Thursday, November 15, 2018

Heading South for the Winter ?


I got roped in.....

I agreed to a weaving commission to revisit an old favourite pattern again.  My client was agreeable to all my conditions and in fact, she made only one request and that was the warp be the dark teal this time and magenta be the weft.  The shawl would look the same as the one woven a few years ago, but the fringe would be teal.

I got her request about a week after Webs had concluded their annual tencel sale, and they had NO stock left.     Ah, bad timing..... but I worked up an order and placed it anyway so that once more stock arrived it would be shipped first thing. Normally they are out of stock only 2-3 weeks.


Roll the clock ahead three months and I decided to call Webs to see when it was likely to be filled.  They had some new stock but were holding up my order waiting for a cone of ecru coloured tencel.   I chopped it from the order and asked them to ship asap.   It finally arrived!

Oops, cancel the party..... they only shipped one cone of dark teal when I needed two, and I'm certain I ordered two.  The dark teal was the whole main point of the order!

No worries, I would order another cone, trying to get matching batch numbers  and get it rush shipped.   The customer service rep told me it was  out of stock again.   Oh, crap.....


So my planned two shawls is now reduced to one and I'm hoping the one cone will be enough.  As luck would have it, there was probably about two to three ounces left on the cone when I was done winding.  Cutting things really close!   It was beamed onto the loom and once the 12 shaft tie up was finally in place, I got things underway.


The pattern repeat is quite long and is in fact almost six and a half inches in length, but you don't notice it all that much as you throw the shuttle. You are caught up counting and watching the pattern grow.   Its so pretty!  Its much like snowflake twill in some ways as its another draft I never get tired of!


Weaving went well and as for the length, I had to somehow time it to end with the end of a pattern repeat so to balance at either ends of the shawl.   By my reckoning I wove it to 90 inches. Yes a bit long but its length what the client wanted. 


But off loom it measured 85 inches. I double checked my notes where I keep track of my weaving measurements and it seems I made a five inch error.... oops!    So it was actually woven to 85 inches which is still nice and long.   Then it had the fringes twisted and then into the laundry tub for its hand wash and  lay flat to dry.


It now measures (after being steam pressed and ironed) 80 inches in length.   I can only assume that it relaxed and took up more length, then shrunk  again with the hand washing.... but five inches is a lot! The width went from 23 inches on the loom to 21 inches finished.  All things considered, it still a beautiful shawl  but not the length the client asked for.   Now if I had been able to weave a second shawl I would have had a choice and been able to give her the longer of the two. 


So it came back again to my shorted yarn order.......   Plus my addition goof! But in my defence, I had very little warp left and couldn't have woven another full repeat anyhow.



My client lives in California which is literally burning up right now and I haven't heard from her. 🙁 I do hope she is okay.   Meanwhile I have hung the shawl up and it will wait till we hear some news.

On the personal front:   About two weeks ago hubby asked me if I knew how old our hot water tank is?  He couldn't find a date on it any where.   No idea!  I mentally made a note to dig out the house inspection report from two years ago..... and promptly forgot.

Last Thursday I woke early and decided to get up and went straight into the shower. Normally I have a coffee first and check my email, but not this day.    Hubby went out to the garage to get something from our pantry cupboard out there and discovered a puddle of water and an over flowing hot water tank!  Nothing too large fortunately and a bucket and mop soon had it cleaned up. As luck would have it, we had a plumber coming that day to repair an outside hose bib and indoor shut off valve that wasn't fully closing off ahead of the coming freezing weather.... in short a "small job". I called and informed them we now had a "big job" and they arrived that afternoon with a new tank and set about installing it.  Installation took approx three hours due to reworking of gas pipes and such but we had hot water and lots of it before the afternoon was done.    We haven't seen the bill as yet but we know its best to view it sitting down first.

So, we are giving each other a hot water tank for Christmas!   Its that special?   I bet you haven't got one tucked under the tree.      Our best wishes to Van Isle Plumbing for sorting things out in a timely manner!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Tale of Two Shawls : part 2


It didn't take long to finish the second shawl.  I have memorized the treadling and can do it in my sleep and so I shuttled on merrily !  

This version is quite different, all because of the weft colour.   My first choice was to use the slate grey as I had used the opposite ecru on the first shawl, but it just didn't do anything visually satisfying at all. Too blah.  

That left black as my weft yarn choice.  It gave the plaited twill much more definition across the entire warp, even the darker section.  It created more "colour and weave effect" and so there were some interesting colour chevrons where the warp colours alternated one for one.  

Changes? Again, I would have taken out the farthest colour stripes in the transtion zones. I also would have added a shot of colour, such as a deep red at strategic point for some 'punch'.  That concept occurred to me much to late to do something about it .... this time.


I hauled Madge outdoors again on what was to be our last full sunny day as fog banks have rolled in as the weather pattern undergoes a change.


Its pretty in its own fashion and perhaps not for everyone. I have learned over the past 25 years of weaving that there is a buyer for everything out there. Someone who will just gasp, and have to have it! It may take time though....     


Don't you just love the drape? You can almost feel the silkiness through the screen ....


The opposing sides and colour play make for some nice eye play..... and....


Then there's the chevrons that make you doubt its a plaited twill, but the plaited twill is there.



I have been playing with making a shawl neckline on Madge..... and I guess I should try it on a human soon.


I'll repeat the draft here  from part 1...... but you really should go and see the first shawl if you are new to this blog


Changing topics..... here's our back yard taken a couple of days ago. We have had a marvellous run of nice weather. Sunny and warm by day and crisply cold at night.  I saw some meteor showers the other night with the clear night skies.   The leaves are changing but with no wind to speak of, the trees are (or were) clinging to them and looking picture perfect.   Today I can barely see the chestnut tree due to fog!





I have the house all to myself this week as Hubby is away visiting his Mum.  When your 95 year old mother says "come and see me"......  You go!  So my dream of having all kinds of free time to play in the studio is here and all I can feel is the empty house.    Its our 33rd wedding anniversary on Thursday and we're apart for it.   I think this relationship is maybe working out okay after all ! 🍾🌹

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 handweaving.net (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.