Friday, May 20, 2022

Late in Coming

I would have to say that today was our first truly warm spring day. You know the kind of day where you can open the doors and windows and feel comfortable.   We have had a very late, rather cold, wet and blustery spring so far.  I'm not one for heat, but even I was saying "enough already".   Our gardens are about 2-3 weeks behind and the bees are only just making an appearance.   🌺 🐝 

Also making a late appearance is me....  I actually threw a shuttle today for the first time in  2 months and oh, my.... is my arm ever weak and the legs are downright pathetic.    Its going to take some time to build up my weaving muscles and tone up again.   Always at the back of my mind is the shoulder area that gave me grief and "will this go out on me again?"   Still don't know what caused it to begin with. 

I spent the time spinning on my Hansen e-spinner and plying up old full bobbins from my other Rose wheel.   I'm at ten skeins so far.   I've had time to think about my studio and situation and came to some decisions.   

  • I'm selling my large Leclerc Tissart tapestry loom.
  • I'm selling my Majacraft Rose spinning wheel.
  • I'm selling my Janome Pro 4DX serger
  • I'm selling my back issues of Complex Weavers magazines.
  • ......and basically downsizing to what I actually use and enjoy, and the rest is optional.
The big tapestry loom is upgraded but I never seem to find the time or motivation to make a start.  I'd rather have the real estate back and besides, I have my Mirror Little Guy tapestry loom.

The Rose wheel was harder to part with  but after spending time with the Hansen and getting truly comfortable with it, the Rose can find a new home too.  My feet are very arthritic and so treadling is painful some days.   Circumstances change and you must adapt too.

The serger? well, my needs are simple and its a machine with more bells and whistles than I need. I have my old White serger and we are old frenemies that understand each other after all these years. 

I was also very busy with the Guild of Canadian Weavers testing program this April. I'm the test administrator and we had a number of tests submitted for marking by master weavers. I'm the go between markers and candidates.    Lots of emails, waiting for parcels to arrive,  and finally congratulating successful graduates and a bunch of record keeping to do.     Normally its a once a year busy job and occasional emails through the year but I have agreed to organize my records going back to 1947 and scan them for the GCW archives.  Its literally the whole of our 75 years and reason for being.    This will start in the fall and be done slowly as time permits. 

Other "better late than never" items are these two scarves. I was able to (slowly) twist fringes and eventually use the iron to smooth for presentation.

My personal favourite os this one.   Its 20/2 black silk warp, 28 epi and the weft is 8/2 bamboo in a neutral gold  beige.   One side is a tad bit darker... the other a bit lighter, but not by much. So nicely reversible.

Its a 9 shaft 9 treadle twill where there are three separate blocks of 3 shafts.  You can make any of them wide as you like when threading, or as big as you like when treadling. It creates an interwoven affect that is very reminiscent of pattern #246 in Strickler's  8 Shaft Book of Patterns.   I could see the possibilities for colour play and it would make great lap throws, baby blankets, runners....

I'm positive I found this draft at but several attempts at finding it there again have failed. I was trying to get the number.   So I say clearly, it not my draft, and if you get the number for it, please let me know. 

The second scarf is all silk. The weft is 20/2 bombyx silk in natural.   I found its a bit slippery on the weft turns and so would do some thread diving. I eventually used a large blunt needle to ease them into place.  So a weft with some 'tooth' to it is recommended if you want to avoid this issue.

It was a bright, but high cloud sort of day when I took these pictures. I had given up waiting for spring and just did my best with the day.

The over all block size were smaller with all silk and I was tempted to add repeats to build it up, but I decided to go with the same and have a tighter pattern affect and I like it.   Good to try things out and see how it goes.  Call it a full sized sample  😉

So here's the draft.... see what you can come up with!
Have  great May long weekend!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter! 🐇


Eggs by Shari Bailey

All around the World, I think we are all a bit Ukrainian this year.    Everyone wants and needs peace and stability in their lives, especially these poor proud people suffering, and fighting for their lives and country's right to exist. 


I will have some weaving to share  next post but have to share with you that I put my right shoulder and arm out again and so have been focusing on getting better and coping with pain. I did this last November as well, but this time it is worse.   I'm limited to what I can do with my right arm and have even been sleeping nightly semi reclined  on the couch as it hurts to lie down.  Its been a rough 2-3 weeks but it is slowly improving.   What did I do?   I have no idea!  I wish I did know so I can be sure not to repeat it again. 

I am able to spin on my Hansen so have been enjoying that for a change of pace.    I'm not able to throw a shuttle  or wind a warp but I have been project  planning, fringe twisting and I was able to beam a warp today with a lot of help from Hubby.    So the looms will be ready to go when I can..... but it will be a very slow start so not to set myself back again.    I guess I'm not a spring chicken anymore !  🐣🐥

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022

Running into Spring 🌷


Spring arrived yesterday but you wouldn't know it by looking outside. Stormy day with blustery winds blowing in a steady drizzle of rain.   It looks cold too.   There are valiant early spring flowers poking their heads up and birds are returning and looking for nesting spots.  The starlings that nested in our eaves last year will be in for a surprise as that was well barricaded to evict them!

So we have been super busy with many medical appointments.  The ones that were put off due to the omicron wave, and the heavy snowfall in December.   There seems to be something on the list for almost every day as we catch up so weaving has been hit and miss while we be 'good adults'.  Even the taxes were done....   😳

So I do have a project to show you but must say that these pictures are not their best and brightest. They were taken indoors and in order to show you the 'white on white' pattern blocks, I needed some awkward lighting.

Draft 246 from  Carol Strickler's classic " A Weavers Book of 8 Shaft Patterns" seems to be a favourite among weavers. The satin blocks, when using colour to best advantage seem to look woven over and under each other.   I love some of the colour combinations I have seen but it can look rather 'busy' visually.  I decided to try some table runners in a finer 10/2 mercerized cotton, sett 28 epi. A snowy white and softer muted colours as striped defining the borders.  Cameo Rose, Sponge (moss green), Frost grey (silver mauve),  and Autumn blonde. Without really trying, I was weaving something that said Spring.  🌷

After six inches of hem allowance, I did ladder hemstitching. The cotton has some bite to it so you are able to pull tightly and have it stay put as you work. The 'ladders' are nicely defined.

This picture above shows the changing blocks and how the stripe appears to do a side step.

A screen snap of my draft.  I was originally going to use a soft silver grey weft for the cross stripes, but my actual cone of silver grey was too dark for my liking and I preferred the white instead.  As you can see, the blocks can be of any size you like, depending on the yarn size used or the look.

I serged the runners apart and hand washed them. After drying on a rack overnight, they were steam pressed and then shifted to the ironing board to turn the hems.   Dividing it into thirds and pressing.

With the final third brought up to the bottom of the hemstitching, it was pressed again and pinned.  It all folded nicely and stayed put as I worked.   Then I hand sewed the hems using a running blind stitch and also closed the end open loops of the hem.    Pressed it firmly again.   Most women hate ironing, but its a valuable tool in the weaver's arsenal of finishing tricks!  (Don't skimp on price and buy a heavy one.  I get compliments on the appearance of my final woven projects, but the main secret is my iron ! )

Front and back of the hems.

I wove three runners:  17 inches by  46 inches and 17 inches by 55 inches featuring just lengthwise stripes.

The last runner I decided to try cross stripes and wove a runner 17 inches by 58 inches.  I think with a colourful table cloth underneath, such as mossy green, it would be a nice runner for Easter.

My big table is approx 94 inches long so even 58 inches looks short here! I have chairs for six but it can comfortably seat 8 people.

I'm trying different angles here to get the light!

This last darker shot is to show the changing blocks. Next time I use this pattern 246, I'll try the more colourful versions and weave up some happy kitchen towels. 

So what's up next?   Scarves and they are under way. After that?  I have a warp would for kitchen towels and a friend is having a baby so I'm looking for drafts and cones in the stash for that.


Monday, March 7, 2022

A Tale of Two Shawls: part 2

The second shawl is all finished and finally photographed.  I find bright sunshine will bleach out the colours much like a flash on the camera. So yesterday there was some high overcast clouds here and it seemed to be the best I could hope for and so I got busy snapping.

The finished dimensions are 21 inches by 83 inches, plus the fringe. So you can elegantly drape the cloth.

The rolled over section around the neck shows the shawl's other side which is slightly more warp dominant. Also, the fuchsia does appear less intense here. The sunshine was still a bit bright, even with high cloud cover.

Between the picture above and below, you can see the iridescent effect.  It somehow reminds me of some of the Venetian fabrics you see in old paintings.

I found the fuchsia 8/2 tencel a bit softly plied and so I had some issue with fraying in the first shawl. This time I used a temple and it went much better, if slower for weaving.  Interestingly, the final width of this shawl was 21 inches, same as the first shawl I didn't use a temple on.  The final length was 83 inches but was woven to the same length on the loom as the first.... so another mystery!

I sure wish my Judy had arms...... she wouldn't look like such a wrapped mummy!  😁

So we have crocus and snowdrops up and other little shoots coming up, and buds appearing on the trees.  We have seen flocks of redwing blackbirds pausing here as they migrate through and  crows flying overhead with nesting material firmly gripped in the beaks.  The new season and life in general  is rolling on but its hard to see any joy when the Ukraine is being bombed into submission by a dictator.

Canada has the highest concentration of Ukrainians and their descendants living outside of the Ukraine and they immigrated here and settled mainly on the prairies.  My parents came to Canada in 1960 and settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our next door neighbours were an elderly Ukrainian  couple and they made our family feel welcome and they became like substitute grandparents to us.   My mother learned how to make cabbage rolls from them and they became a family favourite ever since.   Another memory I have is visiting another Ukrainian family and helping to make perogis by hand and I helped pinch the edges after the filling went in.   They are such warm and generous people and simply don't deserve what is happening to them now.

This is a picture of the couple that lived next door to us and helped to make us feel so welcome.  It's taken at my brother's christening  in 1964 and I was 8 years old.  Sadly, I don't recall their names but I remember the feelings and somehow I think they would be okay with that.....

Canada is once again opening their doors to Ukrainians to come and live with us again and they can be sure of a warm welcome.   🌻🌻🌻

Monday, February 14, 2022

A Tale of Two Shawls : part 1

 Last  autumn I had an order of  six cones of various yarn from Webb's arrive and when I opened the box there were seven cones. It seems I inadvertently ordered two cones of fuchsia 8/2 tencel. Oops!     I thought I might as well jump right in and do something special with it then. 

Two shawls, all with fuchsia as warp.

The 16 shaft draft below really appealed to me as you can have a decorative border all four sides.  It's also reversible which makes it ideal for shawl or scarf wearing, or even a nice table runner. 

The first shawl was woven using amethyst tencel as weft and I wasn't too sure if it was the right choice but I kept on with it.   Then Hub wandered in and saw it and said "its kind of blah" and I immediately jumped to its defence and said not everyone wants to strut around like a peacock. Besides, fuchsia is not exactly a quiet colour!   Quietly elegant is what I had in mind.

This picture taken while still on the loom shows the leading border. The centre of the whole draft is goose eye twill diamonds and so I settled into some steady weaving. Except for some  abrasion issues with my floating selvedge on the right hand side. I had to do some repairs on the fly.   The next issue was some softening of the tension in a spot or two. I kept going but had decided to cut off the first shawl and then re-tie back on and hopefully eliminate my tension problems. 

In these two pictures I was preparing the fringe allowance and getting ready to twist the fringe. The cloth hasn't been washed and just as it came of the loom and you could see the potential already! These two pictures were taken by Hub and he had revised his opinion already.

So after a good wash by hand and a night drying on the rack, it was given two pressings. The first with the steam press, and a second by hand iron to smooth and bring out the shine.  The steam press helps me a great deal as I have arthritis in my hands  and I'd rather save them for shuttle throwing!   You pick your battles as you get older. 

The sun finally reappeared and it sure does feel like spring on a day like this. I've seen a few robins, and a whole flock of red wing blackbirds this morning, and there are some shoots coming up for the start of a new growing season.    

Below you can see the borders.

The drape is just lovely.

I was trying all angles to get the best view. When viewed inside the house, the pattern sort of blends into the background and is not as obvious until the light hits it.

The second shawl is under way and the tension is much better. I'm also using a temple this time and so the tempo is a bit slower.   No one is going to call this one blah..... here's a sneak peek!