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!