Thursday, November 12, 2015

Collapse Weave in Plain Weave

I came home from my last guild meeting all fired up!  I saw a collapse weave scarf that really excited me.  It was woven by Linda Wilson and featured a warp of 2/18 merino alternating with a knotty rayon and crossed with a warp of fine super twist merino.  Linda was kind enough to share her recipe and sell me a cone of the elastic super fine weft so I could weave my own scarf.  The weft was soooo fine, like frogs whiskers and has quite a bit of spring to it.  It is the big cone in the back.
I swear I had that warp on the loom within 6 hours of the meeting ~ I was that excited!  This project fit me ‘stash busting’ requirements to a tee.  I already had a cone of  2/18 merino in blush pink and a huge amount of rayon knot yarn in cream and blush pink ~ so I was set!
The warp was sett at 12 ends per inch, and was 16 inches wide.  The weft was aimed at between 10-12 picks per inch, and as you can see, it’s very, very airy.
I must admit that it was quite difficult to maintain such an open weave and I found that squeezing the weft on a closed shed worked the best.
The scarf wove up really quickly because it was plain weave and even now, before washing, you can see the texture of the scarf.
Here it is after hand washing and a full 20 minutes in the dryer!  I must admit that putting it in the dryer was scary, but I checked every 5 minutes and only stopped when it was completely dry.
I think it came out beautifully, very much like crepe de chine and with an amazing drape.  The stats for this scarf are really interesting too.  The on loom measurements are 15 ½” wide by 80 inches long plus fringe.  The off loom, pre wash measurements are 13 3/8 inches wide by 80 inches long plus fringe.  The finished measurement is 8 inches wide by 73 ½ inches long plus fringe.  I had 48% shrinkage in width but only 8% in length.  I have enough warp on the loom for a second scarf and have changed the sett to 14 ends per inch to see if I can achieve even more crepe.
The garden shot for today is Fothergilla gardenii 'Mt. Airy' (Dwarf Fothergilla) which is changing colour in an amazing way.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Summer and Winter Christmas Tree Tea Towels

I wanted to weave some Christmas tea towels with Christmas trees and after looking at many drafts I found the draft that Mum had used to make Summer and Winter Christmas trees for Christmas cards.
For the warp I used a 2/16 natural cream cotton set at 36 epi so that is close to 900 ends with most of those on harness 1, 2 and 3 because of the plain weave.  I had to make some changes to the draft to make it work with my loom as I only have 100 heddles per harness.  So I expanded the draft onto 12 harnesses with harness 1 through 7 being the plain weave and 8 through 12 being the pattern harnesses.
I still needed ten extra heddles on harness 1 through 4.  Summer and Winter is a heddle pig!  So I had to take 40 heddles off harness 12, I don’t really like to move the heddles around on the loom because it hurts my fingers.  I call the black pins used to hold the harness on the texsolv system ‘evil penguins’ because they bit my fingers!  But I only move heddles once a year so it is OK but if I had to do it more often I think that I would spring for more heddles!  The picture is harness 12 being held up by the lease sticks.
The plan for the tea towels is to weave plain weave for the hem in the 2/16 cream cotton.  The first three inches in the Christmas Tree pattern in the 2/16 cream cotton.  Then weave a stripe of the Christmas trees in green 2/8 cotton.  I want the Christmas trees to really pop.  The rest of the tea towel will be woven with 2/16 cream cotton in the Christmas Tree pattern to add a texture to the bulk of the tea towels.
I noticed that when I was weaving with the 2/16 cotton that I had large loops on the edges.  In the picture you can see that the tension is fine with the 2/8 pink scrap cotton but the 2/16 is too loose.
I use Schacht end feed shuttle so that means that I have to change the tension on the spring plates in the shuttle.  To do that there are little screws on the side that you stick in an Allen wrench in and turning clockwise for higher tension.  A pro tip is that there are two plates and you have to adjust both of them so small adjustments on both sides!  I only adjusted one side and it really affected the draw and I was close to losing the whole plate by pushing the screw out!
In the picture you can see the tension adjustments being made in the selvedges.
Finally ready to weave the pattern for the Christmas trees after a lot of unweaving.  I even remembered to flip the pattern before weaving!   It is OK but . . .
The selvedges are terrible!
I don’t think that there is much that can be done to save the tea towel project.  There is already two inches of plain weave for the selvedge.  I was going to do 4 picks of plain weave between each Christmas tree motif but the draw in would make for terrible edges.  Also I had only woven about five inches and already some of the pattern threads were drooping which I don’t really get because I had only woven about ½ inch of the Christmas tree pattern.  I shudder to think what a mess that I would have ended up with after a full pattern repeat.
So I unwove everything, put the lease sticks back in, untied the cloth bar, pulled the warp out of the reed and the heddles – there is no going back!  So now I have to hit the books to find a different draft that is going to work for my Christmas tea towels.

Final Garden Shot.  I think that we post a picture of this plant every year because it is absolutely beautiful.  It is a Beauty Berry Bush (Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion'), the lime green leaves and purple berries makes it the star of the autumnal garden.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Custom Order for a Wall Hanging

I was contacted through our Etsy store about weaving a wall hanging for a lady on Denman Island.  She wanted to have something neutral in white/cream with a subtle pattern to disguise an electrical box in her living room.  I put together some colour combination ideas for her using cones from the never ending stash!  This was one very brave lady to have commissioned by just seeing some photographs of cones!  The first group of photos have a white Normandy linen base with different coloured linens.
The natural grey fine linen.
The linen/cotton blend with a warm straw colour with white streaks.

The second option has a natural creamy white cotton base with different silks. 
The soft green fleck silk.
The dark natural khaki silk.

My client chose to go with the white linen and the linen/cotton blend with a favourite pattern of mine; seven shaft snowflake twill. I was glad she chose to use the white linen because we had some warp threads already pulled from another project, Mum’s linen runner, which I was able to re-purpose.
I also finished the cone of white linen for the rest of the warp!
The linen/cotton weft is very fine and so very neutral that it is hard to see the pattern but it is really soft and lovely.
There was enough warp for another runner and I decided to do the same sized runner again but with a larger sized weft in a darker colour, this time in a silk/linen blend.  It wasn’t one of the choices that I had given the lady but I thought that it might be more in line with what she thought she was getting (if that makes sense, a little mind reading in my case.)
With the blog name of Dust Bunnies Under My Loom we don’t show a lot of dust bunnies but here are some giant linen ones that the linen created!
Here are the two runners side by side.  I wove them on the same warp and to the same length but after wet finishing the finished sizes were quite different.  The cotton/linen blend runner finished size is 18.5 inches by 56 inches and the silk/linen runner finished size is 20 inches by 54 inches.
The silk/linen is really pretty and the shine is gorgeous and that is the one that she chose!
The cotton/linen runner is much harder to photograph as the colours are very subdued with little flecks of creamy cotton.  But it, too, is lovely and has a wonderful linen shine gleaming through.  For Sale.
Final garden shot.  This year there is a wonderful layering of plants in the garden.  You can see Weigela, Dahlias, and Hibiscus and the Green Man on the fence. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Evolution of a Weaving Project

How does a weaving project begin?  Today it began with a general need to weave something.  It’s a grey day and my lovely Lily Louet is naked. Tea towels have been selling well for me lately so I opened up my PCW draft folder and started poking around in my tea towel folder pattern folder looking for inspiration. Click on the photo to make it bigger.
I remembered a seeing an interesting pattern in 4 shaft twill from one of the Guild of Canadian Weavers exchanges; naturally I couldn’t find it right off so I thought I’d look through some photos of past projects to see if I could spot it.  Have I mentioned that my attention span is that of a gnat?
Still no luck so I went to the blog to search out past projects and ‘viola!’ found this great runner that Ngaire wove ~ yup I’m stealing from the daughter!

Now that I have the pattern picked, it is time to find the yarn.  I always want to use my stash first, so a foray into Excel is next ~ math is not my strong suit!
I wanted to use Orlec which is Orlon from Brassards in Quebec for this project because it washes and wears extremely well and has outstanding colours (and that is what Ngaire used!). I pulled out my stash bucket and started weighing to find my options; as you can see there really isn’t much left!
I decided on brown and robins egg blue….really fresh and pretty!
Now it’s just loading up the loom and enjoying the process.

We are huge cycling fans and right now the Vuelta a Espana is in progress, so I need to do something to keep my hands busy while I'm watching the boys in spandex climb mountains.
I've had this huge 30 ounce spool of 6 ply Pima Cotton in my stash for a few years.  This is truly beautiful cotton with a lovely sand colour and lustre.  I seriously can not find a use for this beauty!
So to while away the hours over the 21 day tour Ngaire and I take turns un-plying it.  What we will have in the end is 30 ounces of 2/10 Pima cotton and that we can use!

Friday, August 28, 2015

All the Mistakes Along the Way

This is a story about how everything went a little bit wrong during a weaving project.  It all started innocently enough with a drall tea towel project.
I pulled my warp in white 2/8 cotton and I carefully counted the ends.  It was going so fast and then . . .
I put the warp through the raddle at the top of my loom and Mistake 1!  I had miscounted the threads on the warping board as doubles so I had actually only pulled half the warp.  So back I went to the warping board to finish pulling the warp.
Mistake 2 was threading errors.  The threading plan prints up quite small and through an optical illusion on the plan I had placed eight threads wrong on all seven blocks.  This showed up as a thicker vertical line. Of course, I didn’t find the error until I started weaving.  So I unwove the weft then untied the warp from the cloth beam and finally fixed the threading errors.
Mistake 3 was a treadling error.  The pretty drall boxes started a little wonky with a wavy line instead of the crisp box I wanted, but, again I didn’t notice until I went to advance the warp.  So I unwove the 3 inches back and tried again.
Mistake 4 was a floating thread.  In the first drall box so this time I unwove 6 inches and tried again.  I finally got my rhythm and the purple tea towel was finally finished. 
The other three tea towels on the warp wove up quickly, thankfully.  For all the mistakes and the slow start, these are probably the prettiest tea towels I have made!  Here are the finished tea towels in their Etsy photo shoot.
Purple Drall Tea Towel.  For Sale.
Blue Drall Tea Towel.  For Sale.
Red Drall Tea Towel.  For Sale.
Turquoise Drall Tea Towel.  For Sale.

Final garden shot is the first Brown Turkey Fig (Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey').  We had Green Mission Figs ripen at the end of July and now after a couple of weeks the Brown Turkeys are starting!  This one was the size of a mandarin orange and was so sweet.....yum!