Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Yule to Remember!

So, our day started at a ghastly 5 am with a power outage. This meant Bruce loading up the wood stove for heat. Then he heated some (bottled) water to make some coffee. We must maintain some civilities at the very least! Then for Christmas breakfast... we had ham and pea soup warmed on the woodstove. Not what I had planned originally but it was good none the less. No water (pump needs power) no phone (not sure why not?), no heat except our woodstove. The silence was deafening especially given the volume of snow on and around the house. It's day 7 since we were last out. Never did get Christmas grocery run done due to snow and bad road conditions... but the power is back on and we're cooking a small turkey right now . Life is good. The sun came out too. We both grabbed our cameras. The trees are heavily ladened and the sun would warm and melt the snow....within half an hour from when these were taken, most trees had shrugged off the white coat and it was mostly green again. Now the ground is another story:

This is the carport and that's 2 1/2 feet of *compacted* snow on top. There is more to come tonight. The local wildlife are suffering as well. We have raccoons at the bird feeder all night and this fella by day:




Not sure if this is a 'she' or a 'he' but is this year's fawn from a doe that was hit and killed this last late summer. Somehow this little sweetie has survived alone and comes to eat the bird seed (and other things like apples we leave out) each morning. Since this picture was taken, another two feet of snow has fallen.

As this is Christmas Day, I thought I would take a moment to show you the five lovely woven card insert I received this year. So I'll start by saying that I had no light to turn on (power was off) and after I took the images, my battery in the camera died. So my apology for pictures slightly askew but I was under rather limiting circumstances!

Like my friend Lynnette , I also received this lovely card from our friend Joan in Kamloops, BC. Joan does beautiful weaving and I have spent an enjoyable time at her home for a lunch and afternoon in her studio where we looked over her looms, projects and Joan's other interests such as book binding.

This card is from my friend Louise of Lumby, BC. Louise is a weaving dynamo and is one of those people you *hate* to follow at a guild meeting's show and tell session. She brings in a haul of stuff and you wonder where she finds the time to do it all? Especially since she works and helps to run a cattle ranch. Yup, you gotta get your show and tell in before hers every time!

(Yup, it's crooked. See excuse #1 above) This card insert was woven by Lynnette of Coldstream, BC. You may have seen this and it's cousins at her blog prior to being mailed away. I'm one of the lucky recipients. What doesn't show here is the sparkly silver strand along with the white weft. I didn't have a decent light source (see excuse # 2 above). Lynnette does lovely work and I have several of her cards from past years.

This card is woven by a friend who I call my 'weaving mentor' and she happens to be a GCW master weaver. Margaret lives in Lake Country, BC. This picture really doesn't do justice to the trees and colours. I have been lucky enough to have several years of Margaret's cards and each one is a delight.

The last one I have to show you three times. The materials used bounced the flash and so I had to try and capture the overall effect and then a close up of the weft and warp and that didn't do justice to the overall weaving.

This gem was woven by Gudrun of Tappen, BC. Gudrun took her training in Germany and is a German master weaver. The overshot pattern above was woven using white sewing thread as her warp and a very fine copper wire as pattern weft. Copper taken from small resisters where she has stripped off the wire and wound it onto bobbins. Recycling in art! The flash over brightened the first and here I have slightly turned the card to show more of the pattern:

Much better definition....and then a close up to show the wefts. Please bear in mind that the opening in this card is 2 inches across.

Well, I must close for now and go and check our dinner. The house smells great, we're warm and snug here.....we have a lot to be thankful for. (I still want to get out and get groceries though.)

Happy Holidays to you all!

Susan, Bruce and Connor, the dog.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Project on Lilibet

First things first! This was our front yard this afternoon. After it was dark, the snow kept on falling! We are officially stuck and can't get out of the driveway. Oh, well... we'll dig out, or call for snow clearance help ....our driveway is 300 feet long. Happy Solstice!

I decided to put a narrow double weave sampler warp on Lilibet ( my Louet Spring loom) and the stats are:
22/2 cottolin, 20 epi (double 40 epi) 10 inches in width, in colours teal and purple
10 dent reed, 4 per dent; light on shafts 1 and 2 and dark on shafts 3 and 4
Warp length: 3 yards
The goal is to practise two layers, tubular weaving, and closed on one side

My previous experience with DW is limited to round robin workshops and no full projects on my own looms at home. I just haven't had interest to try it until now. So here are some pictures of the project going on the loom:


Threading the built in raddle, which needed 8 ends per slot to spread it to the proper width


After I lace the rod into place, it's ready to wind on!


I must say that warping on the Louet is pretty darn nice....it just rolls on as you follow their steps. The resulting warp has beautifully even tension.
Here we are ready to go! I got under way and it was going well. I had my treadling plan all worked out and toodled along. The first one was just to get the feel for the process and so the second was my 'serious' attempt. I got it all woven in one session for an even beat and I was feeling good. I wanted it to be a balanced weave at 20 ppi. It measured 18 under tension, and 19 off tenision. So far so good! Now I cut off and plan to finish ends and wash it to get the 20 ppi.
I turned it over and found this:
How had I missed that?? Also the ppi on the layer was now off with such a thick mistake on the bottom layer. I decided that this whole thing was a learning experience even with the 'mistake' so I'm going to go ahead and twist the ends and wash it and see if the earlier areas do have a balanced 50/50 weave. So I still have half the warp to work with and will do a third. But I'm going to try using a mirror to periodically check underneath. I also understand that I may need to do another warp as I work my way through this 'DW' Study.
The DW sampler is on a large sheet on insulation board (left over from a project) and I have marked it in one inch increments. I attach my handwoven to a given line and pin securely. I then use my fringe twister and slip a darning needle into the over hand knot at the given length line. My knots are all even across! I don't do a final trimming of the tassles with a rotary cutter until after the washing and pressing. I'll show you that at a future time with this sampler. The fringe twisting is still ongoing.
I have some great news to share! We have a new addition to the family. I had a delivery to my door on Friday by UPS and my new table loom, Louet's new Jane loom has arrived safe and sound just ahead of the major snow storm. She's assembled and now is waiting for her additional heddles to come via the post before the shafts are added and adjusted. Her debut will be as soon as she is appropiately 'dressed'.
So if you are buried in snow like us, take heart... the daylight now gets a bit longer with each and every day. Its all going in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scarf Warp Update

Just a quick update today: this is scarf number 3 and the weft is a silk cashmere blend from Treenway. Its a bit more beige that this photo shows. The feel of the scarf is lovely as you can imagine. I think for number 4 I will use a steel grey silk yak blend I found in the bottom of my silk storage box over another tencel weft. These scarves are taking a lot more time to weave due to their complexity so might as well 'go big or go home'!

The pattern is really neat and the opposite side is simply a mirror reverse of the front. Its actually very easy to spot a mistake due to the clear pattern definition.
On the personal front: we have just undergone 3 full days of no water in the house and I can't tell you how luxurious a shower was yesterday. The pump for the well died and it chose freezing weather and a snow storm in which to do it. So $2,000.00 later.....I got a pump for Christmas!
Bet that beats what ever you'll get in the 'weird department' :)
Try something today: consciously think every time you turn on a tap, flush, or even wipe a counter. Yup, we reply on indoor plumbing a great deal and it contributes tremendously to our quality of life.
So does our weaving....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All Washed up.... and Ready.

So the towel warp is off Lilibet and now hemmed, washed and pressed. I got 9 towels from 10.5 yards: two of each colour, plus a third of the beige. I decided against horizontal striped borders as its a tight and busy pattern as it is. When it came to hemming, I also decided to hand sew as opposed to machine sewing so not to produce a visible stitch line. I wanted a smooth clean lines and it worked well .

To review: the pattern is by Laurie Autio from a Complex Weavers compilation disc. Its 10 shafts and 10 treadle pattern in 2/8 cotton, sett 20 epi. Less than I wanted but it seems to have worked nicely. The pattern tightened up but no excessive shrinkage. The floats mean its absorbent and it helps to keep the warp colours intact for small runs. Equally attractive front and back! The different coloured wefts change the whole look of the cloth.

Violet weft 'front'

and (thanks to Blogger loading pictures weird again) the 'back.'

The plum 2/8 weft 'front'

The 'back' view...


Here we have side by side views of both sides of the honey beige towels.















Then lastly, the royal blue front and back. I think its the more dramatic of the colours.



















Would I use this pattern again? Yes! I would use a 22 epi sett next time and try a different gradation of colours in the warp.
Lilibet is naked right now but won't be for long! I'm doing a small double weave sampler and will be planning the project and pulling the warp (hopefully) tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

GCW Weaving Exchange ~ the Results Show

I love linen....the smoothness of it, the sheen, the cool touch.

GCW stands for Guild of Canadian Weavers and my friend Lynnette is the weaving exchange coordinator. I got my parcel in the mail a few days ago and what a treat! I submitted six towels and received six back, out of the nine participants. But we receive information sheets on all nine and Lynnette also produced a CD with all data and photos for every participant. Very professional!

The terms for the exchange are quite generous. We will find out early in the new year what the new weaving exchange idea will be and then we have until October 31st to send it in. Lots of time... We send in a cheque to defray postage costs and agree to produce records of the entries for each item we mail in. So far the exchanges have included: full sized tea towels in a registered tartan, greeting cards with woven inserts ( see them here Dec.9th entry) and this year, the guest towel. The exchange was started to have actual weaving happening within the national guild and to commemorate the Guild's 60th anniversary. I was president at the time and thought it a great idea and it seems to be one that is now benefiting all members as paid up members have been receiving a photographic record of the previous exchanges. As one company says "membership has its rewards!"

The white towel on the top of this entry is one that I wove and chose to keep as a record of what I entered. It's a fancy twill using a 2/16's cotton warp, sett 36 epi and most of the towels I wove had various linen wefts; some had mercerized cotton.


This towel was woven by Yvonne of Prince Edward Island and she calls it her 'country hand towel'. It's a delightful mix of rustic colours, 2/8 cotton, in a turned twill.

I thought of you Peg when I saw this one! It's crackle in rich tones. It was woven by Chantal in St. Gilles, Quebec, using 2/8 cotton. My husband really likes this one. It brings up the interesting talking point about why men won't use a hand towel, particularly if its white! But I think mine would use this and the country towel. ( so why not use soap and you can dry your hands on any colour!?) But this topic has come up elsewhere also and became a challenge for the next weaver.

This 'men's guest towel' was woven by Norma of Windsor, Ontario. She used 2/16 cotton and 2/22 cottolin for weft in this 'turned taquete'. Norma has completed three of four levels of the GCW master weaver program.

Blogger has turned two of the pictures and no matter how many times I try to reload, they come sideways! ( if anyone knows how to stop this, please let me know.... thanks) The pretty towel above was woven by Genevieve ( who I *think* lives in Quebec) using a rosepath threading. She used linen and 2/8 cotton in the warp and mercerized cotton weft.


My friend Louise wove M's and O's using 2/8 cotton warp and a 2 ply line linen weft in a Christmas green. Louise has completed three of four levels towards her master weaver with the GCW. She has the hardest level to do next but I have no doubt that she will do it.

Last, but by no means least, Lynnette's guest towel with cottolin warp and doubled singles linen weft in a pale blue. The pattern taken from 'Worst's Foot Treadle Loom Weaving'. An old stand by that is just as relevant today as it was in the 1920's. I have personally used this draft for towels some years ago and they were snapped up at sales for Christmas's past. Lynnette has completed two of four levels towards her master weaver. She too will reach her goal and most likely well ahead of me.

Hubby and I are off tomorrow for a dinner and theatre package and will be seeing a live play called 'Having Hope at Home". It part of our Christmas gift to each other this year. Should be great fun and I'll share how it went next post.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

First Project off a New Loom


This what 10 yards of 2/8 cotton all woven up and still on the cloth beam looks like. It has a soft, but fat satisfying bulk to it. I finished it yesterday afternoon but purposely left it till this morning to measure parts of it and take pictures... then do the formal removal off the loom. The first warp off a new loom. My friend Lynnette shared her results when she took her towels off her Louet Spring 'Lily' and measured the loom waste so we will have a better idea of how much to plan for in the future. Great idea! Here are some stats on this project:

  • 2/8 cotton, 20 epi at 22 inches in width at the reed (could have been closer set but I had an 'oops' with the warp planning for width.)
  • 10 1/2 yards in length and I have 9 towels of 34" in length each (before hemming) and a good selection of samples for sharing with friends.

The warp roll (including some of the back loom waste ) measures just a smidge under 1 1/4 inches on the front cloth beam.

From the top of the full cloth roll to the bottom of the beater bar, is two inches of space. The Louet Spring doesn't really hold a great deal of cloth. But if I was to prepare another 2/8 warp, I reckon I could put on 12 or maybe 13 yards but that would be the max. Finer yarns maybe 14 to 15 yards?

Look at how close I was able to weave to the back warp rod! The shed was 1 1/2 inches still at this point. I can't get this close on my other countermarche.

It laid nice and thick on the treadles! You really feel like you have accomplished something when you pick it up and feel the weight. So before I started to serge the towels apart, I measured the total loom waste.This is the back loom waste and it's just a bit under 15 inches. I probably could have woven a couple of inches more but I was 'done' at this point.

This is the front loom waste after I had slowly but surely undone all the knots. It measures approx 10 inches. I could maybe shorten the tying ends by an inch next time. I was a bit generous this time. So that's 25 inches of loom waste for this project. I allow 18 to 21 inches on my other countermarche so not too bad! So I serged the towels apart and tomorrow I will prep them for hemming. They will be back here when they are all sewn and washed and pressed.



Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Pause in Production

It hasn't been one of my better weeks. My weaving and pretty much every thing else came to a full stop. I developed the mother of all migraines and it stayed for four long days. I did manage to get 80% of my Christmas cards done (slowly) so it wasn't an entire bust. Today is the first time I have felt okay, but still a bit fragile. After seeing our doctor I'm now armed with new migraine medicine which must be taken at the first sign as the head pain starts as later is ...well, too late!

So early last Tuesday, before the headache hit me, I changed colours on the towel warp and this is the start of towel # 7 of 8.


This towel has a bright violet weft. It's some 2/8 cotton that I bought for a song as it's too softly spun to be used as warp. It's perfect for weft though and this is the first project to come along where it can be used. The yarn actually makes a 'zip' sound as it runs through the end delivery shuttle!
I have something like four or five half pound cones of this, so best think of some other uses for it. The sale tag is still on the bag and I spent $2.00 for 2 1/2 pounds of yarn. Not too bad huh?



I'll get back to weaving tomorrow on both ongoing projects. But I went looking for the calendar that I contributed to with the violet silk/ wool blend that I mentioned in the last entry. I found it finally and I almost had the year right.... it was actually 2001. The Kelowna group: Ponderosa Weavers and Spinners Guild had produced a calendar with one sample for every 2 months. It went very well, and raised some needed funds in the bargain. Now, I was going to show you the cover of the calendar but Blogger simply will not load the image without turning it sideways. *really annoying* I have no idea why it does that! But here are some of the samples featured in that group effort:



This sample is 100% linen and woven by Linda Heinrich ( author of The Magic of Linen) It's threaded and treadled in rosepath with alternating colours in warp and weft.

This is the sample that I made. It's a 60/40 silk wool blend, sett at 32 epi and a classic colour and weave check or pin wheel. I dyed both the colours. The yardage was beautiful and I had an offer from a neighbour to buy it from me and have a tailored jacket made from it to go with a charcoal wool skirt she owed. I was tempted!

This classic 2/2 twill colour and weave was woven by Christine Kirtz in 2/12 merino wool. She was also the calendar project organiser.


The sample above is an alpaca 'log cabin' and was woven by Ellie Morstad. I believe the warp and weft was handspun and there were some difficulties with weaving it due to separation under tension.

This is a shadow weave woven by June Kiewitz and Lyndsay Topham. They used orlec in two colours that are quite similar. It has a much more subtle effect over the usual very dark and very light contrasting colours normally used.

This last sample was woven by Julia Proulx and is featuring (mostly) naturally coloured cotton and I suspect that Blogger has turned the image on me! You don't hear too much about Fox Fiber Cottons anymore. Do any of you know if they are still in business?

I'm a big fan of samples and swatches and have four 3 inch binders full. I like the way they stir up the creative process. For injecting more colour into my projects I love looking through National Geographic magazines. When they feature a spread of full colour photos taken from Nature, it always amazes me the colours that coexist side by side in Nature....

Buyers of our handwoven goods and weavers in general are drawn to the colours for the energy and lift they provide but we tend to wear neutrals ( such as beige's and blacks) and be quite conservative in our homes. I'm sure this would be great material for a study!


News about the sale I participated in: Nothing sold unfortunately. It seems that people are really reconsidering what they are buying and how much they are spending this year for Christmas.

Are you adjusting what you are weaving as a result? I think I will weave what I normally do and worse case scenario, I will have a good war chest for sales down the road when purse strings loosen up again.

See you in a few days when I'm back up to full speed again!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Smooth Sailing

The next scarf is being woven with a silk/wool blend from Treenway that I dyed some years ago. Lanaset acid dye in a violet shade. This is left over yarn from some yardage I wove in 2000 using the violet and a charcoal gray (same fibre blend, also dyed by me) It was a fine pin wheel colour and weave and then was cut up into small little squares for a guild calendar project. After all that work, I drew the line at cutting it up... someone else got the honours!

Back to this scarf: I have some great beads to add to this one when it's off loom!

Otherwise not much else to report.... I haven't heard (yet) how my items fared at the sale this past Saturday.

The towel warp on Lilibet is progressing nicely and I'm three quarters through the warp. After the last neutral cream towel, I'll be back to bright colours again for towels seven and eight. I'm hoping there will be warp enough for samples!

My six towels from the GCW weaving exchange are on their way in the post. You'll be seeing those here very soon.

Back soon with an update!