Wednesday, February 14, 2018

It Happens....

❤️ Happy Valentines Day  ❤️

 I finally have some weaving to show you and I have mixed feelings about it.  I used 9/2 French linen from Brassards as I have done many times before. This time, a new to me colour called brick. Its a coppery red and really a rich, deep colour.

It beamed on with no issues, threading went well and I laced it on okay. There were no threading errors or denting errors.... always a nice treat no matter how many years you have been weaving.  Its an  eight shaft huck lace draft, similar to my usual diamond lace but this one has two sizes of diamonds, that in turn have lace floats and all surrounded by all over huck lace.   I was looking forward to seeing it.

That's when the trouble started...

I couldn't really see it! These two pictures were taken to help me see the lace and if I was on track.  Photography is a good way to spot errors ( and recall what your start looked like!)

I had an overhead light, a floor lamp to the right of the loom, and a second one with two halogen lights to my left. What ever daylight there was was 'encouraged' by lifting venetian blinds up but it was dark and dingy out with heavy rain and the inevitable shorter winter days.   I was double checking the pattern as best I could along the edges and literally calling out the treadling as I went along. I placed large numbered pieces of tape on the treadles to help and took my time.   I caught a few mistakes and corrected them and literally crossed my fingers and hoped that was all of them!

A second issue arose but it was one I was expecting actually.  There is a difference in take up between the plain weave border edges and the all lace centre to the runners. The lace is thicker and builds up on the roll faster than the edges. Eventually it starts to cause some distortion at the fell line.   You can either cut off and re-lace on again, which gets expensive with linen, or try this trick.  Set in a round of warping sticks, best is only a bit longer than your warp is wide,  all tight up against each other and carry on weaving.  I had three runners on the cloth beam, each with a round of warping sticks. (I use warping sticks at the start to cover knots and such at the start, along with my two stick start method ).

I serged my runners apart where I had woven some scrap yarn.... then pressed the hem allowance into thirds.  I wanted larger, more generous hems this time and so wove six inches on either end of the three runners. It really shows the nicely tucked and tight ladder hemstitching off too!

I was amazed that I had a thread colour that was a close match and made a tiny stitch at each ladder and ran the thread through the fold to the next spot. I call this a running blind stitch but I'm not sure if that's the proper name or not...   I quite enjoy this step and usually do it while we watch TV, but once again I found there wasn't enough light on the job. It meant I had to do it in daylight, while under a halogen light. Don't let these bright pictures fool you.... they were taken with a flash.

The picture below shows the lace off tension and relaxed. You see a lot more of the pattern now but its still difficult. Only wet finishing will shift the threads to their proper places.

So a good long soak. Twice in fact as some fugitive dye come out in the first soak.  A rinse and then I rolled them into older towels to absorb the excess water. I had pulled them into shape and gently pulled on  the edges.  Then I lay them flat on counters overnight to dry.

The next morning I set up my Singer steam press and gave them a good fine misting of distilled water and pressed the heck out of the hems first.  Then I shifted to pressing them firmly down both sides of the runners, front and back.   This took a lot of the heavy work out of the job as I have arthritis in my hands and wrists.  Next was the ironing board to do the final finishing touches.  I  start in the middle of the runner and then pressing firmly move the iron out to the sides of the runner.  I do this 'pushing' motion all the way down the runner, then flip and do to the other side.  I find it stops that bowing  inward effect from the defined plain weave hems to the  central lacy part of the cloth. Your runner actually regains some width and looks nice and straight from hem to hem.

Now is it necessary to do this every time you launder the runner?  I don't think so. As weavers we are 'finishing' the cloth and that includes the heavy pressing that sets the threads into their final position. It is most likely that in the future all that will be needed is a normal ironing, although linen needs a hot steam iron to be wrinkle free (or a cold mangle).

So the runners were completed in January but as I mentioned it was simply too dark to take pictures. I tried though and deleted them all.   Then in early February the clouds parted for a brief hour and I dashed for the camera and runners!

The pattern really shows up nicely now. This runner is forty six inches over all and is error free. 😊

This one above is thirty six inches and has a small error. I got the wrong lace treadle on half a lace unit. ☹️  Can you see it?

Here's a close up of the lace floats and all over lace... after laundering and hard pressing. It brought out the shine of the linen beautifully.

Then there is a seventy six inch long runner that is beautiful and also flawed.  😢  Some how, I missed treadling the reverse side of a small diamond shape. No other errors, just that..

A close up of the thread world.   So two runners out of three woven not 'perfect'.  I was pretty bummed out for a few days.   I started doing a mental review of the project of what I had done wrong and what I would do differently next time.  The answers are: get better lighting or simply don't weave such dark colour in mid winter. Especially lace weave that doesn't show its structure fully until washed. Weaving linen mid winter with drier interior air isn't a good idea anyhow....

The over all effect of the lace.

So the two runners are being sold as seconds as it would take a practised eye to find the spots. You and I could as weavers but it simply may not be that important to someone else.  They are hand made and 100% linen and quite lovely.    Very few things in life are perfect..... but that takes us down a  philosophical road.....