Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weaving as Therapy

 Bruce and I want to thank you all of you who left comments to my previous post about Connor. Each day is a little bit easier but we are now discovering just how much love and life that little dog added to our home and lives. In the mean time, our frog is back (Pacific Tree Frog) and he brought friends. We're finding them everywhere this fall! I also disturbed a toad hiding under foliage by the front door. I'm hoping our rabbit 'Peter' has found better digs for winter as we haven't seen him in some time.  We also have a blue jay who follows us window by window around the house, finds a branch or railing and tells us loudly his opinion on everything! Construction of the deck is all complete now, with just some handrails to finish things up.... and a general clean up will get under way soon ..

So lets get back to weaving!  I was feeling the need for some bright colours and I wanted to play with iridescent effects again. To get that, you must have some key points at play:  balanced plain weave, colours of similar value, finer yarns work better.  My pattern is for 12 shafts and 12 treadles. Next, I chose 10/2 tencel in Persian Red, sett 24 epi, as my warp and Antique Gold as weft for my  first scarf. The colour for the second scarf was undecided at this point. I thought I'd try some sampling and see what I like.

I beamed the 6.5 yard warp onto Lilibet, my Louet Spring. The tencel was particularly shiny and slippery!  I made a decision to lace on over tying as I knew there would be problems with tie slippage otherwise. Lacing seriously reduces loom waste which can be handy on some warps where you are using expensive yarns. I lace it all on and then used painters' tape to secure the left end of the cord down, then I pull out all the loose tension , working from right to left.

Here I am working quickly and I even added a bit of tension on the warp using the braking system as I moved along.

By the end, I had a lot of extra cord!  I  reapplied the tape and did it all over again. When I'm happy with the overall tension, I simply tape the end down or you can secure with a knot. In this case, the tape was the better option.... let me explain...

This warp is only 6.5 inches wide and just under 200 ends; the threading is fancy M's and W's twill progressions, and some how I made 3  threading errors which I found one at a time. I would fix one and then find another. In fact, I even made yet another as I fixed number 3! (so that makes 4 mistakes then). I had no idea what was going on for me to mess up like that ( I'll spare you the list... but I think preoccupied is a good one.  :) Below is a piece where I thought I was free and clear and then spotted that the last little diamond was suspiciously small. The pink thread has the suspects corralled for the next and final repair. I was sure glad to have used tape on the lacings! Bruce heard me muttering rather rude things.... and all I said to him  was "don't ask!"

I have tried various angles and lighting to show the colours. Its a tough one to show you accurately as it looks orange, but its not. There are two blocks, A and B, to weave as one repeat and at the end, do the one last A to balance. The pattern produces circles and diamonds all within squares!

I found this pattern at the wonderful web site and you can play there for hours! If you have a weaving program then you are free to download WIF files to your program and then convert to what your program uses. I heartily recommend a visit.  It features patterns for any number of shafts and treadles!

Here as the cloth turns over the breast beam, you get a hint of the iridescence! I played with several colours for the second scarf and none appealed to me, and the black is what I finally went with. It has a sombre Victorian elegance especially next to its brassy cousin!

So here you can see the black version that I'm prepping it for fringe twisting. Have you ever found that your warp allowance for fringe is different at both ends? I measured for 12 inches allowances but sometimes one end is shorter, one longer. I fold the scarf in half and pin the ends as shown above and below. See the difference?

I like to even things up but placing ends under a cutting mat, holding down with a ruler and zipping off the excess with the cutter.

A crisp clear edge and both ends of the scarf have equal length for fringes. That way my fringe twister workout becomes the same number for each warp bout. Just seems like a smart thing to do and thought I'd share this step for those of you trying out my fringing board style.

Below both scarves are now pinned out and ready to be worked on. Hard to believe they are from the same warp huh? 

Below in this picture,  I've twisted a bout and pinned it to the line. I release the bout and the excess energy in the twist springs it free. It will now be just a tad longer than the line. I simply count my turns in one directions, combine the two groups and then count as I turn in the opposite direction. If you repeat the same action each time, they should all be more or less the same length. Just some minor variations.

{ I have seen demonstrations of a free and easy style done with one leg crossed over the other and a simple twisting done by fingers and then knot the two and let them twist on themselves. This is great if it works for you, but I have issues with it. First my arthritis won't let me cross my leg over, especially my hip replacement! Second my arthritic fingers would be toast doing all fringes by hand  and finally I want to control the over length, location of the knots and length of the tassel as I like a more even and polished look. All methods are fine if they work for you so try them all out and make your own hybrid! }

The next two shots are to show the iridescence before they even have been wet finished!

I added just some beads to either side of both scarves... just a light touch this time round.  I found the super shine of the red tencel was very pretty on its own with its regular twists and fine fringe. Here are the final  scarf results!  Blogger turned two of my pictures sideways but you can handle that I'm sure.   :)

Click on any to enlarge...

and now the amber scarf...

... and yes, the loom is full again! Weaving is so wonderful for healing broken hearts....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our Little Man, Connor

Our Lakeland terrier, Connor at 8 weeks old. Simply too cute for his own paws!
(Summer 1997)

I think I got better looking with age!  (2006)

When are we going for a ride Dad? (June 2010)

Throw me another snowball Dad! (Winter 2008)

I'll hold it steady for you ..

You are running low on purple my ball in there?

Playing with Dad after bath time means.....

.....nap time soon after!

I don't need a haircut!

Okay maybe I did need one....  Are we done yet?

He wasn't dirty....what smell?

Got my Baby back

"Connor"  (CKC Wee Rufkins Tin Pan Alley)
May 13th, 1997 - September 24th 2010

Below is a small video ..

Connor doing what he loved best... playing soccer and very good at it too.
Edit: more pictures of Connor can also be seen  here

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Flowers That Never Fade

Last post I showed you what was on Lilibet and a small detail or two on this project (plus a link to the original project done some time back). Its a draft that has always appealed to me and I keep coming back to it.  {This should be fun writing this post as I can't get Blogger to align the text to the left so I'll have to try and end on a full line or you get this !  }

Let me run a few details by you once more: this 8 shaft project has a warp of  20/2 cream bombyx silk from Treenway Silks, the green variegated is roughly the same size, perhaps a bit finer and is painted by the Fleece Artist. The basic sett is 24 epi sort of.... leastwise that's what the cream is set at. This is where the flowers are created with weft floats, with  warp floats on the reverse side. The green warp is where the lace is formed and is actually a little three thread huck lace or also called a mock leno. Here we have to sley the reed three green threads at a time, with an empty dent in between to help emphasize the groups.  Simple enough once you understand the principle or have done this draft before. The only difficulty I have with it, is that its seems hard to work out a project width!  I plan about two inches shy and when I sley it out it somehow comes to what I need.

Here it is in the reed and being beamed on. The green was sort of clingy and I thought I would have trouble with halo'ing but it went on quite slick!

This is the denting arrangement and perhaps best seen if you click on the picture to see it larger. The empty dent is only between the greens. No space left between the cream and green. 

The weaving is actually fun and once I worked out the tabbies, it went nicely. You see that lace portion of the tie up on on the left hand treadles 1,2,3, and 4) warp floats in the centre (5,6,7,8) and tabby on the right (9 and 10). It seems there are plain weave tie up scattered left and right.   Treadles 1 and 9 do the same thing! I worked out a little  dance to accomodate this and I was just fine. Here's the draft for you to peruse:

I used a cream bamboo as weft for both scarves and behaved well as I wove. Good twist and and nice sharp turns at the selvedges. I bought it in Victoria at "Knotty by Nature"  LYS and they had it supplied by Brassards from Quebec. I would definitely use it again! (Some bamboos are too limp or too loosely spun for my liking)

I pinned them out on my fringing board and got to work. I twisted the greens separately first and then worked out an arrangement in the cream sections. Fringe is approximately 7 inches when done. I like a finer, longer fringe on a ladies scarf and this pair say 'dainty'!

Now I get to play in my bead box and see what I can come up with! I had taken a sample of the green silk with me to a couple of bead shops and found some exact colour match Japanese Delica beads. I have lots of cream and opalescent beads in the stash.

I use a fine sewing thread and run it along the edge and in between the fringe so its centered and visible from both sides. What beads get used and what arrangement? Well, I just play with various sizes and amounts and go with what feels right for the project and how it feels to me. I want the beads to accent, not overwhelm. {Though I do have some bolder plans for the near future... stay tuned!}
Ta Da!  All done.. and buttery soft.
.... and here's the close up shot. Click to 'embiggin'

On the home front: We have no exterior decks at all. We are naked! Just when the neighbours thought all the banging was all over, tomorrow it starts in earnest! The decking crew arrives first thing and will be here for the better part of two weeks. I'll do before and after shots then. I hope to do some weaving but must admit that there have been many distractions lately! Autumn seems to be a busy time.... oh heck, our whole year has been like this starting back at the beginning with  our flood repairs and new kitchen. That's why a "no naked looms" policy works as you can grab 20- 30 mins where you can.  See you soon!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In Between Times

summer phlox... can you smell the perfume?
With just a gentle breeze, the scent of these flowers fill our house! Its the first of September so not many warm days left ahead. The nights have a decided chill to them. The trees and gardens are looking tired.

This post is, well, all over the place! In between times for many things. First up I have a picture below that I wanted to include in my post on the Vancouver trip but it was missed. I found a lovely roof top garden next to our building and it looked like an oasis in the city.

A lovely Japanese style roof top garden!
It gets better! Once at home and downloading my camera, I got to zoom in and take a much closer look. If you click on the picture, you'll see it  too!  There's a good sized pond complete with koi. I wish I could have gone there and taken a closer look...

There's fish in there!
Next up is the studio. I have steadily worked through all my finishing and you are totally up to date with completed projects. I spent a few days winding warps and have one on Lilibet and two additional spare ones for her. Meanwhile I did another adjustment to the 20+ tie up cords on Emmatrude to prevent irregular sheds and then started to wind another towel project. When in doubt, do towels!
Last fall, I made kitchen towels using the pattern 'breaks and recesses' that were very popular with buyers. I like them too as they are a straight 8 shaft draw and same easy treadling as all the pattern is in the tie up. The kind of weaving where you can get just throw the shuttle and get into a wonderful rhythm. No nasty long treading plan to memorize or keep track of.

Triadic colour arrangement again
Here are my colour choices on my warping box. The box was made for me by a friend's husband who was a nifty carpenter. The pegs are removable for larger sized cones and the thread is fed up through smooth holes on the top to the warping board above. The green, and salmon pink cones all have a bit of a yellow undertone and so the soft yellow cone works well with them. The plum works nicely with the green and white is the base colour. This is the triadic arrangement on the colour wheel again, except I picked them first and realized the association later!

Eleven yards of 8/2 cotton,  25 "wide at the reed, sett 24 epi
So, this is where the project sits right now and I'll be working on threading and sleying and starting to weave this week.
stripes of 20/2 silk plus painted variegation of similar size
On  Lilibet, my Louet Spring 90 I have another reprise of a popular pattern. Last year I made runners using cottons, and when I found a hand painted silk skein by Fleece Artist in soft greens, I saw it coupled with cream silk and featuring "Flowers and Lace" again. I won't elaborate too much on the project here as it will have its own separate post sometime soon, but a few details won't hurt!

special denting involved
Its has the green sections of 3 thread huck lace, or mock leno, which is dented three to a dent on a twelve dent reed, with empty dents on either side. The white silk sections are dented 2 per dent (for 24 epi). A bit fussy? perhaps... but look!

silk version of flowers and lace
Its very pretty! I've only just started and now wishing I had done a warp for three scarves and not just the two on the loom. The weft is cream bamboo.

Okay! Now for a seismic shift and taking you out of my studio to the Outside!  We have more renovations under way again but this time not in the middle of my private spaces. The expansive cedar decking has had its day and is slowly rotting away and its time to be replaced. We plan to rebuild it pretty much the same, but there is a portion we are going to return back to lawn and possibly this fall if weather permits, or next spring.

Add two young men with strong backs and eager to get going!
First you hire two young men with strong backs and endless energy. Meet Colin and Pat (in red). Colin runs his own yard maintenance business and is a most enterprising young man! They are removing the railing and glass on the upper deck.
This thing is HUGE! 40 cubic yards
Bruce called for a large bin to be delivered for the wood waste and I was stunned to see this behemoth in the driveway! The walls of this thing are roughly 8 foot high! We'll never use all that....
Add one Hubby who wants to keep up with two twenty year olds!
Meet Bruce, who like the young lads, loves to cut things up and play with power tools and tractors.
young men love to rip things apart... with power tools!
So on day one, the guys got all the lower decks cut up and into the bin and even did clean up of the area. There were tons of little toys under the old deck from children past who used to live here. Most likely they are full grown as the deck is at least 20 to 25 years old.
The lower decks are in here...
The bin is filling but we have lots of room still....

lower side deck and stairs ... gone!

So the side deck beside my studio is now history.  The front entry, which you can see on the left, will be taken down later and replaced when the carpenter comes mid to late September to rebuild everything. That will be a two week process...
...its gone from much  too big, to, maybe too small?
The bin is much fuller now and we have lots of upper deck and posts to go yet. I'm actually wondering if it will all fit in now!

removing the concrete footings

Bruce used the Kubota Kub to remove the concrete footings. The section where he's working is the area we plan to return to lawn. Its level and flat so a load of top soil/ sand mix and a large bag of seed should do it.

Has an open 'post and beam look' to it now
On this day, there's just Colin and Bruce and they have joists and beams to go. The saws sounded so loud inside... my ipod came in real handy! The house looks so small with no decks...
... and down she comes!
Colin did the cutting and Bruce guided it down with a huge *thump!*  They wore big smiles, especially when things unexpectedly fell down and didn't hit something like windows, patio doors... or them!

They have filled it!
Okay, the bin is full, with more to go in.... so what to do?
not only full but trying to make more room!
You get in and rework things a bit.... and turn into  dumpster divers!  They managed to free up room for the heavy posts

Colin operating the Kub
Colin was thrilled when Bruce told him to try his hand at operating the tractor. I watched the whole thing and he was very good at the controls and even parked it in the carport. (Our tractor is under cover and our car isn't... what does that tell you?)

looking smaller and a bit naked!
So at the end of a long day, there's a lone post and a small section of deck to go. The post has mason bees in it and we hope to move it down to the garden so they can help with the fruit trees next spring.  There's three weeks to finish the final portions so for now, sore back and muscles are being rested. Earlier this morning after a night of rain a large Kenworth truck backed up the driveway and picked up the bin. The old decks will be ground up, have composted manure added to it and turned into bark mulch for gardens. I like that whole concept.....