Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Past

An English Robin
 A look into Christmas past, starting with my parents first tree in 1954. They lived in 'married quarters' in Portsmouth England. Dad was in Her Majesty's Royal Navy.

 Then I came along in 1956 and here I am about two years old at a Christmas party in 1958.  My parents later moved to Canada in 1960. They brought all their English traditions with them.    Such as Christmas crackers, Christmas plum pudding, and an orange and a lump of coal in the stocking.

Here we all are in 1962 living in the middle of the Canadian prairies with a 'real winter'.  The Santa at the base of the tree was on every Christmas tree right up to 1995.

Now its 1965 or so  and I have a new brother and another sister or two....  I'm wearing my new pyjamas that I opened on Christmas eve.

We moved to New Zealand in 1970 and lived there for close on five years. Christmas became this weirdly strange time where we'd go to the beach with a cold roast chicken and have a picnic.  No snow, but hot sun instead....and people exchanged cards with snow scenes on them!

We spent a New Year's Eve at a friend of my parents who owed this beach house right over the water. The tide is out in the picture but when the tide was in, it came right up under the house and you could slip straight into the water via a trapdoor in the deck.  I was close to being fifteen at the time so its a brand new 1971.

Here's the picnic and then a walk in dunes and along the beach....
Dad went through a black and white film phase but let me assure you, the beach is beautiful!

I found a colour version!

Many years later, my strangest Christmas was in 1984 when I spent two weeks on the railroad with Bruce.  He was placed as senior engineer on the Via Passenger train and his run was between Vancouver and Boston Bar.   Of the seven round trips in a two week period, I was on five of them.  Christmas dinner in the beanery,  New Years party by accident and breakfast on New Years morning in a dining car going through the Fraser Canyon in a snow storm, with Bruce running the train back to Vancouver.  It was a fun memory!

Speaking of Bruce, I found this old picture of one of his early Christmases in northern Ontario.  Cute little nipper...  He's only two or three here, so roughly 1948 to 1949.

Bruce with his train set.... an early start at his future career!

So where ever you are in the world and what ever your holiday tradition is, I hope you are in the company of good friends and family!    

Wishing you and yours all the very best, and a healthy 2020!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dark Dahlia

This post really started in the Fall when late blooming flowers such as dahlia's are in the gardens still.  They are so lush, and so colourful!  When we lived further south near Duncan here on Vancouver Island, there was a property by the main road where in the fall a table would appear with jars filled with fresh cut dahlias and a sign that said $4.00 a bunch. This invariably would go up in price as the years passed and the popularity of the flowers increased. I watched the dahlia beds get larger as root stock was divided down and new colour varieties added.

I liked to photograph them at their peak:

Then, in the summer of 2016 when we were heavily engaged in packing and getting ready to move, the lady gardener added a new colour that was stunning!   Sadly I didn't get a picture, or the flowers, before we moved.   I went on-line and looked at the various varieties available with a view of maybe adding some to our new gardens here.   I found this picture that is very close to the special one from the roadside garden. Her flower was a bit darker and not so tightly packed.

Sort of a cross between these two.  

I have woven colour gradations before in this colour range and also another project where I used four or five shades of blue. The Mac version of Fiberworks has this feature and I have played around with it  and its getting easier to create some interesting colour plays. So with the rich dark dahlia in mind I used 8/2 tencel in black, eggplant and red-purple (which I call magenta) and created this 16 shaft draft.  It looked fine both front and back.... another nice feature to use before committing yarn to the loom.

But.... there is no replacement for actual yarn on the loom!

It has the central glow I was looking for but it was overly dark and broody. Too much black.  I also had a problem with sleying the ends as I kept on missing dents and practically had to put a 'search light' on the reed to see what I was doing!  Seems darker cloudy days and a lack of natural light and a dark warp really don't go together well.

I only wove one repeat and there it sat while I tried to figure out how to redeem this problem child.  I went back to the draft and kept the threading the same, as its already in place, and tried different tie up's and different treadlings.    I removed all the old weft threads and then tried this draft below for the first scarf, using black as my weft again.  It has a better balance of plain weave and twill areas and so a better chance at being reversible and having the light play on the twill floats to show the pattern. Its still dark, but has the central glow I wanted like the flower.

On the second scarf I decided to use the eggplant colour as my weft. It worked well to soften the black areas, define the centre and pull it together. The colour shifts actually flow better.  I tried another treadling variation using the same tie up:

The pattern repeats are lengthy; well they are when your joints hurt, and so weaving went slowly for me. I have been having trouble with arthritis in my feet and last 'good' knee so had to take some off days to rest.  Its also a busy time of year so there have been many other domestic distractions!  🎄

I used my new 10 clip fringe twister I showed you last post on the finishing  of the scarves.   Did it save time?  Well, yes.  Setting up the bouts to the clips really takes the same amount of time overall, whether its four or ten, but only having to turn the clips for a total of five bouts of fringe is faster than only doing two. I'm glad I didn't get the 20 clip model as the angle of the ends would be too extreme.  It would be fine for someone doing blanket fringe or a project that is equally wide as the twister, but not for finer weaving.   I'm happy with it!  Its nicely made, smooth working and I like the handle end.  You can find it for sale here

Here's the first scarf on the fringing board with freshly twisted fringe flipped up as I worked along.   They were washed and pressed and then sat as we had day after day of heavy cloud, some wind and rain and no sign of the sun.  Lights on in the house even at midday.   What you need for a project like this is brighter natural light as the flash on the camera bleaches out the colours, creates 'hot spots' and generally makes things difficult to capture. 

So yesterday it brightened up and even a few rays of sunshine and I dashed for my camera!    They will have to do and if I still have them come spring, I will reshoot again in better daylight. 

I'm hoping the various pictures will show a better range of pattern and colours!

Then we have my personal favourite, the eggplant weft scarf.  I might just keep this one for me!

Thank you for being patient with me as my posts squeak in at a minimum lately. There are other projects to come  and are underway.  Its seems I'm not as fast a weaver as I was but hopefully the quality makes up for it!

For my long time readers who have followed along with the arrival of my grandchildren.... I present Ethan (age 7 1/2)  and Madison's (age 4 1/2)  2019 Christmas picture.  Don't let those cute faces fool you.... they both can 'kick butt' at Brazilian Jujitsu now.   🎄🎅🏻🎁

Friday, November 15, 2019

Art Deco Diamonds

So in a few short weeks, it will be 2020 and a whole new decade. Roll the clock back 100 years and it was the start of the 'roaring 20's'. The world shook off the whole WW1 thing and partied, and enjoyed life again. 

Think Great Gatsby, the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922,  flappers and the Charleston, jazz bands and speak easy's, bobbed hair, cloche hats and shorter skirts.   

I also think of Art Deco.   This unique form of architecture and style started prior to to WW1 but came into its own by 1925  at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925.   One American classic building example is the Chrysler Building on the east side of Manhattan.

In Vancouver, BC, its the Marine Building which was completed in 1930 right after the Great Crash and the start of the Great Depression. It cost 2.3 million to build (in the dollars of the day I might add, and had a cost overrun of 1.1 million) and was sold off cheap for $900,000.   I have been in this building and its amazing! There is literally something unique to see everywhere you look and the front entry way and the elevator doors are works of art. 

We even have an art deco theme with our dining room set with a 1930 replica table. 

So imagine me spotting #68017 at and seeing this draft that reminded me of classy art deco diamonds  ( now attributed to Jan / USA 2015    “Ulla’s Beautiful Diamonds” )

Soon this draft was in my weaving lineup... and then on the loom!

There were some slight modifications for an edging and border made by me.  This is 10/2 black tencel, sett 28 epi and 8/2 tencel in Pompeii as weft.  I can't say I recommend weaving black warps at  this time of year!  I had lights all around the loom as I threaded and sleyed the reed. Its so darn easy to leave a dent  or  to double sley.

For the second scarf I used 10/2 tencel in a colour called Tussah from Textura Trading from my stash.  All my 10/2 dyed tencel is precious as you can't get it any longer. Only undyed tencel, and I'm not set up to dye my own at this time.

The diamonds wove up just a smidge smaller this time but interestingly when I measured the small inner diamond (or box if you turn your head sideways), the box measured perfectly square in box scarves regardless of the size of the weft yarn used. I can only assume my beat was correct for both!

Now they have been finished for awhile but this time of year with its rainy dark days have not been conducive to taking photographs.  It brightened up a bit today and the sun almost made a full appearance  so I dashed and snapped this pictures.  We have a week's worth of wind and rain ahead according to our weather forecast and I didn't think you or I want to wait another week for a blog post!  😳

My Favourite of the two scarves.  They measure 8 inches by 72 inches.

One take away from finishing these scarves was that manipulating the fringe twister is playing  merry heck with my arthritic wrists and fingers. I'm using a quad fringe twister currently and I seem to twizzle  a lot of fringe over the course of a year. So how can I maximize my efforts and get more done with less effort?

By ordering one of these!

I'm looking forward to giving this big girl a whirl soon and I'll report my findings back here. I'll be able to do a total of 5 doubled bouts at a time.   I'm going to hang onto the quad for now as a back up.

You know, they even make one that has 20 clips!  Nice to know you can upgrade your ride!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Adding Things Up

When you are weaving away on 9.5 yards, treadling one up to eight and back to one endlessly, you tend to go on autopilot and you can do a lot of singing along to music or simply thinking.   Things like: how many picks to an inch?
How many picks to 36 inches?
Gee... how many in this total project?

... and the big one.... how many miles have I woven in the past 25 years?  

So when I finally finished my 8 towels woven to 36 inches each on the loom and one runner that eeked out the last of the warp at 43 inches, I sat down and crunched some numbers:

  • 8 towels and one runner equals 332 inches or  9.2 yards woven on my 9.5 yard warp.
  • I averaged 22 ppi - or a total of  8047 pics total.
  • physical weight of finished project : 1.334 kg or 2 lbs 15 oz
  • That's 537 repeats of treadling the pattern repeat which has a count of 15
  • The only unwoven parts of the loom waste was 3 inches plus knots at the start and 13 inches at end, plus 6 inches for part of the fringe on the runner when I started it.   The final  fringe at the end of the runner came out of the loom waste..... so effectively I had only 10 inches of loom waste for the entire project! 😁 I had factored in 3 inches of take up for every yard woven.
  • oh, and half a box of Colour Catchers in the wash water as that red (cerise) wanted to run!

8/2 cotton from Brassard's: 6 colours in the warp and  another 4 used as weft.  Sett was 24 epi.

With black weft. (above and below)

With white weft.

Then I used a kaki green weft and loved the effect! It somehow worked with all the colour groups beautifully. I also used a plum colour but didn't get a picture of it on the loom under way.

Here's the end of the warp right up to the back of the heddles. I couldn't get another half inch !

There was a very satisfying "chubby roll" on the cloth beam, as I like to call it,  but it actually only was 1 1/2 inches. Well, it looked good to me!

Here's the loom waste from the start, plus the knots which is minimal.

....And the final loom waste from the end and remember that 6 inches of this will be fringe for the runner.

So the final fringe length on the runner after twisting was 2 inches plus the tassel and looks marvellous on our dining room table. Hubby was so pleased it was staying.  I'm also keeping a black weft towel and a kakhi green one.

Some one jokingly (I hope!) asked me why I had a jelly fish on my table.

Next are the 8 towels, all were woven to 36 inches and after relaxing off tension, washing, pressing and then turning a hem allowance and hand sewing, they are measured up as 20 inches by 30 inches. They all  pressed up nicely on my Singer press.

Three black ones

Then two with kakhi green weft. Its my personal favourite.

Next up are two towels with white weft. They are crisp and clean, with the stripes adding nice punch of colour, but you lose the zig zag pattern stripe.

Then finally the plum weft with is Hubby's favourite. It melded the colour groups too but not quite as effectively as the kaki green did, in my opinion of course.

I have kept fairly decent records of all my woven projects since 1996 and I could sit and work out some rough numbers and get an approximation of my last question which was of how many miles have I woven. Tempting as it is, I'm not going to spend the time doing that.

I'd rather be weaving new projects!