Monday, July 15, 2019

Irons in the Fire

I  like a clean orderly studio.  But its far from that right now...

I simply have too much on the go and its difficult to know where to start or what to finish.   I finally got the second diamond shawl woven off.    I even wove off  seven or eight yards of towels on the Megado!  I struggled with the loom,  the brake, and found myself having to tighten nuts and bolts every half a towel or so. Something was off and I couldn't put my finger on the issue.  The rolled up raw cloth is sitting on the office shredder waiting for the desk to be clear so I can dig out the serger and secure the edges before wet finishing...

finally fixed and ready to warp up again
...doesn't look like 8 yards does it?
So with two looms coming empty I needed to start winding warps. I planned three or four actually and started winding. This meant the desk was being used for the warping mill and so the fringe twisting on the shawl had to wait.

its half way done at least...
more warps to wind, wheels to spin...
Another day saw a parcel arrive from Leclerc and new inserted eye heddles arrived for the Tissart tapestry loom and I spent an afternoon finagling the parts off the loom, cleaning them up and installing the new heddles.  So that's done..... but I also have two new apron cloths waiting to go on that loom so I'm not entirely finished with the Tissart. Not to mention actually getting the loom set up with a warp yet...
the white cloths patiently waiting to be installed...
Another day, another diversion. I enjoyed time spinning on the Rose wheel and working my way across a rainbow fleece. It must remain open and accessible so you can peel away the next section to spin, in order to get the rainbow effect. So that sits on top of the printer and the two wheels are by the door so I can take them outside.

I had a warp ready to be wound on to the Spring and another ready to go on the Megado.  Hubby came in yesterday morning to assist me and we got the longer eight yard cotton warp wound onto the Spring with no issues.  Love this little loom!

The Megado has a narrow warp of tencel waiting and I told him this won't take long..... and before we knew it  three hours had gone by and we were exhausted!  I casually mentioned the issue I was having with the loom and then he noticed some chaffing on the wood.  Long story short, it seems some carriage bolts were installed in the wrong locations and while the loom worked, it wasn't happy.  We identified the longer bolts and where they needed to go and thought we could take them out sequentially but its not that simple as we quickly discovered.

We end up removing the warp from the raddle, and then dismantling the back end of the loom, and then rebuilding it again.  It took some effort and patience but its all done now and fixed.  I even ended the day with the warp back being spread in the raddle again.    Most of the work needed to be done from floor level and finessing washers into tight spaces and lining up wooden parts, so it really needed both people working on the same page and cooperating.    We got it all done and stayed friends at the end of it all.  
warp being spread in the raddle again
So I have been busy and some might think a bit too busy (me included!) but stuff is happening and moving along.... if slowly!  I just pick a task and see how far I get with it but I have two active looms, and a third  nearly so, which means I have more to choose from !

Oh yeah.... and its summer with other outdoor distractions too.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Spinning a Rainbow 🌈

I have a lovely batt of fine merino and silks all custom dyed and blended  by Yarnshine Fibre Arts. (Etsy and FB) It runs through  the rainbow with a black base across the spectrum.  I dusted off my Rose wheel and have been spinning up the deep violet and just progressed into the turquoise range.  It comes with a batt of jet black to spin up so you can ply the two together. I reckon its going to be a classy look and I'm  enjoying the process.

Its Pride Month, and I just lost a dear friend to whom he and his spouse thought that this is all so very important.  To simply be. To live, love and enjoy each day. Its not much to ask really.   Its a very human desire.

This yarn simply glows! 

Here's the balance of the batt and you can see where I have been nibbling away on the far right.

The little Victoria wheel sees more action as it travels with me and I seem to be endlessly spinning this strawberry mix.  Its lovely but I have a lot more of it to go !

I had the guild ladies over for a spinning, socializing yesterday afternoon on the patio. It was fun, despite a gale force breeze that fortunately was blocked by the house for the main part. We had a little oasis of relative calm. 

Nothing makes you tidy the studio up better than having company!  Last year the Megado failed to perform and so much mechanical tinkering was done and solutions found.   This time, I wove on her the day before to ensure no problems again, but on the day: the brake wouldn't release, the weaving program was being uncooperative but I did manage to get some throws in.   I felt like a complete novice....   geesh.

So today, I rolled up my imaginary sleeves and got busy and cranked out half a meter on some towels.  No issues at all. The brake worked fine, the weaving program was snappy and responsive.
I guess it doesn't like crowds or had performance anxiety!  😳

I had a threading for a 16 shaft braided twill with 8/2 cotton warp and cottolin weft, and decided to change to another draft instead.  So this is a hybrid of a threading for braided twill  that featured straight runs, combined with a fancy point twill in the tie up, and the two melded together looked like this:

I can't take any credit. My 'brain' here does all the hard work!

So I'm thinking most of the trouble yesterday was 'operator error'..... and practise makes perfect.  Simply do the work and learn the program properly.   As with most things in life, there are no short cuts.   So I'm still learning this old message at my advanced years....  I can almost hear my mother and father laughing from here....   🤣

The looms says "no comment". 

Saturday, June 15, 2019


There has been some weaving going on here. Its just a bit less and a lot slower than normal.  It summer after all and so we have been out more and also enjoying the garden and patio.

We also had some days away visiting the family and grandchildren.  That was a lot of fun and we had many rounds of playing Go Fish, and I discovered that my grand daughter Madison (age 4) cheats at it, and just flashes a smile when caught.   Ethan (age 7) was awarded a new strip for his belt at his Brazilian Jujitsu class and was so proud that his Grandad was there to see him get it.   They are growing up so fast!

Back to weaving....

I decided to revisit an eight shaft draft which features twill progression diamonds. It was a fun weave and I enjoyed it. I thought why not try it as a shawl and be more neutral with colours.   So I wound a seven yard warp for two shawls using undyed 8/2 tencel, sett the usual 24 epi.

My weft choice was a new fibre I haven't tried before. A 50/50 blend of modal and green tea.  The colour is a natural soft pale gold tone.  I thought against the white it would gently pick out the pattern.  Sort of a play of light on the cloth to bring out the diamonds.

Trying to get the light just right to see the pattern!

Modal is made from processed beech wood. Exclusively beech wood.  (Tencel is made from a mix of tree waste). How this changes things, I'm not really sure.    Green tea is the by products of making green tea for consumption and this is all the little twigs and branches that are normally disposed of.

Its all cellulose when it comes right down to it. Its ground and processed and turned into a slurry and then extruded through fine holes to make the fibre, then its plied and can be dyed.... or not.    They use the cotton size index to help simplify things and so that's why you have : 8/2, 10/2, 20/2 and 30/2 in tencel.   Then 8/2 is the most popular size produced and sold, all due to the many American weavers who set the  bar for what is more popular and so they produce the yarn  which will yield the most sales.  I love the colour variety of 8/2 but if I could choose what I prefer, I would use 10/2.   A twill sett is 28 epi which is only four extra warp ends per inch but 24 epi was as far as the general average of US weavers were willing to go.   It was a sad day when all the dyed 10/2 disappeared from the market....

Weaving with the modal green tea yarn wasn't as straight forward as I hoped for. The yarn is plied and seems to be a bit over energized and so it wanted to twist up on itself.  So I found I had to be careful to only draw out enough weft off the EDS's pirn to fill the pick and not a lot extra.   Then I had to be vigilant to catch any twisted bits that made it into the cloth regardless of my new shuttle throwing technique.

I don't think this issue is with every cone sold but perhaps with this particular batch made. I have labeled it 'weft only' as I can't imagine trying to cope with an over energized warp bouts and trying to beam it.  It has a lovely colour and good strength, plus soft. So lots to recommend it really. Its not a high demand yarn as yet so it tends to be spendy to purchase.

you can really see the pattern in this shot! 
The drape is lovely!

I found slowly twisting all this fringe very soothing as I waited for news on my friend Wayne last week.

So the neutral gold beige of the modal seems to have completely taken over the white tencel. Heck even the white fringe looks cream now.   Its a colour I'm calling butter cream.

I started to have some slight tension issues so this shawl was cut off early and I re-lashed on and started weaving shawl number two. This time I'm using silver tencel. So staying with a neutral tone but perhaps better pattern detection?  So that will be my next weaving post in due course.....

Meanwhile, a house tidy up is underway as I have all the ladies from the local guild coming here next Wednesday for a spinning afternoon. I have some baking to do!

Ethan being awarded his new red strip for his belt while his Grandad watched.  😁

Monday, June 10, 2019

If There Are Looms in Heaven....

Then this dear man is already seated and throwing a shuttle....

Rev Wayne Nicholson (Padre Wayne) July 31st 1948- June 10th 2019
I first met Wayne on a social media group called Ravelry, and in particular, a forum called Warped Weavers. We simply started chatting and sharing our love for weaving.  He called himself an (over) eager novice and had asked for some advise on a draft and we took off as friends.  He had that way of drawing you in and next thing you knew, you were enjoying life with him.

In 2014, he and his spouse Harry were taking a summer sabbatical from their parish in Mt Pleasant, Michigan and coming out to the PNW or Pacific Northwest, and he declared that they intended to come up island and visit us.  We were thrilled that they would take such a large detour to come and see us. I was waiting on both hip and knee replacements so with that understanding of my limited capabilities it was on!

We had a marvellous time with them: visited The Loom at Whippletree Junction south of Duncan, and also Leola's Studio. Yarn purchases made at each stop of course.    Dinner at the Rock Cod Cafe in Cowichan Bay and a walk on the Maritime pier after dinner.  (I also heard that visits in Victoria included Knotty by Nature and BeeHive)

It turned out to be a very special time for them as they had married while in Port Townsend !  We were part of their honeymoon tour...

They came back again the following summer and we had another few days of visiting and sharing. Wayne discovered the joys of the 20+ tie up assist on my loom (which he subsequently bought with Harry's urging and loved it) 

We each had a loom or wheel to play with and had a great time and wonderful conversation.     In 2016 we moved here to Campbell River and so we missed their annual visit, but in 2017 we were all set to host them again. It was not to be as Wayne had forgotten his passport in his locked car in Detroit and so issues crossing the border prevented the visit from happening.   This past summer in 2018, Wayne retired and they moved from Michigan to their new home in Bay St Louis on the Gulf Coast.

They were in their car when it was struck from behind at a high rate of speed on June 3rd. Broken bones for both, but Wayne soon was in a coma and then the prayers started flowing in for a miracle.  His wounds were too great and he was taken off of life support today.  

What has happened is what I like to think of as the "Wayne effect"..... people are discovering just how many lives these two people touched. On Ravelry or FaceBook, everyone has a story to tell and share with others.  Wayne helping others as they grieve, or in poor health and / or hospitalized, feeding the homeless,  sermons of hope and love,  and so much more. He was a supporter of women and marched proudly with a pink pussy hat, marched for BLM (Black Lives Matter), LGBTQ rights.......he was all about people simply being who they are and being equal.  

In the weaving world: he always had an encouraging comment, suggestion or willing to share. Many weavers have a towel he gifted them or hot pads (I have some too). He and I did sample exchanges  and so there was always one for me and one for Wayne with every project that came off my loom.

Padre Wayne would so flustered by all the attention and prayers sent his way in these past few days.  His husband Harry will be healing and grieving.... but hopefully all the love sent his way will help ease the pain.

Harry wearing one of Wayne's scarves at Notre Dame Cathedral
Wayne was a great support when my father was dying in 2015. It took seven months and there was a lot to deal with, and Wayne helped me along the inevitable way.  He was also quick with support as I had my joint replacement challenges, and again when Bruce dealt with his bladder cancer last year.  He literally shared his compassion everywhere and if you weren't religious, not a biblical word passed his lips. He was one of those very special people who can reach everyone with empathy.  

We would use FaceTime and walk around showing each other what was on the loom and catch up on news and plans.  Ah, they had such plans......    

I'm sure that someone will finish his project on the loom for him. I know if I lived closer, I would would do that for him.... as he would have done for me.

Rest easy my friend.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Flower Petals and Lace

Its a busy time of year, with gardens, annual house and yard chores,  and I'm not "nose to the grindstone  or loom" quite so much anymore.    Besides, Hubby hurt his lower back and so there's been that to deal with.  Its had work convincing a hurt man to stay still and let his back heal!

Spring chores sort of ground to a halt but we're planning on resuming what we can soon.

the rhodie on the verge of blooming (taken last week)

So enough of all that.... lets talk some weaving shall we?   This draft below is a blend of weft floats that produce flowers and areas of 3 thread huck lace (or mock leno).  I've had this draft for years and not entirely where it came from originally.  It uses special denting and sleying to open the lace areas more.
  • using a 12 dent reed, sled two ends per dent in the plain weave and flower sections.
  • in the lace sections, sled three ends to a dent, *plus* leave an empty dent on either side of the three end grouping.
I'll tell you that it does make predicting how wide your warp will be a tad bit difficult but from this project and past ones, it adds  1 1/2 inches to every 15 inches planned, so 17.5 inches in width for my current project.  There's a bit of 'fudge factor' with this one. 

Then there's the plain weave treadles.... both far right treadles are for plain weave. This would be your hem allowance or small border before starting the main portion of the draft.    You see, treadle 3 is also a tabby treadle too. Yup, confusing as heck.    Its meant to used as part of the treadling sequence for the lace squares. You treadle lace squares and go directly into weft floats.   You can make the flower larger, or the lace squares bigger, but go directly from one part to the other and do not hit the far right treadles along the way!   Clear as mud? 

8 shaft draft- basic
Draft showing empty dents  between lace groups
I've woven this before....  here it is in  20/2 silks. 

Here is 10/2 cream mercerized cotton and a light moss green silk/ flax/ acrylic weft, with little flecks of colour.

... and here is the same weft used with a 10/2 ink blue mercerized cotton warp in my recent project. It changes the whole look huh? This is on the loom and so under tension ....

Also, same warp but this time I used a dark navy blue 8/2 tencel. You can clearly see the effect the empty dents have on the look.

I also used a silver blue version of the silk flax acrylic yarn I have in my stash  and it gave a more denim loom. It was also a bit slubby  and I went ahead with it, but its not my favourite.

The cloth roll had some distortion where the lace areas collected on each other and so I cut off after 3 runners were woven.    They were secured, washed and pressed, then made ready for hand hemming.

They are all nice but lacking something.... so I decided to try a different colour for the fourth runner.

Our back patio is summer ready now....

A lovely place to sit with a cool drink and spin, or twist fringe on runner number four! The mat on the table is from Nepal and is needle woven by using chain stitch into intricate patterns on a cotton backing cloth.  My brother bought it from a woman along a Kathmandu road side for me some years ago.

This runner is my favourite and has some pizzaz!  I used 8/2 tencel in dark teal and the cloth comes to life with this blending of colours. In the plain weave sections, there is an iridescence effect.  The weft float flowers are a burst of teal green. The over all effect is light and lacy.  It's 17.5 inches by 54 inches. Fringe is 2 inches.

I also used Italian hemstitching on a whim instead of the usual basic hemstitching. The little row of boxes along the edges are quite sweet and compliment the lace boxes.

Yes, more flowers and garden shots. This is my garden's prime time of year, so I'm showing it off!  The chestnut tree is simply loaded. The hummingbirds and bees are giddy with excitement and there is a cascade of flower petals under the tree so it looks like pink snow.

chestnut tree flowers

Not sure that this is but they are happy to be out!

 ...and finally, this is a rock garden plant (again nameless) and there is a literal cloud of tiny flowers on long stems above the little tight leaves. Edit: the little pink and white rock plant is Saxifraga x urbium, commonly known as London Pride.  Thank you Amanda! 

The loom is being reloaded as I write.... and some threading is under way.  All the doors and windows are open and there is a delightful breeze.   We waited all winter long for days like this....