Monday, September 28, 2009

Elena's Shawl: Finishing and Finale

Here's a happy face... meet Elena!

In this image she has the predominantly red side of the shawl facing outwards.

To back up in the story a bit, I completed her shawl just ahead of our holiday. I had very generous time allowance for completion. Sometime in 'September' was my time line. While I had hoped to have it to Elena before we went away, my ankle problems meant some downtime weaving. I took this picture of it curled up on the cloth beam on September 4th and then removed it off the loom.

Then shortly after our return from the Okanagan, I pinned out the shawl on my pink foam hemming board and commenced twisting the fringe. This took a bit longer than I anticipated as I wound two groups of four ends onto each other, for a finer fringe and it was 50 turns in each direction!
So two afternoons later and it was done. Thank the gods for fringe twisters is all I can say! {A full explain of the fringe twisting can be found here} In the picture below, one side is done and the second is about to start. Sorry it's so dark but I had the camera settings wrong.

Once the fringe was all secure, then I pulled out my bead stash, in their nifty new boxes and considered all my options. Here you can see my stacks of the possible contenders!

It's not just the right colour, but also the bead size and a lot of 'gut feelings' about which ones work and which ones don't. I wanted subtle beading that wouldn't detract from the pattern and overall effect, but still be there and be special. Here I am doing the beads in the centre red section.

Then on the single black fringe bout on either side, I decided to add a bit of 'bling' and found some special beads and a wee set of wings. I bought these at Beadworld back in July when Lynnette was visiting here. In fact I had bought all red beads so make sure I had a good selection to choose from when this moment came! Here I'm backing the needle down all the beads but the end one and snugging it up tight.

Once the ends are double backed and secure, sit back and admire your handy work! { For a full description of this beading process, please look here.}

Time for a wash: this tightens up the weave, removes any soiling and softens up the tencel so it's like butter! I use fairly hot water and gentle suds and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Then I squeeze the cloth working my way from one end to the other and back again. I find the middle and lift up, then grapple all the fringe ends together in one hand and hold them secure and squeeze out excess water from the doubled shawl. I rinse twice keeping all the fringe held together to prevent tangling and too much fraying of the tassel warp ends. I use a small amount of fragrance free liquid fabric softener in the last rinse.

A smaller item would normally be rolled into a towel and then hung to dry. This shawl is 85 inches long plus an 8 inch outside it went. I jury rigged a PVC pipe hanger and it swung in the breeze on a beautiful fall day.

The next day when completely dry, I gave it a hard pressing with my Rowenta iron, which inconveniently died the day before we went away and had to be replaced quickly when we got back. Water leaking out of the bottom of an electrical appliance is not good! I did find an identical model for half the price I paid 3 years ago, so I'm happy. Once the tassel ends were neatly trimmed with a rotary cutter, I wrapped her on my manikin, admired once again and then sent word to Elena.

A close up detail:
I tack sewed one of my new labels on it. I even printed up the weaving draft and prepared a small swatch sample for Elena to have of her project.

I got a very excited email back and she was there bright and early the next day! She loved it.
This side showing has the predominantly darker side facing out.
It met with full approval by Appolonia (Apple for short), Elena's little daughter. She says she wants a pink one. Maybe when you are a bit older says Mum...
Somehow, I think by then, she'll want the red one!

This was my first full collaboration with a client on a project and I enjoyed it very much. Elena now has a better understanding of what we do and what went into the making of her unique project and myself as a weaver gets stretched to go beyond what our comfort zone. This time, I didn't venture too far, but next time? who knows!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Holiday Part 2: the Loot!

I managed to do some 'stash enhancement' on our recent trip to the Okanagan. Seems Kelowna has a new yarn store called 'Art of Yarn'. My first trip out was on the holiday Monday, except I forgot the holiday part. I met with closed doors and had to press my nose up against the glass and window shop. On a little kid, it's cute... not so much on a (ahem) 'mature' woman. I went back a couple of days later and bought these skeins. They are silk and mohair blend in amazing colours. The pictures don't show the deep shimmer. I couldn't decide between the deep mauves, lavender and smoldery pinks.... or the earthy tone, green shimmer and copper gleam. So I bought both. They are yarns by Hand Maiden.

I went back to the store on my last day with Lynnette and Ngaire and this skein of fine merino said 'crock pot dye session' to me. Or maybe not: lace weave in this cream would be lovely too.

While in Vernon, we went to the local yarn store (LYS) and visited 'Never Ending Yarn'. These skeins are baby alpaca and 50 grams each. They two shades are of equal value and looked so nice together. What ever the project finally gets to be, it will most likely use both colours. I also bought some fine (000 or 1.50 mm) circular needles for some beaded knitting I'm doing at night while watching TV.

My friend and weaving buddy, Gudrun recently had visited Germany and Austria in July to see family and friends.
Then while visiting with Gudrun for our lunch and (too short) visit, she gave me a little gift. Inside is a nifty sley hook tool that was made in Germany. It's quite thin and used on finer reeds but apparently they come in all sizes depending on the reed being used. There also was a special needle for hemstitching: on the point there is a small ball. I have yet to try it but Gudrun assured me that it would be my new favourite. I tried to take a close up picture of the needle's ball but my camera wouldn't cooperate... or focus!

I also added to my linen cupboard and brought home these snowflake and fancy twill runner and four mats woven by Gudrun. They have a fine cotton warp and a fine black linen weft. If I recall rightly, this linen is newly home from Germany. I sampled some on a cone and it was so smooth, and fine and amazingly soft. I would have thought cotton but just *really* uber linen.
Gudrun said she should have brought back a suitcase full of it. I agree!

Lynnette showed me her bead storage system while I was there. She has these little clear 'cuppettes' with snap on lids and so you can see what's inside and they are stackable and secure. Fantastic! So, once home, off I went to Wally World and while no cuppettes appeared, I found these nifty storage cases.

There are many (37?) of the little boxes in two main sizes, plus two larger ones. It came with a spoon for dishing up the glitz and a pair of fine, cheap tweezers. I hate to say this but my bead stash filled three cases and I spilled over into two back up units of these cups. But its way better than those little baggies and all stuffed into a heap in a soft carry bag and stuffed again into a drawer. Now they are more accessible and I can colour code the boxes and take out only the ones I need.
My husband has his eye on these cases below but the pink clips are a theft deterrent! Thinks the guys will laugh at him when they come for railway modeling sessions.

I've been home a week now and there's been a fair amount of business to tend to and so I have been around our little town running errands. I stopped into a local book store and found this gem:
I used to live in New Zealand for five years and so have an appreciation of the Maori and their culture. I'm looking forward to studying this book more closely.

Anything I missed this trip, we can catch next time and that appears to be coming a lot sooner that I had thought! Looks like we'll be going back again this Christmas!

I have also been busy working on Elena's shawl and it's hanging to dry as I write. I got the fringe twisting done ( 2 full afternoon's) and then the beading ( another full afternoon) Next post should be the big reveal!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friends, Family and Late Summer Fun!

So, did you miss me? This is blog post #100!
Yes, I'm back and now catching up on stuff here at home and sorting through holiday laundry and memories. It was a fun time overall but nothing feels like home does it? From when we left to coming home, the feeling of fall has really hit and the changes are happening fast! This little grape leaf will now live well beyond the coming frost and snow.

It was found amongst the green and shady others on Lynnette's deck. Now doesn't this look inviting? They sure did a lovely job of creating a lovely space outdoors.
It's our inspiration for when our deck is finally redone. Seems this year it is not to be... no one has any time to fit our job in this late in the season.

I was at my MIL's home for close onto a week and shame on me! No camera came out during that time. I guess it was more about just talking and a whole lot of listening. Just being together.

I did get one of Lorraine when I was dropped off at Lynnette's. She has been a wonderful MIL for the past 24 years. Always gracious. I hope that my SIL thinks the same of me some day...

Behind where we were sitting is Lynnette's amazing garden. It's lush, green and produces a large crop that we dined on for lunch and dinners! Some found it's way to our home too. We had a yummy Greek Salad the other night.

Her sunflowers teased the birds... where's the seeds??

There were ginormous cucumbers hanging off the vines that were crisp and cool. Then there were the tomatoes. Sweet and they seemed to fall into your mouth as you walked by. Okay, they had help but could you resist?

Lynnette, Ngaire and I chatted constantly about weaving (their studio is amazing and full of looms right now as they prepare for the coming workshop they are holding) Their retail space is full of brightly coloured scarves and shawls and made me realize that a bigger push is needed at home to create my own corner for sales as well. They toured me around the town of Vernon and showed me all the changes in the five years since I left. There are huge housing developments being built right up the sides and tops of the mountains! The view of lakes and valley bottoms are stunning. We spent an afternoon at Davison Orchards and had lunch outdoors with pumpkins and fall produce piled up all around. Some three or four local varieties of apples bought there turned into a delightful apple pie. No one does pastry like Lynnette!

The next day bright and early we headed up the valley to the Shuswap and the Salmon Arm Fall Fair. I took a random shot from the car window as we approached the Enderby Cliffs. That's me in the side mirror!

The Shuswap Weavers and Spinners Guild is the host of the annual 'Sheep to Shawl Event' held every September and interested guilds send along a team consisting of a weaver, one plyer, and three spinners. The looms are preloaded with their hand spun warp and they must spin the weft there, all under time constraints. This is a bit over simplified but gives you the basic premise.

The sky was clear and it got to 30 degrees Celsius and so everyone was a little warm. Fortunately we were all under cover and shared the space with a gent building canoes, a bee keeping exhibit, baskets made from pine needles and the quilters. Over in a corner was the local woodworkers guild demonstrating their tools and so it was a bit noisy and dusty from time to time, but all in good fun! I took a great many photos and would invite you to see the photo share here. In the mean time these ones will tell a great story!

Ngaire, a new weaver, took the job of weaving the shawl for her team, Ponderosa Weavers, Spinners and Fibre Artists Guild. Now an iPod looks a bit weird to some but she wore it to reduce the noise and so better concentrate on her task at hand.

This is Ngaire and Lynnette and guild president Chris, plus other team members, listening to Gudrun discuss their marks after she completed her judging of their shawl.

Here's the result! Second place, out of three teams. Not too shabby for a newbie weaver! Both her mum Lynnette and I were so proud of her.

I mentioned pine needle baskets were on display here. The stacks to the right of the basket are the Ponderosa pine needles found in the Okanagan Valley. They run 6 to 10 inches long and so are perfect for basketry. They are preparing to fall this time of year and so are gathered and straightened with rubber bands till they are used. The baskets were beautiful!

Now, while the sheep to shawl event was running, my friend Gudrun's husband came and picked me up and took me to their lovely home near the shores of Shuswap Lake for a luncheon with them and two house guests they had staying there. We had a lovely meal, with cups of fresh coffee and conversation. Afterwards, Gudrun and I disappeared to her studio and chatted all things weaving. But not before taking her picture by the recently completed tapestry. It now resides in 'pride of place' above their fireplace mantle.

I was literally speechless when I saw it in person. Pictures simply do not do it justice. When viewed from 6 to 8 feet away, it looks like a large painting. The colour blending is that precise. Here is a detail closeup of the bottom left hand corner.

I tried hard to get some decent pictures of Gudrun's antique 1932 Scottish loom but the light from the windows, even with drapes drawn, prevented me from getting a good one from the front. The best I could do was the side and this shows the immense size of it, with fly shuttle in place with 3 'garages'. The beater bar is secured forward right now as there is another project being threaded. The time flew by and soon it was time to get back to the fair. Gudrun was the judge for the sheep to shawl and the deadline was looming. (pun intended :)

We were all quite tired after the long day and the next morning we had a leisurely start and made our way down to Winfield area, also known as Lake Country. I used to live there too for about 4 years. The annual event called 'Art Walk' was a relatively new thing when we first moved there, but 16 years later, it's thriving and well attended. It's held at the local high school and community centre and you walk between the two building and take in the areas local talent in painting, pottery, sculpture and fibre arts. I had my camera and took a few shots but didn't take anything up close for fear of offending some artist. Those I did take were with their permission and I have even sent copies to those who asked.

It was very crowded and well attended... this one gives you a general idea.

They even had musicians playing and invited guests from other countries, such as India.

One invited guest was the Ponderosa Weavers, Spinners and Fibre Artists Guild and here is Lynnette and Ngaire chatting with Jodie who is on booth duty. The booth being their display from the recent ANWG conference.

There was so much to see and do while there. We visited yarn stores, shopped and had lunches out. The resulting loot will be the topic of my next post!

I did spend an afternoon with my weaving mentor Margaret the first week away and I had a lovely time catching up on news with her. Sadly, I forgot to grab my camera when heading out but I reflected later that stopping to take pictures would have broken the mood and so I'm good with it. Some moments are simply for the memory banks!

One visit with a friend sadly came a day too late as she had passed away from when we spoke until I called to arrange a time to see her. That came as a shock as you can imagine but she and I had a lovely chat via the phone just days before we drove there and I will treasure her kind last words.
Chris and I had always exchanged emails no matter where I lived and we shared weaving information and tips. She was always game to try something new and I admired her for it. If there are looms in heaven, then she's already weaving.

Hubby had to drive back earlier as he had to work this past weekend. Then the time came for me to spend my last day and head to the airport. We stopped to take some last scenery shots at the look out near Vernon.

This one is facing the Coldstream Valley just a little east of Vernon. Yup, I used to live there too... and it's where Lynnette calls home still. Lovely isn't it? There is a blue haze in the air from a forest fire burning somewhere still, otherwise you could see the mountain they call the Camel's Hump and even the Monashee Mountains near Revelstoke, BC.

This is Kalamalka Lake and Rattle Snake Point. It is part of a provincial park. Yes, there are rattlesnakes there...but there are basic precautions to take when walking there or anywhere in this valley. You must do your homework when venturing 'wild'.

This shot shows beautiful homes clinging to the hillside overlooking the lake. This is typical Okanagan scenery... brown grasses, sparse Ponderosa pines and lakes. It's not unusual to find cactus growing on the slopes! It's the northern portion of the Sonoran Desert. Each year sees it getting hotter and hotter here. Since I don't do heat overly well, we moved back to the coast to a more moderate climate. But it is a dry heat there!

So one fast 45 minute flight home and I have been quite busy with catching up on bills, laundry and other normal (boring) stuff but will be back to the looms as quickly as I can! Elena's shawl is pinned out on the board and waiting my time and attention.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Old Fashioned Fun

This past Saturday I went to the Cobble Hill Fall Fair. I was to assist at the booth where guild members were showing the people what we love to do! Dawn brought her Baby Wolf (which has handy wheels for transporting) It was a literal kid magnet! She had been there since start up and had child after child sit and throw the shuttle on the Saori piece. They usually needed help with the treadles as their legs are a bit short. You should have seen the serious faces as they concentrated....proud parents or grand parents standing by, cameras snapping

Below, this little miss was intently working on her kumihimo... and was deadly serious about getting it right.
As you can see from this picture, there were little ones standing everywhere! There was a bobbin lace pillow, knitters rigid heddle loom spinning wheels, and I had a little beaded amulet bag I was knitting. (I'll show you when it all done)

This little girl was not at all intimidated by the lace pattern and all the bobbins! She had nimble fingers and picked it up quick. Barbara was a good teacher!
Hannah had her rigid heddle loom and was weaving up a scarf. She even got it finished and off the loom and one little miss stayed around for the unveiling.

I entered two categories of weaving at the fair exhibit hall. I had conflicting information which meant some of my pieces were disqualified. (I suspected this might happen... and was understandable) It was my first time entering a fair exhibit and the Cobble Hill Fair's 100th Anniversary to boot!
Look what happened...
The winning piece in one category was my overshot runner (2/10 mercerized cotton, with 2/6 wool pattern weft).
Then this happened....
We are leaving this coming Saturday on a two week break. I'll have my camera with me and will share when I get home on the 14th. I'll *try* to get another post in before I go but no promises! Besides getting ready, I'm weaving on the shawl and hope to have it done before I go.... well at least off the loom. Then the final finishing will start when I get back.