Monday, January 28, 2013

First Stirrings

Take heart those of you who are snow bound and cold.... spring *is* coming! And if you are from the southern hemisphere, the summer party is coming to an end (sorry).

The white hellebore lifting its head up from under the leaf mulch. All of an inch tall.

The pink hellebore is up one and a half inches...

The heather starting to bloom...
The magnolia buds are swelling
I know the second part of this plant's name is Japonicus....but it has flower buds forming!

This is that "weird" month of the year. When all the fuss of Christmas and New Years is over and normal routines seem blah. A little too mundane... The middle of winter and I have been counting up the extra four minutes of daylight we get each day. Since December 22?  As of today, that's 38 days and equals 152 minutes or 2.53 hours of daylight!   

So things are in limbo here as well.   I have an alpaca silk warp on the Louet for  two men's scarves. Its a four shaft twill in manly colours:

All the yarns were in skeins and so I have been winding endless skeins into cakes .... and then the next project I have in mind also has yarn that needs winding into cakes as well.  I sit and and spin it ten minutes at a time at a good clip and then move on.

silk yak waiting to be caked...
Meanwhile, I thought I would load up the Woolhouse with cottolin for 12 shaft turned twill towels. I had a BIG two pound cone cone of Nordic Studios cottolin from before it was sold and moved south to Texas.  No problem right?

At the very  section of warp to be wound, and the very last warp end.... this happened!

I ran out with one yard to go! Knowing this end would be loom waste, I tied on a section of 8/2 cotton and called it a day.

Now I'm looking at an endless sea of white heddles and white warp....

I print out the threading and then use post it notes to isolate the section I'm working on. I ended up with 12 ends left over so now I'm going back and double checking where I goofed.  *sigh*

Here's a table load of half finished / half started fun.... the black cone and grey in front are for the next men's scarf project (to be discussed at another time). The cotton cone pile is a recent yarn order and some of it is weft for the cottolin towels plus  the next towel project. I'm testing out colours together.... to see if they grow on me.

The cloth on the serger is the recent gothic runner.  You'll see a show and tell with it eventually. Right now, its cooling its jets for a spell. Well, that's what's left of the project...  Its a story that's ends sadly and involves scissors. The first runner went well  with a fine blue 16/2 cotton weft went just fine. It was planned to have a twisted fringe. The second runner I used a fine cream bamboo weft and I got about six inches woven and left it for the night. The next day the edge threads on the right hand side started breaking like crazy!  I couldn't find any reason for it. Then they simply loosened off . I was mending and repairing and finally about to sit and start weaving when the left hand side simply lost tension too!  Next thing I knew, scissors appeared in my hands and the problem went away. I reasoned my time was more important ... and ... It wasn't fun anymore. 

Its a good thing to keep in mind.... its all supposed to be fun!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Welcome to Thrums....

To my regular readers:  We have house guests visiting here today so help me clean up and make the place look ship shape. I'm participating in a "Grow Your Blog" event today, January 19th. It is generously hosted by Vicki at 2 Bags Full. If you visit Vicki's blog you will find a list of the participating blogs and perhaps find some new ones too.

 The visitors are  blog owners from all over the world! They all have different themes and interests and so I'm hoping that by visiting here, we can introduce them to the wonderful world of Weaving....

So for my visitors, Welcome!

My name is Susan and I live on Vancouver Island, BC. Canada. I have been keeping this blog since January 2008.  I'm a weaver and have belonged to many guilds since 1996 and people kept on asking me to share what I do when alone with my looms. Weaving is a solitary craft and so the guilds were a wonderful way to socialize and learn new things, that you take home and work with there.  The whole idea of standing at the front of a workshop and teaching scared the beejeesus out of me, so I felt the blog would be a viable alternative.

I like to weave what some might call 'complicated pattern work' and usually I work with finer yarns and natural fibres such as cottons, silks, silk blends, tencel and alpaca. The blog post immediately below this one shows a recent project I shared with my readers of snowflake twill scarves. A lot of my recent projects, all woven in the past two years, can be viewed at my Etsy page. Please note that I'm not trying to sell to you, but simply this will give you an idea of what I like to weave. All the pictures are in one place there!
 My weaving also includes beading...  (My other interests are spinning and I dabble occasionally with bobbin lace. Come spring, I'll also dig out my dye pots and dye silks and tencel.)

linen and cotton book marks ~ 2 inches wide by 8 inches long

Weaving grew from an interest, then into a passion! My studio space  is full of looms, yarn,  and while not perfect, its a delight to go into my space and work there!  I have three main floor looms plus a table loom. While the looms look intimidating, they aren't really... 

Me, weaving blankets for our new grandson on my large loom this past spring.
So what will you see if you scroll down and around?  Well, on the right hand side bar, under the heading "Topic Shopping" are various  weaving related topics and links to older posts where I usually have covered a given subject matter off, and normally with lots of pictures.   I use lots of pictures and all pictures shown here are mine, unless otherwise noted.

Kitchen towels under way on my smaller floor loom.
Below that are more recent blog posts that are enjoying larger viewing numbers. These are also a great way to take a deeper look at what is covered here. You'll see our recent Christmas  visit with our new grandson is shown. I do cover some personal stuff as well and our Airedale Calli always manages to get a nose or foot into the shots!

Scrolling further down some more you'll also find a blog list of 200 +/- of my weaving, spinning, knitting, and dyeing friends from all over the world.  These links show women and some men, either near or far, who are actively engaged in a fibre activity and sharing their adventures (granted, some more than others!)  You might find it useful to book mark my page and come back to visit my other friends at a later time?  I quite often see on my traffic feed that a visitor comes and uses the various links to enjoy some time looking at other blogs from here. That's just what I had in mind when I set this list up.

My table loom at a workshop 
 If you wish to contact me, please click on my name in the profile (above right) and there is a link for email.  I hope you enjoyed your visit here.... please come back again.

Silk and seaweed blend and tencel shawl; snowflake twill.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Snowflakes That Won't Melt

If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I love the complexities of snowflake twill. In a previous post, I ran through a number of projects I've done featuring this pattern. I left you awhile ago with a brief view of the current three scarf warp on the big loom. I had found a streak on the underside of the warp. It looked fine on the top side! It was from a mis- threaded heddle where the thread went below the eye, so it produced a visible line, but not where I could see it.

I used a lovely 30/2 blend of  55% silk and 45% bleached camel. Its a soft creamy colour and soft as a cloud. The sett was 36 ends per inch and just about eight inches in the reed.  After fixing my little oops, I decided to change my weft to something shiny as the warp is rather matte in finish.  I end up weaving all three scarves in more subtle shades. The pattern can be a bit busy when brighter colour are used. I prefer things a bit more subtle.  I wove two scarves to seventy two to seventy three inches and the last one went  a bit long to seventy six inches! Its amusing how the warp that couldn't seem to get started, and then I  couldn't get finished and then on the last scarf.... I wouldn't quit weaving!

Here's the bronze-gold bamboo weft (the last, longer scarf) on the fringing board.

This one has a fine 10/2 white tencel. Nice play of light on the pattern with the shiny weft and matte warp.

The picture above shows the silk/ bleached camel warp and a 45% regular camel and 55% silk for a lovely soft gold tone. This scarf is butter soft to touch! I twisted the fringe in fine bouts on all scarves for a more feminine look.

This grouping shows the sewing of beads and bling.  I used various fine glass beads, Swarovski crystals and fresh water pearls. There are twelve pearls and twelve crystals per scarf!

Madge Mannequin looks elegant all decked out. She's modeling the bamboo weft scarf.

In these below, you can see the camel/ silk with camel /silk. The pattern wove up  'to square' and smaller. More petite.

Below are shots of the white tencel and creamy warp. The contrast between matte and sheen is wonderful and so you get good pattern definition. Its just hard to shoot with a flash as the tencel shine takes over!

An interesting thing happened when I measured them up for their hang tags. The length was puzzling! Two scarves woven to seventy two or seventy three inches were now only sixty eight inches!. The extra long bamboo went from approx seventy six inches down to seventy two inches! The length wise shrinkage with the camel silk yarn is quite considerable. I will be making notes to add to the balance of the yarn for the next project.

Silk...its a lovely fibre to weave with. Plied, it has great strength on the loom as warp. Its lovely natural colour or takes a dye beautifully with acid based dyes. I've used Telana dyes with great success. My stash of 20/2 and 30/2 silks are running low and so I started to search for a source.  At $117.00 to $135.00 per  pound, it can get expensive fast. I checked all the usual places and then went looking for other sellers on line. and I found  an Indian direct silk seller. (edit: link removed)  I ordered five- one hundred  gram skeins. That's just a bit over a pound... for $50.00 plus a small postage fee.  It took some time to arrive and when it did, it was a marvel to behold! The postal clerk was amazed it was still full! So was I. The paper wrapping had a mesh backing and the silk was enclosed in a cellophane bag. It was unscathed but we all marveled at why... The only places on the parcel that was okay was where there was tape. They just didn't use much! I had a email conversation with the seller and the pictures convinced him that shipping changes were in order. Either to completely tape it, or use a box. Those Indian postal clerks play rough!

As you can see the silk inside was untouched and simply beautiful!

Edit: ... and at $10.00 a skein, I  would like to order more but won't.  They have repeated the poor shipping to another weaver and her parcel barely arrived in one piece too. My complaints about the wrapping didn't change a thing!  They have also changed from a 'buy it now'  to a bidding process which means the price is driven up considerably.   Back to looking again!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

....And the Winner Is....

So as of the close of January 8th, 2013 there were 293 "Regular Readers". I want to thank you all for being  readers of my blog. I started writing and hit the publish button for the first time on January 8th, 2008 and some of you have been here from the beginning with me.

You have learned about the goings on in my weaving studio and looms, our dogs (Connor, and now Calli),  you endured our ongoing renovations (kitchen, dining room, stairwell, interior painting through out) Who could forget the ripping off of all the old decks and the rebuild? Trees being cut down and a new well being dug and pipes being run 300 feet to the house?   Ah, the joys of home ownership!

As warps came off the loom, you were there for the show and tell's and  also our road trips, health woes,  vacations and additions to the family. Many of you have become friends I hear from privately and I feel like I could drop by for tea if we lived closer together. (Now wouldn't that be a great road trip? Traveling across Canada or the USA staying only at cyber fibre friends homes?)  I hear regularly from Scotland, Australia and now even Taiwan!

Pushing the publish button that day was a leap of faith and look what it has added to my life!
So same process as last year... I wrote out all the names on slips of paper and placed them into a large turned bowl we have. A good stir up and one name drawn....

I'm happy to announce that reader the Reverend Wayne Nicolson or  'Padre Wayne' as he is known at Ravelry, is the grand winner of the kitchen towel.  He gets to choose between one of these:


I will leave a message for him at Ravelry and so expect to hear back soon! (Edit: Wayne chose the turned twill)

I also decided to do a 'runner up' draw and reader Dawn Sare will receive a random assortment of weaving samples.  (Edit: Dawn is getting three actual woven samples and drafts for waffle weave towels, Ethan's baby hearts blankets, and the recent Gothic Silk scarves)

Now to alert the winners and get some mailing addresses.... back again soon.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We Now Resume Our Regular Programming....

Wasn't that a crazy month??

This time period last year, my husband was quite ill and in and out of hospital. Christmas happened but it was a diversion. This time, Christmas was front and center and demanded my full time and attention. Hubby couldn't handle the walking around stores, due to still recovering from his knee surgery, so I did the shopping. I can well understand why some people shop through out the year and stash things away.

Well, the crazy time is done and we are starting a new year. We just got home yesterday from spending time with family and Ethan our grandson. He's eight months old now and a going concern. He never stops moving, exploring, and trying to talk (or 'babbling '). He's sporting four new teeth and more on the way.

Opening gifts

Waiting for supper

Sitting with the big boys on the couch

He's growing up so fast! It was fun spending time with Ethan and his parents and also my other family members. Its really what this time of year is all about.... Before we knew it, we were heading for home.

We had our first New Year's eve out in some time visiting with friends . We normally stay home and stay up just long enough to welcome the new year and then head for bed. We had a great time chatting and laughing and before we knew it, it was 2 am + and we headed for home. I felt like a kid sneaking home after curfew!

So now we start a new year. A report on the studio:
  • the big loom, the Woolhouse, is empty but there's a warp half wound to go on.
  • the last project, the snowflake twill scarves are done but being 'finished'.
  • The Louet Spring has a second runner underway, with a new project being formulated in my mind.
  • The Megado still has the book mark warp with only one done  *must* do more!
  • I have built a list of more items to de-stash and part with (so watch for the coming sales)
I'm looking forward to getting back to the loom benches once I have my house back in order.

Santa left me a new iPad 2 for Christmas and one new app I have treated myself to is iWeaveit  but have yet to try it due to lack of play time but it will be fun to play around with a different program in a more convenient sized and lighter tablet.

So there is just a week to go before the draw for a tea towel! The winner will get a choice between the recent turned twill towels in muted colours... or the royal blue waffle weave.

I hope the coming year for you  is one filled with much happiness, good health and time to explore with your looms! There is much to look forward to...

Grandad Bruce and Ethan, taken December 30th, 2012