Friday, November 22, 2013

Black Baroque

I like to play at planning future projects on paper and then winding up the warps ahead of time. Its satisfying to have another warp ready waiting and you can beam it right away. Then, I'll divide my time between threading and sleying on the loom and doing any finishing work on the newly removed cloth. I must multi task to avoid stressing my joints and its probably a good idea for any weaver with a healthy body!

I had an all black warp pre-wound and it was intended for a project on the big Woolhouse loom, but with the loom being advertised for sale, I want it cleared off and a smaller cotton sample warp to be placed on there. Right now, the loom patiently waits for me to sit and finally complete the ongoing project.   So the black 8/2 tencel warp is now homeless !

I double checked how many ends there were and decided to add about twenty four more to the warp and I loaded it onto the Louet Spring instead. I have the twelve shaft tie up in place and now know the basic pattern off by heart after weaving the recent two shawls. It would be a nice twist on the current theme and also not waste the black warp!

It beamed up quickly. Bruce holds and tensions the warp while I wind and it goes very smoothly!  I love the system Louet has devised for their looms as it give consistently beamed warps every time. Oh, and the practice of beaming consecutive  warps also helps! I also used the two sticks at the start again, and it worked beautifully. I think this will be a permanent change for me!

This time its not about colour blending to create iridescence but something more simple and elegant. I had visions of a black wool winter coat and someone wanting to have a scarf to really set it off nicely. Of course the customer may have a completely different idea of what it will do for them!  Many of my tea towels have been turned into table centers, and one wider scarf even became a skinny table runner!

A towel of mine on a table top in Michigan!

I wanted one to be a nice rich red. So I searched the stash. Lots of burgundy, pink reds, and so on but not what I had in mind. Finally I found a small part cone of 10/2 tencel in a colour called Persian Red. A deep colour but a touch of coppery orange or that Turkey red you see in kilims.   That was what I had in mind!
My stash of 10/2 dyed tencel is getting smaller and smaller as they no longer dye 10/2 tencel in large quantities any more.  The American weavers market is huge and they collectively decided they prefer the slightly larger grist of 8/2 and so 10/2 dyed tencel faded quickly away.... You can get it undyed now and dye it up yourself, but there is something nice about reaching for a full cone of colour, especially at a time like this.

Reds are hard to photograph.... but this one is very close!

Being a finer weft yarn, it took longer to weave and compacted the pattern a bit. A different slant on the previous projects, but nice all the same.  I also started and ended the scarves with a run of black silk to give them a more finished look. I'm still seeing that nice black wool dress coat or  dress suit!

This time they looked like they needed a bit of something extra .... so I decided on small bead and Swarovski crystal accents in the corners only. The "less is more" concept.

It never fails to amaze me how the tencel looks flat, even lifeless after washing, even a little lumpy in texture.... but once you give it that hard steam pressing, it comes alive!

Then I had to wait for some sunshine to photograph them as they are dark enough as it is!   I loaded them into my Etsy store as from recent activities there, people are Christmas shopping!   The silver and black scarf sold in less than 24 hours.... and is going to Switzerland! Given the winters there, perhaps it will be paired with a black coat!

The loom is reloaded and the final project using this draft and tie up is about to start. These last three magenta scarves will take time ( and one is presold!). I will be more than ready for a change on the loom once they are done!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Waiting for the Sunshine

We had a spectacular summer with record breaking hours of sunshine. Now its Fall and I've been waiting for a just few minutes of sunshine to take some pictures. Our house is surrounded by tall trees so this time of year the light is a rare commodity. Yesterday morning it appeared and brightened up the studio so I dashed in there and started snapping away. (Good thing I did too as the sun hasn't appeared again since!)

I will be sending away a number of my handwovens to a sale held by the Shuswap Spinners and Weavers Guild in Salmon Arm, BC at their  beautiful and historic Art Gallery and the shawl went from here, to being folded and packed away. This was my only chance to get some pictures of the shawl as it might not come home again after the sale.  The low lying morning sunshine lit the whole studio in a golden glow. It just invites you into the space and encourages you to take a seat at a loom and start weaving.

The second shawl is the same magenta as the first but this time I used  navy blue 8/2 tencel weft.  There is some iridescence but its not as prominent as the dark teal and magenta shawl. This shawl is more subtle. It makes a statement but it leans more to quiet elegance.

Once again, I tried the sticks at the beginning and again, it worked beautifully. The scrap gold cotton above the sticks just lined up neatly and it even seems to minimize draw in.  Once under way, I did use a temple as I don't like the floating selvedge being rubbed and fraying through. This was more of a preventative and it seemed to work!

Twisting the fringes took some time and again, no beads. I do have some fine fine navy blue seed beads but it just felt better that the two shawls stand on equal terms together. Does that make sense?

You can see the iridescence in these two pictures above. 

I'm going to weave another shawl like this one again, but for me... and in time for our 30th wedding anniversary in 2015 (if not sooner!) There better be a party for me to go to wearing it,  or at least dinner at the Empress Hotel !

Another warp has gone onto the Louet Spring...     I have an inquiry on the Woolhouse loom for sale which *may* blossom to something nice for both me and the potential buyer. Nothing concrete as yet. So, please continue to spread the word!

Some parcels arrived with more goodies. These warps were meant for the Woolhouse loom but they will keep in the queue for the Louet Spring.

These are painted warps by Kathrin Weber's  Blazing Shuttles  and her  FB Warp of the Month Club.  They are 8/2 hand painted cotton and you are looking at October's "Winter Blue Berries" on the left and September"s "greens, golds, magenta and rust" on the right.  Quite different and I love both for many reasons.  Click on the links to learn more about the sizes available and more about this growing on line business!

These will evolve into kitchen towels and one will most likely be loaded just before my first surgery in the spring. The simple act of a simple treadling pattern will be therapy much like last time when I got a hip replacement (which was 12 years ago on November 7th! Has it been that long already?)  I want to insert  8/2 black cotton 'dividers' to delineate the towels, work with a structure and make the colours pop.  The threading and treadling must be a straight run for ease... and pattern in the tie up. I'm thinking my old friend "breaks and recesses". The weft colors would be any colour you see in the warp. Just an idea and I'll look around for another possible draft.   If you can think of something you feel fits the criteria (easy straight run treadling, 8 shaft preferably and something that shows off the colours!), please let me know in the comment section. Thanks!   I'm leaving the warp bundles hanging up as I love the punch of colour in the studio. 

I'm going to load up the Jane table loom as well with something simple in case my lower half isn't cooperating with post op rehab and my urges to weave again and Now!   I'm going to set up the tablet cards and maybe even the inkle loom so I have all the bases covered. 

{Now having said that, I'll probably be laid up on the couch watching Netflix marathons and re-watching all three movies of the Lord do the Rings!}

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magenta Music ~ Let's Play It Again

A couple of months ago I was playing around with using an existing tie up on my Louet Spring and matching it with new drafts.  Not all were compatible of course but a few twills turned out very nice in the design phase, and one in particular. It was a complex twill with a long repeat and I used red purple tencel, or  magenta for the warp.

{note: rather than me running through all old project details again and the draft again, please use the links provided.  Thanks..}

In that post the two scarves, one woven with dark teal and the second with navy blue, were simply beautiful and I was thrilled with how they turned out. Apparently other people thought the same because when I listed them in my Etsy store, they were snapped up within days!

I wanted to weave more while the tie up was in place but my recent commission order for two runners cut that idea short. But I had a dream to do it again, and soon .... and this time expand the dimensions to a shawl. The scarves were lovely, but a shawl would be ..... well, take a look!

I warped up enough length for two shawls, wove and cut the first one off, and the second one has just come off the loom and being finished as I write with its debut to come next time.

I'd like to back up a bit and take the project back to the beginning...and it started with a yarn order to Webs for more red purple tencel.  When it arrived I noticed a slight change in the shade when compared to a skinny cone left over from last time. It was more 'grapey'. I wasn't sure how the combination of colours would look this time but decided to go ahead with the project anyway.  

Once the warp was on, threaded and sleyed, I laced on to reduce loom waste and to ensure no  hassle with slippery yarn.   I also decided to try a new trick I learned from weaver Margaret Coe from one of her posts on a weaving group on FaceBook.   No matter how long  you have been weaving, a new trick is always welcome! Click on any picture to enlarge...

So, here's the start: knotted warp laced on, then three shots of 8/2 cotton and then beat, repeat again... and this closes the groups  up. I wove a couple dozen shots of 1 to 12, then I made a shed and inserted a warping stick, then another. Then I wove a couple of runs in a light coloured cotton. Beating against the sticks was an interesting feel! It was firm and provided a nice foundation. It gave rigidity to the whole width of the warp.
The light cotton section showed that there were no threading errors, which was super!   I could then advance the warp for the fringe allowance.   Now please  note that the area where I did the test weaving and placed the sticks would also be part of the fringe allowance. None of that is wasted!   At this end of the warp, only the knots were cut off later and thrown away. 

As you can see its working well and weaving up beautifully.  I used a temple to reduce any draw in and as you can see it is sitting nicely. Or was it the sticks that set things up with a firm foundation?  I plan to use them again!

So the weaving continued on for eighty five inches or so and I cut off so I could get a jump start on finishing. I have a sale I'm trying to prepare for and since I must mail things away, timing is important!

I decided  not to bead as I have no magenta beads even close in colour and very few in teal. Certainly not enough for both edges. This shawl was going to have to  provide its own dazzle...

Next up was washing. I soaked it a long time in hot sudsy water and squeezed it out well.  I spun it out in the machine and hung over a rail to dry. The next morning I gave it a hard press with the steam iron.

Wow!   iridescence!

I think the shawl carries the 'razzle dazzle' off just fine. The tencel's beautiful drape and sheen never fails. I can hardly wait to see the next one!

I'm happy to be weaving still even if it is slower. I've heard now that the soonest I can be expected to be called for surgery is April 2014.  There is some good news and some bad news. The bad? I can now expect to have another full hip replacement *first* on my right side, then, a full left knee replacement and eventually my right mid foot bone fusion.  Its all a bit much to process right now, especially since my husband is to have surgery in January.  I keep being invited to a Pity Party, but so far I have declined!

The good news?   Well, I'll just have to take it one step at a time, work very hard at the rehab, count on my hubby and some good friends, ..... and keep being able to weave again as my "carrot".  I told all my doctors that's my goal and even showed them the picture of the recent shawl to show them I'm serious.  :)

Its what I truly love to do...