Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fresh Starts

So the calendar says its spring... and in our back yard we have some spring flowers  and 'courting critters', also known as  amorous squirrels and raccoons. I feel a little guilty knowing that much of eastern Canada and the USA are still getting daily snowfalls and parts of the UK have been inundated with snow.  Think of it as an extra long weaving season while I'm having to dig weeds and start yard work. Trust me, I'd rather be weaving!

Greens and pink- purple tones in the garden....and also on the loom.

After two consecutive projects that were neutral, it was time for some colour! I used my Itten Color Star and went cruising through the nicely organized stash. Oh, it was so worth the effort!

 This is 8/2 tencel, 187 warp ends and the sett is 24 epi .... its long enough for two scarves. The draft is a twelve shaft and twelve treadle twill I found on (great web site!) Its an elaborate M's and W's with a plain weave background. 

I decided to try colour shifting across the warp and I'm using four colours: eggplant, red purple, old gold and olive. It was pure eye candy to wind on the warping board and I love the intensity on the warp beam.

Once I had the threading done, it was time to hoist the little lady up and get ready for the tie up. It will be a big one today and 144 ties... so after this scarf project is done, I will be doing a second colour warp and using it again. So stay tuned for that one!

She's all set up on her booster crates, light is close by, cords and large print tie up sheet... and good tunes playing on the iPod player. I complete a treadle, maybe two and then take a good stretch.... must baby that cranky back! (Time to admit that many joints are cranky... must be the change in seasons....)

Here you can see my tie up sheet: I isolate the row or treadle I'm working on and definitely double check as I go. I really don't want to have to get down under the loom for corrections. The joints protest that loudly

Sleying and lacing on is next. I like to lace on with tencel as its rather slippery. Besides eliminating the tie on issue, it also helps to save on warp. Handy when using expensive warps like silks and exotic blends.

At the end of yesterday's session I had woven the opening runs and a partial pattern repeat, and I had my hemstitching done.  

I've started this scarf with the olive green and the second will be eggplant. The pattern appears across the width and gains better definition as you shift through the other colours.

Here's a close up:

Its fully reversible and there are no long floats as there are plain weave interlacements throughout. It might be better for colour 'razzle dazzle' if there were more warp floats but at least this way, the plain weave is consistent throughout. Tencel will help with the drape. Using the same sized yarn as weft means a better balanced weave as well.

I found some warp floats on the gold/ green side that I'm not sure if they are meant to be there, or a dreaded threading error. So rather than cut it all back, I thought I would spend some time looking at the draft on the computer and see if it's consistent across the width. Sure enough, it happens when you go from a 1 on the treadling plan to a 12 (or vise versa) there is a longer three thread float.  I'm happy as I really didn't want to have to start all over again.  The floats show up rather well in the gold into green section as that's a lighter colour and lighter colours project more.

Here you can see the floats that caught my eye and  you can understand why I thought I had a threading error to deal with for a time. I got out my pick glass (or linen tester). My  linen tester even comes with a light and I got it in a traditional retail construction tool store (boy was I ever surprised to find it there!)  I studied the pattern across the entire warp and the floats were consistent with the pattern. Also, I doubled checked the threading too.  I simply could not go with weaving if I thought there was a possible mistake!

Today I got busy weaving and I'm half way through the first scarf. I tried to get some pictures late today to show you the depth of the colours, but the sheen on the tencel added to the flash equaled a lot of glare! The colours didn't look anything like the reality.

I used some camera settings I don't normally play with and I finally got something that's pretty darn close. Somehow I managed to eliminate the shine in the photo but its still there.. I can hardly wait to see what the second scarf will look like with the darker eggplant weft!

Snow drops in our front garden....

"Happy Easter, Happy Ostara "

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tidying Up Loose Ends

A week has gone by and I have no new weaving to show you. I was wondering what to post about and then it occurred to me to show you what I had accomplished in the last seven days.

One of the last pictures in my last post was a pile of yarns and tools that were being 'released' to go to other weaving homes...  It took me two and a half days to separate the items into logical piles, such as acrylic, linen, cottons, wools, tools etc.  Then I made sure they looked their best and documented them and took their picture. Then I had to tweak each picture and organize a folder for them.  Then using my paper lists, I checked if and where they are being retailed now and what their full  value is and determined a price. I normally went for 50% and a smidge under.  I need a fair price but I also want them to move on to new homes.   It took a lot of time to get all this work done....   Little did I know!

I've been a member of Ravelry for some years and there are an eager and enthusiastic bunch of weaving groups there and one I use to sell stuff at is Warped Weavers Market Place. I have great success selling there, much better in fact than trying to sell  off a second page here. You have to admit when you advertise there, you're talking to the choir! So I began listing items under logical heading such as "tools" or "tapestry yarn" or "Cottons" etc.

That took me two full evenings to upload and in between, field inquiries from interested people.  Then began the next phase of the operation....  myiPad to track incoming buyers and a handy dandy post it note pad.
The buyers were taken in order that they wrote (to be fair) and then I would itemize their name, email, Ravelry avatar name and what they wanted to buy. Then I'd go into the web page and mark those items as "offer pending"..... and then go and pull the cones or what ever and place in bags or boxes with the post it note inside.

The system in place here...  this one going to Michigan!
A pile of cardboard helpers and small boxes. I was getting quite creative!
Then came the boxes and packing.... and more boxes and packing!  I took a stack to the post office this past Monday for postage quotes and I used a  fully loaded suitcase dolly and hubby came along with the over flow!  The little local post office clerk looked gobsmacked when we came through the door as she mainly sells the odd stamp and handles small parcels  on a Monday morning.  We whipped through them and even had a chuckle along the way. Then schlepped them all home again and then contact everyone about costs....then once they paid, addressing boxes for their trips and making out Customs forms.  Done?  oh, no... back to the web page and now change "offer pending" to "sold".

I took Tuesday off as it was my birthday and Bruce had plans for my day!

Meanwhile the sales continued and so there are more purchases for  new quotes and fresh boxes to be found. It was the boxes that determined who got wrapped next. Some items required an odd sized package and some in the case of the rag shuttles, I had to make a container for them!
I went through two rolls of packing tape and two rolls of brown paper.... miles of packing paper and each and every box got a handwritten note from me. Only two buyers backed out due to high postage costs (well they lived in NE USA so about as far as you can get from me) and their items had to be relisted and quickly snapped up again by others.  I'm so glad I had my little system in place as it got CRAZY here!

These two are being mailed at the end of the month

These fifteen parcels are a mix of 'mail now' and 'new quotes'. Yellow notes  means a postal quote package. Customs form means :good to go."  There is one parcel more but it won't go until April and it gives me time to find yet another box!
By the end of today I had wrapped the last order after locating the  last perfect box ! I'm off to the post office tomorrow and give the clerk there her busiest  hour of her week, (beside last Monday.)

This is the last of what is listed and once the sold items are finally cleared off, I expect they will be sold too.
So that was my week.... and yes, my Louet Spring is naked, but not for long! I'm eager to get back to a more normal studio.

Next month is our grandson's first birthday and we will be going over to help celebrate. Its hard to believe that was a year ago almost!  Ethan has nine or ten teeth now, standing at the couch by himself and his method of crawling is much like a penguin on ice.... slide on his tummy!   But is he ever fast at it! They have hardwood floors so he's using them to his advantage. Not sure what happens once he hits the carpeted areas?!  He's developing a personality and apparently has a stubborn streak that has a bit of temper for company. Now, where did that come from??

This was taken just before Christmas 2012. He's grown so much in the last three months!

Well, what's a guy supposed to do? Its been a long day....
....and my favourite of the latest batch from my daughter in law.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Studio Spring Clean

When I show you any scenes of my studio, I'm always careful to show you the looms and the lighter corners of my space. It's a generous space measuring 14' x 26' but with only two natural light sources: a patio door and a window, that are all down at one end of the room. I placed the big loom next to them when we set up shop five years ago. Things like the yarn stash was tucked away in the opposite corner and I relied on portable lights to see into the dark corners. Or, I would take my potential yarn choices over to the window which meant I dug through a lot of yarns. I'm one of those annoying tidy people and so had things organized  and labeled as best I could but it was a hodge-podge of shelving, cobbled together and a large dash of plastic storage tubs.   I knew it had to change so over the past year to eighteen months I have been weeding out some cones and 're-homing' them on various sale pages.  Who bought all this stuff?? It was a slow collection phase of 16 years: friends sell you something,  an estate sale when a weaver leaves us, gifts and impulse buys at a conference, buy an old loom and it comes with do-dads that you keep when the loom movies all just steadily grew! When you are still in those early learning phases of weaving, you just don't know which direction your interests will take you, so you tend to gather it all!  Its hard to let some of it go, but its high time for a purge..... and anything I'm unsure of, I keep until it feels okay to sell it. I've been keeping basket handy and tossing in cast off's.

For the yarn, books and equipment that has moved onto new owners , I must say.... it feels great! Liberating almost!   I sold the little tapestry loom and then some of the tapestry books. I have tapestry yarns to go next...and a host of others! But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

I had a hard time finding any pictures of the ugly stash corner! I found just a couple, so pardon the gloomy pictures:

You can see my labels, and my rough organization, but the shelves are stuffed!  Most of that chenille, centre shelf on right side, has moved onto new homes in BC and Washington.

So, it has to get a lot worse before it gets better. You knew that right? { I have to say, that my Hub is good with my stash and has his own collection of model trains and all the other things that go along with that hobby. He knows I'm in the studio most days working a loom.}

Boxes, cartons and bags of  'good' stuff everywhere all over the studio and even tucked under looms. Calli wasn't impressed with all the upheaval and would lay down across the walk-ways or leave toys under foot.  She's panting in the first picture with the stress of it all and I must admit, so was I!    The overflow even leaked into other rooms....

The laundry room doesn't have much space but we managed to squeak a box or three in there. Once the space was clear and cleaned, the building began. I had some great help:

Bruce had the first shelving unit done by the time I got there the next morning and we built the other two together.  We decided to have them stretched out along the wall to increase a more open feel and better exposure to light. We would have bought a fourth shelf unit but they only had the three at the time.  Then it was time to start reloading and while Bruce offered to help with this, I decided to go it alone and "be one with the stash" and make some decisions along the way....   At the days end at well past dinner time, it looked like this:

I had to find where ever the yarn was shoved during the clear out and schlep it back over and sort, usually stepping over a dog or toy.  I went through every cone or skein of yarn. Twenty four hours later, it looked like this:

Much more organized and open.... but still a bit dark over there (see what I mean?)  So I added this:

 Lighting is still an issue but at least things are more accessible now. I will need a fourth shelf unit and it will go where Madge is now so there is more rearranging to go. I have bits of equipment that need to be stored flat or out from the corners where they were tucked for the time being. I'm really happy with the new look and feel. It will never be 100% as only cupboards with closing doors would help with a clutter free look, and that's too expensive for us. Now I can see the  various colours on hand and  accomplish an inventory along with being inspired for the next project.

The tencel section: both 8/2 and 10/2
So, the hard decisions? They piled up and will be dealt with very quickly in the coming week and be inventoried / photographed for sale.

Knowing I have no room on the new shelves means none of these will worm their way back into my good graces. I like the leaner look and here's hoping that weaving will reduce things further now.  (....That's the plan anyhow...)

I also took the extra step of making small labels for each section of yarn so its all identified clearly. I have helped in the past with reducing and clearing out a weavers studio and stash before, and the best thing you can do is identify and organize so that those who come to help, have an easier time of it.  Yeah, a crummy and serious topic to close on today,  but that's real life... Do you know what's going to happen with your looms and stash when you're gone?  I do...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Herringbone Twill: a Classic, Elegant Weave

As soon as I finished one men's scarf warp, I had another ready to go. I had more men folk to weave for!  This time I chose a soft silk yak blend in a silvery grey beige and sett it at 36 epi and I used 30/2 black silk as my weft. Now I would have chosen 20/2 but it seems I'm all out. I found a black 20/2 in thick and thin but the lines of this twill need to be sharp and crisp. The. pattern is a classic four shaft herringbone twill, using a standard twill tie up.

The total warp was for three scarves and I'm glad I was generous with fringe allowance as it gave me room to cut off each scarf as they were woven. Reason behind this was that I had some tension issues on the right hand selvedge. It was beamed tightly so I'm not sure why this happened again. (Last 16/2 cotton runner project had the tension go weird there on me too.) I'll look the loom over before reloading! I think it may have to do with how fine the warp was for this project and the last. It seems finer threads show tension irregularities very quickly. I'm going to read up on warping fine threads. Maybe see what Lillian Whipple has to say. She's the queen of beautiful fine thread weaving.

There was a section of plaid at either end for some interest but the middle was straight herringbone twill. They were woven for a total length of fifty four inches, plus a two inch fringe. I hemmed stitched every four ends to neatly secure the edges. They were washed gently in mild sudsy water and hung to drip dry. Next day they pressed up beautifully and I trimmed the fringe up neatly with a rotary cutter.

plaid section (before washing)

fringe before wash and trim
After the 'magic in the water'....

Very fine and butter soft!    Then after the magic of  our postal system...

My Dad wearing his new scarf,  with the picture taken by my brother.  Dad was a little hesitant about appearing here, but I thank him very much for stepping out from behind the camera for this shot! I think it looks great on him...

Now, what next for the Louet spring?   COLOUR !  

one warp wound....

...and the next to go!
More treats from the downsizing sale proceeds have arrived:

I swapped old books and yarns I'll never use for cash and bought these:

30/2 silk

60/2 silk from Japan (by way of Oregon) 
I'm hoping to paint silk warps this coming summer and have them ready for next winter's weaving...
But for now I'm resting as I've not been well. I'm typing this from my laptop in bed....I won't be here long as I have too much to do!