Monday, September 28, 2020

The End of Diversified Plain Weave

 I’ve started my third and final Fleur de Lis  runner and I must admit that I’m more than happy to see the end of this project.  I find that I can only weave for a very short time and then the fatigue of lifting 13 shafts on a treadle gets to me.   I can’t see myself choosing to weave such an unbalanced weave again, but I guess, never say never!

For this runner I am using a lot of what I learned in the previous two runners.  I am using the improved motif and the thinly woven hemline.  

My yarns are 2/8 orlec in dark teal and 2/16 cotton in blue teal.  When I went to take the photo and sat them on the shelf beside the fireplace I instantly know where the colour inspiration came from.

The plan for this runner is to weave 2 inches of hem in fine cotton only, to ensure it sits within the hem neatly.  Then to weave  2 inches for the underside covering hem and 4 inches of plan pattern before beginning the motif; hopefully this will allow the motif to begin away from where the runners drape over the table.  I am spacing my motif a full 2 inches apart on this runner.

I’m pretty happy with it so far and the colour is better than I had hoped, now only 50 more inches!

Yesterday I embraced autumn with my first seasonal pie.  I can’t call it Pumpkin Pie because I don’t actually use pumpkin and Butternut Pie doesn’t have the same ring to it; but, that’s exactly what it is....baked butternut squash makes a wonderful pie and I think has a much better texture and less bitterness than pumpkin.  My spider web was a bit messy, but oh so tasty!

The garden shot for today is  Leycesteria formosa commonly called Himilayan Honeysuckle or Fowering Nutmeg.  This is an amazing plant that is in flower for most of the summer and keeps the pollinaters very, very happy.  Then in the fall it produces these beautiful berries in hanging clusters.  Surprisingly the fruit is edible and tastes a bit like chocolate and kind of like molasses.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Finishing Up and Starting Something New

I finished weaving the sixth and last tea towel from the grey, black, white and blue striped tea towel warp.  The cloth beam had a very satisfying fat roll of tea towels on it.

The tea towels have been washed, dried and the hems pressed ready for hand sewing.  Just waiting for a sunny day to start sewing the tea towels, a sunny day makes it easier to see the black thread.

The loom doesn’t stay empty for long, I’m onto the next project, this time it is something for me.  It is going to be a wool throw to keep me warm on the cold winter nights.  I started by pulling out the two wool bins and looking at what we have in the stash, and it wasn't much.

It is going to be a mixed warp as there isn’t enough of any one thing but I know the base is going to be 2/16 blue wool.  I just finished pulling it this morning, there is about half of the warp needed, I’d hope that the cone would’ve given me more. 

I’m going to use bits and pieces of other 2/16 wool including the pink, navy and magenta but there isn’t really a plan right now.  It is supposed to be a random warp but I’m never really good with that so we will see how it goes.  The weft is going to be the 4/1 blue wool that you can just see on the left behind the white cone.

It is starting to feel like autumn now, the trees are just starting to change colour and the sun flowers that we planted in early August have decided to bloom, a lovely final touch of summer!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Diversified Plain Weave Continues

I’m still plugging along on the Diversified Fleur de Lis.  It is a very slow weave and I must admit that I am finding a multitude of reasons not to weave.

I am about half way through weaving runner number two and I have tried a couple of new things with this runner as well as the improved fleur de lis motif.

I was a tad worried that due to the thickness of the weave that the hem may not lay as flat as I would wish.  So I used 2/16 orlec in white ~ the same as the thin yarn in the warp ~ to weave the 2 inch hem in pattern that will be folded into the actual hemline.  It is substantially thinner and I think it will work well and be hidden within the fold.

I originally planned to use a lovely pure blue 2/8 bamboo weft for runner number two.  This should make the fleur de lis motif brighter by swapping out the thin blue 2/16 yarn for the same thin white yarn I used in the warp.  Well, it only took a handful of picks before I saw that it didn’t work, I got a spotty ‘dits and dots’ look.  I also had huge issues with the bamboo weft.  This bamboo yarn was first generation bamboo and it was almost round rather than oval and very tightly twisted, this made the selvedges horrible, so out it came.

Here is where I really appreciated my ‘improved’ stretchers.  I have pretty much given up on the use of temples, they often feel too heavy for the woven web and frankly are a bit cumbersome to move.

I moved to this type of home made paper clip stretcher and it has worked well, although it does have a propensity to pull little distortions in the web.
I have swapped the paper clip for these small bulldogs and it was a real ‘hallelujah’ moment.  Because I have increased the size on the contact with the web I have been able to add more weight to the stretcher, so it is a lovely improvement.

I had a good think about weft yarn, and since my intention was to weave a longer runner for myself I chose these two, lets face it pink can be quite divisive, it’s not to everyone's taste. The thick yarn is rose 2/8 orlec and the thin yarn is 2/16 dark rose mercerized cotton.  These two combine beautifully, but photograph poorly.

The actual fleur de lis is much more subtle on this runner and has proven quite difficult to capture on camera.  In person it is still very subtle, but much clearer.

Part of the problem with photography during the past four days has been the smoke from the west coast fires in the USA.  


We have been completely blanketed and under inhalation warnings, so staying inside whenever possible.  We are still the lucky ones in this horrendous event and our hearts go out to those who are closer and more directly effected by the devastation the fires have caused.

Ngaire took this photo last week while we were basking in our summer 2.0.  This is a pretty wonderful shot of  Cotinus Coggygria ‘Golden Sprite’ or Golden Smoke Tree from above.  Mother Nature sure knows how to make thing beautiful!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Grey Striped Tea Towels Part 3

Once I fixed the threading mistake I quickly got into the groove with weaving the tea towels again.  I’m always surprized at how fast a tea towel weaves up once I sit down to do it.  I do a different band of colours on each tea towel to make them individual, here is an example.

I don’t have much to show about the tea towels as I’m still weaving them but it is always exciting when you finish the tea towel and finish a pirn at the same time!

I’m almost done weaving the towel number five and only have one tea towel left to weave this week before I can cut off, wash and hem the tea towels and have them ready for the Etsy Shop.

But I’ve been doing something else this past week.  I have been in the garage painting.

It is a grandfather clock that we bought in the 1980's when a local grandfather clock manufacturer closed down.   I just couldn't find a place in the house for it while it was natural coloured.  So we  painted it a lovely dark blue based off of one of the shades of Tencel; does anyone else take cones of yarn to the paint store?!  It needs a bit of moving about in place to get it perfect in the room and then the debate is whether or not to start it up.  I'm not sure if we can stand the ticking that close to the couch only time will tell.

Final Garden photo is a blue hydrangea, the flowers start a lovely yellow but then change to blue, unfortunately the flowers are sterile so no food for the pollinators so it will be leaving the garden this year because we are focusing on making our garden a true feast for the wee beasties.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Fleur de Lis Diversified Plain Weave Again

 There is so much going on around here that I completely forgot to write about the progress on my Fleur de Lis in Diversified Plain Weave this week.

It certainly has been a voyage of discovery for me beginning with the ‘aha’ moment when I discovered that my treadling was upside down!

I guess that my usual style of pattern motif is symmetrical and this Fleur de Lis is definitely not that.  I printed the treadling off of Fibreworks and got down to weaving and although I thought the motif was weird, I was so focused on the selvedges that it didn’t click right away that it was upside down.

Once the entire motif was woven, it was apparent that I had forgotten that the pattern is pictured on Fiberworks from behind the loom, not from in front of the loom.

I know that it really doesn’t matter in which direction the pattern appears since it will the same from top to bottom on the runner.  I just didn’t like weaving it upside down, it messed with my thought pattern (I really am a linear kind of gal!)  So, I unwove the pattern and re-wove it from the bottom of the pattern to the top and I’m much happier.

Usually I am meticulous about when and how I add new threads to the web, habitually I add at the selvedges.  For some reason,  I decided to add the new fine thread whilst in the midst of the runner.....why, why, a thousand times why?   You can barely notice it on this side of the cloth (about 10 threads to the left of the flower), but I got a glimpse of the other side while advancing the warp and yup, there is was, front and centre!  

As I near the end of the runner, yet another problem has appeared.  My hanging selvedge threads which were made out of the ‘not cotton’ thick warp threads have started to fuzz and fray and snap. 

I have had to re-hang the selvedges twice on the right hand side so, I will be pulling off these ‘not cotton’ selvedges and replacing them with 2/8 cotton for the next runner.

Speaking of the next runner, while I was weaving this runner I noticed that treadle #5 and treadle #14 were the same. I haven't a clue why I didn’t see it before.  Regardless, I went back to the computer and with some fiddling around I was able to amend my Fleur de Lis and make just a wee improvement now that I had another treadle to play with.

I think that the little drop near the bottom of the motif takes it out of ‘possible space ship’ motif and firmly anchors it in Fleur de Lis!

The garden shot today is of the greenhouses’ progress with our Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata’Renhy’) in the foreground.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Grey Striped Tea Towels Part 2

I started weaving the grey and blue striped tea towels, and as always they are a joy to weave.  I like to give each tea towel a unique band of colours which add interest to the tea towel.  

I was weaving the main body of the tea towel, when I noticed that there was a threading issue with one of the stripes.  It is the dark grey stripe to the right of the blue stripe, there is a weird float in the middle of the stripe.

It was hard to see in the beginning with the colour changes but at 15 inches, almost to the middle of the tea towel it was clear to see.  I decided to unweave the tea towel.  It took longer to unweave then to weave, it also took more pirns!  I had to borrow some of Mom’s red pirns.

I was able to quickly fix the threading mistake but I had neglected to tie slip knots to keep the rest of the warp from pulling through the reed.  So I also had to resley the warp.  A silly mistake! 

So I am back at the beginning, ready to start weaving the first tea towel.

Final Garden Photo is the Persian Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin).  It is blooming with fluffy pink clouds of blossoms.  The smell of the flowers is absolutely lovely.  It is also called a Mimosa tree or, my favourite, the Sleeping tree.  It is called Sleeping tree because it will close its leaves during the night, so cute!  Last week I noticed a lady with a huge professional camera taking photos of this tree, the tree is a beauty and we are at the very end of it's northern range!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Diversified Plain Weave Fleur de Lis

 I’ve decided that it’s time to tackle a project that is quite challenging and that has been on my bucket list for awhile.

A couple of years ago my guild study group project was to explore Diversified Plain Weave.  The end result of my study was that I developed a pattern for a Fleur de Lis.  Ngaire posted a really good explaination of the ins and outs of diversified plain weave here.

I wanted to weave this pattern as a table runner so I began hunting through my yarn ‘stash’ for an appropriate warp yarn.  I found a 2/8 mercerized cotton and a 2/16 orlec in white that will do nicely.  The warp for diversified plain weave is two thin ends followed by 2 thick ends; the best ratio is that the thin ends should be 1/2 the grist of the thick ends.

I pulled the warp of 746 ends in three bouts, alternating 2 thin and 2 thick ends.  I had 372 ends in 2/8 cotton and 374 2/16 orlec ends by the end of it.  

I was well into pulling the warp and I thought that my 2/8 cotton (it was labled that way) just felt ‘un-cottony’.  So I did a burn test and, it was definately not cotton, the melted blob at the end proves it isn’t cotton at all!  I was much too far along to do anything but to proceed.

Diversified Plain Weave is in no way a balanced weave because of the tie down threads.  My pattern called for 186 ends on shafts 1 and 2 and a whopping 236 on shaft three, the rest have only 16 ends on them.  My loom is set up to have 100 ends on every shaft, so moving heddles was on the agenda.

To move heddles on the Louet Spring Loom is daunting to say the least.  My first job was the count out the heddles to move from the back shafts.  I took 80 each from the back 4 shafts.  To make sure the texsolve heddles don’t twist during transport I put a blue twist tie through the top and bottom of the back of each heddle bundle and a black twist tie through the front. 

Now comes ‘biting penguin’ time.  These little holder/adjuster thingamabobbies are lethal!  To get the heddles off the shaft you have to pull the texsolve shaft lines out of the adjusters, hold the two ends of the shaft open and move over the heddles, then re-affix the shafts.  Let me tell you, there are always tears and broken finger nails!  Now to do the whole process again to add the heddles to the front three shafts.

My plan told me that I was going to beam the runner at 24 ends per inch, so I put the warp threads though the raddle on top of my loom as 6-6-0-6-6 ends to spread it evenly.  I was almost half way done and had far too many ends left.

So I went to the computer and had another look at my plan and saw that I had counted the 2 thick ends as one, since they are duplicates.   In fact I don’t have 24 epi I have 34 epi, so I had to move every thread over.....can you see a pattern here.....gotta check things out before I jump ahead!

The threading was pretty simple because most of the ends are on the first 3 shafts.  I have decided to lash on the warp this time.  Generally I tie on my warps (see here for how I do it), but yet again I hadn’t think things through!  I hadn’t actually thought about how long the runner(s) would be before I pulled the warp.   I wanted to get three runners – small, medium and large out of this warp and so saving as much warp as possible was key.

After the warp was loosely lashed on, I tightened the tension and kept my eye on how tight the lashed on bouts were.  As I started to feel them tighten I checked the overall tension by running my hand on the warp web behind the beater bar.  This gives you the most accurate feel.

Now that a few of the bouts were pretty tight, it was time to play the lashing like a harp.  You find the loosest bouts and pluck the slack up and distribute it to the tighter bouts.  The end result is a very even tension.

To splay the warp web evenly I put in a couple of venetian blinds and then a couple of thick soft yarns and now I’m ready to start.

At this point I know I want three runners.  My table is 71 inches long with a 2 inch drop over the edge; so I knew that my longest runner had to be about 80 inches to allow for hem and take up.  The shortest should be about 50 inches including hems and the middle length is somewhere around 66.  Since I have never woven this pattern I have no idea what height each of Fleur de lis motifs will turn out, so I will start with the smallest runner and figure out how much between each motif by trail and error.

 My garden photo today is of my lovely little garden shed.  My husband built it out of HardiPlank several years ago and here it is on it’s final day before we start tearing it down.  We have ordered a greenhouse and this just had to go!