Monday, January 25, 2010

A Pleasant Diversion

Yes, the work is starting. Not all at once but a few frantic hours then, nothing. Then you wait for the next trades person to arrive for a quote. Can be hours or days... Then there's the scheduling and rescheduling. These boots belong to a young plumber Chris who installed a new hot water tank. This was part of the planned energy update for the house under a government grant program. The new tank is super well wrapped to retain heat and we have noticed an improvement in efficiency already.

I have the local Home Depot building supply store on speed dial, then in the store every other day for purchases and then inevitable returns as we change our minds... and now on a first name basis with half the staff, which should tell you we have been somewhat preoccupied of late. Underlayment?... back splash tiles and grout? .... drop pendant lights? Its a sad statement when I'm shopping at Cosco and get excited at finding an 18 gauge stainless steel sink for $136.00!! I'm trying to stash kitchen stuff and also shift the dining room and kitchen contents into a ever reducing available space on the same floor level.
Then while out running errands our car battery died and happily it was in a mall parking lot as I don't carry a cell phone (but will soon!). Unhappily the battery and installation was $200.00. When the heck did they get to be that expensive??

I need a diversion! a fibery diversion... (actually, I'd rather leave, go on a nice long vacation and come back to it all done.... to be truly honest here...)
So, the plan is to load up the big countermarche, Emmatrude with a towel warp that is easy to thread, a 10 shaft point twill, and has all the colour in the warp, stripes! The treadling is simple: runs of treadle 1 through to 10 and back again. Sound familiar? It should as I'm doing a reprise of this project. The goal is to have something I can treadle and throw a shuttle for a few minutes while chaos reigns over head. Something that needs no real thinking so I can wear my iPod and tune out. Well, that's the plan... reality may be otherwise!

Here's the warping board and the warp is wound in one inch bouts and securely tied off every yard... for 24 inch wide, 10.5 yard long warp of 2/8 cotton, sett 24 epi. {Yes, last time I did 20 epi, due to a mistake in warp calculations and said I would use 22 epi this time, but the 'correct' sett for 2/8 in a twill is 24 ends per inch} The warp bout is taken directly over to the back of the loom where it's wound on 'fresh' from the board! (see this for a description of my hybrid warping method)
You can see my cones of colours above... I'm thinking spring already. {Sorry, but we have been having warm temps, heavy rain and the end result is spring bulbs coming up and shrubs are budding up. There are moths flying about and I saw a frog in the driveway. What winter Olympics?}

I must confess this fully loaded warp took me the better part of a week to wind and load. Terrible! In my defense I did lose a day to shopping and visiting the beauty parlour. I came home sporting a cut and a touch of colour. Must have some fun!

I was grabbing a few minutes of time when and where ever I could in between calls, housework and endless shopping errands and the ongoing packing up. I must confess to not feeling overly creative and inspired with all the chaos going on here right now. I thought I could go into the studio and tune it out but this seems to be a lot harder to do than I originally thought.

Yesterday I loaded the lease sticks up and hung them behind the shafts.... and started threading. It's a simple point twill using 10 shafts. The colour sequence is very precise and repeats every eighteen ends. This makes it easy to see when you have goofed and need to back track. So that's where I am right now.... slowly working across the warp.

The colours are a soft melon, salmon pink for the centre of the stripes, then the outer colours are a alternating plum and sage green. There is a neutral cream in between the colour stripes. It has a soft spring colour appearance, which is timely.

We never really had a winter in the usual sense this year. One dump of snow and one bad wind storm. That's it (so far). Just lots and lots of rain.

Take heart all those of you wearing winter duds and pushing shovels....this is coming to a garden under a snow bank near you! This primula is by my front door...

My Louet loom is patiently waiting for me to rediscover the black silk warp. Its going to have to wait longer as I know that I don't have the mental gymnastics to handle that treadling right now!
My next post will be a special one and one that most weavers will be quite happy to hear all about! Once I have the final details posted, I'm hoping that you will help spread the word either at your guild meetings, newsletters, by linking to the coming post. Its worth the wait... :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

That's a Wrap

So back to some weaving content.... or in this case 'finish up' content. This project has been a while in the works. It was the warp that went on as I experimented with warping my loom in a different way, then it sat idle due to it being a pain in the arse to weave. First for having the back end hitched up 3 inches (due to my not spotting a large second warp beam ... duh!) then because of irregularities in the shed, due to uneven tie up cords. I persevered and got the warp off just before we left for Christmas. I spent time serging the raw edges after we got back and then hand hemmed at night while we had our feet up relaxing. They were tossed into the wash and dryer, then pressed up.

So a quick review:
  • 2/10 mercerised cotton from Jane Stafford Textiles
  • sett 28 epi
  • 8 shaft turned twill
  • 9.5 yard warp, for 8 generous sized towels with three black weft, three gray, one red and one white.
  • only one treadling error (the white towel, which is now 'mine') I thought this was rather good considering the circumstances!
  • They were 25" in the reed, and woven to 34" in length. They measure 24" by 30" after washing and final pressing. (I thought of Lynnette's new press the whole time...)
So the picture at the top shows once towel in each colour, with four more that are off to the side.

The gray weft is quite nice and I really like the sheen of the cotton. The pattern really tightened up well but the cloth still has a wonderful drape.

The black weft really makes the other colours pop out and I would say that this is my favourite.

The red one really didn't appeal to me on the loom but it came to life off loom and away from the others. They have been to a couple of guild events and its the red one that people comment on most.
Funny how that works out...

Here's the white weft towel. The white really cuts the intensity of the other colours and has a fresh appearance. We all seem to really like white in our kitchen towels for that clean look....... regardless of how messy a kitchen can get. Happily I know where I can get more of these!

This was my first time using all mercerised cotton for toweling and I did gasp a little at the price of the cotton, but I've decided that I would use it again. The 2/10 size is a great weight and not thick as 2/8, or a lot of extra work such as the much finer 2/16's . The cotton seems better behaved, washed up like a dream and I love the shine. If you are making some as a special gift for someone,like a wedding gift or shower present, then consider the mercerised yarn. Presentation is every everything!

On the home front:
The carpeting in the dining room was lifted yesterday and the floor underneath prepped for the coming hardwood by 'floating' some areas ( translation: self leveling mud or a concrete style mix was troweled into the low spots and then allowed to dry.) The underlayment cushion and hardwood flooring will go down later when trades people aren't coming through in boots. Now we have to find a painter for the next phase while packing up everything that is not being used in the kitchen. Where the stuff is going is beyond me. It looks like I'll be doing dishes in my bathroom sink at some point...but for how long?? Tomorrow the electrician is coming early to start fishing wires and setting up new switches and pot lights.... wish me luck.

PS. The appliances will be delayed now until the third week of February... oh, geesh....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

...And the Winners Are.....

Wow, there were 37 comments and so 37 names for the draw. The names were duly recorded and placed into the figurative 'hat' ( I used a box actually) and I gave them a good shake up!

I had fun writing all the names out and re-reading your comments again.

First name drawn is: Charlotte She lives in Tromsø, Norway and has a lovely blog! It's unique in that she writes it in Norwegian *and* English so it's nice to see the way some words are similar in either language. She lives above the Artic Circle. You win the sage green and lilac cotton chenille cones.

Second name drawn is: DebbieB I see you are starting the year off right with blogging once more Debbie.....please keep it up as I've enjoyed what I've seen so far! Debbie is in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fresh starts are a theme for your city and area. You win the tawny peach and rusty terracotta cotton chenille cones.

Congratulations! Please write to my yahoo account {weeverwoman at yahoo dot com} and give me your full name and address. I'll get those off to you very shortly!

I wish I could send each of you something for entering and sharing, but there's always next year's draw?

Thank you all for writing. Your stories are all unique and I appreciate your sharing. My story is here It's only fair that you get to read mine!

"I Am Half-Sick of Shadows," Said the Lady of Shalott , circa 1915
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

20+ Tune Up Time

This is nine and a half yards of 2/10 twill towels all folded up and waiting by the serger and sewing machine. These will turn into proper towels very soon! It has a very satifying 'weighty heft' to it. I decided to start on the countermarche loom's tune up right after NY's. There was quite a bit of lint associated with the last warp so my usual post project vacuuming will be extra careful.

Here I have put the locking pin in place so all jacks are perfectly aligned. The tops of all my shafts and all my lamms below are all at the same height. Great! No adjustments are needed here. The texsolv cord here is as old as my loom so all 'ease' is long gone!

Here my treadle has been hiked up as high as it will go...

At the back of the loom at the peg board where all tie up's are controlled, I have pulled and placed one peg to hold it up. I also pulled all the other cords so they don't dangle underneath.
Below they have all been pulled and so all treadles are up in the air. Why??

So I can vacuum up all that nasty black lint! I'm using the peg board as additional hands. The carpet visibly brightened up. The lint and dust from weaving can be quite hard on your lungs. You may be more 'relaxed' elsewhere in the house, but here I recommend vacuuming after each project and sometimes during when the lint is bad! Case in point: tencel, linen, cottolin and chenilles. Wearing a dust mask might be a good thing if this causes you problems.

Now we start the tune up job. Here I have placed a thin board across from side to side of the loom. My hubby made this for me so it elevates the treadles at the correct height as recommended by Woolhouse Tools in their loom assembly guide.

So they are held firmly in place and now we need to prevent them from lifting upwards. I placed my breast beam across (it's heavy!) Then I placed full magazine boxes on top. That should do it. Connor is going to watch it for me.

At the back of the loom, at the peg board, I systematically pull *all* slack out of the cords so they are snug. I'm using the resistance of the weight on the treadles to play off against. If I can feel lift, then more weight is needed!

What ever clear slot is just at the hole in the board is where the peg goes. You can just see the old tie. The difference is 1 cm.

Here a large number have been done: where you see red, there is no change and if it's all white, then it need a new marker. The snippet of yarn marks the 'sweet spot' for peg placement when doing the tie up. This adjustment should last for a good long time.

Here, out of sixteen treadles I have only done the centre twelve. I use eight treadles quite often and they had a lot of fresh white showing. The treadles towards the outer areas had much more red showing. I have used up to twelve treadles in some projects but most often eight or ten. I made a decision to leave the outer two treadles on each side as they haven't been used, so no easing. Those ties on these treadles I will leave red so I know they have yet to be done.

I have leaned over the back beam and here you can see that the centre fourteen are tight and taut!

Where they travel down from the lamms above, each tie point on each shaft is taut! There are no slackers to be seen. This is a very good thing. Far easier to spot and correct them now. While there are a total of 384 cords underneath, minus the 96 getting a pass this time, there is a method to all this texsolv madness. This tie up assist is set up so that absolutely every possible tie up combination is prepared and follows a dedicated path. In some ways, it's like a hands on dobby, with all the treadles in play. I would hazard a guess that my pegging the cords is quicker than setting the dobby bars.

There is a lot of tension on the cords and now that all are pegged, I need some slack to do the next phase of the tune up. I take the weights off and remove the treadle board. Nothing moved!! They are all perfectly level. Trust me, this is a very good thing. If something had moved either up or down then some small adjustment to find 'level' would be needed, but not today...

If you are still with me at this point (thanks for sticking this out!) now we get to the really boring part (oops, just heard some of you leaving.... :) Each freshly pegged spot needs a new tie cord to mark that particular section. This is so in the future I can just pull the cord quickly, stick a peg in and build a eight shaft/ eight treadle tie up in 5 to 6 minutes, as opposed to being stuck under a loom and then endless tweaking. In the picture above you can see the old red tie, the peg and the new purple tie. Once marked, all red ties will be removed. You can see the difference in this one cord... some cords are even two slots out. No wonder my shed was all ahoo!

I won't bore you with the making of endless new ties.... but I'm chipping away at it. I will also be placing the sectional beam back on and reverting to my hybrid warping method. I have no regrets about trying to warp a la Louet but unless my loom sheds it second warp beam, it's not a good option for me.

Ta Da! Here she is ... all finished and ready for action!

This loom has an oil finish and does look a bit dry in places. I will give the old gal an oiling come spring when the doors and windows can be opened. That's a fun time as I get right into it and any wood tool will be dragged out and buffed up. Its part of my spring cleaning ritual.

I've decided to quickly do another towel warp once the loom is ready. With the coming renovations, I want something that I can just sit and weave, nothing too complicated as there is going to be lot of noise and fuss upstairs. I can hide down here with my iPod on.

Now, the second anniversary contest is still ongoing (see previous post if you are new here). If you haven't yet, be sure to place a comment on the post before this one. The draw winners will be announced in the next post. There are quite a few entries and with just the two gifts, so I'm bound to disapoint some of you.... but heck, you might just win!

Friday, January 8, 2010


It's hard to believe that two years today I started my blog. I was really nervous about beginning this 'journal'. Would I be able to keep this up? What would I write about? Would there be anyone out there reading it? I knew I wanted it to be all about weaving with a smattering of personal. Trust me, my personal life would have you all bored to sobs in no time :)

One year ago meant that I had reached a personal goal, but now two years means this blog has 'legs'. I have met (cyberly and for real) some of you out there and there is a real sense of belonging to a larger community.
I have a lot of neat new friends in our on line guild. Some of you regularly comment (thank you for that) Some of you are shy and I only know that you have been here by the little cyber trail you leave behind (thanks for coming back).

So lets ~*celebrate*~ a bit and have a little party. I have some cotton chenille that will be gifted to new homes... will it be yours? What I would like you to do is to write in the comment section what brought you to weaving and keeps you coming back to your shuttles. What weaving does for you personally. This is a bit flexible but I think you get my drift. Be sure to leave a name because I'm writing each one on a slip of paper and (very scientifically) placing them in a hat, shake well and have my hubby choose two names on January 16th. The draw ends midnight on the 15th..... I'll announce the winners and have you contact me with your addresses.
So, lets look at the loot:

These are all full 1/2 pound cones of cotton chenille. These two above are a deep sage green and a lilac.

While these two cones are a tawny peach and a rust / terracotta. These two work nicely together.

On the home front:
I have been spinning quite a bit at night while we watch TV. Okay, I listen to the TV ... and occasionally glance up. I have also been hand hemming the tea towels taken off the loom before Christmas. I was going to machine the hems but it just looks so much nicer with no deep obvious line from the stitching.
The kitchen renovation will be starting soon. This is the calm before the storm! I'm gathering boxes to pack up the contents of the cupboards and wondering 'who bought all this stuff?" So its a good time to make some hard decisions. ( This downsizing and de-cluttering will be an on going theme around here right through to spring)

So how are you starting off the new 2010 fibre year? The winter (for us up here in the northern hemisphere that is) is the prime weaving season after all!

Be sure to enter the contest! A big thank you from me for following my weaving journal. I'm looking forward to sharing Year 3 with you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christmas Treasures

Happy New Year!

For Christmas, my darling daughter had this Harry and David "tower of treats' sent to us. Our very first time getting a gift like this! What a neat surprize to find this on your door step. So what's inside you ask?

Raspberry shortbread, mixed nuts, chocolate covered cherries, and truffle chocolates .....

Some candied popcorn and fresh pears ( for the healthy part of the tower of treats :) The truffles took a hard hit right away (okay, they are gone) ... and the pears are ripening. Thanks Petunia!

This is my spinning wheel and Santa Hubby arranged for a nice accessory! A Woolee Winder (and two bobbins). It seems my hubby's timing for this order was very good. The box arrived on December 20th just before we left. The other night I went to their web page and saw this notice:

A fire (on Dec 22nd) destroyed the mobile home on the property that we run the business out of. We lost ALL completed product we had in inventory as well as my office, our wood finishing area, and our lunchroom and restroom areas.
The Good News is we have all of our production equipment and all company and customer data, and we shipped the last of the "Christmas gift" orders 3 hours before it all went up in smoke.
(emphasis is mine.)
We are not out of business!! We are working on replenishing our stock and filling orders as we can. We will be slow in shipping orders for a few weeks while we get things back together.

I thank you for you understanding and support as we go through this rebuilding p rocess.

Nathan Lee

This makes my woolee winder extra special!
I have to finish filling the current regular bobbin and then set up the woolee winder. It has a worm gear in the arm that means the yarn winding on is continuously wound on it moves up and down the arm. No more 'lumps and humps' on the bobbin. You get even fill and actually more yarn on the bobbin. The Majacraft wheel is so smooth to treadle and this will make the experience even better. I'm such a spoilt brat.... :)
{ I was happy to contribute to the spinning wheel fund in my daughter's house this Christmas. She's a very excited girl waiting for her Kromski Prelude wheel to arrive. Seems the drop spindle I sent was just the right bait and the hook set well. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree! }

I took the picture of the winder on the top of my lap top and didn't notice the Dell disc until later... oops! It makes it hard to see the gear.

We had a grand week with my MIL, Lorraine and the time went so fast. The Tuesday before Christmas we had a lunch with Lynnette and her husband Michael as our guests. It was a lovely time with great conversation and ..... presents! I had mailed their gifts to them to ensure they would be under the tree ... and save room in our luggage! I'm now the proud owner of my very first pair of hand knit socks! They are *wonderful*... the fit and feel is great. Lynnette said she knit them 'toe up' and they have no seams. I'm in love with them and wish I could knit myself MORE! But I'd have to learn to knit to do that :)

They fit nicely and hubby has been warned off... "mine!"

There was a knit scarf from Ngaire (who told me her mother was behind it). Its a fuzzy joy to wear and, of course, matches the socks!

It was a memorable Christmas and it's over for another year. I've a busy month ahead and hopefully there's some weaving in it. The carpenter who's building our new kitchen is bringing over the new doors to show us tomorrow so the fun and games is starting very soon! I have a kitchen to pack up and we'll be living on sandwiches and out of boxes for the duration.
I also plan to keep on weaving too and will start the year as I plan to continue.... by preparing a warp and spending some time today weaving. I brought in the New Year at midnight by spinning!