Saturday, June 26, 2010

As Luck Would Have It

My second drawing hit success right away! Dianne in New Zealand wrote me right away, "I'm here! I'm here!"... and I got the silk into the post and on its way.
Then the next day the first name drawn 'Rose and Thistle' or Martha wrote me. Oh, dear! It seems that she and her family were in the middle of a major move to a whole new state. So her silk prize is on its way to her shortly. It just seemed the fair thing to do!
What amazes me constantly as I meet and make new friends where ever they live, is that I have so much more in common with these weavers, than just weaving!

Dianne lives in New Zealand and I used to live there. It's a small country and somehow it just keeps coming up in my life in many ways. As Dianne wrote: You certainly have a connection with NZ. For such a small country with small population we spread ourselves around a bit.
I look forward to following Dianne's blog and the coming exhibition she is participating in.

Martha and I have the Navy in common. As you may recall my Dad was in the British Royal Navy and her husband was in the United States Navy. I thought we had moved a lot in our married life but she has me beat by 3 or 4 moves!
We also share a love of medieval British history and could most likely chat up a storm on just that subject alone before we even get to weaving!

I look forward to seeing what comes of these skeins, the weavers, and perhaps share with you here in time.

Now shifting to a new topic.... see these scissors?

So weaving is carrying on in the second shawl and progressing nicely....until I had a big scare! I was changing bobbins and snipped off a long tail with my scissors. As I reached to put them back up on the shelf on the top of the loom, and they FELL from my hands!! Straight down and on the newly woven cloth. I felt sick. I could see cut ends sticking up everywhere!

(I took these pictures with my mobile phone so sorry if they are not my usual clear pictures...but I was too stunned to go and find the camera)

I started to cut back weft and remove it and as luck would have it...there was a silver lining to this situation. Yes, I had to unweave about 4 inches to just beyond the damage to a spot where I could resume weaving. This is tricky with a twill progression! The good news is there was only ONE cut warp thread. That's it. One.

So went through several emotions in about two minutes and finally came away from it calling myself lucky!

I took a long length of 10/2 tencel and pulled it from the back of the loom through the heddle, through the reed to replace its wounded cousin and then secured in place with a 'T' pin just below the cut end and 'figure 8 the tail around the pin. The portion at the back is hung in a weighted film canister much like you do with a floating selvedge. Then I pulled the old warp end out and just tossed it over the back. ( I always use the old thread as a guide because if you pull it out first, you'll have a heck of a time trying to find your place!)
The scissors now go into the bench storage!
Later when the warp comes off the loom, I will needle weave both ends on in their direction for an inch or more. The wet finishing will tighten everything up and it will disappear from view.... but not from memory!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Melinda's Shawl: The Finishing Touches

I had a couple of busy days where I had to give the house some attention; I played house maid, laundress and banker and threw in a grocery run for good measure and now I can get back to (guilt free) work again. I had hung the shawl over the fringe board and now it was time to get busy!

This project is a little larger than the usual narrow scarves I do so out came my large folding table for more a comfortable work space. These light weight tables are a godsend! You can get them in a smaller version too.

With the edge of the work securely held, I can twist and pin, tie the knot and then double check the length, adjust either a smidge up or down and then snug tight. Next! (for a full post on this technique click here)

I slipped my iPod on and listened to music and podcasts and systematically worked my way across. I didn't quite get it all done one afternoon, so the next day I picked up where I left off and before you know it.... It's done... well, this part at any rate!

Out came the bead stash and my beading needles. More podcasts and a nice breeze wafting through from outside... I tried some various arrangements of beads and varying lengths but finally settled on a simple arrangement. I wanted to add a touch of sparkle and glamour, but due to the 24 inch width, I had to be careful not to add too much weight!

Below is a close up of what I'm doing. Click on the picture to make it larger still (or any of them). A detailed post on my beading technique can be found here.

You can see from the size of the normal sewing thread that the needle is *very* fine. I slip it down through the tencel and back up to the edge and then along to the next spot.

In the next picture, you can't see where the thread is at all! After washing and pressing, you simply can't tell

The beading process took me a leisurely day and it ended the time soaking in the laundry tub in warm sudsy water. Good squeeze through to help shift warp and weft threads into their proper places and a couple of rinses. Drop of unscented fabric softener in the final water, then spin out the excess water in the washing machine. Trim off all the tails and then give it a hard press on the ironing board. Hang to dry... not an easy feat when it's 85 inches long plus fringe!

The next morning you will find it has gone from being stiff as when it has just come off the loom, to being soft and buttery to touch. The pattern is still quite raised and prominent due to the water content after it was first pressed. The second pressing smooths the surface and then brings out the shine!

You can see the gleam in the folds above... I had some light concerns about the sett at 28 epi but it turns out to have been perfect! The wet finishing adjusted and shifted things nicely and the pressing set the threads into place.

So, it's ready to take a trip to my sister's mailbox. Now the hard part comes... finding the right packing box and figuring out how to get it there wrinkle free!

I think I'll have to make one for me some day!

Friday, June 11, 2010

As Promised

Well, big thank you! The same day as my last post, my count went to 101! Since my husband Bruce is a follower too, he is exempted from the draw. As promised, the prize is a skein of silk.

At some time, I would love to see the project you make from it! I think we all would....

So I was sitting nursing a head cold and not up to much of anything useful, so I sat and did a small slip for each name in the list and then placed them into a bowl.

Doesn't look like 100 names does it? They are all in there! Today we gave the slips a good toss and while I took pictures, Bruce reached in and pulled the winner!

Rose and Thistle!


Please send me an email with your address to my email address: weever at shaw dot ca and I will wrap it up for the post! I also sent a message through the Google messaging. I had to join my own blog as a follower to do this which felt a little weird!
*if I haven't heard from Rose and Thistle one week from this post, then I will redraw for another winner*

My thanks to you all for visiting here and reading my blog. Its been an interesting experience personally making this commitment to sharing what I do for fun. I've made some wonderful friends and I only could have met them through the internet. Its also helped me keep close to old friends and see what they are weaving. I'm pleased that some of my visitors took the plunge and start blogs of their own. I know of at least three first hand and we are all the richer by it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Melinda's Shawl: Under Way

I must have a late blooming variety of rhododendrons as most places I have been to in recent weeks, all their shrubs have long finished their flowering cycle. What ever the reason, our shrub is in its full glory next to our front door. A window in the studio also shares a view so I get to enjoy the show. I also keep an eye out for my little Pacific Tree Frog (or his new tadpole).

So where did we leave off last time I wrote about the shawl... ah, yes.. the tie up!

Here all 12 treadles are finally done and Lilibet can come down off her pedestal. Thank you for all the well wishes for my thumb! Its healed up nicely and we're back in top form again. The tie up did take me far longer to do than normal but I was creative with finger positioning!

Here I have woven a fine header of pink 2/16's cotton and then checked for threading errors. None were detected! I even went over it with a pick glass just to be sure. Next is hemstitching to secure the edge. I cut out a four inch section of cotton and then sew. In this case I want a finer fringe so I'm doing small groups of four ends, so later the final fringe will be twisted groups of eight warp threads.
I wove in the border and got started on the snowflakes! I have woven eight shaft snowflakes before but with twelve shaft, you get much more definition! They are also so much larger which is one reason why I considered them for the shawl. There are three large snowflakes over the 24 inches, plus borders.

( click on any images to enlarge)

This picture gives you the overall perspective. The shawl is 24 inches wide at the fell line.

This is a close up of one " X" with a six inch ruler for scale. As you can see with the larger pattern is makes photographing the whole pattern a bit difficult! Its going to look fabulous !

Trying to capture the pattern when its white on white is also a challenge! So please pardon the varying degrees of light with some of these pictures.

This one shows the leading border, the diamond returns and the feet of the first snowflake. This is all I could manage before having to advance the loom. So I have been weaving away steadily and the only trouble I'm having is the right hand floating selvedge keeps fraying off and I must start another. I have looked at everything including sitting closer to that edge, angle through the reed etc and it appears that the twist in the yarn simple unwinds as it hangs off the back and that is transferred to the thread at the weaving and ..poof... it falls off. Needle weaving the ends in later is not a problem but it would be nice if it behaved!
It took me four afternoons of weaving to complete the the first full shawl of 85". I was also trading off with my other loom so not all that time was on this piece. Here it is hanging on the back of my chair while I tie back on again.

Now to start on shawl number two! I'm going to review my stash and see if there is another soft colour that might show nicely, or stick with the white. Maybe change the fibre?
Choice is nice....
I see by my Google 'followers' counter that I'm approaching a landmark number! This is exciting for me as you can imagine. I will be drawing a name for the prize skein of silk pretty darn soon! Who knew you could feel this happy about turning 100? :)
{Oh, as an aside: I seem to have come down with a summer cold.... crap! It comes a a surprize as you can imagine but I'm grateful it was *after* I saw my Dad.}

Friday, June 4, 2010

Island 2

As a post script to the last post, here's a group photo from our day on Salt Spring Island. This one arrived today from Jane's assistant Charlotte. So from left to right: Dawn, Jane, Lois, me and three Jane's more!

We each got our looms 'done' and then Jane gave each loom a good tune up and tweaked them. We talked about the sweet spot for optimal weaving but I mentioned that the shafts had floated up at the last workshop. We then realized that this was due to the piano wire pick up stick that we pushed forward towards the shafts. We were weaving at the right spot but the technique we were using caused the problem. So we all learned something when that little light went on!

Dorothy asked for some show and tell of what new yarns and such that had followed me home. I saw this Journal (for British Weavers)  which is a special commemorative issue for Peter Collingwood.  While I never took a class with him, I did have some interesting private email exchanges with him on the Weave Tech list. He certainly was willing to freely share what he knew with weavers everywhere.

I had such nice experience with my turned twill towels using 2/10 mercerized cottons that I brought home some basic cones for future projects. Basic cream with lace weaves in mind and a Christmas red.

Here we have white and I fell in love with this purple. No special project in mind, just loved it!
It sure was a great afternoon and I wish I could have had a couple of other friends along to join us. So we'll just have to go again when you come for a visit... darn! Maybe visit Treenway Silks too while we're there ? Okay, twist my arm!

I have about 35 inches done on the first shawl and its coming along nicely so next post I'll show you my progress.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Island Hopping

I had one day to get over my whirlwind 3 day trip to Vancouver and then I was back on a ferry again! This time, a short hop over to Salt Spring Island with two guild members, Lois and Dawn. We're heading to Jane Stafford's weaving studio with our Louet Jane looms in tow. We are there to get our Jane's autographed! Oh, and some retail shopping therapy... Its a bit of a changeable day with rain squalls dashing through and the wind picking up as the day progressed.

Here's our boat in the process of loading cars to return to Crofton on Vancouver Island. We stopped and had a bite of lunch in Vesuvius Bay and then headed to the north part of the island

When we turned down a trail through the woods to the studio, we were greeted by Jane's "official greeters". The girls were pretty much busy looking for good eats and the rooster was all about guard duty and making sure they didn't go too far. Their plumage was beautiful!

Once inside we were in heaven with looms, all Louets of course except for one lone Leclerc Fanny and yarn, books, yarn and people who spoke our language!

Jane is known for her British mohair throws and also for her chenille throws. I found a colourful stack waiting for finishing that caught my eye.

Dawn was happy to be able to review some difficulties she been having with her Hollandia with Jane and get suggestions on how to remedy them. This is a Delta above. There is pretty much every model Louet makes all around the room: a David, a Spring, and a 32 shaft Megado.

I didn't get this lady's name but she is busy tying onto a dummy warp with some luscious mohair for another throw. Her loom is the Leclerc Fanny counterbalance.

Here Lois is perusing the cones for a project she has in mind. She wasn't disappointed! She has some Christmas runners to warp up with a view to being ready for gifts and the guild sale. Now that's smart!

This picture and the one below show the rainbow selection! Each colour has the various sizes ( 3/2, 5/2, 10/2 etc) all in behind one another. So you choose your colour, then your yarn size. She has cottons, linen, fine wools, wool/silk blends....and mohair of course.
The bags on the shelves are for knitters and have wonderful storage compartments. If there had been a suitable colour, one would be great for me as an everyday purse!
So yes, I did some shopping and I bought some 10/2 mercerised cotton in white and natural for lace weaves and another in a Christmas red. Lois apparently got me thinking!

I also bought a book for my library:

This book has come down in price from when I first saw it 18 months ago and so I picked up a copy. I guess its the various exchange rates between Canada and England perhaps? If you click on this link Janet Phillips , it will take you to Janet's web page where she explains her book in far better detail than I could. I'm looking forward to reading it in depth!

I mentioned earlier that we had just got back from Vancouver. We had gone over to see my father and also to help my brother with his move. As soon as I saw my Dad, I knew he was better! You can see it in the eyes ...

He still has a long road ahead to get stronger before he can go home but he's well on his way!

The owner of the dog kennel where we left our senior terrier said that she could not believe that he is 13 years old as he played with the other big dogs like he was 2 years old... and ate like a horse. He came home and headed straight for his bed and slept 6 hours , ate supper and then went back to bed. He wore himself out pulling the wool over those youngsters!

So with all our spring showers, I'm hoping to hit the looms and have something to show you soon.