.    For the rest of you, you had a 1 in 34 chance of winning.

Very high tech system in place..... I recorded each name as I approved the comments for posting. Then I cut each line with a name and folded it.

Then added it to our big burl bowl and just stirred and stirred until the moment felt right and picked a slip....

The winner is ....... Hilary!  Now in the slim chance I don't hear from Hilary in the next seven days, then I will draw another name. Edit: Hilary has contacted me and is thrilled to win the yarn.  Thank you everyone!

Hilary, the two skeins of lace weight super wash merino are yours.... get in touch please! They'll most likely have to wait out a coming blizzard   rain storm though.... (thankfully, the snow has failed to appear... so far....)

Just got home late last night from attending a funeral over in the Vancouver area. Our daughter in law's mother passed  away and all the family and friends gathered to say their good bye's. Adele being Italian by birth, she was Nonna to the grandchildren and I am Nana.

Both Ethan and Madison were there learning a life's lesson and not really understanding.   Madison in her little black dress and Ethan with a fresh hair cut and a big boy suit that made him look so grown up and so small, all at the same time.

If they call me Nonna by mistake, that's just fine by me too.  ๐ŸŒน

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Decade

Falling snow looks like faerie dust! Photo: Bruce Harvey
I can remember being more than a bit nervous about 'being out there publicly' on the internet and literally held my breath when I hit the publish button on my very first post.   I thought I would just blend into the crowd and no one would notice my efforts.   So imagine my surprise when I got my first comment!    That was January 8th, 2008.

So ten years ago today!   I had no idea that I would be still doing this after ten whole years.   Some of you are still following me after all this time too and for that, I thank you!

Blog popularity goes up and down like a roller coaster and then new social media moves the crowd along onto something more exciting like venues such as You Tube, Instagram and others.  Everyone wants to try the next big new thing.   Many of them require a smart phone and apps.  I actually don't have a smart phone right now so many of these new social platforms have yet to see me like Instagram and I have even dropped Twitter. I'm saving a lot of money not having one and that's something I can use to buy more yarn! (oh, yea... and pay other bills)

I like the steady familiarity of Blogger. Its a comfortable fit for me.  This is where I sit and write to you.

Every year I like to hold a blogiversary give-away and this year will be no different!  I have some yarn for a lucky commenter!   Its 2- 100 gram skeins of  Dye Cauldron's "Moon Magic Lace Yarn" in the colour way of Cherry Blossom. 

(75% super wash merino, 20% silk, 5 % stellina - 875 yards / 800 meters per 100 grams)  Its a lovely pastel pink with hints of peach and a touch of sparkle. It would make pretty warp for some snuggly, all girl scarves!

Knitting: 1.5-2.25 mm needles
Weavers:  15, 18, 24   (+/-)

So don't just sit there.... write me a comment, and then you are entered to win.  Only one entry per person, and leave me some way of getting a ahold of you or the prize will go to the next name drawn.  Also know that comment moderation is enabled to keep spammers away so your comment will appear after I click okay on it.

I hope you are warm and cosy where ever you are as the cold start of 2018 gets under way (or not too hot if you are from down under).  Any season is weaving weather really.

So once again thank you for reading my blog. The winner will be announced January 18th*, 2018.  * I've had to extend the date as I unfortunately have a funeral to attend.  :(

So what's on the horizon, way off in the sunshine?

The snowy Coastal mountain range which are on the mainland and the almost full moon (for the start of the year)!  That's the end of Quadra Island on the left.  If you look closely after the tip of Quadra, you'll see the end of Cortez Island.   Clear and cold at - 4 degrees.  My thanks to Bruce for the great outdoor pictures.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: A Year in Review

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!
Taken Dec 30th, 2017 by Bruce Harvey

2017 was a strange year for many reasons. The election of Donald Trump as the American President seemed to set off a surreal year as many, around the world, dealt with mixed emotions as they watched the daily debacle unfold. It has literally affected every person on the planet in some way.  It took some weeks and months before people resumed (sort of) normal lives after.

I found weaving was a great cure when you needed to de-stress. Even my weaving year was different as I took on more commissions and they in turn took me back to old drafts. These drafts are 'old friends' but my hopes of retiring them for a 'time out' was  not to happen this year.  The interesting detail about my weaving commissions is, that they were for other weavers ! A very flattering compliment.

We had a busy year working on projects to do with upgrading our home and so when I did weave, it was on the commission projects mainly. I was given plenty of time to complete them but I'm not a fan of deadline pressure and would prefer to be done well ahead and happy, then rushing to the end of the line and not doing my best.

Did I mention that they were for other weavers? People who know how to look at cloth and see the imperfections, and 'design elements'.   So the short story is, not much was woven for my Etsy shop and so if it wasn't for me downsizing my library and some yarns, it would be all but empty.

So, for 2018, I have decided to decline commissions for the time being. I also learned that I need more variety in both drafts and colours. Shorter warps?  Anyhow, I need to get back to what calls to me and throw in a dash of colour for 2018!   Speaking of colour....

The Pantone colour of the year is ultra violet so it will be interesting to dig out my Itten Colour Star and see what other colours work with this electric violet!

So lets review ... first up for the New Years day loom peek:  my looms have warps on them currently.... cotton for tea towels on the Megado and this bright linen on the Louet:

9/2 French linen "'brick", sett 24 epi, 8 shaft huck lace
Then  onto a review of what I was able to accomplish for 2017....

January / February:

I started the year with four table runners in a familiar twelve shaft twill I have used before.  10/2 mercerized cotton warp, 28 epi and I used 8/2 bamboo weft in cream, 10/2 mercerized cotton weft in grey, and 8/2 tencel in birch.  The cream one had a missed treadling error  so now graces my bedroom dresser and the others sold pretty much right away.

On a personal level we coped with the largest snowfall here in over 30 years.....


I had seen a gorgeous Nordic sweater in a movie we were watching one evening during the snow events. I got the idea of trying to duplicate this but using weaving instead.

I turned to an old draft, also previously used by me, a twelve shaft "gebrochene hind und under" to get the complexity and the star shapes.  8/2 tencel had the colour ranges I was looking for and also the shine and drape for a dramatic shawl.  I actually wove two of them!  Both sold right away.

lovely pattern work that resembles the sweaters.

Personally, we both had head colds and I developed a tooth ache. This was the start of my summer and fall of getting to know my new dentist very well, and paying for his Australian Christmas holiday. ๐Ÿ˜ณ


My slightly delayed birthday present to myself arrived! A Louet Victoria spinning wheel.  Weighing in at only 6.5 pounds, its travels well and is lightweight. I'm ready to join the other spinners in our guild and put some miles on her.

I was asked to weave a special shawl for a wedding commissioner  who was not only performing marriage ceremonies but attending some family ones as well.  The warp was a glossy white 10/2 tencel, sett 28 epi, and weft was a beautiful off white Bombyx silk, which came to me via Scotland and where from before that, I have no idea!

The twelve shaft draft that was chosen by the (weaver) client was another old favourite. It relies on a play of light to reveal the pattern and so would not over shadow any brides, and go with any outfits the client decided to wear.   I also beaded the edges with seed crystals and tiny fresh water pearls.

... and personally,  I had a root canal. ๐Ÿ™


There was warp enough for one more shawl, but only one pirn of the silk remained. I chose a fine silk yak blend in a natural silvery beige and started treadling, and treadling...   Being finer than the advertised 30/2 , it took more weaving to get an inch!   So it took a while to weave off.

I also beaded this one too

I must have been very generous with my warp length allowance because even after two 85 inch shawls and long fringes, I still had enough warp to weave a small table centre cloth of 22 by 37 inches!  No wonder it seemed to go on and on!

Personally.... I got my very first dental crown!


I had an idea to utilize the 12 shaft tie up once more and re-warp with some bright colours and try for iridescent scarves. Judging by the pictures, I think it worked!   8/2 tencel sett 24 epi, tencel weft.

Then I tried another more muted colour combination and it was a success too.  As you can imagine, I'm retiring this draft for some time....  I can thread, and treadle this one in my sleep now!

Then we found out our girl Calli had a pre- cancerous lump which had to come out.... so she had surgery. Here she is modelling her onesie. Very stylish!  It seemed like it was a long time before those stitches came out as we had to keep a close eye on her!

Personally.... I broke a tooth and had to get another crown made and fitted.  ☹️ ๐Ÿ’ฒ


I had accepted another  commission back in late spring for two, all silk fine scarves as surprise gifts for Christmas 2017.   I had them all done in August and if the pattern looks familiar, it should, I used it to weave table runners at the start of the year! It was specially requested by my client.

The gentlemen's scarf is black 30/2 silk and a natural 30/2 silk weft, with a shorter twisted fringe.

The woman's scarf was the same warp but this time a deep cherry red 30/2 silk and a different treadling variation, longer scarf and twisted fringe. Beautiful colour!

The third scarf I used silk yak again (hey, I had pirns all pre-wound so it made sense to use them up). It could be uni-sex and had a lovely drape.

I held my breath as I mailed them away.... insured and trackable until they arrived at their destination. The client liked them so much she bought the silk yak one too.  The gift recipients apparently loved them!  They came as quite the surprise....


We finally got a trip away for a few days to see our family and the grandkids. We arrived at their home on Friday evening and saw this on the sidewalk waiting for us....

It was a good thing Bruce took this picture when he did because the next morning it was raining and the chalk art was all gone!

Little Miss "Oo La La" showed us her ballet moves.

... and her brother showed us, for the first time ever, how still he can be when he's watching a movie about trains.

Once home again I got to work on some runners, again for the shop.  10/2 mercerized cotton, 28 epi, tencel weft,  and taking advantage of the tie- up in place for the previous scarves.  One for the shop... and...

I wove two cloths for the large night tables.... and another two cloths for the  small end tables. They had been waiting for years to get fitted out properly.  (I'm going to bury this draft!) ๐Ÿ˜œ

On a personal note: I was eating something soft and I had yet another tooth fall apart and so this month saw me getting my third crown prep work being done. ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ’‰


My third commission for the year was three huck lace runners for a (yet another weaving) client who bought my original blue lace runners a couple of years ago. She loved the draft, the linen and the colour and wanted more runners.... two- 55 inch runners and one- 76 inch runner for her home. Naturally I wove another 55 inch one for the shop.  

So here's where I have to confess to you that I did not blog about them or even take pictures.  They needed to be off the loom and so I could empty out my studio and be ready for painting.  I hand sewed the hems them while sitting in the middle of the chaos I called home for nearly four weeks this fall.  Once the crew had gone home for the night, I washed them and hung them to dry.... then the next night I would find space and used the steam press to get them looking their best.
Wrapped in tissue paper in a sturdy box, they winged their way to their new home.

These are pictures taken from the first  blue runners woven a few years ago.

November / December:

We finally got our house back and then had a fair amount of deep cleaning work to do.  We still have pictures to hang and some drapes are out being cleaned, with Christmas fast approaching.

I started the brick coloured linen runners you saw at the top of the post and simply stopped weaving over Christmas. I didn't feel much like weaving to be truthful.  I didn't bake, we didn't bother with a tree and after rats ate some very expensive cables in our car, we didn't bother with exchanging gifts.

I had had x-rays of my achey feet done this fall and I'm being referred to an orthopaedic surgeon sometime this spring for a consultation (regarding mid foot fusion and a possible ankle replacement).  It would seem that my OA and Lupus hasn't stopped and is soldiering on.  I'll find my mojo again soon and today is a fresh clean slate.

scarves: 5
shawls: 4
runners: 14

root canal: 1  
crowns: 3
.....and one very happy dog!

Calli playing in the snow

Our back yard after a midnight snow fall
Wishing you all good health, much happiness and prosperity in 2018!