Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wild Orchid



I love Orchids. Did you know there are over 5900 catalogued varieties? That they are the most sophisticated, specialized plant on the Earth? The blossoms, the colours...they look so delicate and so complex! Did you know that real vanilla extract comes from an orchid ? Many are green house varieties needing special humid conditions but phalaenopsis or Moth orchid can be grown in most homes on a window sill.

So imagine my curiosity when I saw that there is a tencel colour called orchid! 
 I *had to* order it.  When it arrived I could see that its a delicate lilac. Super, uber pale!    I have used it as weft in one of my shawls and while it looked good, it didn't really bring the true colour out. The other colours in the warp and weft took centre stage.

The cone sat on my yarn shelf for a time and I mulled over what would be the best way to express this delicate colour to its best advantage.  Eventually, I decided on huck lace and the orchid would be warp and weft, because as we all know, that lace weaves look best when you use the same colour and yarn.

So I went through my pattern books and then my sample binders. I found an 8 shaft lace draft I used some years ago and woven a white shawl. All I have is a picture of it as the warp was too short for samples and it sold right away. (That was before I added extra inches as a dedicated sample length!) This tencel is 8/2 and I used a sett of 20 epi for a slightly firmer lace (over the recommended 18 epi).


I wanted to use the bottom section again, which I like to call 'trellis'. The top section is a lot more lace than I really wanted but I went through the various lace blocks and took some from the top and what I liked from the trellis. The basic rules are a block that has a 1 for the plain weave must be followed by a block with a 2. This way you can select which ones you want to create the image you'd like. Well, that's what I did  with this draft.  It was fun actually and I came up with several patterns that I'll use in the future. They are all based on the threading shown above and all I've done is play with the blocks and in what order they are treadled.


The picture above shows the start of the first scarf using the trellis style.... and my new Bluster Bay curly walnut end delivery shuttle. The yarn feed is opposite to what I'm used to and I had to get used to the tensioning hooks. Due to tencel being slippery, I ended up using pretty much all of them. It didn't take too long to get used to it and as you'll see later on, it did a nice job with my selvedges. The only difficulty I had was re-learning how to wind the cardboard pirns correctly, but even that went okay after a couple of tries. 


The plain weave treadles, nine and ten, are on the far right.... and all the pattern treadles are sequentially across from treadles one to eight. Your feet are jumping around quite a bit! After a repeat or two, I decided to place numbers on the treadles to give me my placement at a glance.  If you give the draft above a try, then you might want to do this too.


Scarf number two I wove blocks that went across the scarf and made small rosettes, then an abbreviated blocks to make them appear rounder, followed by the rosettes again. This was repeated on the other end of the scarf. In between, I wove the rounder 'flowers' with six pics of plain weave in between to give some separation. Its pretty but I like the first scarf better. Its seems that simple designs are more effective. 


Then it was time for the fringes to be twisted...


You can see the shine already!


Beads were a interesting experience! I pulled out all my suitable colours and then put most of the away again.  I had some that almost matched perfectly but they did absolutely nothing and completely disappeared. I found that some that looked the right shade, turned a different colour against the orchid colour! Finally I found the ones shown above for the trellis scarf. They are darker than I really wanted but trust me, in person, they really work!


Photographing it on white simply did NOT work....it turned gray and looked dreadful! My dark charcoal counter top worked best. If it didn't, then I wasn't sure what to do next! As you can see from the picture below, the areas of plain weave produced a very stable cloth.


The second scarf, which I'm calling 'flowers' turned out quite nice too. You can see the softer shade I used for this one's beads and crystals. Both scarves have lovely edges and I must credit the Bluster Bay. I ordered a second one, this time curly maple, so I have a set. I'll use them on narrow widths such as scarves.



They both came in at 7.5 inches in width and 71 inches in length, plus the fringe. They are definitely a lady's scarf.



I took it easy weaving these scarves due to my cranky knee. X-rays were done and I had a visit with our family Doctor. Seems I need a knee replacement! Actually, half of one but its up in the air if a 'demi' version would work. Many orthopedic surgeons gave up on the half version and went back to the full. We'll see what my surgeon feels about this when I get to see him sometime this late spring or early summer.

I'm going to keep on weaving, as it is exercise after all,  but use more (lighter) 8 shaft drafts and go slower.  My Doctor says I'll be back weaving again once I'm all healed. The trick is how long will the wait for surgery be?    I'll keep on playing with yarns while I wait...


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Forever Hellebore

This blog is primarily for my weaving adventures with just a dash of  personal. Its time to share that while I'm never a fast weaver, things have slowed even more around here. There's the normal spring time call of the house and yard, it seems my joints have decided to complain about their situation.

I've been  waiting to see a specialized surgeon for foot surgery, but now my left knee is singing a sad song. I've had it x-rayed and so will start the process with doctors and possibly a surgeon for the knee. Its OA or osteo-arthritis (same as my right foot) and all part and parcel of my SLE or Arthritis Lupus .

I've discovered that everyone in and around my age group has something to complain about so this isn't to illicit sympathy but to simply say,  that sometimes it hurts to weave, so I can't.... and as a result,  posting a weaving story can be slow.

I have been weaving but just for short periods with rest breaks in between! I should have some new for you next time...

So lets take a look at some other items that I've had tucked away waiting to share with you:


This is a pink hellebore that grows in our front garden. I took this picture at least three, maybe four springs ago and posted it here at my blog as part of a spring garden  camera walkabout.  Sandra Rude spotted it and asked if she could 'weave' it at some time. I said an enthusiastic "YES" and then waited.  It took a long time before it came up in the queue. Sandra's new AVL jacq 3g loom needed several tune up's and tweaking until it runs just right. Here is a link to the AVL web site with all of the looms specs  I did receive this computer adaptation of my image from Sandra where the color values are established:


The warp would be black and the other colours are all potentials for the weft. I must confess that I'm not clear on how the color selection works or even how many Sandra can use at one time, but the whole concept is just fascinating!

Here is a link to a blog post where Sandra attended a workshop and explains the method of using Adobe Photoshop and assigning colours.

Just before this past October 2012, Sandra emailed me that the weaving would be under way very soon and the weaving ready to ship before Christmas. It was fun to keep a close eye on the daily progress!

I was hoping to show you the weaving bit by bit as it was revealed to me but it seems that Sandra has had a photographic loss at her blog so there's text but no pictures.  Here's the only one I could find:


This one was taken by Sandra underneath the loom as the cloth is slowly being wound onto the cloth roll while she weaves away above!   Before too long, it was on the way to us and I picked it up at the post office.

Hellebore, woven by Sandra Rude, from original photograph by Susan Harvey

Sandra uses a stabilizer on the back of the cloth and so it can now be stretched over a frame. Sandra just recently sent me directions on that process and the special outer  frame the stretched image will 'float' in.  We may just get it stretched professionally! Until then its carefully rolled up and waiting....

This is one fleeting spring flower that will last a life time!

Then by way of a bonus for you, my brother was in England this past September and one of his stops was at the British Museum. He took these pictures thinking of my interest in textile history.


Ancient Minoan stone loom weights circa 2100-1450 BCE


Stone loom weights and spinning whorls...all found at the city of Troy 2600-2300 BCE

Kind of makes you glad we have the beautiful modern tools we have now huh?  If you love historical stuff like the loom weights above, then, if you haven't already, then you gotta read this book!




Friday, May 3, 2013

Caribbean Twilight

I have been spring cleaning. Every nook and cranny has been swept clean,  inside windows sparkle and now I'm pressing and re-installing the draperies after cleaning.  I must say it feels darn good!! I'm going to keep on whittling things down further by diving into drawers and closets in the coming days.

I'm continuing to downsize in the studio also and have vintage and even two antique books listed at my Etsy page.    The antique books are 99 and 101 years old!

So no new weaving has been under way but I have managed to finish off the last project from the Louet.   The loom is currently naked but I hope to beam a warp on her either today or tomorrow.


I had given you a sneak peek of the second color gradation scarf.  I used the eggplant (or aubergine) and magenta again but this time I teamed it up with azure and dark teal. I also changed the blending area in the centre to shorten up the sequence.  You have to love weaving programs as you play around and try different things long before you get to the loom or waste expensive yarns. Well, actually .. you can still get a pleasing draft on the computer and still have a disappointment at the loom. The mixing of colours and the play of light all have a hand in what counts as a success or failure, not to mention what you like or don't like personally!


I love the concentration of colour on the warp beam!


I had the scarves finished before we went to the birthday party and they only needed to be beaded and washed and pressed once we got home. Once again, I had no purple aubergine beads so had to go for the teal and turquoise.  Not too many of those to choose from either. I end up emptying my entire bead collection out on the desk and then spent much time reorganizing them that so I can actually find things!

I accidentally dumped an entire container of turquoise beads on the Berber carpet. I was down on the floor for about thirty minutes picking them up when Bruce found me and got down to help me.  I must have knocked them far and wide over six square feet. Now he's a real pal! They were the right color that I needed to use so I had to save each and every bead. I'm grateful I had vacuumed just the day before so not bring up too many surprises along with the beads!

I made a list of the gaps in my colour range and so will carry that list in my purse for future shopping trips. I had only one spool of thread that came close in colour too so there's another gap to fill as well.

I took pictures of the beading process and unfortunately I didn't check them on the camera as I went and it seems that none of them turned out. My camera settings had been changed and I didn't see that. Oh, well.... I basically followed my usual routine and that is found here .

So  the project basics are: 8/2 tencel, sett 24 epi, two scarves and samples from 6.5 yard warp. The finished dimensions were 7 inches in width and 71 inches in length, plus generous length of twisted fringe.
So here they are...




There is a beautiful sheen to the cloth that doesn't seem to come through in the pictures. Also, it seems to be hard for the camera to accurately get the colour mix and they are richer in person. The colours remind of what I imagine an evening twilight time by the Caribbean might be like.

Not sure what the next project on the Spring will be but if its scarves,  it will be a two scarf warp again. That way I get my mileage from the loom waste and not get bored with the same treadling or variation. 

To be truthful after doing my planning, colour choices and playing with it in PCW Fiberworks....then I see the first repeat on the loom and I'm ready to move on!  Crazy huh?  Newbie weavers can't wait to get to the "real weaving part" and later on down the road, somehow the picture can flip. The fun part is the creating and design. 

If you are still following written drafts, then make a safe, slow start to taking your weaving forward.  Start by taking a pretty draft you have used and familiar with and add in borders, or isolate one portion of the treadling and try that as your treadling plan. Try weaving as drawn in...   what ever takes your fancy, but try something different

That was my goal in the first few years of learning to weave. Each and every (short) warp had to include something I hadn't done before, either fibre, colour or draft. We can get stale when we don't push ourselves out of our comfort zone. The weaving takes on a sameness and next thing you know, you're avoiding the loom and you don't know why. That can be a good time to start an in depth study of a weave structure that you've always admired but have yet to do more than flirt with.   All food for thought....

Edit: Now I originally had an article written by Laurie Autio here but Ms Autio said the article was close on 20 years old and she wants to rewrite it to make it more current for today's situation.
I hope to be able to repost it at that time.... or link to another copy. Thanks for your understanding.