Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on M.E.

Okay, fair warning.... this post will run a little long!  Its the whole deal from the project start to the final gifting so it will be worth the wait for all the reading!

I told you all in a previous post that we are about to become first time grandparents in mid April and so I had to fire up the loom and get busy! I'm going to be explaining each step as my son and daughter in law will be reading and learning what was involved with the making of their gifts.

First up, after planning the project math out on paper and playing with the design in my computer program, I wind the warp that will go on the loom.

In this case, 826 warp ends that will be sett at 24 ends in every inch, and be 35" wide on the loom.  The length of the warp is just under 8 yards.  I'm using 8/2 white cotton.

I wind each inch on one by one onto the back of my loom and when all done it looks like this:

Next up, I take the individual sections and load them onto long smooth sticks which are then supported by cords from the upper portions of the loom. It means the threads are now accessible from the front of the loom.

I reach through and thread the heddles in the given sequence needed for the project. Each thread goes through one of the white heddles.... all 826 of them!

I don't rush this part as going back in to fix mistakes is tedious so I put on some good music and take my time.  Here's the view from behind showing the the support sticks in place....each thread in order as it was wound.

This is the widest project I have done in some time! It looked neat to have the loom nearly full width wise.

Next step is to 'sley the reed' which is the beater bar for the loom. For some reason, I didn't take a picture of this step. The reed also determines how many ends in every inch of the project. The reed I used has 12 slots in every inch and so I placed 2 warp threads through a slot for a total of 24 ends in every inch.  (edit: I checked my notes and it seems I did use 24 epi. The next lowest was 21 and I thought that too loose. Sorry for the confusion.)

Then, once done with sleying,  I pulled the warp ends through and tied onto the front of the loom in small one inch sections or bouts:

All done! I have thrown some shots of scrap yarn to close the gaps and even tried a new technique of looping a thread over the end of the apron rod. It did help to prevent curling of the edges until they were over the breast beam! I had to adjust my 'heft' of throwing the shuttle to the new width when weaving as it is far wider than my scarves, towels or even shawls. I could feel it in my arms the next day!

(Suddenly Blogger wants to centre my text and won't align left! Ggrr)
 I wove up the hem allowance and then hemstitched on the loom. First blanket is white on white and the weft yarn is  unusual in that it is Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton, 100 yard jumbo cone from Wally World. I like the corded look and the great shine it has for 100 % mercerised cotton. It will take all the machine washing to come!

I had help.  I would get so focused on the task at hand that apparently I *needed* to stop and have fun occasionally! Calli would lie beside the loom and with her paw, punch the toy in under the treadles....then sit like this and stare at me doing her version of doggy mind reading until I got the hint!

I used a temple or stretcher to keep the warp at the given width and so this meant moving it every two blocks of the pattern woven or every 18-20 throws. I wove the crib blankets to 65" each plus hems. Besides the white, there was also a beige version using the Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton in a soft beige....with white hems.

The last one was woven in a fresh green using a 60/40 cottolin (which is a blend of linen and cotton) and again, white hems.

Once they were off the loom, I serged them apart and prepped them for hemming:

Then they were washed and pressed and my special 'made by Susan' label attached and I added what I like to call 'Grandma bait' when I'm making them for sales....  little rosebuds in the corners. I guess I was in a hurry to go as I wrapped them all up in the fancy paper and suddenly realized that I hadn't taken pictures!  Thankfully I had bought a roll of paper so out they came for their photoshoot...

There was a great deal of luggage and such for our trip and I guess my son must have thought we were moving in! Calli was at the Doggy Resort as they have three cats.  (50 pound dog versus three cats? The cats would win hands down!)

The baby shower was this past Sunday and the decorating started at 9 am with balloons and streamers. The food preparation was well under way by noon. I was a helper with Lisa's mother, Adele, and Adele's sister known to all as Auntie Zia. 

There was many friends and family there and all came bearing gifts and big smiles. Everyone loves babies!  When the gift opening started, I stood at the back and took pictures... and by day's end I had over 200. 

Here's daughter in law Lisa, with her friend Lisa (who organized the shower) and Lisa is opening up one of our gifts....a Baby book to record all those special firsts. I had just given my son his Baby book with all his pictures and mementos so it seemed appropriate to start the wee one off right too. The new format for the books nowadays is with stickers and such to have fun recording the events. Turns out my daughter in law is a scrapbooker  and when she opened it up she was so happy to see it, her toes curled!  We also gave small items such as baby spoons, slippers, natural baby products for bath time... and the blankets.

There were many beautiful and helpful gifts given to the new parents to be. Lisa's parents bought the lovely crib and dressers for the baby's room and we also bought a playpen (or as they are called now, a play yard)

We're looking forward to seeing it again, with a baby in it,  later this summer at our house! Then there was the food... and an Italian cake with pastry on the bottom and filled with cream and custard. Yummy!

It was a long day but fun and it was great to meet so many of their friends. Later once everyone had gone and it was just family and the men folk had come back from their afternoon at the movies, Adele made spaghetti and we sat and chatted.  I sure slept like a log that night!

I had taken along some long sharp scissors with me to snip off the little rosebuds from the blankets once they had served their purpose for the shower.  The rosebuds are destined to be included in a future scrapbook project.

I took the liberty of draping the blankets on the crib to see what they look like. They fit well width wise and a bit overlong for the crib length, but oh well! Next ones will be woven to 55" or 60"  Better too long than too short!

One last thing.... a belated gift for their tenth wedding anniversary...

So, I'm off to rest and recover! That was a lot of talking and fun and its tuckered me out.  Don't worry... I'm weaving!  In between laundry loads I'm getting busy with the shawls for the Retreat later this month.
They will be next up for posting ....

Oh, and the M.E ?  That's the first initials of the chosen baby names both for a boy or a girl. Those will be revealed in time and that won't be very long!  


Linda said...

Thank you for sharing such a fun post, Susan! These blankets are simply beautiful, and certainly something for these parents to treasure. I would not be surprised to find this child dragging one or more of them around constantly, as this cotton is going to be just fabulous after so many washings. Congratulations! What fun things to loud forward to!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, all the blankets are beautiful - lucky baby to have such a talented Gee Gee!

barbara said...

Hi Susan,
What a wonderful "blog" on the baby blankets and they turned out so beautiful - lucky baby!!! Thanks for sharing.

dorothylochmaben said...

Great to read the story ! blankets look great and it sounds as if you had a good time.
Doing this blog must have taken some time !!

Lynnette said...

So lovely to see the finished blankets! I love the rosebuds on the corners, they really do add that special touch and I'm sure the care that you put into them is much appreciated.
The countdown begins.....only 2 weeks until the retreat....can't wait!

Theresa said...

What fun, what energy and what wonderful woven blankets! They look like they'll wear like iron too. A good thing. We all can't wait to see that baby in the playpen too!

Loree Jackson said...

Beautiful work! Calli is so cute :) The baby blanket will make a wonderful family heirloom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan:
The blankets are all beautifully woven and I love the colors you chose. Very lucky baby! You spoil us with the additional technical information. I do have a question about your epi, though with the 8/2 cotton warp. If you threaded the warp 2 2 2 3, wouldn't that be 27 epi instead of 22? I'm planning to use 8/2 cotton for some table runners and thought I would thread it at 24 epi. June, NH

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan:
The blankets are all beautifully woven and I love the colors you chose. Very lucky baby! You spoil us with the additional technical information. I do have a question about your epi, though with the 8/2 cotton warp. If you threaded the warp 2 2 2 3, wouldn't that be 27 epi instead of 22? I'm planning to use 8/2 cotton for some table runners and thought I would thread it at 24 epi. June, NH

Susan said...

Hi June,
You are right about that! I'll double check my notes and edit in a correction later today. In the meantime, use a chart for the numbers if you decide to go for 22 epi

I did make many blankets at 24 epi and after checking the samples from those projects, I made a decision to drop to 22 epi for a bit more drape and flex. It works either way, but I was tweaking things a bit.


Susan said...

Hi June,
I checked my notes and it seems I did use 24 epi afterall! The next lowest I could do was 21 and it was a bit too loose for my liking...

Sorry for the confusion... post is changed to reflect this.


bspinner said...

The baby blankets are beautiful as is the runner. Looks like everyone was having a very good time at Liza's shower.

Bonnie said...

Finally someone has given me a reason to want to learn to do hem stitching. I love them all!