Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Has It Been a Year Already?

This is our grandson Ethan and this picture was taken this past Friday evening. We had traveled to the Vancouver area and were staying with his parents, our son and daughter in law.  The first thing we noticed was how much he's grown. No, not the obvious growth that comes at this  stage, but he has long legs and appears to be very tall. It seems he got the "tall genes" from my side of the family and will tower over his mother in a few years hence!

Ethan is also starting to associate words with actions now and so is becoming a patty cake expert, high five's with the best, wriggle dances, and is almost there with blowing kisses when asked.  He has waving "bye bye" down pat. He's very curious about everything around him and it was a treat to watch him discover things and of course it all ends up in his mouth. He crawls like a pro and is lightening fast! You open the dishwasher and he's there in a flash. He's determined to see what's inside and dashes to help every time he hears the door open.  Ethan is very close to walking and that's when the fun and games will really start.

There was a party for the little man. A cozy gathering of 35-40 friends and family! DIL worked like a demon to get the house clean, decorated and the food organized and it turned out wonderfully...

And of course there was cake! Actually two of them. There were a lot of people!

They were both yummy but my favourite was the Italian cake that has a custard cream filling. I'll have to find a shop that sells them over here on the Island!

There were funny hats to wear and candles to blow out.... lots of people singing and taking pictures and then this....

It was inevitable I was all too much. Dad took him for a break outside for some fresh air and a time out from all the noise and people.  He came back his usual happy self and ready for TOYS!

There was quite a haul of toys for him to play with and much needed larger sized clothes. We got him an Elmo plate, bowl, cup and mini flatware set, complete with sippy cups. Some bright swim shorts for his tots swimming class, a toy train that recites the alphabet and some handwoven baby bibs (made by Martha of  Thistle and Rose Handweaving).  I had hoped to get a picture of him wearing one, but he pulls everything off and after the day he had, I wasn't adding to his over stimulation!

So why didn't I make them? Well, I'm really not much of a sewer and I had also left it too late to start a project. Martha's bibs are simply beautiful....  I know they will get a lot of use as Ethan is teething again and is feeding himself small food items, so meal times are messy!

Here I am with my grandson. He looked so grown up in his little shirt and dress pants. He had a clip on tie but that didn't last 20 seconds!

Thanks for indulging me this personal did have a small bit of weaving in it!
We had a lot of fun but it sure is nice to be home and we're still getting settled back into our routine... It seems that spring has hit here for sure and so besides housework and  laundry, there will also be window washing and cleaning off decks and tackling gardens. Weaving will be done on a break from the work.   We got to get caught up around here!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back From Purgatory

Late last year I wove a silk scarf in this pretty eight shaft pattern and thought : "this is great! I'm going to weave something else with this pattern."  To be fair to my cranky lower back, I try to do double projects on the same tie up on the Louet Spring so I get more weaving and less tie up wrangling. 

So I got busy and wound a fine warp of 16/2 mercerized cotton (thirty six epi and roughly fourteen inches wide). Its a lovely taupe that Brassards calls Flax. The weft is a navy blue from Brassards also.   Beaming the warp went just fine, or so I thought. ( don't get too far ahead of me now) The Louet method is a snap.  Threading? no errors....sleying? well, three per dent and no issues there either.

So I wove away on what I like to call my Gothic Diamonds and there were no issues. This eight shaft twill runner was woven to fifty nine inches and it was planned to have a tidy twisted fringe and runner number two was to be woven in cream 16/2 against the flax, and have a hem allowance. One of each style, and light and dark. Perfect right? Not so fast....

I wove the hem allowance, then did some  lovely trellis hemstitching to mimic the pattern in the runner.   Then I ran of of yarn on my pirn and stopped to change to a new one.  It was a good time to leave the project for the day and I went off to make dinner. The next day I advanced the warp an inch or two and got started and that's when I noticed the tension on the right hand selvedge had softened. So I checked things over and weighted those threads and got back to the bench.  Then the left hand side went soft! What the Heck!!  I weighted those as well and wondered what was going so wrong and if I could make it to the end of the runner. I could have struggled through but the weaving looked dreadful. Fine threads are not forgiving of uneven tension and I wasn't happy either...

So next thing I knew I had scissors in my hand and was cutting away! What went through my mind was: "I do this for fun and this isn't fun anymore.... my time is more important "

Besides, once you have that first cut done....  then its really all over!

That's when it dawned on me that I had cut in the wrong place. It was only a scant 4 inches from the end of the runner that needs to have a twisted fringe. Oh, Crap!

So I cleaned up the loom and got it ready for another project. I did give the loom a good check up to make sure nothing was out of sorts but it seemed fine. I put it down to problems during beaming the warp. Subsequent warps have been fine and I've been paying better attention when loading the loom. I guess I got a little sloppy or something!

So this is all that's left of the second runner. It's become a sample stored in a binder, complete with draft and notes on the whole fiasco. If you look at the second picture, you can see the hem allowance on the right...hemstitching... then notice how the selvedge starts to go wavy with the tension problems!  If it can't be a good project, then it can  serve as a horrible warning not to get sloppy with tension when beaming a warp!

The runner with its clipped  too short fringe was folded up and sat on my sewing table for four months while I decided what to do. Normally I follow through with final finishing right away, so this was a first for me. Recently, my good friend Lynnette showed a neat method on her blog for a short fringe treatment and so I gave that a try.  I couldn't get it to look quite right, so I took it all out.  Then I tried simple finger twisting the warp bouts together just to see if it could be done. Apparently, if you went slow and took your time, it could be done. So, no fringe twister... and using my fingers and it slowly come back from the dead pile and purgatory!

Actually, if you didn't know the full story, you'd never know by looking at it....

As a bonus this time, I want to show you a silk shawl I bought myself from an Australian shop on Etsy for my birthday last month. I wear it with my black fine wool coat:

If it looks like there are feathers, you are quite right....

I wear it more bunched up and folded under the coat collar so the pattern isn't so much "in your face."  I've noticed that there are a number of "wings" on television lately:  the black crows of the Night's Watch on Game of Thrones, the Edgar Allan Poe's crow connection in the Following, and the perky 'angels' in the Victoria Secret ads.  I'm so right in fashion !    But more crow, and less angel.... :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eggplant and Olives

Well, I've been chipping away at these projects and showing you snippets....but the time has come for the big finish.

To be truthful I would much prefer to show you an entire project from start to finish in one post but I must multi-task in the studio .... and then there's that real life stuff to deal with too.
Is it wrong to envy weavers in eastern parts who have snow days still?  They can weave away guilt free!  I look out the window and the weeds smirk at me and the lawn is growing two inches a day.
Enough of my whining...

So last time I wrote, the first two scarves "Eggplant to Olive" tencel were off the loom and a new colour set under way. As part of the multi-tasking, I would take a break and work on fringe twisting.

I usually put on some snappy music to accompany the twister workout. It moves along nicely and soon, with many breaks for tossing a ball for Calli,  they were finally done. I rummaged through the bead stash and found I had nothing suitable to match the eggplant / burgundy. (There's that mysterious hole in the stash again.) I had various greens and even olive tones so I worked on the olive scarf first.

Then, time to tackle the eggplant version...

The centre colour is an old gold shade and so I decided to play off of that colour and I have a good selection of gold tone beads to choose from. I settled on gold stars and multi toned gold seed beads and kept it simple. The eggplant weft seems to suck the green out of the olive warp and tone it right down. That's because they are opposites on the colour wheel (well close enough).

Not long after that, I had a friend Lindi over and she was looking at the finished scarves that had yet to go into the laundry tub for hand washing. Now she's familiar with tencel when its all soft and drapey and so it came as a big surprise when she felt the 'loom state' cloth. Its stiff, bumpy and quite unappealing. I told her the washing and pressing is what really completes the project. Especially the pressing part! I hard press the cloth like no other owner of the scarf would ever do. I bear down with a steam iron and flatten the cloth. It sets the threads into place and from then on, just normal hand wash and a light press will be all it needs.

If you buy commercial made fabric its full of sizing and smells funny. You wash before wearing it or using it for sewing.  We do the same with our handwovens because they are not ready for use until you do.

In these two pictures above, I've tried to capture the cloth before and after washing/ pressing. The difference is noticeable!  See what I mean about the eggplant sucking the green from the olive?

So that's Eggplant and now meet its alter ego, Olive:

I really enjoyed weaving these  and looking forward to showing you the next set when they are done.  I'm half way through the second scarf , but with a trip away coming up soon, there will be a debut of an older project next time...

I'll leave you with a new studio acquisition (after all my sales!) My first Bluster Bay end delivery shuttle and some African wenge wood shuttles:

Its made from curly walnut and I can't wait to give it a try on the next new project! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Déjà Vu All Over Again

So last time I posted I was weaving away on the eggplant to olive scarves. It has a hefty treadling plan but its quite logical and easy to follow and then after a time, fully remember! It took only nine repeats of eight inches each to get a scarf. I actually find it easier to weave than a short run endlessly repeated.

Its been fun working with this draft and brighter colours so I think I'll do some more... this time using dark teal, aqua, red purple and eggplant.  I wasn't too sure about the centre blending so trying a different take on it this time. Its difficult with solid dyed colours to get a good colour transition zone. This is where hand painted warps can really work when melding colours together. {I'm looking forward to doing some painted warps this summer!)

The warp beam...

...and the draft for this time round.

I just made a start today and so only have a short piece to show you:

with camera flash on....

I like what I see and will carry on but this time both scarves will be woven with the darker eggplant. From my sample, the dark teal cuts detail and diffuses the colour intensity too much. 

I have also been  working away on twisting fringes on the first batch of scarves (as well as another project you haven't seen as yet):

Not sure what I have for appropriate coloured beads or crystals for this but I'll be pulling together something soon. The eggplant or magenta shade is hard to find and I may resort to all greens. Have you ever noticed that you are always short of something no matter how hard you try to use "stash only" for a project?  I hope to have them ready for a show and tell post next time.

There's a busy week ahead with medical appointments, a dinner for friends and some yard work is in order. I think I will start small and take the back friendly approach.....  I'd rather be weaving!

....with camera flash off... the pattern is more clear with no shine.