Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life Intervenes

This is a busy time of year for all of us and apparently its become even busier for me! I have been  wearing many hats lately but 'weaver' has not been one of them!

My husband had a routine test procedure in early November and  mid month came down very sick with a resulting infection from it. It all happened quite quickly and resulted in an emergency operation this past weekend. There was lots of driving to and fro to hospital and keeping family and friends informed, all managed along with running a house and also walking a dog!

who could say no to this face?!

It was good to bring him home from hospital but the same day Hub started to complain about his ankle. It was swollen and bruised looking and he had no recollection of how this happened. Within a day or so it became worse and he could put no weight on it at all. I was out beating the bushes looking for crutches in a hurry!  Once he got a pair of those, life got easier!

So now I'm nurse, cook, dishwasher, laundress, errand runner, dog walker .... oh, and Christmas shopper too and .....well, none of it includes weaving right now.

The big one day sale happened in Salmon Arm yesterday and I heard that I did very well! Here's a link to the Facebook page with pictures of the day!     Lynnette tells me I sold: 7 tea towels, 2 guest towels, and 3 scarves!  I'll get the final tally and unsold  items back shortly.  My white snowflake twill shawl had many admirers but sadly no takers!

This post isn't entirely with out weaving content!  I can at least show you where things were left when I had to become "Nurse Ratchet"

I decided to go with the third variation after all!

The pattern is quite striking and must be my favourite of the three treadling variations!

So this has an elaborate point twill threading and  treadled snowflake style, which is also called a twill progression.  Nothing else changed. The tie up remained the same and as you can see, you can effect quite a change by merely changing the way you 'dance the treadles'. It almost has a 3D look to it and when you view it from the side the diamonds look like they are raised up from the cloth!

I *hope* to have the scarves done and off the loom for the next post and I can show you the three different looks side by side! Well, I'll try!

On the Louet, the snowflake twill is patiently waiting....

Its funny as normally I will switch looms to get a change but right now I have the same treadling happening on both looms!  I can do snowflake twill in my sleep now and its the only place where weaving is happening for the time being!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sitting Pretty

Its time for the local guild's annual sale and it runs a full month. From October 29th to December 1st actually.
 It seems that this year people are being more careful with their spending as all my smaller stuff such as guest towels, bookmarks and tea towels have all sold, while my scarves are still waiting for their new owners! Personally, I wonder if the very length of time of the sale gives some customers 'pause' and they decide to 'think about it' and come back later? You can never fully predict what your best sellers will be!

The sale is attended by two volunteers a day from the guild during opening hours of the shop so there is a morning  and an afternoon shift. It is surprising how many questions we field, including the ubiquitous "how long did it take you to make this?"  :) There are advertised scheduled demonstrations every Saturday. I sat an afternoon shift this past Thursday:

Here's a general overview of pictures from the day... and be sure to click to make any of them larger! By the time I got here the sale had been on for two weeks and I'm sure that I missed quite a lot of nice things. I just couldn't get there any sooner! So let's see what's left....

Two of these scarves should look familiar!

Scarves!! quite a few in fact and all unique: silks with braided fringe, self pleating scarves, felted double weave, hand knit laces, tencel and silks (mine :) and brushed mohair.  It seems that our customers don't need new scarves just yet so Mother Nature has given us a cold snap in the past few days to help change their minds!

Then we have shawls and wraps:

Luscious wraps in warm wools in canvas weave... along with fantail lace shawls from hand spun lace weight yarns.

Bright wool blankets and mohair throws! Wouldn't that throw look wonderful over the sofa at Christmas?
Then we have tea towels... (what's left of them!) The one on the very far right is the last of mine. I had nearly a dozen and they are all gone....

There is a good selection of hand knits and I sold a lovely peach cable knit sweater that looked like it was made just for the customer! She was thrilled..

  Next up is smaller items such as pin cushions, book marks, purses and bobbin lace jewelry! Even yarns to entice knitters out there...

Beaded cuffs

These are woven leather bracelets with carved antler closures!

And finally, this beauty that came home with me...

and a close up...

It's official.... the run up to Christmas has begun!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Scratching the Surface Some More

I thought I would bring you up to date with our recent adventures in getting a new water source to our house!  They say that most people take water for granted until you have none. Well, we had some... a slow dribble that made day to day life awkward. Years ago we lived aboard a boat with limited water and electricity and so knew all about the 'one appliance rule' and fast, fast showers! Our hot water tank was a mere 6 gallons in size. So here we are living in a full sized house and we were back to our old boat day rules: No flushing while someone was in the shower! You don't get scalded, but the water disappears entirely until the toilet tank filled! No showers or laundry during the dinner hour as the water was needed in the kitchen for dinner preparation.  The dishwasher goes on at bedtime when there is no chance of water being needed anywhere else in the house.  Laundry day was more like laundry week!

So last time I wrote on details, we had had the well drilled and this is what it looked like when they were done:

Yup, its a hole in the ground! A 182 foot hole in the ground to be exact.  Do you see the water around the base? The water would normally stay down at the level you find it at which in our case was 162 feet. We opted to drill another 20 feet and this would help serve as storage space. Well, imagine the surprise when they took the top off and the water was right to the top of the pipe, so 184 feet of storage! Then it started to dribble out as you see above.  The plumber Sven said we were darn lucky as this meant we would never actually draw on the acquifer and have plenty for our needs!   This sure sounded good but I was wondering how to get it to the house and out my taps?

No problem..... you dig another hole or trench rather..... 300 feet long to the house.  Here's the machine that did the deed:

The caterpillar tracks helped on the slopes but it sure chewed up the driveway!

From the well positioned behind the garage you come out to the front of the garage, where you dig up and break the existing irrigation line for the dug well (which was repaired and reburied)..... then start marching up the road....

Up the drive and across the bridge, where near the tree you find an old culvert bringing water from the neighbour's property under your driveway and onto your land. This was 'fixed' ... enough said on that.  :)

Then beside the drive where you deal with big tree roots

Then you hope your  line of new cedars haven't spread out their new roots too far yet!

Why stop there?   Let's go through the path and even the garden! Here they placed a junction box (see green box waiting) where they changed the type of pipe and its diameter.

Ultimately they drilled a hole right through the foundation and then pulled pipe through under the house which they accessed via the crawl space. Yes, it was a #%^&@% mess!  They covered it all up again but the ground is subsiding as the dirt compacts down and its not the nice (relatively clean) crushed blue granite you can see we had down.  A muddy mess which will most likely have to wait till spring to fix as winter is upon us!

While the men were working up by the house, I heard a little yipping noise and someone told Calli to be quiet.  Since Calli was lying beside me as I wove, so it wasn't her!  I got up to check and this is what I found!

This is Cali (short for Mexicali?) the Chihuahua!  One of the big tough guys had brought his little dog along and she was COLD ! I offered to bring her in and warm her up but her 'Dad' just tucked her into his coat and zipped it up.  No more yipping!

We had the well drilled right beside the garage so there was electricity near by and the well components can be mounted safely in the garage  and we wouldn't have to build a pump house. (These pictures were taken with a mobile phone so not entirely clear.)

This shows the main black water pipe coming in from the well and a pressure tank above. Next to it is the 'brains' for the pump which sits down at 172 feet in the well. It is set up to provide a constant pressure or PSI.
Here's the gauge:   (I can almost feel the full pressure showers now!)

So apparently getting the pump down the well is a task all unto itself! It has to be somehow suspended and sanitized and without touching anything settled down into the well which has also been sterilized. (You have always wondered about stuff like this right?)

Here Sven has a special derrick truck to lift the pump into the air. Meanwhile the well has been painted a bright blue so you miss it with the mowing tractor! There is some testing or cleaning going on right now.

Here's the submersible pump being readied for lowering down the well. Once this was completed, we had to 'develop the well' for a couple of weeks. This meant twice a day we hooked a garden hose onto the pipe fitting that comes up through the floor in the laundry room and run water from the new well for 20 to 30 minutes a time. This flushed out any fine sediment and debris that was created by the drilling.   This was a long two weeks and it evolved into three weeks with various delays. Next up is the final hook up to the existing water treatment system in the house and the cutting off and capping of the old well pipe.

In our laundry room what you see from the new well system is the pipe that runs under the house and then appears up from the floor, tucked in behind the hot water tank:

The lighter coloured small pipe takes water off to an outdoor hose bib ahead of the treatment system. The main water then goes to a treatment system that softens, filters and irradiates the water with UV light. Now its safe to drink and bath in!

So I did! This shower is the highest water appliance in the house and it was quite pathetic what we had before. Not any more!

....and for good measure I ran the vanity tap too!

There was no fluctuation in the water volume!  So that's all settled now and  we must eventually repair/ patch the driveway, then replant the garden come spring and make it so it doesn't look like the garden gnomes went bonkers!

Well, after an early winter storm that rolled through here yesterday, it all looks chaotic! We had some very high wind gusts out of the south east and in one to three gusts, the wind cleared off the maple and alders and the air was *full* of flying leaves, branches and other debris! I managed to sweep off all the decks and I literally needed a shovel to lift it all.  The power outage lasted 3 1/2 hours so not too bad for the first storm. The gutters on the house seriously need a cleaning now!

Apart from a small interior decorating job that we plan to start tackling in January 2012, that's it for reno's for the year! I've started my Christmas baking and writing cards....

Monday, November 7, 2011

When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears

There is an old saying that "when the student is ready, the teacher appears" and thinking back over my weaving past, this has proven to be quite true.  I have been very fortunate in my mentors finding me along the way!

What I have discovered by taking on a student is that I have learnt as much, if not more, than the student! A learning curve for both of us...  I'm new to all this and still developing a lesson plan and so Denise has been very patient with me.  I thought I would find out what she has been doing in the past with her weaving and then determine what she wants to change, then to learn and try as new. The goals became: to use finer threads, explore pattern work, work at hemstitching and finishing. Turns out Denise is detail orientated much like myself so this put us both on the same page.

Denise has been weaving for past two years and has an eight shaft Gilmore jack loom. I have seen ads for these looms in older Handwoven's, complete with old Mr Gilmore proudly standing by his creation, but never seen one in person.  Denise sent me some pictures:

Its a great loom and my first thought was "this is a sturdy, well built little tank of a loom. I dare say her thighs get a work out lifting those shafts!

Since the set up and warping of her Gilmore loom is quite different from my Louet Spring, we agreed that I would wind and beam the warp. We also agreed that we would only use eights shafts and not the full twelve on the Louet as what ever we worked on must be relatable to her situation at home   So while we worked out dates that worked for both of us, I wound the warp and got the loom ready, threaded and sleyed for the big day.  Denise teaches classes in soapmaking and has a young son in school so we had some calendar scheduling to do.

I sent her pictures of the warping process so she would feel a part of what was to come.

The warp is a fine 16/2 mercerised cotton, sett 36 epi and fourteen inches in the reed, so 504 ends.  We are doing an 8 shaft snowflake twill! The threading and sleying went well. I customarily take my time and double check as I go and the end result?

We are good to go!

I am fully flattered that a weaver would want to come and learn with me and even more impressed that she would want to drive an hour and twenty minutes to do so!  Here's Denise hard at work doing trellis hemstitching:

Oh to have such flexible joints like that again! (She's showing off ). Denise brought along samples of her previous weaving to share with me (and vicariously, you) 

Cottolin and cotton towels, sett 24 epi. Her first project on an eight shaft loom!

Multi colored Tea towels are 24 epi, 8/2 hand painted warp (by Denise)  8/2 maroon bamboo. Weft is black 8/2 cotton.

A beautiful overshot shawl!  Silk/alpaca weft, sett 20 epi bamboo warp, woven on a four shaft loom.

Then my favourite, (and it was hard to choose!) overshot table napkins. "The napkins are an overshot pattern from " A Hand weaver"s Pattern Book " sett at 30 epi, 16/2 natural cotton warp, 8/2 natural cottolin weft. 4 shaft loom" 

 I planned my time with her accordingly so we would cover the goals we set originally and ensured that we covered those topics off.  So 'finishing techniques' is covered by the trellis hemstitching and luckily I had scarves pinned out on the styrofoam boards so we reviewed how to get nice consistent even fringes. We have discussed books that would be a great help to her to have at home. Then there are lots of little hints and tips from marking the centre treadle with a thick rubber band so you have a guide to where your feet are in the scheme of things. There was also a demonstration of efficiency warp winding.

I must say that it was wonderful to have her company in the studio and someone to talk weaving with! The neatest thing was hearing the thump - thump of a beater and it wasn't me making the noise!

Denise has been working away on what can be a rather tricky treadling and doing just fine. Well, she is now that we found my little mistake!  I had written out a cheat sheet to keep track and near the centre of the snowflake "X" the treadling reaches for a pivot point: 5,6,7,8 ...6,7,8,...1,7,8,.....1,2,8.....then 1,2,3,2,1. The 3 is the centre of the X and everything reverses from that point. In a Mental Pause moment I wrote the last 1 as a 3.  Why? I have no idea! My brain apparently thought it logical at the time. So Denise followed along treadling and then would have to unweave.  This happened a few times so I would sit down and weave the centre, throwing the shuttle and going on memory alone and it worked out fine. I have woven this pattern so often over the years I could do it in my sleep! Apparently just not while fully awake!  We finally worked out what I had done and I felt dreadful. It just so happened to coincide with a casual conversation between us on the ills of menopause and this will serve as a horrible warning to her (and you?)  as to what is coming!

Denise must have forgiven me as she has written some very nice words about her time here:

I started following Susan's blog about 18 months ago.  Out of the thousands of weaving blogs, Susan's was one of the few that interested me.  I love the detailed patterns that she chooses, the colors, the beauty of all of her finishing touches.  Two months ago when I was checking her latest entry I was beyond thrilled to read that she was thinking of teaching...I could scarcely believe my good fortune!  I emailed Susan immediately explaining that I am not a beginner weaver ( two years into it ) but would love to absorb anything she could teach me. Perhaps remedy any bad habits I had formed, weave with a fiber other than 8/2 cotton, and understand a draft a bit more comprehensively or create my own.

The next morning I received a cheery response from Susan, we spoke on the phone that week about what I might like to weave then decided a visit was in order first.
I was welcomed into her home and  Susan's large, bright, very well organized studio instilled some serious "studio envy ".  Susan did not disappoint, the experience I had with her exceeded the expectations I had from following her blog.  I have learned some very valuable techniques I'm proud to say have broken one bad habit. I no longer do " the claw " with my shuttle! It has increased my speed/rhythm tremendously. The 1 1/2 hour drive has been more than worth it to me.

Spending time weaving with Susan has been an invaluable experience for me. I have picked up some great tips to make my weaving more efficient.  I love a good tip!
Susan is meticulous in her weaving record keeping (something I don't do very well ) and she has encouraged me to do the same.  I actually went home after one session with some beautiful sample notes in lovely plastic sleeves to start my own binder. So organized!
My lessons are winding up and I will miss my time learning with Susan, but I am coming back most certainly in the New year to be 'sponge - like' in her presence.

Yesterday was our last session together and the time flew by. We covered project planning, more hemstitching, pirn winding, hemming details and of course, weaving some more!  There is nothing that tells a story as well as a picture!

I caught her while hemstitching the last hem and a short while later, we had the grand unveiling!

I hope I helped Denise with her weaving skills. I know that she had a wonderful head start and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future. I admire her commitment to learning more and finding the time in what is a very busy life, complete with a hubby and young son. With that sort of dedication, you know that she will continue to learn and grow as a weaver.