Monday, March 26, 2012


Weaving that last shawl was fun!  While I was busily throwing the shuttle during the first I wondered what it would look like if I reversed the treadling? So I took a look at this reversal on the draft in my PCW Fiberworks program and it looked good. So I played around with the colours and stripe arrangement. I could see areas that I could improve or expand.

I decided to reverse colours as well.... to use a lighter shade. Remember, I'm trying to explore more colour in my weaving too.  Same 12 shaft M's and W's threading as before, same 8/2 tencel... even the tie up is all ready done!

So here we are about to get under way again!   From the knots to the first inch of the sample?  Four inches! Lacing on is a real warp saver...

So the colours here are eggplant, orchid and a green and also a variegated tencel in shades of plum pinks, blues, greens and turquoise. All colours to be found in the northern lights or aurora borealis.  Since we recently had a major solar flare and increase of  northern light activity, it seemed  to be timely.

Before I knew it, I was hemstitching the last edge and onto the next phase of the project....

I found the "ABBA Gold Hits" collection great twisting music with a side of sing a long!  It also took an afternoon as I had to work out the various groupings.

Time to put some of those new bead treasures to work. The eggplant colour is actually hard to match up and so my selection is rather small. I also found it looked different in different lights too. I had a halogen, an Ott lamp and good bright daylight and it looked different in each ... and so did the beads! Needless to say, it took some work to resolve.

Next step step was handwashing as like the previous shawl, with hanging to dry over night, and then a hard pressing with my steam iron.  Madge was called up for duty again.

(Madge looks a little round shouldered doesn't she? )   This shawl doesn't have quite the iridescence effect the other one does but there's a gentler quality to it.  (For iridescence I believe the colours used must be of a similar value as well and that wasn't the case here)

I tried to get good pictures of the aurora in my cloth, but as I said the light source sure changes the look... and then you must add camera, and computer screens... 

... and as luck would have it, my cheap camera in my mobile phone caught it best!  Now that's funny...

Both Aurora and Little Lochmaben are going to the Retreat next weekend with me and I'll report back how they do.  Its going to be a girl bonding weekend just me and Lynnette... and probably a 100+/- others!

(oh, why stop at two?  Number three, and last shawl in the series,  is being wound onto the loom today!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Little Lochmaben 2

 Now that the baby shower is over and we are waiting on little M.E to make their mid April  debut, it's back to the other events on the calendar. So another deadline looms for me  (literally and figuratively!)  The Retreat is coming up at the months end: March 30, 31 and April 1.  There is a bag exchange, an exhibit and a fashion show during the banquet on Saturday night.  I'm weaving for the fashion show!  I plan on taking two shawls and I have one ready to go. The second is coming to a fast finish soon!

The first part of the process for the shawl was detailed here.  The weaving was straight forward and the repeats added up quickly. The Louet Spring is such a nice little loom to weave on. Very enjoyable!  I like to listen to podcasts while I weave and I like to think I'm getting smarter by the program.  Shows like "Stuff You Should Know", "Stuff You Missed in History Class", "Dan Carlin's Hardcore History" and my favourite " Under the Influence by Terry O'Reilly" on the impact of marketing and advertising on us all today.  Oh, yeah... and music too.   :)

Once off the loom, I evened up the fringe allowance and pinned it out on the board and then got to work!

I decided to twist the band fringe first and so had to get creative with the colour arrangement.  The solid turquoise sections went quickly using the four clip Leclerc twister. The smoothest twister to use is still the Forsyth model though.

I had gone through all my beads and pulled together many that I thought might work. I even had a trip to Beadworld in Victoria to pick up some rich deep purples Swarovsky crystal beads. Very sparkly! I didn't just get those of course... others followed me home naturally...
I snug the the bead strands tight but they do loosen a bit after washing. They are viewable from both sides of the shawl. Some of the main colour beads came close to running out and so had me sweating a bit! I did a trip to the bead store again to get a refill but they aren't carrying them anymore. I was glad my little stash held out for the completion! Seems they are carrying a very complete selection of Japanese Delica beads so there will be interesting hunting in the future! (Maybe I was a magpie in a former life? :)

Once that task was complete (with the trip and the baby shower as a break  between ends), it was laid to soak in the laundry tub. I squeezed  the shawl thoroughly to help shift the threads into their positions, rinsed it and rinsed once more with a drop of scent free liquid fabric softener in the water.  I spun it out in the washing machine and then hung to dry on a pvc rod suspended from the ceiling overnight.

I pressed it hard using steam and the transformation from bumpy texture to ultra smooth and silky always amazes me each time I reach this step of finishing a project. Its the reward for all the work! I used a rotary cutter and mat to trim the tassel ends neatly.

I dressed up Madge in a fresh clean black turtleneck and pinned the extra cloth out of the way.  (My next studio helper will come with arms to hold shawls better. In a more natural way... but in the meantime, Madge will have to do!)

Its hard to see in my photos, but there is a lovely iridescence. Usually this appears when there is more plain weave  involved, but its there with the twill!

This picture shows it a bit:

So the next shawl has the same threading of M's and W's, the same tie up but I'm changing the treadling from 'weave as drawn in' to the complete reverse of this and all the 8/2 tencel colours will be all new....
.... I'll be back soon!  Happy Spring Equinox!  We woke to a skiff of snow today....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on M.E.

Okay, fair warning.... this post will run a little long!  Its the whole deal from the project start to the final gifting so it will be worth the wait for all the reading!

I told you all in a previous post that we are about to become first time grandparents in mid April and so I had to fire up the loom and get busy! I'm going to be explaining each step as my son and daughter in law will be reading and learning what was involved with the making of their gifts.

First up, after planning the project math out on paper and playing with the design in my computer program, I wind the warp that will go on the loom.

In this case, 826 warp ends that will be sett at 24 ends in every inch, and be 35" wide on the loom.  The length of the warp is just under 8 yards.  I'm using 8/2 white cotton.

I wind each inch on one by one onto the back of my loom and when all done it looks like this:

Next up, I take the individual sections and load them onto long smooth sticks which are then supported by cords from the upper portions of the loom. It means the threads are now accessible from the front of the loom.

I reach through and thread the heddles in the given sequence needed for the project. Each thread goes through one of the white heddles.... all 826 of them!

I don't rush this part as going back in to fix mistakes is tedious so I put on some good music and take my time.  Here's the view from behind showing the the support sticks in place....each thread in order as it was wound.

This is the widest project I have done in some time! It looked neat to have the loom nearly full width wise.

Next step is to 'sley the reed' which is the beater bar for the loom. For some reason, I didn't take a picture of this step. The reed also determines how many ends in every inch of the project. The reed I used has 12 slots in every inch and so I placed 2 warp threads through a slot for a total of 24 ends in every inch.  (edit: I checked my notes and it seems I did use 24 epi. The next lowest was 21 and I thought that too loose. Sorry for the confusion.)

Then, once done with sleying,  I pulled the warp ends through and tied onto the front of the loom in small one inch sections or bouts:

All done! I have thrown some shots of scrap yarn to close the gaps and even tried a new technique of looping a thread over the end of the apron rod. It did help to prevent curling of the edges until they were over the breast beam! I had to adjust my 'heft' of throwing the shuttle to the new width when weaving as it is far wider than my scarves, towels or even shawls. I could feel it in my arms the next day!

(Suddenly Blogger wants to centre my text and won't align left! Ggrr)
 I wove up the hem allowance and then hemstitched on the loom. First blanket is white on white and the weft yarn is  unusual in that it is Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton, 100 yard jumbo cone from Wally World. I like the corded look and the great shine it has for 100 % mercerised cotton. It will take all the machine washing to come!

I had help.  I would get so focused on the task at hand that apparently I *needed* to stop and have fun occasionally! Calli would lie beside the loom and with her paw, punch the toy in under the treadles....then sit like this and stare at me doing her version of doggy mind reading until I got the hint!

I used a temple or stretcher to keep the warp at the given width and so this meant moving it every two blocks of the pattern woven or every 18-20 throws. I wove the crib blankets to 65" each plus hems. Besides the white, there was also a beige version using the Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton in a soft beige....with white hems.

The last one was woven in a fresh green using a 60/40 cottolin (which is a blend of linen and cotton) and again, white hems.

Once they were off the loom, I serged them apart and prepped them for hemming:

Then they were washed and pressed and my special 'made by Susan' label attached and I added what I like to call 'Grandma bait' when I'm making them for sales....  little rosebuds in the corners. I guess I was in a hurry to go as I wrapped them all up in the fancy paper and suddenly realized that I hadn't taken pictures!  Thankfully I had bought a roll of paper so out they came for their photoshoot...

There was a great deal of luggage and such for our trip and I guess my son must have thought we were moving in! Calli was at the Doggy Resort as they have three cats.  (50 pound dog versus three cats? The cats would win hands down!)

The baby shower was this past Sunday and the decorating started at 9 am with balloons and streamers. The food preparation was well under way by noon. I was a helper with Lisa's mother, Adele, and Adele's sister known to all as Auntie Zia. 

There was many friends and family there and all came bearing gifts and big smiles. Everyone loves babies!  When the gift opening started, I stood at the back and took pictures... and by day's end I had over 200. 

Here's daughter in law Lisa, with her friend Lisa (who organized the shower) and Lisa is opening up one of our gifts....a Baby book to record all those special firsts. I had just given my son his Baby book with all his pictures and mementos so it seemed appropriate to start the wee one off right too. The new format for the books nowadays is with stickers and such to have fun recording the events. Turns out my daughter in law is a scrapbooker  and when she opened it up she was so happy to see it, her toes curled!  We also gave small items such as baby spoons, slippers, natural baby products for bath time... and the blankets.

There were many beautiful and helpful gifts given to the new parents to be. Lisa's parents bought the lovely crib and dressers for the baby's room and we also bought a playpen (or as they are called now, a play yard)

We're looking forward to seeing it again, with a baby in it,  later this summer at our house! Then there was the food... and an Italian cake with pastry on the bottom and filled with cream and custard. Yummy!

It was a long day but fun and it was great to meet so many of their friends. Later once everyone had gone and it was just family and the men folk had come back from their afternoon at the movies, Adele made spaghetti and we sat and chatted.  I sure slept like a log that night!

I had taken along some long sharp scissors with me to snip off the little rosebuds from the blankets once they had served their purpose for the shower.  The rosebuds are destined to be included in a future scrapbook project.

I took the liberty of draping the blankets on the crib to see what they look like. They fit well width wise and a bit overlong for the crib length, but oh well! Next ones will be woven to 55" or 60"  Better too long than too short!

One last thing.... a belated gift for their tenth wedding anniversary...

So, I'm off to rest and recover! That was a lot of talking and fun and its tuckered me out.  Don't worry... I'm weaving!  In between laundry loads I'm getting busy with the shawls for the Retreat later this month.
They will be next up for posting ....

Oh, and the M.E ?  That's the first initials of the chosen baby names both for a boy or a girl. Those will be revealed in time and that won't be very long!