Sunday, July 16, 2017

Velvet Opera

I think I'm in love....   with this colour!


Its called #42  Velvet Opera and came from Treenway Silks


The fine 30/2 black silk came from Sanjo Silks.


Its a Canada - USA collaboration here on my Dutch made Louet loom. 
The silk most likely came from China and India. 


Its a slower weave but its fun to watch the pattern build. 
I think my client is going to find it hard to gift this card away!


I have done some on line shopping and bought a couple of rare end delivery shuttles via a friend.   I have been trying to find an English Crossley shuttles for several years now.   They stopped making them in 2006 and rarely come up for re-sale.  AVL bought out their remaining stock and released AVL shuttles that used Crossley hardware and shuttle blanks and I have two of those.... but no genuine Crossley's


This one is roughly fifteen inches and I have ten wood based pirns. Its big and heavy and for a fly shuttle.   I'm going to have to get my fly shuttle set up on the Megado and give them a whirl!


The second shuttle is smaller, lighter and could be used on a regular loom despite the metal end caps. Its eleven inches and uses these  lacquered cardboard pirns.  I have ten of those too.



As you can see both are in beautiful condition  and only the larger one shows a bit of wear.  I can't take any credit for the linen huck lace weave cloth in behind the shuttles. That towel was a gift from dear friend and weaver Wayne Nicholson.  Its currently in the "too good to use" phase right now as I admire it in my studio.


I also found a gently used copy of "More on Mormon" by Heather Lyn Winslow. It takes Theo Mormon's work and takes you in to more general use for hand weavers. It has some dated pictures of 1980-1990's fashions but the techniques are timeless.


So just a short update today.... and I'd best get back to weaving this lovely scarf !

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dragon Fly Wings

There is just so much going on this time of year!  The sun is out, vacationers are in town, special events are on and every day is busy.     That's a nice way of saying there not been much weaving of late.  To be fair, it is our first summer here and its so nice to enjoy it. Last year was all about healing from surgery, then all about selling, packing and moving.... which was all for the best, but it was a lot of stress and work.  

I do have a finished project for you though.    Its the third project in a series using the same threading and tie up as the previous posts of the two shawls and table cloth, but this time with some brighter colours..... and some amazing iridescence !  We have a pond behind our yard and so we have countless damsel and dragon flies everywhere. These scarves remind me of their wings.


So this is a twelve shaft point twill draft,   8/2 tencel sett at 24 epi and I used colours dark teal and amethyst together.  I tried a treadling variation which made for a nice change, but it also was hard to keep straight in my mind for some reason. I had to be very careful to keep it on track and watch for mistakes as I went along.


Where the fabric bends, the light changes and so does the colour. Its very silky and cool to the touch. I really enjoy working with tencel as it always satisfies the weavers inner need for drape, sheen and a darn good burst of colour.  I set Madge up by the climbing rose outside the studio and snapped some pictures.  They are nice but the sun was almost too harsh so I took her back indoors for some more  photographs in different lighting.


It almost looks like a whole new scarf with different colours!   I know its the same scarf as above as I only wove one with the treadling variation. 



It became more 'moody' and subdued, if you can call something like this subdued....


The second scarf was treadled in the same fashion as the shawls, so producing that neat little diamond and what I call a flower shape.   This time I paired the teal with red purple (magenta) and I expected some dazzling results..... and it didn't disappoint !


The picture above and below are taken outdoors in the sunshine. You can see the iridescent effect below where the fabric curves. 


The two pictures below were taken indoors in the studio with no flash ( as it bleaches the colour out). This colour scheme is by far the flashier of the two scarves woven. Which one do you prefer?  




Its time to switch things up around here.  I'm changing from weaving with  tencel to silks, using a new 'old' 12 shaft draft and a much finer focus at 36 epi.    I have been commissioned to weave two all silk scarves for a client and so I will weave a total of three so I have one for my etsy shop.


Here's one of the warp bouts on the mill and ready to come off.   This project already has an interesting story and I haven't even finished threading it yet.   The client wanted a blue based red as weft for one of the scarves and so I ordered a nice deep red on line .....and it arrived as an orange based red.  I should have known better about ordering reds based on a computer screen image.  So into the stash they went. The client found the colour she wanted and since the 'customer is always right'  😊  I ordered exactly what she wanted, only to find I had inadvertently ordered 60/2 silk instead of 30/2.  

My bad.  Into the stash they went too. 

I re-ordered the dyed silk and they rushed to get it done ahead of both of their two dyers leaving for a months vacation. *phew*   It arrived and is just lovely and the right size. 

My warp yarn is 30/2 black silk I bought from another weaver in California.   The difficulty with it started once I had ten to twenty warp ends wound and I could see the fine two ply yarn was scattered through out with little neps and noils. There was no sign of these 'fuzzies' on the surface of the cone of silk.  They picked off okay and in time maybe even wash out, but I could see how it would make the fine weaving ahead look like it was pilling.  This is not good at all as my client wants smooth and elegant.     I could go with a 20/ 2  charcoal black silk I have on hand in the stash but its not that inky jet black we wanted for this project.  

The weaver I bought this silk from was happy to take it back and give me an adjusted refund.  Then I lucked out and found a Canadian source for 30/2 black silk in Vancouver.... that's practically in my back yard. 

So I'm half way threading it and hoping all my 'woes' are done and I'll have smooth shuttling ahead. 


Friday, June 16, 2017

A Short (Weaving) Public Service Announcement

Just a shortie post today....


Can you see it?   The faded portions on this cone of 8/2 cotton.  This will serve as a horrible warning that no matter how appealing a convenient window ledge is in your busy studio, don't leave your yarn sitting there.  This was just a week sitting there with the sun not shifting to this side of the house until 3 pm or so, plus a generous eave overhang  on the house.

So what does hanging laundry to dry outside do?    Whites only from now on!   I have a clothes drying rack that I can tuck well back under cover.

Still busy around house and studio but I've been a bit distracted in the past few days by a broken molar. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when you feel something in your mouth 'let go'. Seems I'm going to get my very first crown next week, and I'm getting to know my new dentist quite well.          😳💉

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Long Time Coming

My title says it all for this post!  Time has just slipped away on me and we find ourselves rather busy around house, yard and new town. When we moved in October 1st, we went straight into months of rain and snow and so much was left 'as is'.  So there has been much wrangling of stuff in the garage, garden sheds resulting in yet more stuff to donate, sell, or dispose of.  I have embarked on some deep cleaning projects such as windows (with walls and doors to come). Working away in and around the frames with my handy dandy tooth brush brings out dirt, debris (such as dead bug bits) and bring back the inner frames back to the white vinyl and clean screens too. They are so much easier to open now! 

Anyway.... you get the idea of what's been happening around here.  We have had delightful tea breaks with our new neighbours on the west side of us and got to know them better. They moved in just a couple of months ahead of us.  Also taking some days off entirely  to drive around and get to know the area better. Sometimes just sitting watching the waves roll in at the beach.

Your reward for being patient ( hopefully you haven't given up on me entirely) is the beauty shot right at the start.   This is the second shawl off the 10/2 white tencel warp, and same little 12 shaft point twill pattern.   This time I used a 55% / 45% silk yak blend from Treenway Silks as my weft. Its a 30/2 in size so quite fine.  It has the loveliest silvery-beige natural colour and picked out the pattern nicely but not loudly.  


Its a chameleon as the light changes, so does the colour!


I watched my friend Gudrun sit and sketch this draft out quickly. All the pattern is in the tie up, so its easy threading and treadling.




It has a lovely drape and is as soft as a cloud.  I decided to add some seed beads and tiny pearl accents along the fell lines.  The fresh water pearls are 2-2.5 mm in length, all with perfect tiny holes right through.    I buy them from this Etsy shop.


As I worked at twisting the (seemingly never ending) fringe and later hand sewing on the beads / pearls, I came to realize that I simply could not sell this shawl.  I'm going to keep it.  I have nothing suitable to wear with it, and not sure where I would wear it, but I'm ready if the  event comes up in my social calendar!   My next realization is that in 20+ years of weaving I have only kept a cream silk M's and O's scarf for me..... and a whole lot of seconds for kitchen towels and table runners for the home. But they were for the household and not me per say. 

Long time coming, and I'm not entirely sure why that is.   (hey, that's a rhetorical question!)


So, normally I have my standard loom waste allowance,  a few inches for samples and another allowance for take up.... plus the  lengths of the items to be woven and it all works out fine.   So imagine my surprise when I wound the shawl onto the cloth beam, including its fringe allotment. and could see and feel there was much more warp on the warp beam!  So no samples this time and lets see if I can get a nice table square!  I chose a light silver 10/2 tencel as its fairly neutral for any decor and should weave up 50/50 (or close to it).  



I end up with a 22 inch by 37 inch table runner and three inch (more never ending) twisted fringe!  I must say it did take me longer to do this fringe because although the turns were less and all the steps the same.... it was fiddly and awkward and some days I just didn't have the patience for it. Finally I just wanted my desk back and got it done and dusted!    Another long time coming....



As an aside,  our house plants love all the light and sunshine in this house and all are growing well.  So imagine my surprise when my little hoya plant gifted to me by my late friend Gudrun in 2013 when we visited  *finally* produced flower buds on all its few little stems!   It produces a light fragrance that smells like you could eat it and its stronger at night.


This is the first bunch to open up. The flower clusters hang face down so you only see the tops of the heads but underneath they are so pretty!

So what's ahead?  Well, in the pictures above you probably noticed the teal warp on the loom. That's for two scarves in this same pattern  and then as you can imagine, I will be thoroughly sick and tired of this draft. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) I'm well into weaving scarf number two. Then time to move on to something new.   I have two client commissions to weave so one of those will be next.  Time to get the warping mill busy.

More deep cleaning jobs and ongoing gardening as well.....   good thing we're retired!  😳

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Get me to the Church on Time!

It was back in mid February when I was beaming the Lusekofte warp that I got a message from Jeanne, a weaver and fellow "Warped Weaver"  group member from Ravelry.  She wanted to know if I would weave a shawl for her?   She had no less than three weddings to attend, starting in May.

Initially it was about 60/2 silk in a soft lavender colour..... but I thought it was too pale for the strong colours in her dress that she had purchased.  I also have only woven with 60/2 silk once before and it had not gone well. The warp and weft threads 'fused' with each other and unweaving was a nightmare.  I suggested something more neutral that could be worn with any dress she chooses for the weddings and not tied to any one outfit.  So we settled on 10/2 undyed tencel as warp (sett of 28 epi) and I just happened to have 200 grams of this yummy 30/2 silk. Its a lovely creamy white which is rare nowadays as most coming from India is quite yellow.  It had been a very generous gift from a friend some years ago. Where she got it from, I have no idea!


So, while I wound the 702 ends of tencel for the warp, I also wound the silk skeins into cakes. Then the thought crossed my mind: "would it be enough?"



The warp winding was endlessly going on while I was weaving the lusekofte shawls.


I discovered that I only had one cone of 10/2 undyed tencel and so was hoping it would be enough!  Meanwhile I  quickly ordered some more.... 
I could have sworn I had two pounds last time I looked.

Each bundle represents 100 ends, all 7.5 yards long, with one last bout still being wound on the mill.   I'm going to make two shawls, with long fine fringes and, of course some samples.


Yes, that's the tapestry loom and yes, its still empty. Well it does hold my pre-wound warps and such quite nicely.  It was bought just a couple of weeks ahead of my knee operation and then when I was feeling better we decided to sell the house and move. That took a big chunk out of last year!  Then when we finally got unpacked and settled I found my Etsy shop stock situation was low, so priorities has been on floor loom weaving for now.   Its day will come!


There is something so mesmerizing about a warp ready to be beamed. The orderliness of the threads....




I must say that I love the Louet method of beaming warps.  I know that every type of  loom has its particular steps and there's a routine for each. These  Louet looms make it an simple job to do. The only 'rub' can be when the threads themselves misbehave such as sticky yarns but for most smooth yarns, its straightforward.


I have it all set up to beam once I get Bruce's assistance.  He adds the paper and turns the back beam while I tension the warp and keep order at the front.   As you can see I simply coil the warps into rounds side by side on a plastic  lid from a bin (to keep it from tangling with treadles).  Mind you I don't have cats, kids or other people wandering through my space.   If you were my student, I would tell you to chain the warp!  😊


I timed the beaming and it took fifteen minutes for the two of us to wind on 7.5 yards.  The tencel just glides through and all went smoothly.


Threading is a few straight runs on either edge for a border and in between its all a twelve shaft point twill. All the pattern is in the tie up!   I have used this draft twice before but this time I took out the network twill section. My client Jeanne preferred the small over all pattern and I must say she was quite right.... but I'm getting ahead of myself now.



One pattern repeat  at a time and eventually you get to the end, no matter how many ends!


There is a line over to the left but its not an error. I checked threading and sleying and its fine. Its where three ends through the reed coincide with a portion of the pattern and it concentrates the ends together.  Its distracting as heck!


The spring loom tucked into the alcove. The weaving went fine and soon I was cutting the shawl off and then re-tying on to get the second shawl ready to weave off. 


The fringe twisting took a fair amount of time as I wanted a fine fringe (four ends plied to four ends.... over 702 plus two floating selvedges, times 2 !)   I used my usual method of the fringing board


It was late when I finally finished and called it a day.   I use a double fringe twister with four clips but it still takes time.  I count the turns in either direction.



The shawl looked lovely but it needed a little something 'extra', so I dug through my bead collection and came up with two types of creamy white seed beads and tiny grain of rice sized fresh water pearls.  I have one uber fine beading needle and I use a good quality cotton thread (used by quilters).   I must confess that I got out my large size pick lens and used it to thread the eye.  I need new lens in my progressives apparently!   I added grouping between the fringe bouts and so they are visible no matter which way the shawl is facing.  They add a little bit of sparkle and some people may not even notice they are there when its being worn..... but the wearer knows and it adds to the pleasure.


There is a colour difference in the containers, but it disappears on the shawl!  I gently hand washed the shawl and then draped over a towel on a clothes rack to dry over night.  I carefully pressed both sides firmly to set the threads and pattern and trimmed up the tassels with a rotary cutter.   Time for the glamour shots!  The sun popped out briefly one day for roughly twenty minutes but I was ready!


Taken in our early spring back gardens....and its almost like it was too bright.   I'm a firm user of 'auto' settings on the camera and so lack the ability to compensate for the conditions.  I do okay with my pictures but I'm not technically minded with it at all.


Jeanne is quite tall at 5' 9"  so the shawl was woven to 86" (I normally weave to 80") and the fringe measure seven inches.



As you can see the bead colour all works out in the end and blends in. Just poking their little heads out to catch the light.   Its hard to capture the pattern with tone on tone weaving, especially with white. Its one reason you very seldom see all white projects in the Handwoven magazine.  They like colour!


Here's a peek.....and it actually doesn't resemble the true pattern very much at all!



I took the shawl back inside the studio and snapped a few more and they actually turned out better in many regards.   Go figure!


Here you can see some of the pattern better!



The shawl was carefully wrapped and boxed up and sent on its journey to Colorado. I think I held my breath the whole time it traveled until I got the message it had arrived safely.  Jeanne absolutely loves it and says it will see a lot of use!   I'm happy...... but of course if she didn't like it, it would have to come home and be mine.  There's one refund I'd happily make  😀  

Oh, and there was just under half a bobbin left of silk.... in case you were wondering!

Finally, here's a picture of our spring 2017 back garden...... taken late April. We've been having a cold wet spring and a bit behind. 


....it wasn't too long ago it looked like this:
December 10th, 2016


and mid October 2016 just after we moved in.


... and finally from last July when we viewed the house on the internet and in person! Looking forward to see it soon!