Monday, October 15, 2018

A Tale of Two Shawls: part 1

Sometimes I get ideas for weaving and make notes to myself.  Those notes usually get buried or discarded. One of them reappeared when I was searching through old samples from past projects. It was a plaited twill I had made tea towels from many, many years ago for an exchange. I had really liked the  symmetry to the pattern and wondered what it would be like in a colour gradation.  Going from one colour through to another on the other selvedge?  Geesh, that would take some work and then some....   So it was filed away.

I found the note last spring and decided to play around with the draft on my computer to see if I could do it. Fiberworks (Mac version) has a colour gradation feature that I have used before with some success.  So choosing the colours (in tencel from Webs) ecru, taupe and shale, it turned out something like this:

I used colours that would be easy to identify when winding the warp as I followed along, advancing my post it note.  The two sections represented two different weft choices, with the bottom being the ecru as weft. It showed the pattern is there on the cream edge but not visible unless you look closely and then as the colours shifts and changes, more and more is revealed until you get the full plaited twill on the darker edge.

The weaving was going well; it was just there was a lot of it and the treadling is a bit awkward under the loom foot wise. I have issues with my feet and arthritis so I took a pace they could handle.  Ten treadles and the treadling pattern was shafts 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 5, 3, 6, 1, 7, 3, 8, 1, 9, 10. So some dancing about, but there was a pattern you could get into and now I have it memorized (forever!)

Then I started to have some issues with tension in places, so I opted to cut this shawl off and re-lace back on again.  It also meant I could see how things look when all opened out.  It took me some time to twist up the fringes and give it a good soak, dry and press up.

Then as luck would have it, we have been enjoying some beautiful sunny days and I took Madge out to the back yard for a photo shoot.  We found a spot out of the very bright sunlight and with a nice gentle breeze blowing, I got these shots. They give a very good representation of the colours as well.

This was 8/2 tencel, sett 24 epi. On the loom it was 23.33" and was woven to 86"under tension. The over all length was 84" off tension 24 hours after coming off the loom and then the finished dimensions are 21" by 82".  I feel there was considerable  take up plus shrinkage all things.  I will be weaving the second shawl as equally long with this in mind!

This picture shows the beautiful drape but also shows the transitions from ecru to taupe, then to shale. It also shows the pattern appearing broken and confused and then finally being firm and clear.  Sort of a metaphor for Life huh?  "...all will be revealed in time..."

So I'm happy with the shawl but there are things I would do differently next time. I would take out the furthest change in colour threads so it was a tighter change.  I would also try for colours a bit closer in shade as well so it just flows across from light to dark.  Even the all ecru section is pretty!

The second, darker shawl is off the loom now and waiting for the fringe twister, so part 2 will be along next post.

Next up....    my new warp weights. I bought them from  Carr Park Artisans on Etsy and I chose the cherry wood ones as shown below.    Such a simple, but effective concept!   My old plastic film canisters have been fine for years but are becoming brittle and cracking and my "stash" of them are slowly dwindling as the casualties are recycled.  

They come with five large washers as weights and it will hold more.  Your local hardware store has them.  I can just see a flood of weaverly women  asking for large washers at the nearest Home Depot or Lowes!

Back with Part 2 soon.....  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Out in a Blaze of Glory

I have always loved this time of the year.   Warm days, cool nights and a feeling of change in the air.  Golden sunlight that burns off early morning fog each day.   We like to take time out from our daily errands to explore locally, take the unknown road and see where it goes.   Sometimes we go to a bench along the shore line and just sit and watch the waves roll in.   

This day we were sitting and watching a large out of control forest fire on (uninhabited) East Redonda Island. Just a huge plume of smoke. I turned and looked a bit further to the north and could see three old volcanic cones looking very craggy and menacing.  I have enlarged a cell phone pick and so if you click on it, you can make out the three old cones in the Coastal Mountain Range over on the mainland.  They'll have a dusting of snow by now I'm sure.

There are three marinas or docking facilities for boats and water craft in Campbell River.  South end of town is the government docks, where fish boats tie up and you can walk the docks and buy fresh seafood off the boats. Crab, scallops,  and rock cod to name some.    There is also a long pier there where you can rent a rod and try your hand at catching a salmon.   No luck? then check out the aquarium where they feature a close view of the inhabitants of Discovery Passage (which runs between Campbell River and Quadra Island).

At the northern end of town at Tyee Spit there is a lovely park, benches and a variety of small boats out trying their hand at catching the big one and the local marine work yard is next door.  Boats lifted out of the water for repairs and paint. Looking awkwardly like beached whales.  There seems to be a dock for very large trawlers to tie up here. The kind that could travel up the coast to Haida Gwaii and further to Alaskan waters.

Then, approximately mid town is a central marina where smaller craft such as pleasure craft, tugs, trawlers all nestle together behind a breakwater.  We stopped and Bruce took some pictures of the vessels in the golden afternoon light.

We had noticed this large trawler sitting in the sun looking very fine!  Complete with a black jolly roger flag with skull and crossbones.  Click to enlarge and have a look.  ☠️ 

As the day progressed and the sun was setting, Bruce caught this nice shot of the Quadra Island ferry sitting at the terminal in Campbell River.   It takes passengers over to Quadra and some drive across island to catch yet another ferry to Cortez Island.

This picture was taken about twenty minutes drive south of Campbell River at a place called Oyster Bay.  We sat on a log by the water and admired the view. The brown 'smudge' is a family  enjoying a driftwood beach fire and wading in the water.   With miles of beaches here.... no point crowding anyone !

Meanwhile at home, we have begun the process of wrapping up summer and putting things away for the winter. Flower baskets are done, some furniture is covered and more is destined to shift to the garden sheds soon.     Some plants think its time to bloom again!   I'm not sure of the name of this plant but in the spring its covered in thick waxy blossoms and has large green ovoid leaves. I'm thinking its either a variety of camellia or magnolia. The flowers looks like orchid blossoms!

I'm dedicating these blossoms to the memory to Dianna, our dear neighbour, who passed away last week. They grow on the fence that we share together.

Out front of our house, this shrub is in bright glorious colour as the nights get chilly.  Again, I'm not sure of its name, but I call it the burning bush due to the high intensity reds.  This is one of my favourite seasons ...... but I'm very mindful that this is season is also very brief because.....

.... this is coming to a yard near me very soon!

Our house in the winter of 2016-2017

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blue Chameleon

I have been using stash yarns all year (so far) and I noticed that I must have six shades of blue, so I reached in and grabbed a cone and out came royal blue.   Its a rather intense brilliant blue.  It was also known as Lapis Lazuli and was quite rare; so rare that only royalty could wear it.  There is an amazing history of the colour, along with others, in this book:  Colour : Journey through the Paintbox  It gives you the history behind all colours used for decorations, painting and jewellery.

I searched through my files and found this lovely, almost 3D effect pattern from (I believe).  I modified it to create an edge border and tried it out in blue.

While not quite as brilliant a blue as the program,  the 8/2 tencel paired with black as weft produced a nice crisp design that is full reversible.  The treadling was easy to memorize and so it went along quickly.   

We had company for a week and from time to time I thought about my choices for the second scarf.  It had to be something equally bright ?   Opposites from the colour wheel? (which is orange)

This picture sort of threw me for a bit. I thought there was something wrong with the image but after carefully examining it, I realized that it was iridescence.... of a darker kind! There are some areas of plain weave within this twill and so the shadow effect is actually a black sheen where they interact.

We were having some incredibly bright sunshine but it bleached everything out so I resorted to shooting indoors and fighting with the flash instead.   These pictures should be enough to give you the diamonds versus leaf shapes, the sheen of the tencel, intensity of the blue and drape of the scarf.

... and with the sunshine pushing through, just how fine the cloth is.

For the second scarf I selected dark teal and at first I was disappointed.   I covered the portion of the black weft scarf that still showed on the cloth roll and took another long look.   The royal claimed the blue tones in the dark teal ..... and left behind a green!

Its also a more subtle effect where the light plays on the cloth and reveals the pattern and the melded mix of colour.   I liked it even more than the first scarf actually!   And like most favourites in a family, it had more pictures taken of it....

Yes, I will try this pattern again sometime; its a keeper!  Satisfying on many levels.....

The loom is already loaded for a pair of shawls again.... with a shawl commission to weave after that.  I had to order in yarns for the client, but everything else is from the stash.    I'm weaving slower as I'm also looking after hubby who had (very painful) spinal stenosis and is waiting to see a neuro-surgeon for a possible back operation.  Fair turn around as he looked after me through two surgeries in 2014 and 2015.  I've put my foot reconstruction surgery on hold for now.... which is another reason why I'm weaving slower!

Now, slow is not a word I would use around our two grandchildren! They are growing up so fast....

Ethan: April 2012

and now....

....getting his eleventh Brazilian jiujitsu  belt; age 6

Madison  March 2015

And now she is 3 1/2 and just had her first day of (play) school and loving it.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Fire Iris Shawls

Earlier this summer I spotted this beautiful bearded iris in bloom and marvelled at the colour combination.  This may well be a flower designed to be this way by careful cross pollination but even so the colours still amaze me. Purple lilac to peach to bronze and even a touch of yellow, red and burgundy.   I found out its called a Fire Iris.  

Sometime later when I was looking for a new project to add to the line up, I recalled the iris when I saw this painted warp hanging in my stash cupboard.  Add a dash more purple but this is close to what I had.   This picture is of the painted warp called Desert Vista by Iridescent Fibers.

I pulled out more than a few cones to play around with, even consulted with hubby over some,  and finally decided to use red-purple, black and a colour called Pompeii from Web's 8/2  Valley tencel line. The red-purple is a deep shade of the softer purple in the painted warp and the Pompeii is a copper bronze and on the orangey side to 'talk to' the bronze and coral orange tones in the painted warp.  It also worked nicely with the softer bronze  spots.   The black was best to pull everything together, and as weft, it makes the colour really pop and project!

Here it all is together being wound on and prepped for threading. Its the brightest warp I have ever done. I was worried it would be a flop and 7 yards is a lot of expensive flop!

Now, pattern?  I wanted something fancy and intricate, so all 12 shafts on the Spring, and also completely reversible. This makes the shawl much more functional. One side is usually a tad bit brighter, another darker.... and you get to choose!

I found this draft at and played around with it. I altered it a bit to reduce some float lengths, but loved the complexity of the design.  I wound a pirn of 8/2 black tencel for my weft but found that it still seemed to have larger floats around the border and edges that I didn't like the look of.  So I switched to 10/2 tencel in black (I have a small stash that I generally hoard) and the smaller grist weft yarn made a huge difference to the float size.  It became acceptable to me and also helped to tighten up the pattern as you wove over all.  Despite the increase in pics, the drape was still wonderful later on!

You can see the "X" in the draft and the woven piece below. I wasn't sure how to represent a painted warp in the middle so sort of winged it with alternating colours.

The three pictures below show how soft and subtle the colour transitions are and I found myself wanting to weave more so I could see the next shift!  The colours got quite intense.

Look how intense the coral becomes! The red-purple really pairs nicely with its depth of shade.

Soon they were off the loom and rolled out all 7.5 yards for hubby to see.  The picture is a bit dark sorry.  The end piece is a generous sample as you have  to have a piece to admire down the road!

Fringe twisting got to be something of a long marathon session. Even with a quad fringe twister, its still hard on the hands. I also don't like to rush it and have the fringe look cheesy  after going to all that effort and expense.

Soon that job was done and the shawl was laid in a nice sudsy bath, while I fringe twisted its companion.   Drying was done flat on a drying rack outdoors, out of the sunlight.  It dried very quickly this time of year.

I gave the shawls a firm steam press with my Singer press, then a final touch up with a steam hand iron, to get those spots you can't get to with the press, and really bring out the shine.  One shawl measures 20.5 inches wide by 80 inches long and the second is the same width but 84 inches long.  Both shawls fringes are 7 inches plus tassel.

good representation of colour saturation!
I draped up Judy and took her outside and the bright intense sunlight bleached out the colours. I placed her out of direct sunlight and it was too dark.   Use the flash, and get bright hotspots on the cloth.  Then we had company for a week and I tried all over again after they left with no success.  So I photographed them indoors with better success, but still its not quite on for colour.

by the front door 

By the little sitting room

In the studio... where I stayed. Tired of humping Judy around the house and yard! 

Close up of the coral section below

Nice sheen from the tencel! Pattern is clear but doesn't obscure the colours.

Then I tried different automatic camera settings  and got more light but it washes out the colour intensity.

But you get the general idea! Its turned out way better than I hope for. Next up a pair of Royal blue scarves and they are rolling along nicely....   After that? I have another pair of shawls to weave (warp is pre-wound) and I'm waiting on a Web's order for a shawl commission where we re-visit something old again.  Time to get some ideas bouncing around so I can plan projects and get the warping mill spinning.

The end of the summer is almost here, and maybe this year it can't come soon enough with the extreme heat and fires burning everywhere. We are currently socked in with forest fire smoke and have over 600 fires burning in BC, including here on Vancouver Island.

I'll leave you with this shot that hubby Bruce took as we were heading into Costco, in Courtenay, the day before yesterday. They never barked and patiently waited.  They've done this many times before and know they will be back.