Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Stitching... Part 2

Bruce on his Kubota
Winter 2010 has hit with a wallop and my hubby *finally* got to push some snow around!  He bought the tractor during a heat wave in July 2008 and it had yet to see any snow. From what we hear, this is just the start and the worse is yet to come. He'll get to fine tune his technique before too long!

There seems to have been some confusion with regards to what I tried to show you in my previous post. I think it might stem from me perhaps not showing the bottom edge of the towel and the dividing half inch of  waste yarn between towels (?)  Some thought I might be cutting the towels apart between the hemstitching.... er, nope!
I would ask you to please ignore for the time being all aspects of the actual project (yarns, sett and pattern) for now. That will be all revealed to you once they are off the loom and finished. We'll do a full show and tell then, including the draft. For now let's just focus on the techniques being shown. If I'm not clear enough with my descriptions, please email me at weeverwoman at yahoo dot com.  I am trying my best though! I have a whole new respect for weavers who write  how-to books! (Such patience!!)

  Here is a picture of a fully finished and hand hemmed guest towel I wove from a previous project to give you an idea of what we are trying to accomplish here:

I would like to take our previous hemstitching demo a bit further and show you another technique I've used before with good success. It might be a good idea to click on this link and reread the previous post and get back up to speed on our previous discussion.

As described in the previous post I have woven half an inch of scrap yarn to separate each towel woven, then I wove two inches for my hem allowance and hemstitched every six ends.  I slipped in my handy spacer yarn and then after playing with the treadling repeat a bit, I wove a medallion style pattern. It has a row of border treadling 1 to 8, then one little pattern repeat that I made sure reversed nicely, then a border row treadled 8 to 1. I wanted this to be a complete little section, or panel all to its self and you'll see why in just a minute. In the picture above I'm ladder hemstitching and working on the top row. Clicking on any of the pictures will enlarge them for better detail.

Then using the weft tail I left at the end of the pattern repeat, I hemstitch the top edge portion as well.

Next, I have placed my spacer in again and leaving a weft tail (approx weft yarn four times the width of the warp) I weave a border row and the regular pattern repeat. We'll pause the weaving here for now and pull the spacer out. I hold the left edge steady and pull the cord/ spacer yarn out slowly from the right.

Then for the fourth row, we hemstitch again!  Then we resume our weaving of the rest of the towel. What I do at the end of the towel is to revert back to my hem colour and weave another 2" in white. You could just use the same colour as the towel and weave a border repeat by way of hem allowance. Its all a matter of choice. I do not hemstitch this end out of choice. Just picture the towel neatly folded on the counter with the fancy hemstitching facing up. For guest towels I only hemstitched the leading presentation edge.... but you can hemstitch the last hem if you like.
A note on sewing the hems: I always handsew small towels and runners, traycloths and even some kitchen towels. I'm not much of a machine sewer and I find that handsewing produces a 'no line look' that I prefer. I do machine sew some towels but try to 'stitch in the ditch'.

I normally only do something like this panel hemstitching technique on narrow projects such as these guest towels or something very special such as a runner. Its gorgeous on the ends of a scarf! Yes, it is time consuming but it adds so much to a project! Guest towels are something special that you lay out by the bathroom vanity when you have guests in your home, or give as a gift. What better way to showcase what you do by a few extra special touches?  Once these are off loom, hemmed and wet finished, and well pressed.... they will showcase you as a weaver! 

I'm weaving along slowly and wish this warp was complete and off the loom to show you how they will look!

Let me leave you with a view of Maple Mountain after our first major snowfall. Its worth clicking on to see larger.

Weather forecast is in... more snow this week as two fronts collide over us! Tractor Man is at the ready...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Stitch in Time....

So this is a sneak peek at the guest towel pattern. The colour is a warm pumpkin and you can see the Maltese cross effect. I'll share all about the project in the next post. I'm covering a side topic that came up along the way.
Hemstitching!  I get emails from newbie weavers who ask me how to do better finishing on their projects and so this is a brief tutorial on this basic decorative needlework.

In this picture above, after a half inch woven of scrap yarn I have woven a two inch hem allowance and now plan to hem stitch every six warp ends ( I have three ends per dent in a 12 dent reed which helps to make that decision.)  I left a tail of weft yarn which is four times the width of the warp  dangling out on the right hand side. It may be easier to leave it on the left side if you are left handed. Bring the needle under the warp ends and pull through.

Then bring the needle back through from the same direction, but this time place the needle point down about two or three threads into the cloth, normally at the spot of the last warp thread taken. Pull the needle through. I personally don't go further into the cloth than two or three ends as to my thinking, the stitching purpose is to secure the weft threads into place and hold them there. Decorative embroidery is not my main focus here.

Then give the thread a good tug! You develop a feel for how taut to make it. Don't worry about the little 'holes' as this is all resolved during wet finishing later on. I also recommend that you don't do the stitches too loosely as it can increase the snag potential later, especially if you are hem stitching a scarf edge or shawl.

Then I go looking for a spacer yarn for the next step. What's that? Glad you asked...

This is a heavy seine twine cord which is used for rug warps and tapestries. I inherited this cone some years ago and maybe one day it will help form a rug warp, but in the mean time I need a 20 inch piece for this towel project. You can also use mop cotton or enough ends of a scrap yarn to create the space you are looking for.

Depending on the look you want to achieve you can use it doubled or singly......

I'm trying it on this towel doubled and lay it in snugly with a handy loop for pulling it out later. A bump with the beater straightens it nicely.

With my new weft yarn, I leave another tail four times the width of the warp and weave a few repeats of the border and pattern repeat. Then I gently hold the warp at the left edge with one hand and pull the cord out on the right.
Then I hemstitch by taking the needle under the bundle and pull it through.

Then as with the previous bottom row, I bring the needle back round again and place the point into the second or third row of weft and pull through and pull tautly.  This is called 'Ladder Hemstitching'.

A nice variation you might to try is 'Lattice Hemstitching'. {To see further pictures and details on either of these techniques visit here. }   Do the bottom row the same as the description above. The change comes on the top row...

In this particular method you divide the grouping by taking three warp ends from one group and combine it with three warp ends from the next group.

It produces a distinctive 'V' formation! I think it makes a nice alternative to the ladder. This is a mercerised cotton warp and so the ladder or trellis might lose some of their definition when washed.  The bundles being tightly secured helps keep their shape. I have also found that when linen is used as the warp, the ladder or trellis hemstitching stays much crisper looking.

Next post I will show you some another interesting border treatment.

On a personal note, we are still cleaning the house like crazy for viewings and waiting for someone to make us an offer. This is a tough time of year for this so we'll have to see....

My brother was here for a brief visit and we heard all about his recent trekking Manaslu in Nepal. He was there for just over three weeks and took many pictures again and has agreed to send me some pictures and a story line. It may be some time before this happens but I'm looking forward to setting it up for you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Dozen Extra Inches More

I was browsing through my sample binder looking for a particular pattern when I realized that I seem to have a few 'spares' and that got me to thinking!  I always budget sampling length of 12 to 15 inches into every warp. Its just part of the calculations now. If I'm unsure of the sett, then I sample at the beginning; if I'm good to go, then I do some at the end.  I have a few special weaving friends that I swap samples with and if you haven't tried this, you should! Its great fun getting an envelope from a friend out of the blue one day and it has samples and drafts that you can review and touch.

Some times if I'm able to squeeze out one more useable towel (for example) then I'll forgo the sample and my friends understand....

Every Christmas I get a few handwoven or handcrafted cards from friends near and far and I have saved them all!

looks like its time for a larger box!
I recently found some card stock that I bought through a guild bulk buy many years ago and on Sunday afternoon I pulled all my supplies together and sat for an enjoyable afternoon of making up special one of a kind cards for Christmas and other occasions too.  

My supplies?  washed and pressed handwoven samples, scissors, tape, card stock and a glue stick. Extras such as beads and other embelishments can be added  before, during and after.  I'm opting for after as that way I can accent them according to the occasion and the recipient!  (That will involve dab glueing the beads and glitter).

I position the sample in the window in various ways so to show the pattern to the best advantage. Check the view from the window outside and then perhaps cut it down smaller to fit better. Then I tape it on four sides over the window.  There are two solid fold over sides to the card stock and one is just a smidge smaller. That's the side that covers the sample! Then out comes the UHU....

I use a coloured glue stick so I can see where I have applied it.  Then press the side down firmly. Then I sit a heavy book on it. Very high tech huh?

Here's the line up and I'm sure that you will recognise many of them if you are a regular reader:

Remember the so called 'quick' plain weave scarves that took three time longer than the most complicated twill?
Then there was that pesky black silk warp that was rethreaded to this fancy twill when the edges went bad on me. The two above are woven with silk/ yak for an amazing metallic grey.

This one is left over from a fancy M's and W's threading I did  about three years ago or so and is all tencel.

Here's a pair of snowflakes! 12 shaft snowflakes with tencel warp and silk/seaweed weft. I have flipped one over so they are like 'positive and negative' images.

I found that the border edging on the snowflake twill was also pretty and these cards show different aspects of the patterning. If you click on it (or any of them) you'll see the details.

Then, lastly....

I had a fine bamboo 8 shaft huck lace warp on my Jane table loom some time ago that was murder to weave due to a manufacturer problem with the levers. I had to give up and cut it off but the small portion I did  manage to weave became these cards. One card I tried hand sewing beads to before but I didn't like the way it softened the pressing the sample had been given. The loom was retrofitted and works fine now and I think the lace turned out alright too.

This was fun to do and I would encourage  you to do a small thing and add on 12 inches or so to your next warp and cruise the internet for some interesting card stock to have on hand.