Saturday, May 15, 2021

👩‍🎓 Cross Roads

 Say hello.... and good bye to this!   I just cut off the first scarf attempt this afternoon.   I wove roughly 30 slow inches and in that distance, the floating selvedge broke 8 times.  Its just not worth my time to keep on fighting with it.  

So I'm resleying and will give the second scarf a go for 10-12 inches and see how it behaves.  Its been warned and the scissors are on stand by.   There will be some changes made to the pattern and how I plan to weave it so we'll see how this pans out. It either will or it won't. 

I had such a good time weaving the recent Royal Stewart scarves and had hope to continue the fun but this has been a big disappointment.   I told my hubby it was yet another learning experience and today it was all about cutting your losses (literally) 😁✂️

So the Megado loom has a new warp on it.  Eleven yards of ring-spun cotton that fought us tooth and nail going on to the loom.   It was a bit awkward as it had a lot of over spin in the yarn and so it wanted to curl up and then cling to its neighbour.   I have 3- 3 pound cones of it so future warps will be shorter and hopefully sweeter.  Nothing much has happened there since beaming the warp as I went onto other battles on the Spring loom. 

I have mentioned before that I have issues with my feet so I have decided to make some changes in my other toys. I have my Louet Victoria wheel up for sale at Etsy and was nudged into buying a Hansen mini spinner a bit sooner than I planned due to Hansen having a brief sale last month I just couldn't say no to.   So I have been playing with this little  machine this week:

As you can see,  the introduction is going quite well and its  a lovely experience once you get the hang of the spinner and the foot pedal. The bobbins are quite large and I have put on an orifice reducer. I have a 12 volt battery pack and a folding camp table and so we're ready to take the show on the road when the pandemic is finally over. I bought a padded sewing machine carry bag with wheels and a telescoping handle to protect it and all the gear.  It even came with a plug to use in the cigarette lighter in the car.    🚗  

So besides the spinning wheel, I have been downsizing and selling off bits and pieces like weaving videos, books, yarn and a swift. I have come to realize that I'm just not going to use all this stuff I have accumulated.  Its quite liberating to move it all on.    Its leaving one parcel at a time.... 📦

Other news that also speaks to cross roads and changing the future..... is that my daughter graduated with her Masters of Arts in School Counselling last Sunday and had a new job just 15 minutes from home by Wednesday.  Its the result of much hard work and study and 4 years of her life (their life as she is married) and we are so darn proud of her! Carrie will be working with elementary school kids and she couldn't be happier!

We watched via live streaming and the ceremony was held outdoors, with a stiff wind blowing and a pause for a thunder storm.  It was a masked  and socially distanced event and the sun appeared from time to time.  I'm certain that there is a very large smile behind that mask!    I know we sure did!  😁

Monday, May 3, 2021

⏳ The One Question All Weavers Get.....

Yesterday I was asked again, and by another weaver no less, "how long did that take to make?"  You know, the question that makes you pause, take a deep breath and then quickly mentally evaluate how much time you have to answer and the questioners patience and level to understand weaving terminology?

I answered: "which part?"

The designing, the selecting colours, the project calculations, the warping winding with all the colour changes, the warp beaming, the threading, the sleying, the (actual) weaving part, the fringe twisting, the washing and pressing or the photography?   

Then because I do sell my work: the computer work or building a business page, managing it, adding the listing,  wrapping the sold item and a trip to the post office.

Its quite the little 'hobby'  😳    Obviously I must get some enjoyment from this process as I keep on doing it...

Its more a series of steps. The thought crosses your mind "can I get a smooth enough transition across a warp to have colours flow from one to another?" Closely followed by "what do I have in my stash that I could do that with?"

The draft below intrigued me and I liked the complexity of the intersections. I used the gradation feature in the Mac version of Fiberworks to flow from blue purple to greyed blue to greyed teal to dark teal, using 8/2 tencel.  The colour changes between the greyed teal and dark teal was a bit sharper than I would have liked, but close enough! The rest flowed very nicely one to another almost seamlessly. 

I left the weft as white so I could see more of the pattern and the warp. I also didn't know what I would choose for weft colours as yet.  I was in love with the warp for now! 

The warp colours on the cones.

The transitions on the warping mill. Yes I had to keep very close track of where I was in the colour order. Thank the gods for sticky notes is all I can say!

Then I started weaving. I auditioned several colours and for the first of two shawls, I chose amethyst.  It didn't really excite me but it did work and meant I was weaving and could work out the second shawl's colour later. Besides, I didn't want to reach for black weft yet again.   The pattern in the program looked fine front and back but once on the loom, I didn't like it at all.  Much too warp dominant one side and too weft dominant the other.   I wanted a more balanced view front and back so it could be reversible.

So I left the threading in place as is and went looking for other options for the tie up and treadling.    Version 2 didn't work and so finally I settled on the draft below, Version 3.  This shows the back view and this was my view on the loom.  Its nifty that I can choose which side is up with a click. 

.... and now the project is fully underway and I'm very happy with what is showing up on the loom.

I started to have some tension issues I wasn't happy about and so cut the first shawl off the loom and finished it up.  Finished dimensions (for both shawls) are 21.5 inches wide by 82 inches long, plus a 5 inch fringe.

The colour shift is more subtle here but the sheen and iridescent effect is lovely!

I called this shawl "Verdigris"

For the second shawl, I decided to be braver and I used my Itten Color Star and found that an orangey tone or a gold was something that the blue-purple and green- teals had in common. My cone of  'old gold' was too brassy but the muted pumpkin shade of adobe seemed to fit nicely.     

So here it is underway and finally with only 20-25 inches to go,  it sat for some time as I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder blade area.  Ice packs became my new best friend.  The larger arm movements of throwing a shuttle on the Megado really aggravated it. 

I was able to weave on the Spring as that was the tartan scarves and rather slow going and smaller arm movements.  Okay, anything to stay in the game....

I finally wove off the last bit, plus a sample for my records this past weekend and it was off the loom.  It looks so vastly different to the first and its even more magic in person.   So taking the time to find other options was well worth it and taking a chance.  Nothing much comes from mediocre.

The colour shift in the warp is accentuated by the weft colour....and it sings! This shawl is called "Desert Verdigris"

Change the angle and the light and it looks different again.

The breeze was blowing so you can feel the 'swish' of the fringe.

⏰🕰⏱  So back to the question of time?   I started the planning in January, wound the warp in February, started weaving in March and finished in April.  I had other projects on the go and so everything was done in due course.   Life also intervenes as well.    Its about the finish, not how fast you get there. 

Now how to sum that up in 50 words or less when asked the question?

🐢   🏆  🐇

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Royal Stewart Scarves

A couple of months ago I did a trade with a weaver in Georgia, USA where I sent her some AVL shuttles I have been acquiring for years and she sent me Schacht end delivery shuttles. She had tried them and didn't like the feel. I love them and they are all I use.    So it worked out well for both of us.  Just for the cost of postage.    

I knew that I was itching to do another tartan warp and this swap meant I didn't have to change out bobbins constantly.   I had my little trolley next to the loom and  lined them up like soldiers.   The darker ones are my old ones and are 'experienced' and the blondies are the new kids. 

They were hard at work on Royal Stewart tartan scarves.   Its one of my favourites from my youngest days. I have posted before on Tartans which you might find interesting.

I had to make some changes to the draft to have it fit  for a scarf, so this meant a reduction in the red section midway.  It end up being 12 inches in the reed.   I used 8/2 tencel and the sett is 24 epi  and a standard 2/2 twill tie up.  Aim for a 45 degree twill line.... or be consistent with your beat.    I was able to get some momentum in the 3 1/2 inch red section, but the colour section was much more carefully done.  Lots of colour changes and it was important to get the edges as smooth as possible. So lots of shuttle work and neat tucks. I also carried some colours up the side if it was only 2 picks or 4.

So on the loom: 12 inches in the reed and woven to 74 inches or ten repeats of the colour sections and a final red.      Finished: 10 1/2 inches by 71 inches, plus 5 inches for fringe.

I was going to do the usual scarf wrap around the neck but decided it looked far better like this. There was a light breeze and the flow of the cloth was beautiful.   Lovely hand to it. 

So I have two of them right now all finished. I'm still not done with tartan or plaids though. I'm putting another warp on with a pattern of my own design.   Stay tuned for that.  

My back has improved now so I can resume weaving that shawl on the Megado and *finally* get that done.   There has been lots of 'adulting' going on as well as we tackle various things on our to-do list, that pandemic or no, must be done. 

Lots of spring colour outside in the yard and also a bright spot in the house. This little  face greeted me a few days ago when I got up.  Then out in our front yard is this beauty!    The chestnut tree will be next and its gorgeous in full bloom. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Planning for Success

Ah, yes... its been awhile since I last posted.  Sorry about that.   I do have some valid excuses  reasons!  I had the issues with my feet and that took time to resolve, then there was the week long migraine I dealt with..... and just when things started to look good, I pulled a muscle in my mid back.   Seems the old gal isn't aging well...    yup, another birthday has come and gone and lets say I'm entitled to all senior benefits now.  

So lets get  down to weaving which is why you really come here and not to hear me whine.  🍷  Anytime in the past when dealing with a newbie weaver I have always stressed the importance of planning for success. That weaving starts with a pen and paper.    You have to know a few things in advance:

  • what you want to weave and its end purpose.
  • what yarn do you plan to use; what size, colours etc.
  • how wide and how long?
  • can your loom handle the width?
  • do you have the right size reed?
So lets use my runner project being shown here today.  I wanted to use 10/2 mercerized cotton. The recommended sett is 28 epi for a twill.   I used a 12 dent reed and will dent it 2, 2, 3.   

I'd like the runners to be 15 inches when all finished so  I adjusted my 12 shaft draft to be 492 warp ends and so 17.6 inches in the reed. This allows for draw in and shrinkage.

I wanted to weave three runners where the main portion will measure: one 36,  a second 45 and the third 55 inches in final length.  I want them to be hemmed and I particularly like a wider hem allowance  and so planned for 6 inches either end x 6 hems.  I plan to do ladder hemstitching and have a slippery thick cord on hand for the spacer.

I allow 12 inches for a project sample for my records.

Now that I have all the woven portions of my project planned, I calculate the take up.   I allow 3 inches for every yard woven.

Only then do I add in the loom waste.

So my rough working notes looked something like this:

492 ends divided by 28 epi = 17.57 inches in the reed  (Project width)

Project Length:

3 runners (36, 45, 55 inches for length of main portion of runners)  = 136 inches
hem allowance  (6 inches x 6 hems) = 36 inches
sample = 12 inches

Take up allowance of  15 inches   (136 + 36 + 12 = 184 inches, divided by 12 = 15.33 feet divided by 3 = 5.1 yards)  Allow 3 inches for each yard so add another 15 inches.

Now add in loom waste of 20 inches (based on my loom)     Still with me here? 😊

That comes to a grand total of 219 inches
Divide by 12 = 18.25 feet
Divide by 3 = 6.08 yards     I went with 6.5 yards. 

I measured my guide string and put it on the warping mill and again planned to make 4 bouts of 123 ends. This makes it more manageable to wind and to beam later.  I also added two additional ends as floating selvedges.

Now and only now do I start winding my warp.    This comes last after all the paper work and number crunching.  Its not very glamorous like the 'throw the shuttle part'.... but I call this part weaving too.  If you think of it this way, then it becomes an integral part of the whole experience.

So the project is finally loaded on the loom and under way.  You can just see the hem allowance and my hemstitching.... then the start of the pattern. I took a picture of this part right away. Why?   So I have a visual reference of what I did so I can finish it at the other end in the right configuration.  Reverse the pattern in the hem allowance  so its like a mirror opposite.  In the past if I have not taken good notes of what steps I have taken, I have had to unroll the cloth beam and see what I had previously woven at the start and then try to rewind again. It doesn't always go well. So this picture step is something I added to make life easier for myself.  Also it has the additional bonus of showing you any threading errors before you go too far!

I don't know the how or why of it, but our eyes want to see symmetry and will skip over the errors no matter how hard you search.... but take a picture, and they stand out clear to see (especially if you have shared it on line  😳)

The draft is a 12 shaft turned satin weave that came to me by way of a friend in Scotland.  Its a lengthy repeat and you had to really pay attention. I made little cheat sheet on a lined post it note of the repeat and slide a little alligator clip from line to line as I go along.  If a line between blocks looked a bit strange on the loom, then you have missed a treadle step at the transition.   Go back and fix it !    Errors are mistakes, NOT design elements.

I experienced some tension issues on the right hand side of the warp and so made the first runner my 36 inch one and cut it off the loom.   Re-tensioned correctly and started again. This meant my loom waste just became more than what I planned so there went my sample!   My records now have a picture instead.

Once I had woven the final two runners, they came off the loom and go straight into the finishing phase.  I'm not a fan of a 'project pile'.   I serged the runners apart  and then put them into a warm sudsy soak.   Rinsed and then I spun them out in the washing machine using the spin cycle only. Pulled them into shape and smoothed and hung on a drying rack over night.

The next morning I carefully snipped all weft tails and then used my steam press to smooth the cloth. Then I used an iron to press again and turn the hems.  Divide the hem allowance and turn twice and press firmly and pin.  I turn it right at the base of the hemstitching.   Then I hand sew the hems; both ends are closed and one tiny running blind stitch to each and every 'ladder'.  This gives you a very neat finish and the runners are reversible.

Yes, its a lot of work....there's a lot pressing / ironing but its so worth it.   You are setting the threads into their forever positions.  Future pressing will not be so intense as this.

10/2 tencel weft in a pale gold that I call Honey Gold.  The hem was given another press in the Singer steam press to flatten the hem after the hand sewing. All the shrinkage was done before hemming so it will lay flat.

The final width on the runners?   Planned was 17. 57 inches at the reed..... they are 15 1/2 inches finished. Pretty close huh?

These runners would look so much better if I had a darker wood table, but maple will have to do!

A peek at the reverse side.... and you can see how the hem allowance looks neat on the reverse.

The last runner was woven with a 10/2 tencel called silver, which I call Grey Mist. It measures 62 inches over all. I think you can see the lovely soft drape? 

Here's the reverse of the Grey Mist runner.

So if you are a new weaver or a lapsed  mature weaver I heartily recommend that you plan for success and slow the whole process down. Newbies are in a big hurry to get by the 'boring bits' and rush a project to completion. Then they rush another warp on.    Its all a lot of work and I'm sure you want it to look its best? Take time over the small details.   They really matter. 

Above all, no winding a warp and then go looking for a draft to fit it!  That's the cart before the horse....

This post is dedicated to hand weaver and author Virginia West who wrote "Finishing Touches for the Handweaver" which set me on the path to giving my projects the elegant finished look.  She passed away this week and many weavers the world over collectively thank her for her book, her seminars and workshops over the years.  

Saturday, February 20, 2021

🌷Spring Towels: Limping to the Finish Line

We have melting snow here after a large snowfall last week.  There is nothing like feeling trapped in your home, while you are 'stuck' in your home.  Is it just me or do the days whip by so fast while it also feels like the longest winter ever?  ❄️

Our phone has been even more quiet than our usual quiet.  A friend, who is a registered nurse, shared a story about how everyone are  basically head down and coping right now. Its been a very long year with a great deal to process.  The vaccines are here but for the average person out there, they are still months away. 

One side effect of this is inertia: Inertia comes from the Latin word, iners, meaning idle, sluggish. 

So we're all coping as best we can.


I decided to challenge myself to use up some cottons in my stash and to use some colours that I don't normally choose.  I chose a 16 shaft point twill, so easy threading, and a short treadling repeat of 8.    The warp was 8 yards long for 7 towels so not an overly long commitment, but long enough to get a decent stack of towels.   Here you can see the draft and my  edge threading  to perk things up.

I started with the charcoal grey  and woven to 36 inches on the loom, and then moved onto white,  salmon pink and green for the first 4 towels.  The simple treadling got me through listening to CNN as we had first an insurrection,  and then an inauguration, and  yet another impeachment trial. 

For the last 3 towels I decided to change up the treadling and weave my favourite colours. I also wove up some samples for my records.

So this warp took a while to weave not due solely to inertia,  or political distractions.  I could only weave using one leg as I have been coping with an infection in my left big toe that simply would not heal.  We have access to our doctors during covid but its usually over the phone after emailing pictures to them.  To my mind this is okay for a time, but over the long term, much can be missed or ignored by the patient.   So I'm on my third batch of antibiotics and crossing my fingers. 

So even a snail gets to the finish line eventually and I was able to serge / secure my towels and wet finish them.    A good steam pressing using my Singer press and I was able to hand sew the hems while we watched TV.

My favourite is the white, second is the green

They are thick and thirsty.    Brassards cottons, sett 24 epi.

Salmon weft, diamond treadling.

Lime weft, 2 treadlings

White weft, 2 treadlings.

Charcoal weft, 2 treadlings.

The loom is loaded and I'm underway with another project which looks very promising!    Spring is just around the corner and already the days are longer.  We have bulbs coming up under the snow, and there are birds back already. We're all a lot tougher than we think!