Thursday, September 22, 2011

On the Edge

Look who I found in the herb patch!  He (or she?) sat very still while I went bonkers taking pictures and even the flash didn't phase him. Then I sat the camera down at ground level and got the one above.  Click and enlarge... I'll wait for you...

Its a magic world at  ground level.... all that is missing are the faeries and a hobbit or two.

Our new well is a two foot high pipe (sealed of course) and we are waiting on the next company to come and assess the situation and do the hook up to the house. No doubt there will be a waiting list to get the work done but we do hope to have it done before the weather turns nasty. While we wait for the second part of the water fix, we got word that our septic field needs repairs but a trusted 'expert' assures us it can wait till spring and we should practice water conservation in the mean time. For those of you who have been following me for awhile you must be wondering what else can go wrong here! So with that in mind, Hub (who used to sell roofing among other renovation goods) assure me the roof is fine for ten years or more....

So we are waiting and a bit on edge as it were. My  weaving friends have all left  on vacations or quick excursions and I have been spending my time weaving most afternoons.  I have fine 10/2 tencel scarves in red and black on the Louet and using 30/2 black silk as my weft so the weaving was slow. It was just two scarves but the treadling repeat is long and tedious and quite frankly, I was getting bored with it. The weaving gremlins decided to have fun with me though. There were no problems with scarf number one but on scarf two as boredom was setting in, the floating selvedge on the right hand side (only) repeatedly broke or frayed through every four to six inches for the entire seventy two inches woven!  I did try to work out why and fussed with cures but nothing I did improved it and it kept on breaking. So after a while I would keep an eye on the floating selvedge and when it appeared fuzzy, I would lift and pull it forward and set a T pin into place to hold the new section and carry on weaving! No point fighting it and I tried to work with it and go with the flow. The treadling sequence was enough for me to manage!

After the scarves came off the loom, I took a fine needle and ran the ends up and down along the edge...

Apart from a small 'tail' every 6 inches .... the results look smooth and like nothing happened! The scarves are on the fringing board and I'm working my way through the twisting. So no 'show and tell' just yet but very soon. So about the breakages, I have a theory: so why one side and not the other? I think it has to do with the twist in the yarn which when dangled off the back in a little weighted film canister unwinds slowly. It untwists and so makes the thread weaker and more susceptible to fraying and breakage. The other side is also hanging but its twisted with the direction it wants to turn and so is fine. Its always the simplest of answers I think….I’m not going to fight the earth’s rotational pull!

The Louet is sitting empty for now.... and my new student will beam the next warp sometime in October when she comes for weaving time here. So we'll be sharing our learning time with you as we go....

I'll leave you with these characters just hanging around relaxing...

They are Pacific Tree Frogs and we have no less than three outside the kitchen window. Every morning, while the coffee is brewing, we play 'find the frogs'. This morning the third was elsewhere. Its even smaller than these two.....maybe visiting that other frog?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scratching the Surface

Right up front, this is a non weaving post! Sometimes life interferes with our pursuit of all things weaverly. I try not to let it get in the way of my shuttles but.... apparently Life right now insists on my full attention.   :)

We use well water here at our home and have installed a full water treatment system to keep it clean, soft and healthy for all our needs. We draw it (legally) from a shared well on the neighbour's property and then it travels some distance up a hill to our home. Water loses pressure when it travels up a grade and so our water pressure has always been a bit of an issue for us. The neighbour? he has LOTS and us? Not so much! The pressure this summer has been steadily going down to the point where if someone wants a shower, no one dares turn on a tap and even then the person in the shower has a nice dribble!
Awkward is one word I can use.... the rest are not lady- like to write here!. I have been caught all soaped up and there is no water at all until either the offending tap is turned off or the toilet tank is full again.
The dish washer runs at bedtime when there is no danger of interference!  It hasn't always been this way and our thirty year old home has had this shared well arrangement for all of those years and various owners of this house with limited success. We have always been water conscious and after living aboard a boat for five years with only 300 gallons in the storage tank, we are quite conservative with water usage. We just naturally fell into our old habits of  notifying each other of water events. "I'm going to water the gardens" meant reduced water in the house. We haven't watered lawns at all this year except for some newly sown areas after last fall's deck rebuilding.  The neighbour and well owner unfortunately wasn't helpful with solutions and quite grumpily said "its your problem" and hung up on us. (Some of my un-lady like language was reserved especially just for him).

So we began our research of the existing lines from the pump house and where they might be located. After thirty years where documents say they are and where they were actually placed are two different things! The codes and practices back in the late 1970's were quite different to what is done now. At best the pipe runs through a swampy area and even under a creek according to a former owner from that time period. Not allowed by today's standards !
If the galvanized fittings used in the 1970's have corroded, as one plumber thinks, and we were lucky enough to find and replace them, then some of the issues we have still exist. Lower than normal water pressure, a thirty year old system and a cranky neighbour who still owns the well!  So even a booster pump and cistern wasn't going to work and be quite expensive to boot!

What fix is the best use of our money and solves all the problems for us once and for all?

You drill a well.

Click to enlarge.... this was taken today and at this point they had gone through nineteen feet of overburden and and were just heading into bedrock. The wells in the area that we know of are all at about eighty five feet and produce ten to eleven gallons per minute, so this should come in at under one hundred feet. The exhaust is spitting out fine clay, surface water and now ground rock.  Its a messy process!

The height of the drilling rig is up at about fifty feet +/-. The length of the pipes are twenty two feet each and they are called casings. Apparently the well will be drilled, and capped by the end of the day if all goes well (no pun intended!)

Hard hat zone so I didn't get that close!  Noise was a bit hard on the hearing too. The cranky neighbour might know something's afoot by now. His well and (possible leak) is about to be entirely his problem.

Bruce and Calli were checking out the meadow when I arrived on the scene with camera in hand.

Here, she had just spotted me and came running right away!

This one isn't entirely in focus but I like it anyway.... if you enlarge it, you'll see she's smiling!  True story!

There will be a lot more to this water story as there has to be a trench dug up nearly three hundred feet to the house and the electrical and plumbing hook up's done before we drink our own water.  Won't that be sweet? I will celebrate by flushing while in the shower and run the dishwasher all at the same time..... just the once!

 Water report to be a later date....

Edit, 3 hours after posting : by days end they had drilled 182 feet and we have water at 6 gallons per minute. A bit deeper than we were expecting but feels good none the less!

This is the end of the drill bit.... not sure what those nubs are made from but you know it must be hard to drill through bedrock!

... and here's the water!  Not as many gallons per minute as we hoped for but enough at 6 gpm!  They run a stopwatch as they fill the five gallon pail and work out the rate. Boy, was the neighbourhood ever quiet when they stopped!  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Perseverance Furthers!

I needed a break from the intense focus needed to treadle on the Louet loom! I also wanted to get Emmatrude, my Woolhouse Tools countermarche back in service again. I seem to have some default patterns I wander back to when it comes to tea towels and I wanted to try something new! Towels can be like full sized samples and give you a chance to try new weave structures. I flipped through past issues of old magazine such as Weavers and Handwoven and then looked at my (real) sample collection and moved onto  my few issues of Väv magazine. I subscribed briefly but sadly let it drop due to the high subscription rate. I found a pattern that appealed to me in the April 2006 issue and one I'm calling my "Swedish Stars". I have modified the stripe pattern from their version and I was happy as this was a straight forward draft and would be an easier treadling then my other loom!

So  I wound 600 ends (25 inches x 24 ends per inch), 11 yards long in 8/2 cotton for ten towels. Snowy white and stripes of a deep royal blue and beamed my loom.

As you can see I used my hybrid sectional method and my stripes are off centered. I'm trying to change pattern, stripe placement, colours.... everything!

Next up is threading and its a nice straight draw of eight down to one. I still paid attention as its easy to get a flat with a run like this.

It feels good to see a task completed! Sleying is done two per dent using a 12 dent reed. So far so good!

All set and ready to go except for the tie up.  Countermarche looms have twice the number of cords compared to jack looms and they must be tied up to both upper and lower lamms. They separate the threads equally up and down so both sides of the shed are equally tensioned.  Jack looms only lift up half the threads and the weight of the shafts and metal heddles 'dip' the bottom threads and that's why you need a shuttle race and I don't. I throw my shuttle across tensioned threads.
 Now I have a 20+ tie up assist and it requires some 'mental gymnastics'. When you stand at the front of the loom, take note of the first treadle is to the far left and shaft one is directly behind the beater....... then you go to the back of the loom and you see this (picture is from a previous project)

The very top row of holes is shaft one and the bottom are shaft 12; the far right is treadle one and the far right is treadle 16. There appears to be a lot of cords, 384 in fact, as there must be a tie up point for each treadle and shaft but I'm only going to be using the centre eight as shown above. So as you see it's flipped and reversed!  I take the tie up grid and rework it so that its becomes upside down and flipped. Its easier than it sounds. Just the first time is confusing... (honest!)
I like to call the dark squares on the grid " x's " and so by default the empty squares become "o's". I tie the x's to the upper lamms as they will go down when treadled and the o's go to the lower lamms as they will rise (think bubbles!)  With me so far?  good.....

Now with the 20+ tie up assist you translate the routine I just mentioned above to the cords and clips. If there is an 'o' on the grid, I go to the right holes for shaft one (at the top) and pull and clip the corresponding cord for the lower lamm.... and leave the opposite cord trailing free. The picture above shows a series of o's  on a grid. The cords on the right would all be the x's. You only pull one on either side.
Still with me?  :)

I sat down and pulled out the locking pin and eased the treadles so the cords between front and back could find their way and ease. Wove in some scrap yarn and looked for errors..... and , none!   I wove in plain white for approx six inches and then thought to do some rows of stars and that's when it all went sideways....
No stars.... nada, zilch!  So I double checked my threading, and then thought that perhaps I should reverse the tie up. Make it so the o's and x's change place. Its obviously means I'm weaving the stars upside down then which is no fun. I'd rather see them and know its going well! I'd hate to weave  10+ yards only to find there's no stars on the other side too. So I reversed the tie up and tried one again. No Stars.

I went back and flipped the tie up... and basically to shorten this story up, tried just about every possible way you could tie this up and  finally got stars!

There are perfect white stars on the opposite side too! I have no idea of how I did it other than tried every possible combination. I'm glad that this wasn't a normal tie up loom as I would be still under there tying cords! I just sit and pull cords and clip although that took time enough when you do it several times. :)    I'm on towel number two now and so its underway....

Later that afternoon as I was clearing things away (yes, I tidy up.... sick huh?)  I looked once more at the draft on the magazine and that's when I saw it. They show the draft REVERSED from the way we do it over here in North America and so the tie up was reversed as well....  ah, geesh....

So moral to this story: always read the fine print!