Monday, October 27, 2008

Some of This, and Some of That....

So what's been going on here? I have been concentrating on the exchange project and cut off eight guest towels and then tied back on. I was simply running out of time so I had to do it. I picked out the best six of the eight and have been hand sewing hems and laundering, pressing the towels. Next to do is the draft and project notes for the exchange participants. Just one left to do and they are ready to box up and mail away. So there is warp enough left for four more guest towels on Emmatrude to weave off. What is taking all the time is the hemstitching. But it does look so good on the finished towels. These two are off white linen (on 2/16's cotton warp) and the towel on the bottom is 2/10 merc cotton weft:

These two are 2/16's in a beige or light tan:

The towel on the left has 2/16 linen in a soft steel grey. There are two of these.

Here they are all pressed and drafts in protective sleeves... all ready to mail away. I'm really looking forward to getting the return parcel next month!

What's next? I will be beaming on 10 yards of 2/8 cotton for tea towels... and there's nothing better than towels to get to know a loom. It's a 10 shaft point twill and straight treadling run. The pattern is all in the tie up. It's small twill hearts on a colourful striped warp with the colour repeat every 18 ends and a sett of 24 epi. I'm hoping that it's not too busy and it will be a brighter warp than I normally do. I wanted something that would give me a good run of just weaving and getting in the zone. I seem to have sold all the other towels in my sale box privately and four more left this morning to a new owner. I need to have more towels on hand anyway. It seems that these mid priced items do well at any time of year. I hope to get scarves on next (tencel and/or silk) and a shawl or three as well. I also want to make a start on my second level of the GCW test program. So there is no lack of projects to keep me busy! Just a sore back is holding my pace back a bit but I'm not quitting! ( I also feel Christmas is a bit of a distraction and interrupts a perfectly good weaving season)

My back has been sore again and I've been nursing it along and back waiting for physiotherapy once more. Its not as bad as it was earlier this spring but annoying all the same. I was doing so well too.... *sigh* While I have been working in the studio I make sure that the room is warm and not doing any one job for too long and varying my position and multi tasking. Good pain drugs help too. (Arthritis is nasty and not just for old folks!)

The day before yesterday my local community held the annual 'Fleece and Fibre' Fair and I was there bright and early. Lots to see and do and shopping of course. I found some cones of 5/2 pearl cotton in a sale box and got a great deal on the six cones / six pounds in three colours. ( three of the lavender, two of the green and the one soft pink) That's one area of my stash that was a bit light for selection so this was a nice find. The seller said it was mill ends from a textile mill in Georgia that closed down.

I also bought a used Woolhouse Tools weaving shuttle for $5.00. I seem to collect shuttles and don't have one of these. I don't think they make them anymore. Another good find...

The bad news? I forgot to take my camera along! Oops....

I have a quiet few days planned in the studio and will tidy up loose ends and get a warp on the new loom. Tonight, we're off for our anniversary dinner. Where did 23 years go? Time flies when you are having fun.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flowers and Lace: the Finale

I realized just the other day that I had yet to show you the final finished runners! I had hand sewed the hems while away and wet finished them once we got home, but life has been quite hectic since then (when isn't it?) This pattern seemed to get some favourable remarks when I had originally posted so I thought I would do a review. I received this pattern some years ago from a friend, though since then I understand something similar appeared in a Handwoven. I have searched what issues I have and no luck! I'm big on giving credit when due.
I had used what I thought was 2/8 mercerized cotton for warp and found the sett too sleazy. It became apparent that the cone was either mislabeled or the grist of the Earth Guild cotton was finer than was we use here in Canada, or actually a 2/10 cotton. I resleyed using a 12 dent reed with 2 per dent where you see the 'plain weave' and flower float and 3 per dent *with an empty dent between the central groups* where you see the mock leno. The mock leno is in fact, 3 thread huck lace groupings. This multi sett grouping of ends makes it difficult to calculate the width ahead of time, especially if you are making adjustments on the fly like I was! The empty dents added approx 2.5 inches to my calculations and I used that figure to recalculate when I tightened up the sett. I was much happier with the second sett. The weft is a skinny 2/8 blend yarn with silk, flax, cotton and a small amount of an acrylic, in a soft green shade that I had bought from a company here in Canada called South Landing. It has small flecks of colours through out and gives the cloth life that I can't seem to capture with my camera for you! Unfortunately South Landing is gone now which is a shame. They made wonderful yarns! But back to the cloth: it's a fine line between light and lacy and an unstable cloth. This is where the dreaded sampling word comes in! Here's the second sett on the loom:

Here is the cloth off loom and relaxed. Quite a difference isn't it?

From there the 2 runners and 2 tray cloths went to the serger to secure the edges. I am very pleased with how well serging secures the raw edges of hand wovens and use this for all hemmed items. The serger is just an inexpensive model and I don't use it for anything else...but it's confidence builder for when you are selling your goods and you want them to last long after they leave your hands.

I turned the hems and pressed, then hand sewed them. The hem is right against the hemstitching and you could reverse the runners if you like. From here they were hand washed in warm sudsy water, rolled in a towel to semi dry and pressed while damp. After fully drying, I pressed again. Here is a close up picture of the cloth after wet finishing and you can see how the sett tightened up:

It's a stable cloth that's light and airy too.... here's a final picture over our (new to us) old 1930's waterfall style blanket box we found antiquing:

I am going to try and set the draft up in my Fiberworks program for you and edit it back into here when I do. I'm new to importing a 'capture' so bear with me.

One last thing before I go.... I would like to announce a new weaving blog has made it's debut! I invite you to visit and book mark my friend Lynnette's blog " Dust Bunnies under my Loom" She will be sharing her experiences with her new Louet Spring loom " Lily Louet". I would add here that Lynnette is a lovely weaver and does beautiful work. But I am a little biased of course. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Spring"-ing into Action

The day before yesterday my husband went down to to my studio in the morning and found this:

It's all the tie cords and such for my warps. Normally they are all in a tidy basket by the warping board. So he followed the strings to this:

Connor has a new toy and part of dog psychology is that once you have licked it all over and made it a soggy mess, then you must hide it from 'other dogs' ( we have no other dogs!) He went looking for a good place to stash it and then decided it wasn't the right spot....and took all the strings with it. Thankfully, nothing serious! Years ago when he was a puppy he buried a whole sock in one of my indoor plant pots. Now that was a mess....

I started once more into assembling the new Louet Spring loom. The instructions call for tie up cords to be done later when the front and back beam are in place but since my arthritis doesn't like being crouched and bent like that, I decided to add the tie cords now over later. I had cords to do half the possible placements from Louet, some additional cord I had bought and my old tie up cords from the Woolhouse loom. I have managed to get a cord in place for all but approx 20 upper lamm spots and I'll get those filled in time with more cord when I can. I don't want to have to move tie cords if I can help it and this way it makes a tie up faster for me.

So I'm tying away and something isn't quite right...... oh geesh, I'm on film. No hair, make-up, all curled up on the floor in my 'comfy' clothes.... so I grabbed my camera and got this:

He decided to beat a retreat... wise man! {note to self: learn where the delete key is on the handy cam}
I got the back beam on and secure next. Not difficult and although I could have used a second pair of hands at one point, I managed it by myself.
Then I assembled the treadles (I had already added the screws while comfortably seated the day before!) Flipped it over and attached the foot beam to the sides. The left middle side beam is next. It would have gone on sooner but the instruction notes gave confusing information about the size of the cloth beam holes and which side they were placed on. Turns out I had it right.
The next picture is where she was at at the end of the day when it was quitting time. Apron cords are on, heddles are on all but the back two shafts ( 200 more heddles are in the mail to me... I ordered more so it's 100 heddles per shaft), breast beam in place, beater assembly together and on the loom. Just the brake system to attach. I came downstairs at least twice more to look at my new baby that night....
Yesterday, I attached the brake assembly, cut some non-skid matting for the tool/ accessory tray on the castle, slipped the upper lamm cords down through their proper placements and then slid my bench up to the front to check the height. It's right just where it is! I must wind a warp *soon* and plan a 'get to know you' warp of kitchen towels, and I'm thinking a plaited twill. But I have a weaving commitment going on my other loom that has a deadline clock ticking!
So no warp on Spring until I have the other warp done. She looks nice huh? :)
I like to give my looms names but I'm stuck this time round. I have a feeling she'll just be known as Spring. Years ago I went searching for smaller cushions or pillows to use on my benches. I found two pillows, both the same, and bought them. Back then I had no idea of how prophetic they would be someday. So this last picture is of the bench pillow I will be using.... and since my friend Lynnette and I bought Spring looms together at the same time, I took her my second pillow to her as a gift when we were there last month so she can 'dance' as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers! Our turkey is in the oven and the house smells great! I'm off to weave....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Something to be Truly Thankful For!

The Canadian Thanksgiving weekend is almost here and look what arrived on my door step this morning!

There was just the two boxes: this large one with nifty lifting handles and another smaller box which is just behind. Together they are not overly heavy and we brought them inside. Our little dog Connor was checking things out too. He loves to help unwrap things.

When we opened the top and bottom of the large box, the whole main frame gently slid out. The reed is snugged in tight where the blue tape is. There was also a box tucked under the lamms:

It held a lot of the smaller parts and bags of nut, bolts, screws and even all the tools to put the loom together. Literally all we will need is a small mallet at some point for gentle 'tapping'.

The second box (complete with wood end pieces for strength!) held some of the heavier long pieces as the breast beam and the cloth and warp beams, lease sticks, warping sticks.

I have *never* seen anything so well wrapped and packaged. My husband commented several time about how well it is organised. The tools provided are not cheap throw aways either.

Now, this section of the castle below is what I saw first as I pulled on the loom as my husband pushed. I must say that I panicked! I thought it was some horrible mistake! A quick call to Jane Stafford and our finally finding the assembly guide, I came to realize that these parts are temporary for shipping and the proper parts are placed later. (phew!) I think Jane is still chuckling over that call!

So I have unwrapped everything and placed all the treadle screws and snipped all the tops and bottoms of my heddles. Tomorrow I start the assembly process in earnest!

On being thankful....

My husband Bruce had a bad moment the day before yesterday and he was taken to the hospital. We had a few worrying 12 hours hours while he was thoroughly checked out but after a stress test yesterday, it's *not* his heart. It might be something simple like his inner ear and balance.... or possibly something a bit more. We'll find out more in the coming days.

He has never waivered in his support of my weaving over the years and I call him my 'Patron of the Arts'. This weekend when we all take stock of what we have to be thankful for....he will come to my mind first.

Thanks Sweetie.... :)