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!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

10 Shaft Free Form Scarf

I feel like I am on a very slow train lately.  It takes me forever to finish things on the loom; projects that should take a couple of days stretch into a week. Then once it is off the loom the project seems to kick around the studio for awhile before I actually get it finished.
Even though we are in a house that is under 4 years old, we are constantly making changes and the big change right now is that we are pulling up the floors from the only two bedrooms that were carpeted.  After much hunting around we finally found hardwood floor that is a close match to the dark maple floors in the rest of the house.  It seems that whatever we have; it’s out of stock or no longer made, or out of business, why is that?
So baseboards have been removed, tack strips pulled out and tomorrow someone is coming to take it all away to their home.  Then the installers arrive and we can put the rooms back together again!

That’s my excuse for showing you yet another scarf that has been woven and cut off but not pressed or finished.
This scarf came off the loom as stiff as a board.  The silk was washed after I hand spun it to set the twist, then again after the dyeing process, so I set the scarf quite closely as I had no expectation of shrinkage and didn’t want to end up with a sleazy scarf.  The warp width was 8 1/8 inches on the loom and the finished scarf is 7 7/8 wide.
The warp I pulled was 100 inches long and the scarf with fringe now measures 96 inches, so somewhere along the line I lost 4 inches.  Since the scarf has yet to be washed, I think this is take-up lost as the warp threads interact with the weft threads….but it is a surprising amount considering only 71 inches have been woven.
I love this free form pattern; the random waves across the width are truly lovely. Once I have twisted the fringe and given this a good wash I think that I’ll try whacking the scarf on the table a few times to soften it up ~ fingers crossed!

The garden shot for today is a big beautiful Dahlia from my back garden, what a looker!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Painted Hand Spun Silk Scarf

This is one of my Hand Spun and Hand Painted silk skeins.  I painted half in dark teal and half red/purple; each section was about 50 inches long.
The skein was 101 inches long and so I measured it out on my warping board with the idea of making a warp while keeping the colour blocks intact.
I tried everything I could think of to make that happen…but no matter how I pulled the warp I was seeing stripes.  I found this great article on Weavezine, by Sine Mitchell and tried all the tips to no avail. I could have cut the skein in half and tied on each end individually, but that was just too much work for a scarf!  So I filed that idea away for another day and proceeded to warp as usual.
You can see how confused it all becomes when you make a ball out of it!

I wanted to use up the entire skein so I decided to pull the warp first and think about everything else once I knew how many ends I’d have.  This is hand spun silk that is close to 2/6 grist.  I ended up with 227 ends at 100 inches long.  Since the silk has been washed several times during the spinning and dyeing process; I knew there would be no shrinkage, so I decided to sett the scarf at 28 ends per inch ~ so this gives me a scarf that will be slightly wider than 8 inches.

Deciding on a pattern was the easy part of this process.  I love a free form pattern so I have dusted off my ever faithful 8 shaft advancing networked pattern because it shows the beauty of the painted warp extremely well.  This warp came out as thin ever changing stripes….I’m going with kinda good at this point, even though it wasn't what I'd hoped for!
Now the hard part for me begins….weft….yup the ever familiar, ever daunting weft choices.  I pulled out all of my 2/8 shiny stuff and started the process.
From the bottom it is Iris ~ I like this one,  Navy ~ dull, dull, dull, Red/Purple ~ this will give me a very red scarf, Brassards Navy ~ again dull; on the top is Amethyst ~ I like this one.
I wanted to see if any other blues would work so I decided to try again.  On the bottom is Blue Ming ~ this made the blue in the silk look grey, Aquamarine ~ this is just plain wrong, Red/Purple again and the winner is…..Iris which is shown on top.  Of all the colours this seems to make everyone around it look good.
I never did show you the final result of my ‘Purple Blot’ scarf (last blog post).  The pattering on this scarf is very subtle and although this photo doesn’t show it well, there will be some beautiful shimmer when it is finally pressed.  Here it has been washed and fulled but not pressed.
This shows both sides and it really highlights the reverse patterning.  Again, washed but not pressed.
I love to show what I’m growing in my garden and here is one of the medium sized ‘Fred’s Plum’ tomatoes….yup there are a few even bigger.  This is an amazingly huge tomato and it weighed in at over a pound….and it was tasty too!  We have a very small garden and to optimize the space I grew this tomato in a construction tube on the ground next to the fence.  The tube allows the roots to get warm and it helps direct the roots downward into what little soil we have.  We have about 1 inch of soil on sand then bedrock...not the best for a veggie garden!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Six Shaft Crackly Weave - Purple Blot Scarf!

After slew of visitors in the last few weeks I am finally getting my bum down on the weaving bench! I hauled out all of the 2/18 cotton I dyed last year and was staring at it for days and days without inspiration so I packed it away again and decided to weave a silk scarf ~ definitely a comfort weave.  

The silk I chose is hand dyed variegated purple singles that has been kicking around my stash for awhile.  I knew the scarf would be 100 inches long, so I just started making the warp and thought I’d find a pattern after I found out how many threads I had.
Turns out I got 247 ends out of it!  Since it is silk singles about 1/18 grist I have chosen to sett it at 30 ends per inch, so the scarf will be about 8 inches wide.

Scrolling through my catalogue in PCW I found one of my favourite patterns ~ 6 Shaft Crackle Weave which I developed a few years ago. 
This pattern started out as a profile draft that uses block substitution and networking techniques.  I wove on of my all time favourite scarf’s using this pattern, have a look at my Oil Slick Scarf.

I’ve amended the original pattern to increase the ends, so I added an additional motif in the centre.  Unfortunately, this variegated silk doesn’t photograph very well at all, but trust me it is really pretty on the loom.
The warp is a bit sticky, so I have left the lease sticks in while I’m weaving to make sure I don’t get big snarls as it pulls forward.  This is unusual for me, but it sure helps keep an even tension.
I've been distracted by both unusually warm weather and the fires we have been having on Vancouver Island.  The fires have given us days and days of smoke in the sky and very poor quality air, but beautiful sunsets.  This one was just like fire in the sky!
 I love to close with a photo of my garden, but with our drought it is looking a bit sad right now; but the other morning Michael found this beauty in the dwarf pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana 'Pumila').  Does anyone have any idea what kind of beetle this is?  It is about the size of a large man's thumb, huge!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig Jig

I’ve been back from my trip to France and Spain for just over a week and I’m finally starting to decompress!  We arrived home at 8 in the evening and by 2 the next day we had company arrive from New Zealand for a week!  It was fun, but tiring.
Michael and I spent time in France in both the Aquitaine and Languedoc regions; needless to say there was lots of wonderful wine, bread and charcuterie consumed!   We were based in Lignan-in-Bordeaux in the Aquitaine, and Limoux in the Languedoc. Every day consisted of a lovely drive, a picnic and an adventure! France again stole my heart with its’ immense beauty and charm and architecture.
We then moved to Spain and stayed in both Catalonia and Basque country.  I don’t believe that there could be two regions more completely different!  Catalonia is hot and dry and has lovely agrarian villages, but unfortunately industrialization has reared its ugly head and for the most part factories were placed quite unsympathetically with the landscape.  Luckily we stayed in Montblanc which is a walled village and quite lovely with no factories nearby.
This is Michael bringing home the groceries ~ our apartment is at the top along the wall in Montblanc.
One of the best parts of Spain ~ yup that wine is under 2 euro a bottle!  Pretty darn tasty too!
Then a long drive across Spain to the amazing green mountainous landscape of Basque country; we stayed in Zarautz, again a very lucky choice.  This is the view from our sun deck with the village and coastline below ~ the road to the house was hair raising to say the least!
Now I’m home and looking at an empty loom, a half finished project and the start of a project that I hardly remember!
I’m sure it will all come back to me....

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tea Towels Recap

Mum and I both forgot to write a blog about the finishing of the tea towels from February!  So this post is going to catch you up on both sets of tea towels.  

To remind you Mum choose to do a striped warp in greys, stone, taupe and navy blue.  Here is a link to the old post. There are six tea towels and each towel has a different woven pattern and weft.  There are two red tea towels that are the same colour but different dye lots.   The burgundy coloured one is woven in squares.  For Sale.
The other one is wine red.  For Sale.
The two green tea towels are also the some colour but from different dye lots.  The tea towel with the square pattern is slightly darker in colour.  For Sale.
Then the other one.  For Sale.
The two navy towels are the same colour but they have different patterns.  

My four pretty periwinkle tea towels wove up so quickly!  I didn't take any in progress photos, oops.  Here is a link to the old post.
As the tea towels have nine stripes in pale blue, lilac, green and peach in the warp I choose not make a plaid border, I think that it would have been too busy.
The four tea towels are very lovely.  For Sale.
The Garden shot is a dwarf rhododendron with pink candles and white flowers (Rhododendron yakushimanum)

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!