Monday, July 30, 2012

Betwixt and Between

I thought I'd lure  you in with a nice piece of weaving right at the start! It will most likely be the only one in the post...

The studio is full now and all three looms are in a state of change. Somehow it feels a bit disconcerting and I'll be happier when all three are loaded and works in progress.

My smaller Louet Spring was named Lilibet but that is now changed and I'm calling her Lisbeth instead. Yes, I'm a fan of the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo books. Such a shame the author, Steig Larsson, passed away before he could write more!

I pulled this warp some time ago and it had been hanging waiting for its turn in the queue. It has been preempted by baby blankets and then receiving blankets for grandson Ethan (who has his first cold right now, poor thing!)  The warp is dark teal  8/2 tencel, approx 200 ends and 7.5 inches. It is long enough for three Classic Drall  scarves, each 70 inches long each and fringes.  Beaming it was a quick job and threading went well.

Then the (light) loom was hoisted up onto crates for her tie up. Since I was only tying up eight treadles for eight shafts, it went nice and quick compared to last time which was twelve shafts and twelve treadles!

So weaving is underway on this loom as and when time allows. We've had a lot of activities on the go recently and so I haven't been weaving as much as I would like.  Also this loom was shifted over to the middle space and the Megado (or Margaret) now sits here as it needs access to power.

So how is the Megado coming along?

Well, there were some interesting times getting the brake assembly on and set up right. We knew we had it on right, but couldn't get the lever to sit horizontal. It was a grand fight and two manuals in play and emails to Jane Stafford.

There! Isn't that a thing of beauty??  The difference between the lever sticking up hard under the shafts to being in perfect position is the carefully placed STOMP.  Yup, we had to get far more physical with it that we originally realized!   So next up was getting some spare parts to replace missing nuts and bolts. Also some extra heddles. I thought I would take the older heddles off and wash them and quickly discovered that working in the tight space where 16 shafts sit, is like doing an engine repair via the tail pipe!  I did get shafts 1, 2 and 16 done and have quit for now. Those three shafts worth do look whiter and brighter. I'll tackle the rest one shaft at a time.

We also corrected a rubbing swing arm on the front beam by adding an extra washer. Small fix but makes a huge difference! There was a space at the top but it rubbed at the bottom and since that part moves with every change of shed, it had to be fixed!

Some of the missing parts we are waiting for are for hanging the brain onto the side of the loom so in the mean time I got busy with this:

I bought a small Acer notebook computer on clearance. The picture doesn't show its cute size of only ten inches! Its operating on the new Windows 7 operating system and so has wifi on board. I can play with my Fiberworks program and send copies to the printer.  I upgraded my Fiberworks to the newer Silver Plus 4.2 (with loom drivers) so this part is all ready and good to go!  I suspect that I may need to download some files from Louet but have been waiting for people to get back to work from attending Convergence 2012 in California.   I guess I should start considering a draft for the first project.  I'm not sure what it will be but it will be using all 16 shafts!

Meanwhile over here.....

This has been my 'other' seat in the studio. The final portions of the Woolhouse Tools loom ( Emmatrude) tune up were resumed. To refresh, all cords were removed and then replaced with some help from friends.  Now all the cords must be set with a marker thread to indicate where to place the peg when pulling cords for a tie up.
How do you determine the 'sweet spot'? Glad you asked!

You raise up all  sixteen treadles to their correct height. I have a special board made by hubby for this purpose.

Then you add weights to the tops to stop them from any movement either up or down. I reckoned about 15 years worth of Handwoven should do the trick!

Then, sitting at the back of the loom at the peg board, you tug firmly on each and every cord and slip the peg into the best possible slit on the texsolv cord. Ideally there should be no slack at all.  So you do this for all 384 cords. I let it sit pulled taut like this for a couple of days and then double checked. Sure enough, there were some that had loosened a bit and I snugged those up again.  Texsolv is not supposed to stretch.... but it does. Not much mind you, but enough when even one slot equals one centimeter!

Then, you take some non slippery yarn, in this case 16/2 cotton, in a contrasting colour and you slip a darning needle into each pegged slot. Again, all 384 of them!   Yes, it seems like an awful amount of work but for the quick tie up's to come, its well worth it!!

Even as I do all this work, I know that I will have to repeat it in about six months time. Why? Its that slight stretch in the cord that will happen with use. Eventually the sweet spot shifts ever so slightly and you get a change at the shed. So you pull and remark the cords again and then you are good for some years! Last time the remark lasted four years.   Looms are hard working tools so maintenance happens!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Quiet 'Other' Project

Its been a busy time, a busy season so far! Between trips, family visits, doctor appointments and daily chores, my weaving has slowed down around here.  I'm still grabbing time here and there but I definitely have some distractions!

The maintenance work has resumed on the Woolhouse where I must mark all the cords at the sweet spot for pegging. The Megado is mostly together but is waiting on some parts, some adjustments and a laptop.  Seems everyone at Louet Canada is down in California for Convergence so all has come to a sudden stop until they come back and get back to business as usual. Then once they do, some parts may need to come from Holland.

The studio is looking 'fuller':

The Megado, which will be called Margaret, has the large single treadle installed in place now and the brake is in place but we're scuffling with the adjustments. It will all work out in the end but just take time to resolve. I haven't even looked at drafts for its inaugural project as yet. Too much else going on!

Do you recall the book mark project?  I left the tie up in place and planned a second project. I do this on the Louet Spring and its conventional tie up system to save my back from being hunched over doing the tie ups. We do raise the loom up on crates and I sit on a stool but its the leaning forward to reach the back shafts 9 to 12 that grabs me.  So doing a second project gives me a reprieve on the tie up, but by the end of weaving it, I'm more than tired of the pattern!

So we start with warp:

This time its 10/2 mercerized cotton from Webs and the colour is called Shell. My planned sett will be 28 epi. It will be roughly 14.5 inches in the reed.

The beaming went well. I really like the Louet method as it works well every time. I used a trick I learned on the Madelyn van der Hoogt DVD and tied cords around the back beam at the far left and right of the warp. Its hard to see as my cord is the same colour as the warp. It's there to prevent any spreading of the warp as its being beamed. It seems that they can creep out a bit and deviate by 1/4 an inch (or more.) It seemed to contain it well and keep it tightly on track.

My first runner I treadled 'as drawn in' and used 10/2 mercerized cotton in navy blue. The picture shows the end of 55" of runner and I've got a spacer in and about to weave the other hem allowance.

The second runner, still in blue, I treadled the main part of the pattern over and over. I had to pay more attention to where I was in the continuously looping run!

By now I was tired of blue as well as the same old, same old treadling. I got out the book marks and looked at the treadling variations I played around with and chose a couple for the next two runners.

So the next runner I chose cream/ white bamboo and really liked the sheen and subtle look of the pattern:

I simply treadled 1 through to 6 and back again for ten repeats and then treadled 12 down to 1 and back to 12 for a pattern break. I repeated this over for a series of blocks.  I liked it and so on the fourth and last runner, I stuck with the same bamboo, and the same colour, but did the reverse! I treadled 12 down to 7 and back to 12 for ten repeats and then a pattern break of treadling 1 to 12 and back to 1 again. Its different but still has the blocks :

I had to hold the camera at an angle to capture the pattern. Soon it was all over and the loom was empty.
I did my customary serging of the edges and my samples.

Next up was hand sewing the hems and I quite enjoy having the handwork to do while watching the TV at night. They took me three nights to get the four runners done.  Perfect for reruns....

This runner was gifted to friend Margaret. The second cream runner is on the dresser in our guest room. I found a treadling error that I did my best to needle weave in the one missing shot of weft but I wasn't happy enough with it to put it in the sale box.

Next up the blue runners... here's one variation:

I quickly got another warp beamed onto the Spring and so when time allows, I sit and throw some shots, but not often enough !  I'm not in a panic about the lack of weaving right now as soon enough I'll have another loom loaded and under way and the third will come on line soon after. I can only sit at one at a time so they will all take their turn.  I don't have much for inventory and I am thinking of sitting out any sales this fall. I'll continue to weave and add the box for the following year. There's a couple of very interesting prospects in the offering for 2013! Sure would be nice to have lots of stock!   I'd better get busy.....

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hot on the Trail

On the west coast of BC, Canada, summer has finally arrived!  This was after weeks of cool temperatures and rain which had most people feeling like we were missing out after seeing the east coast basking in toasty heat.  I was okay with the situation as cooler weather means you can do more and not feel like a limp noodle, and suffer less with seasonal allergies.  I knew that inevitably the heat would come!

It arrived just as we were heading out to the Okanagan Valley, in an older minivan who's AC just died!  *gasp*  We're heading to go and pick up the new to me Megado loom.

There were lots of preparations to make before we left, such as take out all the back seats in the van and gather old blankets and such to protect the coming load and tie down straps to prevent shifting.  We also had to water the beejeesus out of the garden and take down the many hanging baskets and place them under cover in the shade to keep them from drying out while we were away.

I also had to do some serious shopping!  The results will be shown a bit later on. During the shopping trip, I had pulled a muscle in my right shoulder while trying on clothes. It was very painful and so for the duration of the coming days, I took ibuprofen and iced my shoulder well. It made basic tasks rather difficult and weaving was out of the question (which upset me more than making a bed or cooking or packing a bag!)

Finally with our suitcase packed, and the dog off to the kennel for a holiday of her own, we hit the road! We were bright and early at the ferry terminal and enjoyed our two hour ride over.

The drive to Kelowna was soon under way! There was no point of taking pictures as we drove as there was a blue haze everywhere and apparently it was high level smoke from the forest fires in Siberia that had crossed the Pacific and covering much of the province.  The drive was much like our last one, but with much less snow pack through the mountains.  We spotted a forest fire at one point but it had already been called in.  We could feel the heat increasing as we approached the valley! Now, I had a plan for cooling. I had brought a large beautiful silk head scarf and I  put it on and tied the corners around to the back of my neck and we rolled down the windows and we listened to the wind buffeting at our windows for many miles as we drove at 110 km per hour!  The scarf prevented my now longer hair  from being whipped into a frazzle of knots. I had pictures of my mother wearing her scarves in the 1960's running through my mind as it was a common practice for ladies back then. I didn't worry what people would think as they passed us as most likely, I would never see them again!

We stayed at my mother in law's town house and had a lovely visit with her. She had just celebrated her 89th birthday and so the house was full of flowers and cards.... and then we came through the door with more and gifts too!

We arrived in the Okanagan Valley on a day when the temperature had reached 37 degrees Celsius (or 99 degrees Fahrenheit).  We felt like we were melting! Our bedroom was in the much cooler basement thankfully!

The next day we headed to my friend Margaret's house which is in Lake Country north of Kelowna and there are a series of smaller lakes there. Its very pretty country! (we used to live there).

Meet Margaret! We have been friends for many years now and she was my first weaving mentor.  I started weaving in the spring of 1996 and met her shortly after this. Due to her encouragement, I joined the Guild of Canadian Weavers in 1997. I later went onto become their BC Provincial Representative, then President of the Guild (2003-2007) and also served as an active past president for a further year co-running the guild during a medical leave of the then president.  All thanks due to Margaret and her encouragement!

So enough about me, now let me share a bit about Margaret: She is a retired occupational therapist and so had me seated correctly at my looms right from my weaving start. The height of your bench, proper posture and correct throwing of shuttles and her famous advise on getting good selvedges: "simply weave a mile!"    Margaret has been the official mentor for test candidates of the Guild of Canadian Weavers Master Weaver program for many years now and, is one of the special thirty weavers since 1947 to receive their master weaver certification. Her 1994 thesis was on Opphamta  The link will show you an example of this type of weave structure but is not Margaret's weaving) Needless to say we had many weaving  and guild (local and national) related adventures together.

I had full intentions of photographing the loom in its complete state before dismantling began, but we started talking and  before we knew it, Bruce had a lot of parts off and starting to stack them into the back of the van! So here is the loom, somewhat reduced:

Bruce has the bin underneath and so when the side rails are worked free the frames and castle will rest on the bin. Our minivan had been driven around the corner of the condo building and parked directly outside the patio door where the loom was situated.  Bruce had been busy! What the picture doesn't show you is the HEAT!! 

Margaret lives in the ground floor condo and despite a busy bustling gated community behind her, her view is this:

Aspens and natural woods to the left....

.... and a stunning calm lake view from the front! There were neighbours above and to the side, but the building design has them discreetly out of view. Its a beautiful place to live!

Meanwhile, while we continued to chat and reminisce, Bruce soldiered on! (I did have a wounded shoulder to nurse you know). It was his idea for us to visit while he worked and very kind of him.

We're getting there! I helped with the main frame and small parts.  Meanwhile, Margaret is opening some gifts from us.... 

A runner, woven by me, for her dark teak dining room table (more on the runners in the next post) Her wood table showed the subtle pattern off nicely! The picture above shows it on the counter at home before gift wrapping.

 More personally, there was a hand painted silk scarf, made by a local artisan from the Cowichan Vallley. The soft muted peach, pinks and greens reminded me very much of the Telana dyes that Margaret and I used to paint silk warps. The overall colours would go well with her wardrobe colours I know that she favours.  Margaret loved it!

There was also one of my recent book marks for her winter reading and a card, also made locally that is hand beaded: (check out the detail!)

Then, all was done and the van was fully loaded and well wrapped, tied down and secure. The bags have all the small parts.... We still had to get a suitcase and other bags in there yet for the trip home!

Despite smiles and waves, the good byes were difficult.  Friends.

We left the next morning before the heat was under way and by lunch time we were at my son and daughter in law's home for a quick stop.  We had some clothes for Ethan who is coming up to being 3 months old.
Ethan seems to really take to Bruce (who held him first as I was still trying to get in the door and put my gear and gifts down!)

He's grown so much! As you can see, he's quite taken with his Grandad!  Then it was my turn and he spit up milk all over my shoulder within seconds of being picked up!  I was assured that makes me a bonafide Nana but I still went and tried to 'sweeten up' with soap and water! We couldn't stay over this time or even for very long as we had another stop to make and so after a energy shot of coffee, it was time to hit the road again.  Another good bye but we'll be back!

Bruce snapped this great picture of daughter in law Lisa, Ethan and myself.  She's doing a great job of being a mum.

Next, we headed over to see my father for a visit and we enjoyed the time there with him. We all sipped cold ginger ale while sitting on his patio and before too long, it was time to go and race to the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay......which we missed by five minutes.... and so we sat and waited for an hour and a half for the next boat. It was comforting to be almost first in line though... The quiet time was nice after the hectic pace of the day.

The ferry ride across to 'home' was lovely. It was warm and the strait was flat calm. The sunset was starting and I commented that all we needed was whales or seals and PRESTO!  The next thing I know, Bruce yelled and pointed off to amidships that he'd just seen two orcas!  Sure enough, there were two killer whales steadily heading north through the water away from us. The ship's captain told the passengers over the loud speakers where to look for them and I wondered why the boat didn't list to starboard with everyone racing to look!

We got home about 10 pm and then it took a while to completely unload the van, including the loom into the house.  Its parts are strewn all over the studio now and await the rebuilding efforts to come!

There's its head! (or brain if you like  ;-)  I have to rebuild it with Bruce's help and also locate a small reconditioned laptop or notebook to run it. If anyone out there has experience with this sort of thing and can advise, please leave a comment.

It was well after midnight before we climbed into bed.... very tired after a very long day that started at 5:30 am and covered +/- 500 km's.

Friday, July 6, 2012

If You Go Out in the Woods Today....

You're sure of a big surprise!

If you go out in the woods today, you'd better go in disguise!

You simply must click on the pictures and see them larger. Check out the little dude with his 'hands' on the rail checking out the lawn mower.

Mama was teaching tree climbing lessons and using the big tree that recently died. Honestly, we have seen more birds and animals using that tree since it died than before when it was healthy. It's still has to come down though this fall.

Up?  Down?  Where are we going?

Mama is calling... ya, but what's up here?

Loud churring noises now are heard as their mother pressed home a point....

Then they were into the hedge... and gone.  Meanwhile Calli is barking  as she'd like to run over there and kill something.     Maybe she was after them when she went through the hedge at midnight last week?

Anyhow, that is not a fight she would win as raccoons are notorious fighters. Don't let the sweet face fool you a bit! They are experts at getting into garbage, compost bins and anything else you leave lying around. Besides coyotes, they are now the new urban guerilla's and exist quite well around humans.

We are heading out to go and collect the Megado Loom and will keep the camera handy for a blog report when we get back from this new adventure.     It will be a challenge as we are heading into a stretch of hot weather after a very cool and wet time of it for weeks. Where we are going is forecast to be heading to 34 degrees Celsius. The AC in the car has died too. I *hate* extreme hot weather...  The ferry is reserved and the dog kennel booked. Just have to get the back seat out of the mini van and we're good to go!

I'm also sad to report that the sale of the Woolhouse Tools loom has fallen through. The high cost of shipping it nearly 3000 miles was too tough to get by. I have no doubt that Esther will find another countermarche loom closer to home and weave beautiful things. In the mean time, it means I can carry on with the final steps to mark the new cords and plan a tea towel warp.  She will still be for sale, but she and I have a reprieve.
{Edit:  As of July 11th, 14 years to the day the Woolhouse Tools  loom arrived in my home, I've decided to keep the loom and we'll work out spacing to fit in all three looms!}

If the first few lines of the post looked familiar to those of you 'of a certain age', those were some of the opening lines to the Teddy Bear's Picnic. It must be my all time favourite children's song and one I hope to teach my new grandson Ethan in the coming years. Have you noticed that Mother Goose and old nursery rhymes are just 'so yesterday' now? (Unless you are a Hollywood film producer and make a movie from them.... talk about lack of original ideas!). Here's a cut and paste of all the lyrics for those of you who'd like more than the first three lines. There was no author to credit so a big thank you to who ever you are! 
Oh, I can't get this song out of my head so maybe sharing it will help!

The Teddy Bear's Picnic Song

If you go out in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears,
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today.
Watch them, catch them unawares,
And see them picnic on their holiday.
See them gaily dance about.
They love to play and shout.
And never have any cares.
At six o'clock their mommies and daddies
Will take them home to bed
Because they're tired little teddy bears.

If you go out in the woods today,
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely out in the woods today,
But safer to stay at home.

For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic


Every teddy bear, that's been good
Is sure of a treat today
There's lots of wonderful things to eat
And wonderful games to play

Beneath the trees, where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Saddest Happiest Thing!

Confused by the title? Well, I'm feeling a little dazed myself given the recent events around here.  There will be a Part 3 for "Emmatrude's Spa Treatment" but it won't be setting the cords or even putting a warp on her.

Let me back up a bit... all the way to 2009 no less!

Do you possibly recall when Lynnette and I went to Saltspring Island to visit Jane Stafford's Studio and we came away with new Louet Spring looms each? If you are relatively new to my blog that link will help you to catch up!  I briefly had a moment of insanity brought on by sticker shock and wrote an ad to sell my big Woolhouse Tools loom on the internet. Then reason set in and I decided to withdraw the ad and keep both.  I could aways sell it later if the money thing got in the way.

So roll the clock ahead to June 2012.  Do you recall the day I recently spent with Lynnette and Ngaire and they put all the 20+ cords back onto the loom? The day after I was still riding high from the previous day and came in from dead heading flowers in the garden to find an email from a dear friend. Long story short, I have a new Louet Megado 110 16 shaft computer assist loom coming! We are driving to pick it up in nine days time.  Now I was positively floating on air!!

It will look something like this (with mine being the one on the left, as the one on the right is a mechanical dobby)

It couldn't come at a better time when you consider my health and joint issues! The truth is, some issues won't get better but steadily worse. Some can be remedied with surgery but that will be down the road a ways.

Its taken some days to have all this sink in and ponder things like... where will it go?  Is there room enough?  Lots of other important considerations too as we have been thinking of selling our home and moving to a smaller property, and smaller home potentially. Ideally a single level home with a walk out basement with a family room. I can't  think about only just now and where we currently live but also the future which is difficult to do. Got a crystal ball handy?

I have the 12 shaft 36" Louet Spring with its small footprint and low castle. It makes sense to keep that one as it can fit easily into a smaller house. Granted it doesn't have a nifty tie up assist but we do lift it up and tie up's are done sitting on a stool. It's also light and can be moved easily too. No dismantling down to sticks! The treadling action is different. The treadles attach at the front and so its more of a heel and toe movement with my feet only sliding in one direction or another. I can weave here even when my back is cranky.

The Woolhouse Tools loom is physically large. Tall too. It's also has depth from front to back which gives you those great sheds. Its also my baby and it came to me brand new July 11th, 1998. We have fourteen years together and she doesn't look a day over  four.   :)  We have been through upgrades together and bonded through many, many hours of weaving. The 20+ is great and helped me tremendously after my hip replacement surgery in 2001. I also have back issues as some of you have read here.  The sad thing is, when my back is acting up from any one or more of my four bad discs, I can't weave on her at all and so she sits idle. Sometime for weeks, even months!  You see, the action of stepping down onto the treadle to push it to the floor, works/ pulls on muscles in my legs, thighs and lower back and it aggravates the problem.  I have to wait for things to settle down before I could use her and only for so much time at a sitting or it would set things off again.

So given the new loom coming, and our future plans to move to a house with unknown space limitations, the Big Girl is the logical one to go. Not that this makes me very happy! In fact, downright sad. Okay, a tear or three will be shed.

So Bruce and I stood there in the studio and discussed the hard facts of space, our future plans and such and I went upstairs to my laptop for some much needed distraction.

Here is where it really gets weird.

There, in my email inbox, is an email from a weaver in Ontario asking me if I still have the Woolhouse Gertrude loom for sale...(from that 2009 ad!)  **nothing on the internet EVER goes away!**   I sat stunned and read it two or three times. I thought over the discussion we just had but a few minutes ago and replied .... yes.

Esther, the inquiring weaver,  was just as stunned as I was when she heard how old the ad was and the currents events in our house that had just decided that it was time to sell it.  I felt that with summer and all the guilds on a break, I could put a tea towel warp on her and weave away and place the ads for the September newsletters. I would get a 'farewell' warp! No, not at all.... in fact my weaving on Emmatrude is over and I will be dismantling her and getting her ready to travel.  Once she arrives there, she will be given a new name as Emmatrude is a personal family name consolidation and its being retired. Besides, the loom should be having a fresh start!

The new, soon to be owner is Esther and she is new to weaving but is already weaving well and is truly hooked! She is understandably super happy and excited about all this so I'll be posting about the loom's departure, and she will report at her web page about the loom's arrival and set up. Esther is busy pondering new names like there's a baby on the way!

 (Her page Fishykissknits has also been added to the blog roll lists) Esther used to own and operate a knitting yarn store years ago and until the weaving bug hit, she was primarily a knitter.

In the mean time, when I feel down about all this I will remind myself about the new loom coming and the new adventure!  I already have my cheque to PCW Fiberworks in the mail to upgrade my software and get the loom drivers I will need to operate the loom.  Not sure yet, but I might need to find an old laptop to set up and run the program.

Lynnette said I have horseshoes 'somewhere' and laughed!  I also asked her if she'd like to help take the cords off the loom.... and she said that she's busy!   :)

So, I have plans to make for our coming trip to get the Megado.... and moving companies / freight companies to contact for shipping the loom after our long weekend!

Happy Canada Day!