Thursday, February 23, 2012

Little Lochmaben

Back in 2006 Lynnette and I enjoyed a little getaway and we attended  a weekend retreat for weavers and spinners on Quadra Island.  I'm not sure of the number of attendees but lets say a  hundred women at least (and a couple of men too!)  We spun on our spinning wheels and chatted by day, enjoyed meals and seminars together and then there was the fashion show on Saturday night!   It was a wonderful time! Lynnette and I had adjoining rooms and the lack of TV sets in our rooms didn't phase us a bit and we talked non stop the whole time.

Well, we are  planning on attending the retreat again, this time in beautiful Parksville the end of March and there's the Saturday night banquet and  fashion show. Better get something under way for it!

I've been planning a shawl and a certain friend was the inspiration for me. Hence this shawl's name. "Little Lochmaben"

Its  tencel (of course :) but with her favourite colours of turquoise and with amethyst purple stripes with a variegated sections that has colours that run from soft turquoise to blues and then into plum tones. Centre of each major stripe grouping is a dash of yellow gold. I had my Itten Color Star out and got my colour choices firmed up in no time. What took time was finding a suitable pattern which I located at, and then arranging the colours using my PCW Fiberworks program.  I twiddled and tweaked it...then wait a few days and tweak some more.

Finally I wound the warp and beamed the warp. The colours seem to work together nicely.  Threading went well and I took my time and checked each section. I *hate* fixing errors after I've started to weave so this part I pay close attention to.

I also decided to lace on this time over tying bouts around and over the rod. Tencel is a slippery yarn and you could be endlessly fiddling with knots that won't stay tight and I didn't want the aggravation. It also reduces loom waste which is a nice bonus  and that little bit extra is added to my planned sample allowance!

In the picture above I have the cord laced through the half inch bouts and on the far left is the end tacked down with some painters tape. I'm working out the loose tension and shifting it leftwards. When I'm happy with the results, I secure the tape around the cord over tying it as I *may* want to undo it at some point and make a correction. This way, I unwrap the tape, unstring the bouts to the one I want and usually I snip off the knot and make my fix, reknot and restring again. Yes, I do like lacing on and I'm wondering why I moved away from it?  Variety is a good thing I guess and helps you to understand what works for you when there is so many choices in techniques. Its good to try new things and learn from others.

Here I am, all set to go....let's look at what has happened here....

Okay, the lacing cord starts on the right but I like to add some tape to secure the small end. It can shift on the rod otherwise and make your weaving start a bit awkward awkward. So its a quick fix that saves trouble later.  The dark thin thread around the rod is my floating selvedge thread. It goes through the reed but not through a heddle and is weighted off the back of the loom.    Then there's the waste yarn that's been treadled in.  Someone years ago told me about a snazzy trick to close the gaps in your bouts and get weaving sooner with only three shots of weft (okay, in this case it was six...) I used a non slippery 8/2 cotton yarn in a light colour and threw three weft shots *with no beating* until the end. Then tap then gently down and into place. As this is a 12 shaft project and slippery yarn, I threw three more shots and tapped again. You can see where I have done this and then wove in the balance of the six shots to the end.

It tightened up nicely! So if you look back to the previous picture you'll see that I hooked my waste yarn around the rod on both sides and then wove more shots after. I picked that trick up recently from Laura Fry's blog and thought I would give it a try.  Well, the selvedge went from curling slightly to straight! It holds it nicely until the rod and warp drops down and around the breast beam. I like this neat trick and will use it from now on. Give it a try for yourself!  Thanks Laura!

From the knots to the end of my scrap yarn is four (4) inches! I would have used a lot more than that to do the normal tie on.  Also my lighter scrap yarn revealed no threading errors!  This 12 shaft, 12 treadle pattern  is warped up in 8/2 tencel, sett 28 epi in the darker stripes and 24 epi in the solid turquoise bands. It sits at 22 1/2" in the 12 dent reed and has 576 ends, and is 4.5 yards (shawl, fringe, samples, take up and  loom waste etc)

So I'll end today with giving you a peek at the sample section that I decided to weave first this time. It gives me a chance to double check for errors and get familiar with the treadling, which is 'tromp as writ' (or treadle the way it is threaded). I think I'm going to enjoy weaving this gebrochene twill!

Part two and the big reveal will come its fully finished with fringes twisted, beads added and washed and pressed.....and that will be a little bit yet (sorry). If it helps, it did come off the loom today and so it won't be too long to wait.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snowflakes in my Sleep

Years ago I can recall falling head long in love with snowflake twills when I opened a copy of Weavers magazine, issue number13. Apparently a lot of other weavers did too as they went onto publish more versions and designs in later issues as well.
In issue number 18, with a Halloween themed cover of witches, there was a draft designed by Guild of Canadian Weavers Masterweaver Jane Evans that I have used time and again.  To me, its visually perfect!
Twill progressions are not difficult to design and play with.  You can create circles, elaborate boxes and even hearts!

I have woven shawls, scarves and runners using snowflake twills or variations and all are snapped up at sales or when gifted, given 'pride of place' in the recipient's home or wardrobe.  A creamy silk scarf for my mother in law's 80th birthday,  five  matching snowflake  runners for five dear guild friends who lost their homes in 2003 in a wildfire that ran through their properties and into a city.  It always turns out well, and is satisfying for both the weaver and the receiver. I think the only thing I haven't woven using snowflake twill is tea towels and now I'm wondering, why not?!    It always looks far more complex than eight shafts and so it can inspire newer weavers as well!

This shows the trellis hemstitching. If you click on the image you can see it better (or any of them!) The little 'v's' work well with the larger 'V's' in the cloth. I have shown this technique before in this post. I like to choose a technique that works with the pattern and end use of the cloth.

The beauty of snowflake twill is that its fully reversible! I like to bear that in mind when planning as well and so sometimes I will make runners with short fringes instead. They are usually measure two inches plus tassel.  Good friend and teacher, Gudrun Weisinger taught a lace weave class some years ago and the one thing I took away was the nifty method of switching up a fringe treatment! I'm not sure what you call this except "fancy- smancy"

This runner is 13" by 54" in length and looks a bit stiff as it just came off the pressing table!

A lesson in a few images:

Pin out your item on a foam board. {Basic instructions on regular fringe twisting can be found here }  You must carefully select the bouts to be twisted as shown. Its hard to describe and so here's another picture to enlarge  to show the arrangement: ( you can also right click and save it for review later)

Then you clip the pairs to your fringe twister. I happen to have a quad so can do two sets at a time.

Twisted tightly to the right. I usually keep count of the turns so it can be duplicated on each grouping for consistency. In this case, a count of 30.

Shift the ends to a single clip each....

Then twist to the left, usually the same number as turns as previously counted.  Then I release one group....

... Make an over hand knot and  pin to my chosen grid line, which in this case is two inches.  Once the new bout is released, it relaxes and will match the other previous ones.

Like so!  I feel its the consistency of the same number of turns, on a matching length of warp ends.  Sometimes we are using uneven lengths due to part of it being 'loom waste' on one end of the cloth. I trim them to the same length on either side. This makes counting your turns far easier.

Nothing makes me smile more than cruising around various weaving blogs and seeing foam boards and grids being used with fresh off the loom projects pinned out. My little invention to make my life easier clearly is being enjoyed in many other loom rooms!

Having said that, many weavers don't count and don't pin out. They simply hand twist, knot the end and release to let the bout twist back on itself. They might use books to weight the warp and I have even seen cats being used! I like to pin so it doesn't slip and slide out of position while being worked on. I found that very annoying and I quickly got tired of dragging books around (and we have no cats!).   Since my weaving tends to lean towards finer threads, I like consistency in my finishing and that includes the knots being all even when viewed. It shows that even a small detail like this was carefully done. Small details add up to an over all effect!

Attention to details start as you plan the your yarns, wind and carefully beam, thread and sley. The weaving part is the shortest time!  So plan on how to finish your work too. Its the frame around your new work of art!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Objects in the Box.....

.....are not always what you think you ordered!

I had some decent sales at Christmas and so decided to spend some on new yarns (emphasis on the new) and then take a chunk of my sales monies and be a responsible adult and use it to reduce some bills.  I must say doing that felt real good!

My yarn order *finally* showed up after five (5) weeks and it some how under whelmed  me. It all started when I picked up the box at the post office. It was a rather small cube and very light. My heart sank as I thought of more delays straightening it all out.

Later I opened it up and seeing only a few cones, I felt my initial reaction was correct!  I quickly went through each item and suddenly it dawned on me that this really was all I ordered! In my mind I had at least seven bulky cones (and seven pounds of weight) coming and it was seven items in total.

So what does 'new' to me yarn mean?  Well I ordered two colours of 8/2 tencel that I have never seen before!   My old supplier never stocked these colours as they are pastels and most people wanted the full  brilliant colours.  I also ordered one brighter cone of tencel that I'm low on and know that I need more of.

Amethyst is on the left, with the new almond blossom in the middle (basically a soft pink) and then pale orchid leaf.
Orchid leaf is a very soft lilac. Here's another closer view with a white backdrop:

I really like it and can see a  lacy shawl in the future.  Okay, so far so good!

Next up is my other 'new yarn' merino tencel blend. Dorothy had used it and her sample she sent me was wonderful! She bought it in a finer weight than I can order it here but I went ahead and ordered it as a 10/2 weight.  I guess I was thinking of a 10/2 in normal tencel yarns and what I got was a larger sized yarn than I had in my mind!

There was a variety of colours to choose from and I decided to go with neutrals and ordered black and a steel gray. They would coordinate nicely together at the very least as a colour and weave effect men's scarf.
They are also small cones... they are not one pound cones. Again when I checked, they are 8.8 ounce cones. I somehow missed that point.... oops! (There's that mind of mine again....seeing a trend here?)

I also ordered two lace weight painted skeins that looked like this on my screen:

I could see shades of pinks, mauves, a hint of yellow....and thought I could team it up with my new tencel merino!   Yah, that's it!

This is what I got:

This says 'Halloween' to me! Its beautiful yarn and even superwash merino but its going to be a challenge to work out how to use this but it won't be as originally planned and it won't be with the merino tencel blend.   *sigh*

So what have we learned? Well, look closer at the information they provide (re: weights), don't be fooled by the pretty screen images as they are fickle!  Write down what you ordered and keep it handy as it can be almost two months before you get the order. In my defense, they did say everything was in stock when I hit the order button and they they said "oops, we're sorry!"  Hey, that can happen and I understand. I guess I was spoiled by Amazon who will ship your order to you and send the stragglers along later.  Its a good thing I wasn't waiting by the loom for this order!  I also feel that this demonstrates that supporting your local yarn store is a good idea where you can see, touch and know what you are getting.  I'm still a fan of getting bulk orders by mail for cost effectiveness.   I also learned my mind is not to be trusted and to lean on the "post it notes" more.

I also received a DVD in the mail quite by surprise from a friend:

I'm really looking forward to watching this one! I'm a big proponent of knowing your loom well and being able to make adjustments to get better function from it. Its a machine with lots of moving parts.... it will have some issues along the way.  

Oh, and the friend?   It was me. I pre-ordered the set months ago and forgot all about it until it showed up. Between you and me:  I'm getting a little worried about my 'friend'   :)

I have a line up of material to read and view and I plan to let you know how I find them in the near future. My trouble is time right now as I have two deadlines  colliding soon and the weaving takes precedence. 

Clearly I can't walk and chew gum now!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

At the End of the Day

If this image looks familiar, then you'd be right. This was a warp put on last October no less and was to be a quick experiment in treadling variations. But then throw a sick Hubby and Christmas (with house guests) into the mix and you have a long drawn out affair.  I never claimed to be a fast weaver but this really is beyond believing.  I enjoyed the warp and so can't say this was a 'dog on the loom'... far from it!  Life simply decided that I had other things to be doing...

So the premise was to have one threading and one tie up and then by changing the treadling only produce three different patterned scarves.  Here is the previous post where I started, but I will repeat the drafts here for convenience:

The threading is an elaborate M's and W's and the tie up is a standard twill for eight shafts.  The first scarf was treadled 'as drawn in'. The second scarf was treadled in a 'network style'. The third scarf, and my personal favourite,  is treadled 'snowflake twill'.  (both scarf two and three treadlings are called twill progressions) Three separate looks all for only having changed the way you dance the treadles!   I would be the first to admit that this was made far easier by having a weaving program and so I could try things out ahead of time on the computer screen. 

I can recall having a conversation with my weaving mentor Margaret back in 1997 or 1998 about this very topic. I had an overshot threading on the loom and Margaret sat down and simply started playing with her feet!  Once she knew what style of threading it was, she understood how it was tied up and so could improvise on the fly. I sure wish I had kept the sample she made that afternoon. I also recall the big smile she wore as she wove as she was having fun. She said that being freed from the constraints of a rigid recipe was when weaving comes to life.  She did tell me that you have to know how the basic weave structures work first, then you can bend and stretch the rules!

The warp was 10/2 tencel, sett 28 epi and was 7.29 inches in the reed.  That's 204 ends.

The weft was 30/2 fine black silk which contrasted nicely with the rose, and mineral green, with a dash of violet.

All were woven to 72 inches, fringes twisted and left at roughly six inches including the tasseled end. All were hand beaded with various glass beads for a bit of sparkle. The shine and drape is beautiful.

A great project and I'm only sorry it took so long! Hopefully, it will encourage you to play with treadlings when you find yourself stuck and bored with a project.... you might be surprised at what you find!