Monday, September 30, 2013

Golden Gate Bound

This is part two of my earlier post  detailing a weaving commission, so if you're running behind, you might want to catch the first part.  (Details and draft are there)

I've been quietly beavering away on a customer order from my Etsy shop "Thrums Textiles" . They requested two runners featuring the Gothic Diamond pattern, except these were to be hemmed and longer at sixty inches.  Also to be in two shades of gray.....

So once the small error in the reed was corrected, I got started again and I must say that the weaving went very well. I think the help from Bruce in tensioning the threads as the warp was wound  was the key to nice even tension. There was no issue with soft edges, and the only issue I had was that the floating selvedge thread broke a couple of times on the right hand side. (It always seems to be the right side. Any theories?)

I wove both runners to approximately sixty two inches and both had a six inch hem allowance, which will reduce to two inches on either end when all complete.  I even got some nice samples at the end for my records.

Now, normally I like to cut my new projects apart using the serger, but the bunching of the serger threads can add a line of bulk in a fine cloth made from cotton this fine.  So I had to take a different tack with this.



I switched to the sewing machine instead. What I need to do is stabilize the edges to prevent unravelling so I used a stitched zig zag. In the second picture you can see my scrap cloth with the silver stitches as practice.
(Click on any image to enlarge). It worked very well! All was secure and no bulky line.

Next up, getting the hems ready:


Steam press and check length is even.


Fold up to an even two inches and steam press again.


Fold up final fold to *just* to the bottom edge of the hem stitching, steam press again and pin in place.
Now they are ready for s little evenings entertainment!


The stitching was rather fine and so it took me time and (surprise) daylight hours only. I just about went blind trying it by night!  {Here is a link to what I do.} I soaked them in hot sudsy water for about twenty minutes and then I squeeze them through vigorously. I want the threads to shift and full and get rid of the reed marks. I did the same again with the rinsing. They were hung to drip dry overnight and stream pressed the next day.  

They had to have their time in front of the camera!  Both are identical in width : 13" One shrunk and came in at 61" and the other came in at 62". The hem lengths are identical and so the 'extra' is in the main body of the runner. Its hard to tweak that. 



The 16/2 mercerized is so fine and has a beautiful hand. I sett it at  36 ends per inch and its perfect


The ladder hemstitching: I used a double spacer and stitched every four threads.


The two grays work together nicely....

So they are being wrapped to go in the post and on their way to San Francisco, California. I visited there many years ago and have wonderful memories of brief time in the city. I can clearly remember our ship coming into the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge and then spending a day ashore exploring. I can remember going through the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, looking at Alcatraz through the viewing binoculars, and eating hot buttered crab down by the waterfront.  Great time! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Mighty Good Time

I have a real difficulty announcing ahead of time that I will be leaving home and going on a trip.... as that means my house will be empty. In this day and age of internet and GPS, I shudder to think.   So, sorry to leave you waiting so long but we are now home and getting our life back to normal.  The laundry is almost complete, and I even managed to squeak in some weaving yesterday between loads.  Sort of like doing warm up's for the main event.

Our adventures started two weeks ago with Bruce's model train show in Victoria. I'm the one who handled all the sales receipts and money, so it left things to the guys to simply talk  and make the sales. They did this in fine style and Bruce had better results from the last spring's train show!  They had over 2200 people come through the doors and it was great to see many children with their parents and grandparents.  The little in-house cafe and coffee bar sold out of all food and drinks in record time!


Here's the gang just ahead of the doors opening: (from left to right) Bruce, Colin and Heath. Set up was still under way. Its a lot of work bring everything in and setting up.... standing mostly all day and then packing up and hitting the road for home. They love it though.  They are just as passionate about their modelling as we are our looms and yarn.

We had four days to sort stuff to where it goes between sales and rest up. Then start packing up again for our trip away. We were off to visit our grandson and his parents and later, head onto see Bruce's mother in the Okanagan Valley.  To help reducing the work load and stress factor, we opted to stay in a hotel. Its tough working full time and managing a home and active toddler and then throw in house guests to the mix! It also meant we had some quiet time to ourselves.


Soon our island was in the rear view and we checked into our hotel. Navigating the greater Vancouver area's traffic is always interesting as they have many road improvements under way. They have two new bridges, rapid transit trains (and I heard just yesterday another bridge has been announced for 2017). Just the sheer numbers of cars and people always has us flustered!

Once at the hotel on the 18th floor, I took some pictures from our room facing the mountains.


These are the new support cables for the one year old Port Mann bridge. The hazy north shore mountains in behind.


Then there's the Golden Ears Bridge way off in the Mission area. The mountains are in behind and they are called the Golden Ears. They can be stunning with fresh snow and sun light on them!



Then I looked down and then across the vista and noticed that the city has a lot of green space. Though I'm not crazy with what they did way over on the hillside near the mountains. I think that's called the Westwood Plateau.


Ethan is 17 months now and literally running everywhere!  He's so fast it makes your head spin. He loves technical toys and is looking for buttons to press to make them go. (He will be ready for all the high tech stuff in short order) We took him some old fashioned reading books, a sock monkey from Hilary and this toy transformer:  (sorry Hilary... I planned to take his picture with the monkey but he didn't hold it long enough to snap off a picture!) September 25th Edit: Ethan's maternal grandpa took this picture a few days after we left:


Ethan with his Prime Mate Monkey   Thanks Hilary!  He's perfect. 




He had no time for hugs and kisses, but I could hold the toy steady so he could better press the buttons and set off the lights and voice recording. That was my job for two days: hold the toy for him.    Geesh!


His favourite toy of all (right now) are these plastic rings. He has become a pro at spinning them with a flick of the wrist. He spins them on everything and can even do two at a time with both hands. Rather then spin them with a twist to the right (practice in your mind how you would do it) Ethan turns them to the left or inwards!


One last picture as it is my blog and my grandson :)  Then we were on our way.  It rained from Vancouver to Hope. (Hope is where was the first Rambo movie was filmed for the movie buffs out there)


This is somewhere out in the Fraser Valley.... no sign of hills and mountains due to low heavy cloud. But things sure changed when we came down off the Connector route to the Okanagan!


The sun came out and we had sunshine all the way in to Kelowna.  Traveling through Westbank I got a nice shot of Mission Hill winery: (click on any picture to enlarge)


Kelowna had the world's longest floating bridge but they rebuilt it after we left and I'm not sure of the stats of this one. (It was featured as an episode of  Mega Structures on the television)



Then, as part of your Kelowna tour, here's the classic lakeshore view of the city:


The Grand Hotel and Casino along with the yacht club

The downtown city park complete with sand beach.

We spent three very pleasant and relatively quiet days with Bruce's mother  and caught up on family news and simply spent time together.



Lorraine lives in a lovely town home and is doing very well on her own for having just turned 90! The time flew by and we were heading home again.


The clouds appeared to accompany us home. Here's a last look at the new bridge, with Black Mountain on the left,  as we left town.

We came down the hill off the Connector route at Merritt and turned for the Information and Tourist log house for a break and stretch our legs. A car suddenly pulled in beside us and out popped Lynnette and her husband Michael!  They were on their way to the Okanagan and somehow it all timed beautifully for us to have this chance meeting at Merritt!  A chat and a few hugs later and we were back on the road again. We had to push straight through and aim for the 5 pm ferry. Except we weren't sure of the exact time as we didn't have any internet to double check.  Going to 'wing it'.


This one is for Wendy.  This Mount Cheam between Hope and Chilliwak. Wendy recently did the high altitude Mt Cheam hike and from her pictures on Facebook, she went almost to the top, or to a high shoulder at least!

We made it to the ferry with forty five minutes to spare as it left at 5:45 pm. Its a two hour crossing and so after unloading the car we finally had our very tired feet up at 10 pm. We just got home on this past Thursday night and been settling in ever since.   Calli came back from the kennel and had a double bath and is glued to our sides when she isn't sleeping.

The ride home was fantastic!  The water was flat calm and there was a beautiful sunset....with a warm breeze.

going home!


Great end to the week!

So we are getting things caught up and we should have things back to normal soon.  I also found when we got home that we had forgot to lock the back door.  Oops...  its all okay, my looms are still here and the yarn is fine.

Happy Fall Equinox!  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Steady as She Goes


September is here now and it shows in the gardens and a change in the weather.   I like it... fall is one of my favourite seasons.

The studio is still busy but there is a slower pace now.  I would love to get  into weaving for Christmas but my knee says "not so fast there !"   So I back off and take breaks. If I take it easy, then I get to weave longer over all. That's better than no weaving at all.   You don't need to tell me twice!

So I multi task in the studio. Wind a warp for a spell, sit and do some paper work and project planning, weave for a time and so it goes. Right now there are several things under way.  I have three warps wound for future projects and two more to go. I'm an optimist!  There's a second scarf being woven off (on a warp for two) on  the big loom and they are coming along nicely (more on them another time...).



On the Louet Spring there is a start of an Etsy commission  for two runners. Naturally, I didn't have the colours they requested and so had to place a yarn order with Brassards.  So what you see there is the two shades of gray 16/2 mercerized cotton,  two cones of a new shade of steel gray 8/2 cotton, and some lovely deep, deep red 9/2 linen from France called "cerise"  (cherry).  The linen has already been wound into a warp and waiting its turn in the line up.  Well, I thought I might as well make the  best of the shipment. My sample book was dated 2008 and out of date so I treated myself to a new one:


Can you see the tangle of sample yarns hanging out? Its an amazing collection of samples. Best. Deal. Ever.  I use mine a lot just to compare colours and even yarn sizes. I write setts into mine and make notes. Its a work book.

My client, Jeff,  will be following the progress of his runners here so I'll be showing the stages in more detail.


Here the loom is viewed from the front and the warp yarn is ready to be wound onto the loom. Its loaded onto the back beam in a series of simple steps.


The yarn is spread on the lease sticks that support the warp and its kept at a given width by a built in raddle on the top of the loom. Once all is in place, you wind with brown paper to separate the layers. Tension is applied as you go to prevent any soft spots!


Here you can see the warp being wound on with the paper in place. My weaving readers: notice the cord through the paper roll. If you leave this in place, it can also serve to roll the paper up neatly as you weave!  No more rolling on the floor and getting in the way of the treadles...


This is the view from the front of the loom. The warp has been wound on, the warp ends released from the raddle and the ends left supported by the lease sticks. Time to thread the loom. The pattern of the cloth is shaped by the way in which you thread the heddles (or the white stringy bits) to the left. It can be simple (1,2,3,4 etc) or it can be more complex. In this case, it was a bit more involved. I'm using eight of the twelve shafts available so not too involved.


In this picture the threading is half way and you can see my threading guide where I leap frog with my post it notes to keep my place. I listen to podcasts while I work or some nice music.

Once done then the beater bar assembly is place back on the front of the loom and its time to sley the reed:



The reed does two jobs in weaving. First it determines how dense the cloth will be. This reed is a twelve dent reed which means there are twelve bars or vanes in every inch. I'm placing three warps ends through every one so my cloth will be 36 ends per inch (or epi)  Weavers keep different reeds of varying ends per inch so they can produce cloth of varying density. The reed  also becomes the beater to compact the weft yarns as we weave.

I found that I had done a double entry in one dent and so had to go back and move everything over one slot.  Tedious? you bet!  I normally take the threading and sleying slowly  and double check as I go to avoid mistakes. I'd rather catch them here then later....


Then I tie onto the front rod of the loom and weave in some scarp yarn to test for mistakes and provide my base for the weaving to come.  Here you can see my temple in place to reduce draw in already as this is rather fine yarn.


Hem allowance woven and hemstitching under way!


Once that is done, then the main pattern is under way.... I got about seven inches woven and called it a day. I uploaded these pictures and noticed something that I could not see on the loom!   Do you see it? Just to the right of the centre of the picture?  There is one slot or dent that has four threads and not three like the rest, and it shows as being more dense in that spot. While it demonstrates my earlier comment about the reed determining the cloth density nicely, it presents me with a problem. It will show as a stripe through the entire runner.

So I sat and cut out all the weft yarn and took it right back to the the start again. I'll be resleying the reed today all over again and being very careful with my counting as I go!

Tip for Weavers: taking a picture of the cloth and having the flash hit it can show you any errors you might not see. Good to know! I normally take one to show me how I started a project, so I can reverse it at the end. I also write notes on what I do but sometimes I can't read my own writing.

So, Jeff.... how did you like your gray Gothic Diamonds for the short time they were there?