Thursday, February 28, 2013

Nepali Ned

This post will be more personal this time. I'm going to share a family member with you. My brother, Kent.  He came home as a baby to this little house in Saskatchewan:


The house more in more recent years... still basically the same! (very small!)

He was a cute little baby and I was seven years old. It was a quite novelty having to share my parents! Here I am with my mother and a sixteen month old Kent. 

He was a good little toddler  and as you can see, really cute! He had a thing for cars from a very early age. He would look through the car window and ID any car, make and model, (maybe even the year) Two more baby sisters arrived and we now a family of four kids

Here he is in front of my Dad's pride and joy, his 1957 Ford Meteor!

We all moved to New Zealand in 1970 and lived in the South Island for a few years. 

Here we are at the beach in Dunedin.  Probably in December or January as that's high summer down under. Kent is about seven and I'm fourteen years old.  Oh, the fun we had at that beach... I still recall it fondly.

Here Kent is helping Dad with some outdoor project, sweeping up. After four and a half years there, we returned to Canada.

Ah, the '70's!  

We stayed on the west coast ever since..... Where ever I have lived in BC, Kent would always travel to visit us. Phone calls and emails. We've stayed close through the years.  Some years ago Kent took up hiking in a big way and also photography at about the same time. The two activities fit together nicely, especially here in BC with stunning views. Kent kept climbing higher!

I believe this is the view from the Tusk above Garibaldi Lake.

He's like Forest Gump... he just keeps on going! He has walked the Inca Trail including Macchu Pichu,  Mount Blanc  from Chamonix, France, and Nepal. Nepal is his special love as he's been there many times. He has completed many of the various treks around the Annapurna Circuit. 

This picture shows the major mountains in this portion of the Himalaya range and there are various treks that last 2-4 weeks, of all experience levels, where you move through valleys, up to great heights, and cross many swing bridges.  On the Manislu trek Kent said he counted twenty three at least! There are various treks around the exterior mountain range and there is also an interior circle route between Annapurna 1 on the left (just left of centre of the picture) and Annapurna 3 on the right. They total altogether 160 to 230 kilometers if you do them all.  Kent has traveled there and joined up with many others from around the world.

Here he is dining with others of his trek group at a Nepali teahouse.

Here he is posing at Thorong La pass  (at 5416 meters above sea level) where he's about to start the downward trek back to the valley.  Kent told me the people there are simply beautiful inside and out.  I've done a blog post about one of his trips to Nepal once before ( and hope to do another soon).

His photography? Well, it kept pace with him...and he's very good at that too. 

Naturally this is taken in Nepal, in November 2012, I think this is Annapurna but I will edit the correct mountain name in later if wrong. I can't find it right now!

So my 'little' brother just turned 50 earlier this February.... such a milestone birthday. So I wove him a scarf to keep him warm when he commutes to work, which is a trek of a different kind, ....and he sent me this picture taken by our Dad.

He's going to kill me when he sees this post, but I just want to say "thanks" for being a great brother!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For!

This post will have a little bit of everything!

I found an old black dress that the 'dryer shrunk'  ;)  Its too small for me right now.

So I tried it on Madge Manikin and somehow she looks more complete. More put together. I could still use some arms though so I'm always scanning sale pages for a used manikin. A second one would come in handy sometimes! (No, its not your imagination, she's leaning a bit. I have to shim her 'feet' and straighten her up!)

I have a new warp on the Louet Spring for more men's scarves. Its silk yak blend at 36 epi so its quite fine. I was quite surprised by how much 'loft' the yarn has. Its very lush and springy but was not difficult to beam and behaved well.  I'm using a fine 30/2 black silk as my weft on this four shaft herringbone twill.  Its finer than I wanted but it seems I'm out of 20/2 black silk. Any way you cut it, its a lot of treadling ! 

Sorry for the mobile picture but I forgot to snap the plaid section that will be on either end of the scarf.
In between is a whole lot of....

One, two, three , four.... and repeat !   This is scarf one of three....

Meanwhile on the Woolhouse... I finally finished fiddling with the cords, did the tie up and made a start today. The back peg board told quite a story!

The top picture show all the cords that I worked on. There were two treadles on either side of the centre twelve that I left alone. (they have not been used so would not have stretched). The second picture is a closer view of the middle of the board. The blue ties are the ones that had shifted and needed remarking. Any red ones are the old ties and were fine. Tie up's are usually focused on the middle portion of the treadles and so receive more action.  Still think texsolv doesn't stretch?

This picture was taken on the far right of the board and these shaft/ treadle combinations were only lightly used. There are far more red ties from the original marking with just the odd blue one.  If I use more 12 treadle tie up's in the coming months, then the two outer shafts will need a tweak... that's not difficult to quickly do up.

So what finally showed up on the fun end of the loom?  Glad you asked!

A rather interesting twill. Its a twelve shaft draft, threaded like a turned twill.  White cottolin sett at 24 epi and the weft is 8/2 cotton in sage green. There is two distinct blocks (treadles 1 to 6, and, treadles 7 to 12) What you see above is a simple treadling of 1 through to 12 and repeated. Optically its a brain teaser! I really like it and looking forward to trying other treadlings on these seven kitchen towels.

Speaking of treadlings.... last post I grumbled about how short a run only four treadles were. They are very light to lift too.  Well, Karma is pretty quick as I'm lifting twelve shafts now and I'm going to have great thigh muscles by the time I'm done (even with all the pulleys). Its also a twelve treadle run and compared to the other loom, it seems I'm never done! There is always another treadle to hit.  So with two looms at these funny extremes... I'm having a  good laugh at myself. One loom is a rest and the other a work out.

As I mentioned previously I have been selling off stuff from the studio and then I ordered in some goodies. They are slow coming in but they are coming!

From Etsy shop "All the Pretty Fibers" some yummy 20/2 mulberry silk hand painted in a rich deep grape. They came from Rothenburg, Germany.  (If you are into spinning, check out her fiber.... its gorgeous!)

I'm looking forward to viewing this dvd on Block Weaves by Madelyn van der Hoogt soon. I can play it in my laptop and view it on the big screen TV... but its finding the time to view it! I'm sure that as supportive as Hubby is, it would be boring stuff for him. These discs are like having a workshop close to hand and a great refresher. 
 Off to Victoria tomorrow....they have cherry blossoms out and spring bulbs are up there.  Its supposed to be raining but I'll take it. It beats the heck out of what other parts of the country have been getting!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

For The Men in my Life

I have been busy beavering away at a project, trying to make a deadline! I'm a slower treadler these days as my right foot is being cranky. I'm waiting to see a surgeon to fix what arthritis has been doing.

I had shown you little peeks of what was on the Louet Spring last post.... and now the scarves are finally done. One is on its way to my (slightly younger) brother who is about to celebrate a significant birthday!  I saw at Christmas that he's been wearing a ratty old chenille scarf I made him years ago and I thought him well overdue for a new, spiffier scarf. He works in the offices in downtown Vancouver where the basic office wear is something to go along with his winter top coat.

The warp is a 70% alpaca and 30% silk blend...with the small brown stripes being  merino.  Its a four shaft twill I found in Anne Dixon's book:  The Handweaver's Directory. It was a simple four shaft threading and a standard twill tie up. Quite the opposite to what I normally weave!  I found when I was treadling that my feet kept on looking for more treadles than the four tied up. Even after finishing the third  scarf I found I still hadn't adjusted and wanted more treadles.  I'm a structure weaver... I love the complexity.

The scarf in the picture was woven with the same alpaca silk blend as weft and its super soft. It will be nice and warm while my brother waits for the rapid transit to work.

Now the sett was a bit tricky. I have very limited experience with alpaca and so I relied on doing wraps on a ruler. I got twenty wraps into one inch and so I thought going for sixteen epi might work for a twill. The first scarf I wove was wider and was more weft dominant. It was a 2/2 twill and I was going to remove the weft, re-sley and try it again, but my husband saw it as asked me to keep on going as he really liked it!  So... I did.

Bruce loves it and has already worn it  twice. He likes it the way it is. Now, me, as the weaver wanted to make changes and produce a more balanced twill.  Its an interesting lesson that sometimes what we want isn't what the customer wants...

Here you can see its weft dominant and so with that, I cut off the scarf and then re-threaded for a broken twill, then resleyed, This time the sett was 20 epi.  The scarf for my brother is the second one woven  and I was much happier!   I ran into a difficulty with scarf number three. I ran out of alpaca weft!  Oh, I could get more but I want to reduce my alpaca stash and  run down my current stock of alpaca. (I have lace weight alpaca in soft cream but that's all). I dug through my stash for alternatives and my options were actually few. I have 20/2 and 30/2 black silk but they were too fine for the warp (which is 875 yards for 3.5 ounces). I end up going with 8/2 black tencel as it was a better fit. It also seem to polish up the look and help with drape. So its warm, elegant, with luxury fibres and beautiful drape. Works for me!

This scarf has a bit of sheen to it and a cooler hand. I quite like it and think it could be worn by either gender. Its going in the Etsy store. This way when it sells it will cover my costs for my materials for all three scarves. The weaving time? well you know how that goes....

Speaking of selling, I have been ferreting out odds and ends from my studio and selling them off. A few books here, some yarn there and the odd piece of equipment. It all adds up.  I'm liking the extra room in the studio and every few days will open up a drawer or go through a shelf and see what can go to a new home... or go in the garbage.  I swear this stuff breeds after the light is turned off for the day!   I must also say that its quite liberating as if something is gone, then the pressure to use it, or learn a new technique is gone. Fine tuning your focus! If I'm unsure about something, I keep it....

There are some new additions to the studio coming and are on the way. I've parlayed my old stuff into new shiny stuff. (I feel like I'm channeling comedian George Carlin and his Stuff routine.... (warning: George uses cuss words. Gosh, I miss him and his steely wit!). Hopefully it will all arrive in the next week or so... and I'll share then.

Finally, the Woolhouse Tools countermarche threw me a curve this week. I got my new warp on and when I stepped on the treadles, the shed was awful! Its all out of whack and so I must reset the cords again. When I have the locking pin into hold the jacks in place and the treadles raised and blocked is the time when I can pull each cord and set the right spot for the pins. Any difference even by one or two slots can make for a mess at the shed so I'm working my way through them.

As you can see the towel warp is in place and waiting to go!  So why am I having to do this so frequently? The cords are brand new this past fall and I've had two warps on the loom. The tie up's have been different and so different cords are being used each time. While texsolv is not suppose to stretch, it does a wee bit. It seems to be one centimeter (1/4" +/-) or one slot in the cord. It will take time to get each one settled into its spot and so "maintenance happens". (The benefits of this system still out weigh the work!)

I've been catching up on my samples and record keeping and also doing some future project planning. How are you keeping busy in these weaving days of Winter?