Friday, April 3, 2015

Eight Shaft Twill Tea Towels

Lately I have two main weaving goals forefront in my mind when planning a new project.

 *The first is the ever demanding stash reducer ~ what I weave MUST use something out of the stash.
*The second is that what I weave should be something that I can sell.

After all these years of weaving I have more table linens and scarves than one person can reasonably use, and since for some reason I continue to make mistakes; (what is with that?)  I’m constantly adding to them!

This project filled both criteria quite nicely and with some panache too!  Digging deeply into the 2/8 unmercerized cotton I found 12 ounces of marine blue and 8 ounces of lime ~ the perfect amount for 4 tea towels ~ just.  I must admit that it is getting harder and harder to make sense of the bits and bobs I have left, but I'm determined to hold off buying more as long as possible!
I pulled a warp of 5 yards in length and 24 inches wide which will make just 4 tea towels.
I wanted to make a graphically strong statement and I think I’ve succeeded with this pattern of curly stars which appear in all four corners of the towel.  To ensure that I had enough marine for all 4 towels I’ve made 6 stripes of lime on either side which really makes a bold statement.
I wove 4 pattern repeats, then added a cotton sewing thread to mark my hem turn under.  I find that this really helps when you are finishing the towels. Then I wove 7 pattern repeats before starting the six alternating lime and navy stripes .  I love how bold the stars appear!
So far I have woven two of these tea towels, but a bout of surgery has slowed me down somewhat.  A couple of weeks ago I had laser surgery on my kidneys to nuke a few stones and although it went well; the stent they left behind is giving me lots of grief right now.  Hopefully, it won’t be with me long and I can get on with weaving.
The garden photo this time is of Magnolia soulangeana 'Little Girl ~ Susan'  commonly called a Saucer Magnolia.  This is a dwarf variety of the cultivar and the flowers look far to big for the wee tree!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

February Dye Day for Silk Warps

The day after dyeing the silk blanks we dyed some silk warps because we had some dye left over.  We had purchased some 2/22 bleached silk from Georgia Yarns and the silk has a grey tone.  In the picture is white 2/8 cotton and three tall cones of silk, so you can see the colour difference.
That evening was spent pulling silk warps, we got three warps each with 200 ends per scarf.
We soaked the warps in water first and they were very hydrophobic I had to use a plate to weigh them under water.
We then soaked them for an hour in Soda Ash.  It was the last of the soda ash we have and to buy more was going to involve a long trip to Victoria but doing some research I believe that a product called pH Up from the pool supply store is soda ash and I can get that here in town.  Has anybody used it?

We dyed the warps using our usual method of plastic wrap, disposable cups and sponge brushes.
From the last dye day I really enjoyed weaving the warps that I had dyed lengthwise so I did one warp blue and turquoise dyed lengthwise.
Next one is 2/3 orange and 1/3 pink also dyed lengthwise.
The last one is one of those warps that it doesn’t look so good but when it is woven up it could be amazing.  Or I could chicken out and over dye it.  It is gold, moss, plum, green and black.  
Mum's first warp is grey with areas of the natural silk showing through.
Next one is moss and plum dyed in streaks.  Similar to the Oil Slick Scarf.
The last one is a really pretty green and purple.  It is a dark and grey day today and the colours aren't really showing up well.
We also over dyed our two problem silk blank scarves with the too bright yellow.  Mum’s scarf has a yellow centre and pink ends.
And is now dyed with an orange centre and pink ends.  For Sale.
My problem scarf was dyed is dyed lengthwise yellow and green with the green dye 'breaking' into greens and blues.
I dyed the yellow area with large green splashes and I added some purple to the green area.  I just made a huge mess of the scarf, the green didn’t attach but the purple did, I probably should have soaked it in some soda ash first.  But it is ugly and I am going to over dye it again, correctly this time, using grey.  I think that grey is my only chance of covering the purple/green mess.
Final Garden Shot is Black Elderberry - Sambucus 'Black Lace'
A few days ago I made a Gougères, French cheese puffs, in a triskele pattern and I thought it looked pretty enough to share with you.

Monday, March 9, 2015

February Dye Day for Silk Scarf Blanks

It has been such a mild winter this year; it feels like it's been spring since January!  So Mum and I decided to have an early dye day.  We have such fun dyeing silk warps that we decided to do try silk scarf blanks. 
To get started we soaked the twelve silk blanks in soda ash for an hour.  Then we decided on the colours of Procion MX that we wanted to use and mixed up the colours.  The colours were Crimson, Fuchsia, Royal Blue, Green, Yellow, Purple, Grey and Turquoise. 
To dye the blanks we placed a long piece of plastic wrap down enough to double over the scarf.  Because the scarves are so thin we were able to keep the scarves folded in half which makes matching the ends a lot easier!  
We didn't try for perfection, we let the dye move/run were it wanted to go. There were bubbles of air caught between the layers which added to the interest of the scarves.
We tried different techniques like using plastic spoons to drop colour on to the scarves.
We also used sponge brushes to cover large areas of the scarves, or to give large splashes of colour.
We had to wait 24 hours to allow the dye to set, then it was time to wash the dye out. The scarves took a small amount of dye so it took only a couple of rinses for the scarves to be ready.
Mum and I each did a scarf using the yellow colour and it is so eye searingly bright that we want to over dye it!
Here are the beauty shots of the scarfs that we still have, two have already found new homes and two are being re-imagined!
Sky blue middle with new leaf green ends.  For Sale.
A stunning blue and purple marbled scarf.  For Sale.
Pink and orange.  For Sale.
A striking purple scarf that looks like a nebula.  For Sale.
Grey and pink.  For Sale.
Pink, blue and grey polka dots.  For Sale.
Fuchsia and purple scarf looks like the flower fuchsia. For Sale.
Turquoise centre with blue ends.  For Sale.

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! !