Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Weave the Lynch Family Tartan ~ Next Project

Vacations are a wonderful thing….great to see the world, but also great to be home and to celebrate what you have!  Our month in the Cook Islands and New Zealand was exciting, but man, am I glad to be home and back at the loom!

While away I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to put on the loom and what stash I wanted to bust… I made my mind up to weave our family tartan using the yarn I purchased made by Lochcarron Mills in 2007.  I know, about time......
 The Lynch family tartan is one of the original seven Irish tartans that were registered in the early 1900's and the colours are blue, scarlet and green.  I chose to weave this tartan using the Ancient colour palette; the only disappointing thing is that the ancient scarlet is quite rusty orange looking ~ not a fav, but authentic and against the soft blue and soft green it's surprisingly lovely.
It actually took me three sessions to make this warp ~ 1018 threads….yikes.  Although this is a 2/2 twill I had to extend it over all 12 shafts because of the number of heddles necessary.  After pulling the warp I noticed that I don’t seem to have as much blue yarn left over as I expected.  So an emergency yarn call to Susan down island who ordered this same yarn for our Canadian Master Weaver Tests ~ but she didn't have any of the colour I need….so if anyone out there has 2/16 worsted wool in ancient blue purchased from the Yarn Source in Ontario that you want to sell, email me please!
I’ve probably mentioned that I love, love, love to cook on this blog on more than one occasion.  Two years ago when we bought our house I put in this lovely appliance package and I’ve been bitching about it ever since.  I’m a really, really short gal, so the over the range microwave just didn’t work for me and frankly the fan just did not do the job.  The ceramic stove top is very pretty, but it cycles the heat and it made me crazy….Well, crazier anyway!
So we pulled them both out and sold them on Craigslist ~ I must have priced it too low because they went in hours!  I knew pretty much right away that I wanted a much stronger fan, so forward thinking gal that I am, yeah right!  I picked up a few tiles when I saw them last year just hoping that I'd get a chance to use them.
Ngaire and I tiled the bare patches of wall and added these great stainless steel button tiles for an accent.  Michael cut the tiles to fit and he made short work of installing the new fan without a scratch! Ahhh, team work!
For a full week we were without a range or microwave and this little hot plate worked really hard for us. My favourite recipe was this one from Martha Stewart, One-Pan Pasta, absolutely fool proof!
My new duel fuel cooker arrived last Thursday and the plumber came in on Good Friday morning to hook it up ~ I’m totally stoked!  No clock ~ no timer ~ no warming drawer ~ instant heat ~ priceless!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The 2014 ‘Oh Shit Pile’

The contents of the pile starting from the top centre moving clockwise are
1. Colourful twill yardage - to be made into vests (?)
2. Pink and brown yardage - to be made into a cloak or cape (?)
3. Orange silk and blue Tencel scarf with beat error – to be made into a purse/bag (?)
4. 4 napkins with one sewn the wrong way - needs to be fixed
5. 2 small black and yellow squares – have no idea
6. 2 Red runners that need to be pressed and hemmed

The first items to be worked on are the napkins.  I was photographing them so I could put them on Etsy when I noticed that 'one of these things is not like the other (channeling Sesame Street)!'. 

The hem on one napkin had been stitched on the wrong side.  I unpicked the hem and re stitched it.  Now it matches the rest.  For Sale.
The second project was finishing the runners; they are not really part of the 'O-pile' because I only finished weaving them in late December.  The warp is 2/10 cotton and the wefts are linen single in Scarlet and cottolin in Raspberry.  They are both woven in a huck lace trellis pattern.

For the hemming I used a trick that I learned from a blog post by Cindie at Eweniquely Ewe.  She uses templates cut from folders to fold over the hem.  For a template I used a metal ruler to press the hem, be careful pulling it out it can be quite hot!
For pressing I usually use a steam press but a steam press only flattens the fabric it can’t really be used to block the fabric.  So to the ironing board I went with the runners.  It took much longer than I thought but they are done and looking great!

Above are some beauty shots of the scarlet linen and cotton table runner.  Very dramatic!  The finish dimension are 17.5 x 47 inches.  For Sale.
Here are some beauty shots of the raspberry cottolin and cotton table runner.  It is very striking!  The finish dimensions are 17 x 63 inches.  If you would like this table runner just email me through my Etsy Shop - WovenBeauty - and I'll set up a listing for you.  Both of these runner are quite lovely and I am really pleased with them.

So for the New Years 'Oh Shit Pile' already two out of six are done or 1/3 done or 33% done.  That seems pretty good!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Finishing the Rainbow Scarves

What I have learned about fringes is that when I first started weaving scarves I always twizzled the fringe first before I washed the scarf.  But I found that I had to go back and fix the knots in the fringe because they had moved/shrunk differently.  It was really noticeable in scarves that had different fibres but also the shrinkage is different between the two different manufacturers of Tencel. 

So now I lightly braid the fringe and then wash the scarf.  When I hang up the scarf to dry I undo the braid so that the threads will dry smoothly.
The next step in finishing is twizzling the fringe.  I use a quilters cutting board and use heavy cookbooks to weigh down both ends of the scarf.  This is the time to even up the length of the fringe because it does make a difference on the tightness of the twist if you start with different lengths.   The fringe is then separated into the segmented bouts for easier twisting.  I don’t knot the fringe until I have twisted every bout.  Twizzling the fringe can move the scarf out for under the cookbooks so I even up the scarf again before I knot the fringe.
Now it is time for the beauty shots. 
Lots of tiny dots like rain drops in a rainbow.  For Sale
Lines of diagonal squares make for a striking scarf.  If you would like this scarf just email me through my Etsy Shop - WovenBeauty - and I'll set up a listing for you. 

These are subtle scarves that are suitable for both men and women.  I absolutely love both patterns but I am not sure about the black lines between the colours, it makes the scarves really dark.  If I do rainbow coloured scarves again I wouldn't put anything between the colours, just embrace the brash colourfulness!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

12 Shaft Twills in Rainbow Colours or It Is Dark and Stormy and I Want to See the Sun!

The first project of the New Year is . . . scarves!  I wanted to do something bright and colourful because of the stormy winter weather, although on the West Coast we don't have the polar vortex issue that the East Coast does.
I looked through the 2/8 Tencel colours and found that I could make a rainbow (ROY G. BIV).  I used Scarlet, Orange, Yellow, Mineral Green, Blueberry, Iris and Red Purple which I separated with Black. 
I found a lovely 12 Shaft pattern on Handweaving.net that made little dots, reminiscent of the water droplets that make up a rainbow.  The only problem I had was that on treadle 1 I had to lift 8 shafts and it was really heavy.  So heavy that the loom groaned a little so I had to help lift the harnesses up which is a bit of a no no.  And I rocked a bit on my seat, which hurt my tush.

The fix is really easy, just flip the tie up but I had woven too much to change on this scarf so the weaving was quite slow.  I did change the tie up in the computer draft and put a note in the printed draft because I know that I will weave this pretty little pattern again.

I always put on enough warp for two scarves, it is much more economical.  Since I was going to have to change the tie up anyway to stop the moaning and groaning from both the loom and me, I decided to completely change the pattern. 
I wanted a pattern that I didn't have to change the threading and that looked good in the stripes.  The pattern is another 12 Shaft Twill that I found on Handweaving.net and it is even from the same book, a 1920’s Italian book.

This time I checked the tie up and made sure that the least number of harnesses were being raised.  So I did end up flipping the tie up and it really did make a huge difference on how fast the scarf was woven.  I was able to weave faster and for much longer at a sitting and amazingly I was able to finish the scarf in one sitting.       

Sunday, February 9, 2014

12 Shaft Fancy Twill - Second Scarf

I’m almost finished the second scarf that I plan to gift to my hostesses while we visit New Zealand in March.  I’m weaving the same 12 shaft Fancy Twill pattern as the first scarf, but I’ve changed the weft from tencel to soy silk and the colour from burgundy to bronze. 
I’ve tried a different hem treatment on these scarves.  Usually I hemstitch with the weft that I weave the body of the scarves with.  But, I must admit that sometimes I’m not happy with the overall look of the stitches, even though I usually pick up very small increments.  This time I’ve use the same colour as the warp to start.  I wove 2 picks in black and then hemstitched over two dents ~ 4 threads.  Then I started the pattern weft colour, on the first pick I carried the black thread also.  Pretty nice I think!
The scarf has a slightly different look on the underside where the black warp is more predominant.
This is the first time I’ve woven with soy silk and I must say it’s behaving very well so far.  This soy silk was hand dyed and has a very slight colour shift which adds some additional colour interest. 
I have noticed that the soy silk is not as lustrous as tencel, but I’m hoping that pressing will bring up more sheen.
My husband and I have taken the big plunge and have decided to travel for a full month to New Zealand and the Cook Islands with only carry-on luggage!  Needless to say this has been causing me some angst as I’m admittedly a bit of a high  maintenance kinda’ gal!  We searched the internet and found our carry-on bags and they weigh under 4 1/2 pounds each, the lightest  with wheels we've found.

I also found a great video Packing Light and I did a trial pack using this method.  Amazingly, I was able to get 2 pairs of Capri’s, a pair of trousers, 9 tops, a bathing suit, 2 pair of sandals, a jacket, undies and my travel appliances into a 21 inch wheeled carry-on.  The whole shebang ended up weighing 12.7 pounds!  Admittedly I’m a small gal, but I tried it out for my husband who’s over 6 feet and he had space to spare!  I still have some trepidation but I'm feeling really good about it so far!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Loom Maintenance

Sorry about the weird fonts, I'm having a bit of a blogger issue!

My loom was the next in line for the New Year’s maintenance overhaul.  Each time we lift up my loom it's a surprise how much heavier it is than Mum’s.  My loom was built in the 1980’s and it is twice as heavy ~ OK maybe not twice as heavy but it is much heavier~ than Mum’s which was built in 2008.  There is nothing  really different about the design so it must be the wood that has all the weight.
So up onto the sawhorses went my loom and everything below knee height was at eye level and I was shocked at how dusty my loom was.
The previous owner had marked the treadles with green Sharpie highlighting the second screw.  I had never tried to clean them before but with a little VIM and some elbow grease it came right off. 
The next step was to level both sets of lamms.  It is pretty easy thing to do with the ‘biting penguins’ (I don’t know what they are really called) it is just a matter of screwing the heads up or down to level the lamm. 
I took off the tie up cords to clean and level the lamms so I had to return the texsolv tie up cords.  I measured each cord against a new one and removed any that were too long or too short.  I tied up the loom in plain weave so that there would be an even amount of tie cord on each lamm.  I was surprised that I had 14 too many long cords and was 5 short on the short cords ~ really out of whack!
There are two new improvements to the loom.  At the top right hand corner of the castle is a pin that holds the main textsolv cords in the neutral position, that pin is very bent so my Dad made me a new one! The original pin seems to be a knitting needle embedded in the wood, now its a stainless steel rod.
The new pin came about because I asked him to drill a new hole in the loom.  On Mum’s loom there are holes on both sides of the castle so the pin can go in through the back and it gives more room on the shelf.  On my loom the second hole didn’t go all the way through so Dad just finished the hole and now I can secure the shafts from the front or the back.
So now the loom is clean and reset for the New Year.  I can’t wait to start a new project.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

12 Shaft Fancy Twill - Four Scarves

This is the first warp after Lily Louet's new year tune up,  a 2/10 black tencel warp.  I purchased this  yarn from Yarns Plus before they (alas!) closed their doors.  Since the cone was getting low, I had a look online for replacement yarn and couldn’t find anyone who carries 2/10 black tencel!  Do any of you know of a supplier that you will share with me?

The warp I put on the loom is 9.5 yards long for four scarves, each scarf has been allocated 83 inches which will be 68 loom woven inches and 7 inch fringe allowances.  The first scarf has a 10 inch fringe to allow tie on to the front beam and the last scarf has a final fringe of 16 inches to allow for loom waste included.

The pattern I’m weaving is 12 shaft fancy twill that I developed based on a combination two patterns.  The first pattern was shared by my friend Susan and she showed it on this post.  The second inspirational pattern was found in Handwoven’s Design Collection #19 called ‘Peacock Shawl’. 

I’m weaving the scarves so that I can take them with me on my New Zealand trip in five weeks, not too sure if that’s enough time as I’m in a particularly poky period of late!  We have been invited to stay with several friends that my husband went to Ardmore Teachers College with in the 1970’s (yes, he’s a man who holds on to his friends!)  I thought a hand woven scarf would be a lovely hostess gift for the ladies in their lives.
The first scarf is woven using 2/10 burgundy tencel and I’m really very pleased with the pattern.
I’ve already finished the first scarf and I’ve started the second scarf in 2/10 soy silk in a lovely hand dyed bronze. 

As you probably know I live on Vancouver Island and frankly a moist environment is an understatement.  Today it’s dense fog and 100% humidity!  Needless to say wearing wool in the winter is a must for me, but I hate the tendency for wool to pill and make you look unkept.
I bought this great gadget by Conair called a Fabric Shaver and I can’t say enough great things about it!  There is a guard that allows you to choose how close you come to the fabric ~ security blanket for me!
Here is my brown wool cardigan sleeve before I attacked it, yup....gnarly barely covers it!
Here it is with one sleeve done, much, much better!

This is just the first part of the pile of pills I removed ~ amazing ~ I'm all back to smooth and warm.