Monday, December 28, 2009

'Tween Times

This is Lorraine, my mother in law and she is very happy with her shawl! The size is perfect for her and she wore it all the time. It's first outing will be at the coming bridge game when the gals come to play cards this week.

I think of this week as the 'tween time' as Christmas is just over and New Year's is not quite here.

We had a lovely time during our week away and Santa was very good to us. The joys of air travel were not as interesting as some have experienced in the past week or so. Minor delay leaving, then our flight back yesterday was delayed for 2 1/2 hours due to increased security there and elsewhere and delayed planes because of the snow back east. We had some chilly temperatures but no snow and it was a green Christmas. No one was complaining though as the snow will appear soon and we'll make up for lost time.

We came home with full bags of loot and laundry and found that the reno has started with our old kitchen floor being removed while we were away. So life will get back in full swing here shortly....

Here my hubby Bruce is 'enduring' a frenzy of love and licks minutes after coming home.
The dog, Connor is *extremely* happy that we sprang him from the 'doggy resort'. There is only so much fun an old pooch can stand at age 13 and he's been sleeping soundly to catch up on his beauty rest.

The mailbox was full and there were some beautiful woven card inserts to grace our mantle this year...

The first to arrive was this boundweave card from my friend Gudrun .

Then this tri-axial woven ribbons done by Louise .

Then my friend Joan in Kamloops, BC. sent this lovely bird's eye twill

Then yesterday after we arrived home, we found this summer and winter tree beautifully woven by Lynnette. We had an elegant lunch with Lynnette and her hubby Michael and a good chat. In person hugs are so much better than emails! (I'll show you what she made me for Christmas in the next post)

I'll leave you with a picture of Lorraine's lovely tree that had a Victorian theme. I hope you all had a great Christmas and getting ready to greet 2010!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Houston, We have a Problem...."

(Apologies to the crew of Apollo 13....)

Do you recall my black 2/30 silk warp, sett 36 epi, that I was about to make nice twill circles on? Well, something is not going right. I have weighted floating selvedges on to ensure the weft goes completely from side to side, but it's not working well in some spots. It wants to bunch up or separate in others.

This is the right edge and while it's better here, I'm not happy. I added extra weight to the floating selvedges but it didn't make much of a difference. The weft is silk/ camel blend which has a nice loft to it. Maybe that's the trouble?

So I cut down the weft and removed it. ( I can hear Sue crying from here!) I left the narrow black bottom edge in place.

The silk warp is subject to abrasion and so its better to cut the weft out over 'un-weaving' it. Faster too... Here's a great tutorial on how to do this correctly.

Here I tried silk/ yak and the more subdued colour just didn't do the pattern justice. It also had trouble with the edges. So, out it came....

Then I found a cone of Brassard's fine bamboo in a deep red. Most bamboo is very softly spun and can be quite limp... but this yarn had high twist and was like using wire! It was too round and hard against the soft silk and just lay there in the pics like rope. As you can see the little bit of the left edge, it also wasn't working. So out it came... ( Notice I'm steadily using less and less new weft? I'm getting smarter.... and no comments from the peanut gallery!)

Here's a close up of the bamboo. Very tightly spun. The silk is sett correctly and I double checked the ties and tension of the warp. What else could it be?

This is the waste basket and the 'dead soldiers' are piling up. Meanwhile I'm searching my entire stash for a suitable candidate and emailing friends for help!

So while I waited for the cavalry, I went for black 2/10 tencel and will make one scarf in all black. It's not a happy solution and the pattern is very subtle for all the work doing a repeat. I'm buying myself some time to come up with a better solution, and not to mention going blind weaving black on black! There's warp enough for 3 full 70" long scarves and fringes of 9" at either end for all.... so it's far too long (and expensive) to cut and run :)

Here's another view of the all black solution. While it works, it doesn't do the pattern justice.

It's been resting while I weave off the tea towels and mull things over.
Lynnette was kind enough to look the draft over and suggest some changes:

I had a look at your draft and it's amazingly lovely! I tried every different selvedge treatment I could think of and frankly everything just looks ugly and ruined the selvedges. I have a couple of suggestions though:
* You could hang a doubled floating selvedge and weigh it heavily - that would stop any tendency to pull in.
* You could add doubled threads on the last two shafts so at the beginning double 1 and double 2, then at the end double 7 and double 8, it will give strength to the selvedges and not screw up the pattern like a basket weave does.

I'm going to try her
suggestions and see how that works out, using the original silk/ camel weft. Failing that, I'll re-thread and try another pattern. Perhaps you might have a comment on what might cure my problem!?

I'm hoping to get some time in on the towel warp but we are into our last week before leaving next Saturday. Between dealing with adjusters, the restoration company and trying to get the damaged kitchen floor removed, my life is interesting!

I have also been comtemplating what is about to happen here soon with the kitchen renovation. Everything I have in a kitchen cupboard or drawer has to be moved out of the kitchen *and* dining room and still be accessible for use. This includes all the contents of the buffet and hutch.
So....I'll have to rearrange the guest bedroom and pack up all the knic nacks and strip the bed. This should free up room to stuff all the kitchen goods. I'm going to need a *LOT* of boxes....

To distract myself, and to put a positive spin on things, I admired the nifty stack of twenty boxes of our new walnut hard wood flooring and tried to imagine this new floor throughout the kitchen and dining room. This dream also involved new dining room suite of course....go big or go home (More like go broke!)

It helped, but not as effective as new yarn would be...
but good enough for now...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Feather Light

This one Christmas gift I can share with you right now as the recipient, my mother in law, Lorraine does not have a computer or internet. She is a lovely lady who has been more of a friend along the past 25 years. She's 'of an age' where she is downsizing and reducing clutter in her life and so buying a gift for her is quite difficult! I was admiring the three lace shawls in our guild sale at the gallery and this one in lace weight baby alpaca caught my eye. It's soft and a nice size to wrap around her small shoulders. She likes to entertain and have 'the girls' in for movie nights and visit at her neighbours. She's a going concern!

I will be the first to admit that I'm not a knitter or that I know much about lace shawls other than to admire the delicate patterning and the dedication of the knitter who created it. This shawl is soft and as light as a feather. It was made by a sister guild member and seemed to be the perfect gift! Along with a Susan Boyle disc and some other goodies, we're set to fly in for Christmas. Yes, we will be away for a week. Its has meant that we have had to step up our shopping and other activities but we are really looking forward to spending the time with her.

Here are some close up's of the pattern:

On the home front, things are moving along with regards to the coming kitchen renovation. We purchased our new appliances yesterday, finalized selecting the new flooring (walnut), and started looking at back splash tiles. Choices are coming along nicely. I'm going to photograph the whole process and at the end, do a long post of the transformation. It all starts in early January.

I'm still weaving away on the twill tea towels and now over half way. The silk scarves are 'resting' while I consider my options. Its a toss up today whether I get to weave or try to tidy up the dog by spending some 'quality time' with him and a pair of clippers. Either way, someone's a winner, though neither he or I will feel like it till its over!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Towels and Tribulations

This sure is a busy time of year! Between Christmas shopping, regular life and errands... then throw indoor renovations into the mix and there hasn't been as much time for weaving as I would like. My big loom Emmatrude has a 9.5 yard towels project that was part of my experiment to try new methods of warping my loom. I tried to simulate the Louet method and after a fashion I did manage to get the warp on and beamed. Then the second warp beam placement raised the level of the warp at the back by 3 inches. Not ideal, but I have been weaving this warp off slowly. The threads are running elevated from the back and at the heddles the threads are touching the top of the heddle eye. While I get a shed, it's not the best to work with. There is a further complication in that the tie up assist cords appear to be out of sync and so I had to raise the beater bar assembly to keep a smooth bottom edge to throw the shuttle on. Add a narrower shed and then top threads at varying heights and it made for a slow slog.

What this means is when this warp is done and off the loom, there will need to be some adjustments made to my loom before another project can go on. For the 20+ tie up assist, it means raising the treadles to their optimum height and then placing weights on them to hold them securely in place. Then, at the back of the loom, all cords, one by one, must be pulled and tugged till all slack is gone and then pegged at the 'sweet spot'. Then all the sweet spots must be marked with a tie of non slippery yarn. I used red 2/8 cotton last time so it will be interesting to see how much discrepancy there will be this time. They say Texsolv doesn't stretch, but I have found with constant use and tension that it will 'ease' by as much as a centimetre. This can be enough to cause some problems at the front end! So in short, its time to tweak and fine tune. It's all part of knowing your loom well.

Speaking of knowing your loom well, I have decided to put the sectional back on and revert to my method of warping on this loom. I would have to practically rebuild my loom to take the second warp beam off to get the warp at the right level and I have decided I'd just rather not.
So it will be part of the 'big tweak' as well.

In the mean time, I'm weaving away, albeit a lot slower than I would like. Let's take a look at the various colours and combination so far. I'll post the finished results sometime down the road, most likely in January.

So the warp is 2/10 mercerized cotton, sett 28 epi and is a simple two block twill. I'm weaving to a towel length of 34 inches with decorative bands top and bottom. Above is white weft and decorative band. It really cuts the colours intensity! Below is the steel grey and I really like it.

More of the grey and you can see the optical diamonds the pattern creates. Neat!

Below I used the red as my main weft and while it looks okay, I'm not so keen on it. I wanted to have one towel with each colour, then repeat my favourites and possibly expand on the size of the twill blocks.

So, my favourite is the black! It really makes the colour *POP* and looks elegant. The inspiration for these towels was the new modern appliances that feature stainless steel and black exteriors. I thought they would different colour wise at sales and be a hit. ( Also being mercerized, they have a nice sheen).

So as part of our coming kitchen reno in January, it seems these fancy shmancie appliances will be coming here to our place!

Gosh darn, these look like they are going to be mine.... well, most of them!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Silver Linings

Now, isn't that a sight to make your heart go 'pitty-pat' ? This parcel arrived just ahead of the weekend. Now I must add that this isn't all mine (unfortunately). This is a two weaver order from Yarns Plus. They sell tencel and chenille: some custom colourways in both and solid shades.

The Christmas sale at the gallery has gone well for me. I arrived there Saturday afternoon to work my shift to see two of my snowflake runners going to a new home and later the same day, the white lace shawl and two scarves were gone too. So not much will be coming home when it wraps up next Thursday.

Based on the previous sale of the 'Ode to Inge' shawl, I decided to splurge and buy some tencel and flesh out my colour range and get some of the other choices on their sample cards. Tencel takes dye so well and has such good depth of shade....its easy to love when you are wanting to put more colour into your weaving! Their rayon chenille is also beautiful and just as colourful and my friend is wanting to start her stash enhancement by getting some of both. Below is an overview of her yarns with both tencel and chenille:

Then the close up, featuring the colours terra cotta and cashmere chenille out in front, iris and royal in behind. I didn't get any chenille myself as I have a large selection. I haven't been inspired to weave chenille lately but handling these yummy cones may have done the trick.

Now here are my cones of 2/8 tencel and it would appear that I have been avoiding the blue end of the colour cards. Mauve and mineral green are in the front, with aqua and coral on the left hand side. Ngaire recently did a lovely project using the coral colour and I was quite impressed so add it to my order. At the far right is 2/10 in black. Don, at Yarns Plus, says that they are going out of the 2/10 yarn size ( all colours, including white and black) due to supply and dye concerns. Such a shame as I much prefer this size of yarn. The cloth is just as lovely but has a finer hand and not as much weight. I'll have to make sure that what ever the project is for my 2/10 is extra special.

I'm going to be able to do some great colour gradations now and more of the iridescent effects!

You could look at these all day and never get tired, only inspired! I did a post a few months ago about using colour cards and ordering yarns. Well, when I ordered my yarns I took a minute to inquire about what had been discontinued and what was new. I made the changes to my existing cards and had new chenille colour cards sent along so I'm up to date. Now with most companies, there is a small charge for these but sometimes when they come along with a big order, they are gifted...which is pretty darn nice! If you have weaving friends, why not try a group order from your favourite yarns store? You can share the postage costs and if they have a magic dollar level where you can then get the wholesale rate, then the savings really kick in! I know that at least three or four of the companies I like to order from do just that. Hard for one person to spend that much at once ( okay, maybe not... its the paying part that's tough!) but several weavers ordering makes it possible.

So it hasn't been all doom and gloom here. The waters are receding and the creek is back in its banks. It has been unseasonably warm and I went grocery shopping yesterday in shirt sleeves. I have only 2 gifts left to get and I'm done with Christmas shopping! In fact I may get more weaving done pre-Christmas than I have ever done before. Now, wouldn't that be sweet? ! It's a good thing too as my inventory box is almost empty. Now that's a problem I don't mind having......

Monday, November 23, 2009

All that Shimmers....

So do you like a purple shimmer?

Or a green glimmer?

This post today is one that has actually been preempted a couple of times as one or another topic pushed it to the back burner. Our area has been hit hard by flooding after a few days of torrential rains. The town is full of big name media trucks looking for the story and the images for night time TV news. While our home is okay, our lower property was flooded by our normally gentle creek. We had our own private lake for a time! The water levels have dropped thankfully. Further down the road and closer to town, approx 300 homes were flooded out and now a wet, soggy mess. It will be many months before they are any where back to normal again, if ever. Many lost all pictures and family mementoes. So now due to dealing with matters here at home, tradespeople and Christmas shopping, not much weaving has happened.

This project is simply too pretty to hide for any longer though! The goal was to get some 'eye candy' scarves for the recent sale and to personally revisit the concept of iridescence. I took a three day workshop with Karen Selk of Treenway Silks back in 2000 or 2001, called 'Silken Kaleidoscope'. It was about putting more colour into your projects and trying varying types of silks for different looks and textures. I had been reviewing the workshop notes Karen had given each student and saw the page on iridescence. You use two similar grist (size) yarns in colours in tones of equal values. In the workshop we had used 2/60 silks in colours like a rich magenta and a deep teal. They were woven (slowly on table looms) in plain weave. The effect? Stunning! Think about some of the beautiful iridescent Indian sari's you might have seen... People are fascinated by this effect and love the chameleon like changes depending on how the light hits the cloth.

I chose a rich teal in 2/10 tencel called Persian Blue and the first weft was emerald green 2/10 tencel. It didn't take long to see the effect. My pattern is a well modified draft inspired by a Design Collection issue. I was looking for something quick to throw on as the sale was looming. (sorry, couldn't resist! :)

I had altered this draft using my Fiberworks - PCW program and expanded the pattern so it has plain weave plus much more of the delightful fancy twill which makes it completely reversible. So this sett is 24 epi and uses 8 shafts and 8 treadles, but iridescence can be done on 2 shafts and 2 treadles if you weave plain weave. For best effect, use very fine yarns.

Here is a snap of the pattern below. It looks quite complex but is an 8 shaft pattern and uses 8 treadles. It's how you put the treadles together of course...

*click on draft to see larger image*

The first scarf was amazing to watch progress. It was about that time that Elena came to pick up her shawl and saw them on the loom. The next scarf would be woven using a purple weft... and she bought it unwoven and sight unseen! So the third scarf would be purple as well so I would have one of each at least...

The purple was very pretty and my personal favourite. I have tried to get good shots so it shows either the patterning and/ or the iridescence. Hope it comes through on your screens!

So after two scarves, I cut off and prepped the scarves on the foam board for fringe twisting. See here for more info on how to do this.

Then since both scarves have similar values of colour, I got out my beads and made some colourful choices. They had some beads in common together which helped narrow the choices!

Here I am slowly working my way across the green weft scarf with beads that are greenish with a blue shimmer.

I like to have a special few featured. I used some of the last of my little gold wings I bought with Lynnette at Beadworld. Looks like another visit will be in order soon. Darn :)
Just admiring my handiwork ahead of the wash tub session to come...

Here they are side by side and, thanks to blogger, turned sideways! The second purple one is sold as well. Its for a lady who was watching me twist the fringes at our sale. Stiff fabric, no beads and she fell in love with it. Her gentleman friend is buying it for her for Christmas. Won't she be surprised to open the box and see that? I get a kick out of stuff like this... Me, a Christmas Elf.

So before I close for this time, an update on our indoor flood. Seems I will be getting a new floor in my kitchen.... and also a new kitchen! I have seen and approved drawings for the new lay out and we have made many choices of colours, fixtures and appliances! Rarely have Hubby and I agreed on so many things so quickly together. Must be the 25 years of getting to know one another :) The carpenter said that he's never had anyone choose a laminate for counter tops so fast! I like to think that weaving has had some side benefits for both of us... an eye for colour, shape and form that we bring to everything in our lives. Me as I work with it daily and poor suffering Hub as he must listen to me. To be fair, I know an *awful lot* of the running of railroads big (real) and small (HO scale).

The demolition and chaos start right after New Year's.... with the floor possibly coming out sooner so it can dry properly. Do you think I can weave through all that? I sure hope so!

One last shot... it's so darn pretty!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Soft Silk Circles

Well, I had every intention of getting back on topic with weaving (most) of the time but... life has a way of throwing a few surprizing curves at you! So here's new newest project with a 'twist' to the plot.

It had been a very busy week with lots happening at home and hubby's work and we were enjoying a quiet Sunday morning together. We had a friend and neighbour coming over later and so I decided to make an apple crisp to have with our tea. I put the full dishwasher on and started to gather my supplies to make the dessert, when I noticed my right foot was very warm! The water was *pouring* out of the dishwasher! I tried everything with no success and in a very unlady like manner shrieked for help from Hubby. Long story short, the fill hose was on permanent fill and it's a darn good thing I hadn't left the room, or even the house! ( Can you just imagine coming home to that mess?)

We grabbed towels and starting mopping up water off the hardwood floor and Hub went downstairs to the laundry room for more (dog bath) towels....only to find that the water was coming through the ceiling... along to a light fixture and there was a sag in the ceiling with the weight of the water above ! So we shifted our attention to that room, conscious of the yarn stash just on the other side of the wall. *gulp!* The bulge let go and that was probably a good thing as the water drained out, rather than looking for another place to run to. In the picture below, you can see the line of water that ran right to the shared wall with the studio. Scary!

So after the insurance agent is called and the plumber has been in, what do you do? Well, besides waiting, you weave! It calms the jitters! Lilibet, my Spring loom was empty so I wound a 9 yard warp of 2/30 black silk, sett 36 epi for a warp width of just over 8 inches. It went on real slick and threading, sleying and tie up went well. Then as I started to weave, I was being inundated by the sound of sawing and banging next door as my laundry room ceiling was being taken down. Here's the draft (Clicking on it enlarges, or 'embiggens' as the Yarn Harlot says)

So as I sat down to weave, this is the loom in front of me....but... if I glance behind me, I see.....

This....all the loose contents of my laundry room... and then to my right...

My dye cabinet on a movers dolly

Ah, there's my procion dyes... and ikat tape... yes, I was going to try that this past summer.... oops! Next year?

So by the end of the afternoon, the laundry room looked like this and is drying properly.

So if this ship is sinking, this band will play on!

Back to the weaving! I had put my iPod on to drown out the noise and soldiered on. There was a brief glitch with a minor threading error, happily near the edge and I was quickly back in business. I did one repeat of the border in black to edge the scarf and my lighter weft is a silk/ camel blend in a soft tawny beige.

The treadling is (as usual for me) a bit tricky and eventually the pattern becomes familiar and there is a logic to the numbers! Hubby came home and saw it and loves how fine it is.... and the fact that there is warp enough for three scarves has him hoping one might be for him?

So the friend who was coming over that Sunday did, but much later that day after the clean up and the drying fans were running. He's a cabinet maker and was there to discuss our coming kitchen renovation, slated for early January. It can't come a minute too soon! ( and is possibly a bit late.)

In the next post, I'll show you the twill towels on the big gal Emmatrude, which now look to be destined for my kitchen.

I also got word that I sold this shawl at the sale today. Apparently the woman looked wonderful with it.... I hope she enjoys her coming Christmas celebrations!

I'm going to celebrate with a yarn order :) Some say, pass the bottle... well, I say pass the yarn!