Monday, February 9, 2015

Designing at the Loom with a Raddle

I am working on some pretty spring coloured tea towels.  They are mainly periwinkle blue with nine colourful stripes in pale blue, lilac, green and peach.  But there was a little problem while pulling the warp.  I ran out of the pretty green.
I knew that the green was going to be tight so I pulled the warp in batches starting from the edges working my way into the middle.  I have used this tea towel draft before and I have the weight of the warp broken down into each coloured stripe.   I measured all the cones and subtracted the empty cone weight and I thought I had just enough.  But I forgot that I changed the draft from 5 stripes to 9 stripes so of course I was short!
I needed a new stripe pattern for the three stripes left in the middle of the warp.   I replaced the green with the peach and this makes the stripes brighter.  When I put all the mini warps together on top of the loom in preparation for pulling on the warp, I thought that the peach stripes stuck out in the middle of the warp.
So I decided to move the stripes around in the warp.  The edges were pulled with two green stripes each and I also pulled two small warps of a single green stripe.  So I really started designing on the loom!  I kept the edges the same but moved a peach stripe between the single green stripe.   So the sequence is two green, peach, green, peach, green, peach and two green.
First thing that I did was pull apart the three peach stripes into separate crosses but I kept the 5 yards of warp together. 
To warp the back beam of the Louet Spring the warp is separated into the five dent raddle on the top of the loom.  On the top of the loom you can see the warps crossing over each other because of the moved stripes.  There was no trouble pulling on the warp due to the raddle and it took less than five minutes.  
I used to have a Leclerc Minerva (wish I still did, love that loom!) and one of the improvements for that loom was a removable raddle that could be lashed onto the castle which was made from a five dent reed cut in half.  I really think that warping with a raddle makes a huge difference to how well and fast a warp can be pulled on.
If anyone is interested we have a raddle chart that we have compiled and that Mum and I use it has common epi’s and how to warp them on a five dent raddle for the Louet Looms.  A Pro Tip is if you are pulling a warp from two cones keep the two thread group together because the threads have a twist added to them and if you separate the double threads in the raddle you get a twisted mess.  I've attached a JPEG of the raddle chart below.
Garden Picture is Sweet Box (Sarcococca) it blooms in January/February and has an absolutely stunning fragrance of vanilla.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

6 Shaft Twill Tea Towels

It feels like forever, but I’m finally weaving again!  It seems like so many things have taken up my weaving time lately, I’m blaming the fitbit….all that walking is really eating into my play time!

I decided to go to my ‘happy place’ and put on a 6 tea towel warp, both to use up my stash and to get back into the rhythm.  Don’t you love the look of a fresh warp over the back beam?
The pattern I’m using is 6 shaft 2/2 twill and the colours in the warp are silver grey, navy, shale grey, slate grey and beige. 
I decided to use the navy for the weft and to not put in any stripes; I think the pattern speaks loudly enough don’t you? I was hoping for a nautical feel and I think it works.
I finally, and I mean finally finished the silk scarf, and I’m really happy with the result, but it took literally forever!  I swear I had this sitting on the dining table for weeks as I slowly stitched the cord to the edge.  The result is stunning though, but I don’t want to have to do it again anytime soon!
Here it is in all it’s glory….
At the beginning of this post I was blaming my fitbit for not having enough loom time, but I must admit that a few ‘crafty’ projects have managed to sneak in. 
My KitchenAid mixer got a new set of duds…after 34 years of hard work I think ‘Betsy’ deserves a new look!
I have a friend who eats gluten and dairy free and since we were having a Spanish meal we found this Spanish Orange and Almond Cake to end the meal. The Spanish usually decorate this cake with the cross of St. James of Compostela and I think it looks amazing and it tasted spectacular! !

Friday, January 16, 2015

Scarlet Crackle Scarf

I’m sure that every weaver has the same New Year’s Resolution – trying to use up the bits and pieces of the stash.  Usually I look at the different yarns to be used and plan a project but this time I went by colour – red!

The tube of Scarlet Tencel was such a small amount that I had to do some math but instead of figuring out the pounds per yard etc.  I used a spreadsheet that I have been compiling throughout the year that has the average weights of cones (by manufacturer and yarn type), weights of warps and the completed weight of finished projects.  By having all the weights in one place instead of on each individual drafts I can really make use of the information.
I really like tone on tone colours so I went with a lovely Burgundy for the weft.  But as you can see what you can’t see is the pattern!
I like to try every colour that I think has a chance of working because I am constantly surprized at what will work.  So I tried 7 colours starting from the bottom are Navy, Amethyst, Red Violet, Hunter Green, Slate Grey, Black and Iris (a blue/purple).
And the winner is the Amethyst!  It makes the scarf have a lovely iridescence and the Crackle pattern really stands out.
The Crackle pattern is the same one from Oil Slick Scarf and it is truly stunning.  The large star burst pattern shimmers along the length of the scarf.  For Sale.
The final picture is from the Garden and is the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’) and the mass of ivy climbing the fence.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Finishing Crackle Weave Scarf

As the New Year begins and the Christmas decorations are packed away, my compulsion to make change rears its ugly head.  Notebook in hand I walked around the house and make a list of all the projects I want to tackle.  For some reason the tasks that I give to Michael are always the easiest to compile, and bless him, he stoically accepts the list and jumps aboard!  So far I’ve sewn all new cushion covers for the family room adding a nice pop of peacock blue and moved around most of the paintings, spring cleaning as I go.  Michael has done some electrical work behind the gas range to allow it to snug up closer to the wall and what a difference that made!

This year it is a tiny bit harder to fit things into my day because for Christmas I got a Fitbit Charge and it has completely changed the way my days go. This fitness tracker is with me day and night and I had no idea I was as competitive as I am….and darned if I’m not going to get those 10,000 steps in every day!  Walking almost 4 miles every day is definitely eating into my weaving time, but darned if I don’t feel better for it! 
On my last post I mentioned that I had selvedge problems with this lovely silk scarf and so I decided to add a twisted cord to even out the edges.  I made two 4 thread cords 200 inches long and twisted for what seemed like hours.
I pinned it to the selvedge to see how it looks and it really does improve the appearance and hide those weird bumps.
When I got to the edge of the scarf I found I had scads left over, really, really scads left over.
Not wanting to waste all that work I thought….why not double back and see what that looks like.  I like it!  Now find the time to actually do the job and sew it…that’s the goal for today! 
Michael and I have decided to spend our 40th anniversary in France this year so my other excuse for not getting anywhere on the loom is that I’m booking holiday homes in the south of France and Basque Country in Spain and spending time brushing up on my French.  I’m using a free app called Duolingo and it is an absolute blast.  So today I need to sew my scarf, make bread, go for two walks, learn to conjugate a few verbs in French, clean the fridge, post a blog….ahhh nothing like keeping busy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Crackle Weave - 8 Shaft Silk Scarf

After thinking that I’d woven all the hand painted silk warps ~ I found yet another one!  This scarf warp was painted 2/3 fuchsia and 1/3 moss green.  Amazingly, they look fantastic together!  I’ve threaded it with a very big crackle pattern on 8 shafts; one that Ngaire has woven before.  I love the interesting shape of the threading on the loom.
The weft choice was pretty easy on this one ~ dark marine blue kept the fuchsia nice and rosy and kept the moss from being too yellow.  It wasn’t too far into the pattern that the iridescence really started to show up and I was thrilled.
As soon as the scarf was off the loom a significant selvedge problem became apparent; even though I’d used floating selvedge ~ these were a horror!  Where the pattern carried weft floats near the selvedges, there is a very discernible bump outward.
I’ve also inadvertently sett the scarf too loose.  My notes said 28 epi; but in my pre-Christmas daze I sett this scarf at 24 epi and that created the selvedge problem!
Other than my selvedge problem, I love the pattern on this scarf.  The pattern repeat is 216 picks long, so it is wonderfully interesting to weave and the scale of the pattern stops it from being too precious or fussy.  I think it has a wonderful contemporary look.
Now that the scarf is done I have three fix options for the selvedges.  The first is to do a fancy blanket stitch edge, similar to a hand rolled scarf edge.  The second is to a crochet line edge (not anything fancy).  Third is currently my favourite and that is to make a long twisted cord and attach that to the selvedge; I've done this before sucessfully.  Hmmmm, I guess I’ve got some thinkin’ to do!

We wish you a Merry Christmas season and send our hopes for a Happy and Healthy New Year. 

This garden shot is of a planter of Trailing Rosemary that is outside on the patio ~ can you see the flowers in bloom on December 21!  Love it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

V Scarves or the Absolute Disaster

We pretty much always share our successful weaving projects, but rarely share our failures ...not so today!

The idea of a V scarf is that part of the scarf is woven and then cut off the loom.  The warp is tied back up and the other half of the scarf is woven and at the end of the scarf the two pieces are woven together to make a V shape. But that's not quite what happens here!

The first thing to do with this scarf is to pull a striped warp.  I chose to go with bold stripes in pink merino wool with grey and cream in merino/silk blend. Mum went with more and thinner stripes in brown merino/ silk blend and orange and cream merino wool. 
This grey and pink photo shows the first arm of the scarf woven, you can see the filler to keep the open edge tidy; this is the side that is going to be woven into the V shape.  Venetian blinds were used to count off the 17 inches needed for the V shaped plaid  section to be woven later. 
The warp gets tied on again and the second arm of the scarf is woven.  Now is the start of the interesting part weaving in the first arm.  The extra filler is removed from the open edge and small bundles were made to keep the threads tidily tucked away and in order. 
We both had a difficult time with weaving the V shape plaid, it started out really well, but soon disaster loomed (pun intended). 
It became increasingly difficult to line up the scarf edges so that the butting edges weren't too tight and crammed the join; or too loose and sleazy.  The first inch was unwoven so many times that it started to fray the warp threads.
The beater bar also contributed to the mess; as it was pulled against the fell of the cloth it would crush the web of the already woven arm of the scarf and that created puckering and ended up pulling and waving the plaid lines. We both also had some problems with the last thread on the already woven section migrating away from the fell of the cloth and so the whole thing got worse and worse!
I even tried to beat with a hair pick, to push the yarn in instead of using the beater bar.  It did make a better transition and the plaid lines were straighter but it was a different beat and as you can see in the photo it puckered too!
With hindsight part of the problem was the yarn choices, the merino/silk blend was slightly larger in grist than the plain merino wool and the merino yarn was definitely more springy than the merino/silk blend.  I think the sett also contributed to the problem, these scarves were sett at 18 epi and I think a looser sett may have worked better.  After many, many, many attempts at managing the beat to account for the grist and sett differences, we decided to bail and to admit defeat and to literally cut our losses!
In the garbage they went and we both heaved a huge sigh of relief....
The closing garden shot was taken last week before the frost came and killed the lovely pink Chrysanthemum (Sheffield Hillside Pink).  In the foreground is a Golden Smoke Tree (Cotinus Coggyria 'Golden Sprite') and Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinesis' Morning Light')

Monday, November 17, 2014

Caribbean Blue Tea Towels

This is what happens when you pick colours on a grey stormy day!  These tea towels have lots of pretty Caribbean colours – turquoise, peacock blue, leaf green, navy, yellow and white.
I wanted to get more photos while I was making of this set of tea towels, yet I managed to take only two!  Here is the warp through the raddle at the top of the Louet Spring Loom in all its brilliant blue glory.
While weaving the tea towels I use a tape that is marked into sections to keep my tea towels all the same length, the first mark is at 1.5 inches which is my hem, I also weave in a piece of sewing thread to help delineate this place because it will eventually be the fold line.  The next mark is for the plaid border then the main body and then the marks reverse for a total of 36 inches.
The tea towels get machine washed and dried an then I cut them into individual towels.  The tea towels are steam pressed flat then taken to the ironing board.  The first pressing is at the sewing thread line, and then the thread is taken out.  The raw edge of the hem is tucked into the ironed line pinned and ironed flat.
Here are all the Caribbean Blue tea towels and their plaid patterns.  They are so bright and cheerful.  They were a joy to weave and are going to be a joy to use for someone.  For Sale.

Parting shot of the garden is of the Beauty Berry Bush (Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion') which is living up to it's name!  Every year it gets bigger berries and is more spectacular.