Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finnish Lace Runner ~ A Finnish Finish

This is my fourth weaving project and I chose to do a Finnish Lace table runner. I started before my Mum did her shawl in Finnish Lace but I hit a snag/block and my weaving just sat there for weeks. So I am piecing together what I did from my pictures.

For the runner I chose to use a cotton warp and an orlec weft for the lustre. I picked two colours that were close together so that the finished colour of the runner would be a blend. I didn’t want to have two contrasting colours because on the tabby it could be too busy. I used a light shade of turquoise for the warp and a darker shade of turquoise for the weft.
Previously I had been warping the sectional beam just using finger tension but they were short warps. I had some problems with my tension on my last project, so I decided on this warp to use the tension box. The box made really pretty warp sections all nicely spread out. It was also fun to use but I still had problems with my tension in the end, so I think I am going to take off the sectional for the next warp.
The method I use for threading is to count out all the heddles I will need on each shaft, for the whole warp. Any extra heddles are tied together and pushed to the side as this helps to keep everything organized and also helps to cut down noise as the shaft moves up and down. I then count out the ten heddles that I need and thread in blocks. At the half way point and at the end I am able to double check if my threading is correct. I have not made any mistakes in threading . . . yet!
I used a temple for the first time; hmm I do believe that my Mum did a temple tutorial funny that. I liked using that temple, as I like to stop and look at my weaving and admire it so stopping every inch to inch and a half to move the temple was no problem.
Look at how lovely and straight the temple makes everything.
So I finished the runner and I really liked weaving it. I have no idea why I stopped for so long. I like the runner although there is a design feature in the lateral blocks and I don’t like what it does to the selvedge. The long floats pulled very tight on the edges and make a very noticeable draw in. Please forgive the poor ironing as the iron plug exploded and snapped off when it was plugged in for the final pressing and we had to give it a quick swipe with a travel iron.
The beautiful shine from the orlec really comes out after washing and pressing.
A close up that shows the pretty circles that appear between the two blocks.
Closer still.
The closest I can get.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Finnish Lace Shawl Completed

The Finnish Lace Shawl is done and even lovelier than I had hoped. It is very light and drapes beautifully.

When I took it off the loom it was stiff and I really couldn’t see any distinct pattern in the lacy areas. The white markers are my measuring threads; I measure on the loom every 5 inches and keep a running tally. I wove the shawl 83-1/2 inches long, plus allowed 12 inches for fringe on each end.
Here is a close up of the lace area before wet finishing, quite open but no real pattern. You can see that I used two different cones of red cotton in the warp. The cotton was exactly the same, but from different dye lots. I alternated the red warp ends on the warping board and you can see the uniform pin striping effect, which adds interest to the tabby stripes.

After wet finishing the floats in the lace areas aligned and spaced out, creating a wonderful openness. The lace areas didn’t puff up and create a texture as I expected, they lay flat and seem very stable. This weave structure creates a beautiful lacy openness and really shows off the hand painted warp threads. After wet finishing the shawl measured 82 inches long and 19 inches wide. Amazingly I only lost 1-1/2" in length and just over 1/2 inch in width. I had machine washed it a full 4 minute cycle on permanent press so I attribute the minimal shrinkage to measuring with the tension off and using a temple.

This is my draft for the shawl which I modified from an article in Handwoven Magazine Summer 1984 by Miranda Howard. I left out the alternate pattern blocks and wove the shawl using only lace runs. I was concerned that the lace could take up differently than the plain weave, but this didn’t happen.
I thought I’d share with you how I did the fringe on this shawl. I did a simple hem stitch on the loom in bundles of 12 warp threads. I split the bundles in half and twisted each bundle 40 twists to the right and then combined them and twisted 35 to the left. This gave me a nicely beaded looking fringe, securing with an overhand knot. I then folded the shawl in half and placing one side directly on top of the other I aligned the fringe. Using a line on my cutting board I anchored the shawl with heavy cook books. Then one by one alternating from each end of the shawl I ensured the knots were at the same level, again using my cutting board to line them up.
I am very happy with this shawl overall, but have a few slight selvedge issues.
I think I may be doing a rolled edge or some kind of selvedge treatment in the future to make it really pop in the Guild sale!
Weaving Words

The word tabby describes a plain weave fabric. It also describes a striped cat, a spinster, a rich watered silk and a prying or gossiping woman.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the Beginning

Susan threw down the gauntlet a few days ago so now it’s my turn tell you how I came to the wonderful world of weaving.

The year was 1978 and we were living on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, where the Beachcomber TV series was filmed; anyone remember Molly’s Reach? My sister came for a visit and she came off the ferry carrying an immensely bulky cotton bag. It was a pillowcase full of raw fleece in all its lanoline glory! Marlene proceeded to show me how to pick over the locks and hand card greasy (it was the 70’s after all!) rolags ready for spinning. I was hooked on spinning as soon as I got my hands into that wonderful tactile heap of wool. A few years later in 1980 we moved back to New Zealand so my son could be born there, and I purchased my first really good wheel, which I cherish to this day. It is a Nagy Upright and is made from New Zealand Kauri, a wood which was then and is now a protected species. Every one of the wheels was made from recycled Kauri – mine was made from the banister of a demolished hotel! Years pass quickly and now with two children under the age of three, back to Canada we came. I found myself with scads of handspun yarn and I needed some way to use it – there are only so many sweaters you can use! In 1982 I joined the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners Guild and learned to weave without ever taking a class, I just jumped right in! I don’t have any of my early weaving, but do have some samples with record cards that I’ll share.
Here is my very first piece on a borrowed loom; never one to do things small or start at the beginning, I put on 10 yards of wool yardage 36” wide with my friend Lynne. It was sett at 12 e.p.i and had 432 ends, we each wove 5 yards. I wove my yardage as weft faced twill for a fall jacket using a lovely lofty plum and pink boucle.
I then wove two pieces on my used Leclerc Nilus that I have record cards for but no samples – two twill wool scarves and six 4/8 cotton placemats in rosepath.

Now I was crackin’ and I went for the traditional chioli blouse in rose cottolin. Again I sett at 12 e.p.i.( I think that may have been my only reed size) and wove 5 yards, but only 12” wide – I was a tiny gal back then! When I think back now at loom shaped garments I cringe. Next project was cotton chenille bath towels! I wove 2 full sized bath towels, sett at 10 e.p.i. 30 inches wide and 4 yards long. These towels were all the rage in my guild at the time and never one to be deterred off I went! What were we thinking, they were sooooo heavy they never dried!
The guild put on a guild warp for Krokbragd rugs and although I didn’t know what that was I signed on. I don’t have a photo but do have my record card. My rug was dark blue, turquoise, plum and pink and I do remember it as being really lovely and sadly long gone….I do tend to toss items that are out of favour. Out of this experience I was hooked on rugs and proceeded to weave 9 more over the next year. I was lucky enough to sell 6 of them and again have the record cards, but no photos.

Skip forward to 1986 and I’m back weaving wool yardage for coats , the turquoise was for slash inset gussets, amazingly I sold the coats for about $120.00.

And ruanas which were a big seller at fashion shows and again popular today.

Still 1986 and this is the fabric I made to make two ‘Anita Myers Drawstring Blouses’. I was now weaving at 15 e.p.i using 2/8 cotton, ramie and cotton flake. Very loose sett though!
My final project for the year was to weave samples for everyone in the guild. I chose to weave Canvas Weave – Ribbed Monks cloth with a white cotton warp and white orlec weft. I don't believe these were ever wet finished.....sorry Laura.

As you can see I jumped right into weaving twill before every doing tabby! It's been a great journey so far...can't wait to try it all!

Weaving Words
The word heckle is derived from the flax industry, where linen stems are separated and combed – or hackled. This notion of picking apart to find defects gives us the word, heckle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Silk Spinning ~ From Loosey Goosey to a Silken Butterfly

I purchased a few hundred grams of hand painted silk a while back, one blue/green and one blue/red. They were so beautiful and were just screaming to be spun quite finely for a handwoven undulating twill scarf.

I started with the blue/green and spun it very finely trying to keep about 15 tpi (twists per inch) to achieve a soft shiny product. When it came time to ply I decided that I didn’t want to lose the wonderful effect I had on the single, so I plied it with 2/120 neutral cream silk. Horrors! As I plied it I lost more than half of the tpi and ended up with about 7 tpi, the effect was quite loosey goosey. I still had a lovely fibre, and with the commercial thread it was certainly strong enough for warp, but I was concerned that the lack of twist could allow for excessive pilling once the scarf was woven. So I decided to ply it again. Sorry about the hand hemming on the chair, what can I say - messy, messy, messy!

I made a ball out of my skein and popped it in a glass bowl and ransacking my stash came up with a wonderful 2/160 grey silk thread to ply with it. To keep the commercial silk from rolling all over the place I lifted the bobbin shaft on a Leclerc shuttle and it sat there very nicely. Since I had already plied it Z, I plied it back to S and it really tightened up the tpi.

Here it is on my plying head – looks great!

All too soon however I ran out of the 2/160 grey silk – I had a number of bobbins of pure silk sewing thread 2/80 I think.

So one after another I used them up starting with the palest blue, then a sea green and finally a medium green. I ended up with these 4 flat balls of three ply silk.

Here’s a close up and I really think that I was able to keep the wonderful variations in the yarn colour.

I will have to plan the scarf very carefully to make the best use of this absolutely lovely fibre, but that’s for another day.

On a completely different track I was plying some wool from a flat ball; you know how it is when you only have an odd single bobbin kicking around and nothing to ply it with….. And as I plied it I was amazed at how interesting and beautiful it became!

Weaving Words

The word complex is derived from the Latin word complectere – to braid together.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Floating Selvedges and Eight Shaft Finnish Lace

I’ve woven Swedish Lace, Huck Lace and Bronson Lace so you can imagine how happy I was to discover a new lace for me – Finnish Lace. See Handwoven Summer 1984 for more information on this weave structure. Originally I wanted to make a summer runner for my dining room table, but when I found these colours in my stash and was so drawn to them I knew it wouldn’t work in my dining room; I have burgundy chairs so you can imagine the horrible clash if I put this red and yellow runner on the table! This is how a shawl was born!
I wanted the lacy runs to appear very lacy, so chose to use a yarn with finer grist than the main warp and weft to enhance the laciness. I love the way the hand painted yellow cotton contrasts with the red. So far I think it looks great, and I hope that with finishing the lace will crinkle up and have lots of texture. The white thread at the right is my measuring thread. I release the tension on my loom and measure my web in 5 inch increments then keep a tally of my woven length.
Finnish lace as I’ve woven it has no lateral floats at all, just vertical floats. This influenced my design in that I left out the optional horizontal blocks and designed progressively wider lace bands separated by plain weave. I can really recommend this weave as it is on 8 shafts, but only uses 4 treadles, treadled in point twill for the pattern, easy peasy!
When I made my warp stripes I miscounted by two threads, so I've had to hang them from the back of the loom right next to my floating selvedge. To stop them from twisting together I've threaded them through some plastic mesh.
Here's a close up - this really works!

Now I have a question – There is Swedish lace, Finnish lace and Danish medallion, where’s Norway’s fancy weave? I know about a lot of tapestry techniques alluded to be Norwegian, but anything else?
Now for a change of topic!

I love to be organized and have clear plastic containers that hold the majority of my yarn stash on wire shelves in my studio. I sort by fibre and I have slapped big words on the front of the containers to minimize my rooting around in every container to find things.
This system worked but was really making me unhappy every time I looked up from the loom and saw it– so I’ve come up with another system. For each yarn type I found a photographic representation and messed with it in PhotoShop. The lambs represent fine wool, the moth for silk, the cotton boll and the linen flower for those fibres and the overall effect really make me happy when I see them. Now I just have to figure out something to represent Orlec and novelty yarns!

Weaving Words
Seersucker got its name from a Persian word shir u sukkar meaning milk and honey, and denoting a puckered or blistered surface.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

After the ball!

Saturday at the Kalamalka Spin In was wonderful. Lots of weavers and spinners and of course plenty of hand woven and handspun show and tell. I decided to show my stash organizer as well as the shawl and received lots of positive feedback on the organizer. I was really worried that it was a tad too anal for most of the group, after all, these are very creative ladies. I was pleasantly surprised and relieved at how many ladies though it was something they could use and thankful that so many came up and told me! Thank goodness for that, sometimes I feel that I’m over organized and a bit linear compared to others.

This is the Ponderosa Sheep for ANWG, isn’t he wonderful! Ruth Jarrett is the owner/creator of this colourful fellow. The large wooly sheep has been covered by hundreds of mini skeins of wool in rainbow colours each sewn on by hand. The skeins were in part provided and made by the Ponderosa Guild group.

My contribution to the guild booth is ongoing. I have cut out and top stitched veins on about 100 felted leaves so far and was given this bag on Saturday, more, more, and more! I just know our booth is going to rock!

We are extremely fortunate to have four, yes, four Master Weavers in my area! Gudrun Weisinger got her Master Weaver status in Germany and is - need I say it – an awesome weaver and teacher! Gudrun wove this overshot design using 2/20 mercerized cotton and recycled copper wire gathered by her husband from small home appliances, like toasters….amazing! My photograph really doesn’t do the wall hanging justice, it gleams and sparkles and is so very perfectly woven! Each square is mounted individually and has squiggles of wire in between.
My new mast head is what I’m putting on my loom today. It started out my new summer runner, but it looks very airy and lacy, so I'll weave it as a shawl with a fringe. The red 2/10 mercerized cotton will be woven as plain weave and the hand painted yellow 2/12 mercerized cotton areas will be Finnish Lace. I'll post the draft when I have it tied up and have woven a bit.

Well, back to painting - seems that spring and painting the interior of the house are synonomous.

Weaving Words
Blankets are named after their inventor, Thomas Blanquette, a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol England, during the 14th century.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fixing the Possum Shawl

Tomorrow I’m off to the Kalamalka Spin In, so ya gotta bring something for show and tell, right? I want to bring something to show that I’ve handspun and the latest thing I’ve woven with handspun was the Wool, Mohair and Possum shawl, you can read about it here. Not really happy with it cuz the novelty yarn is scratchy!
I had a good look and decided the problem was the fringe; I really didn’t like the wool and silk novelty yarn in the twisted fringe. It looked lumpy and bumpy and wanted to bridge with it’s’ neighbours.
I decided to pull the novelty yarn out of the fringe and hoped for an improvement.
This is the culprit!
I re-twisted the fringe leaving the novelty yarn out of the mix and then needle wove the novelty back up to the first novelty weft pick and cut if off. Wow, a great improvement, why didn’t I do that originally?
While I was twisting the fringe I noticed that the nap had risen and there was a definite haze on the weaving. As you may remember I was really devastated when this shawl turned out to be a bit scratchy, because the wool was Merino and the Possum should be soft.
So, I borrowed my husbands’ clothes brush, which I know isn't the right tool, and started brushing. I brushed each side lengthwise twice and felt like clobbering myself on the noggin…..there is a HUGE difference. The brushing seems to have helped the soft Possum fur come to the top….soft and sheer. Could it get any better? You can see the Possum haze glowing in this photo.
Now I was left with wonky fringes, so I took the whole thing to my ironing board. I folded the shawl in half and aligned the fringes, then sprayed them with water like mad. I had to get them really wet and pull them straight, but didn’t have time to wash the whole shawl before I need it tomorrow. It worked really well, and after some time spent combing to make sure that the twists were out of the ends, I cut them evenly. I am truly thrilled with this shawl now and I can’t believe I did everything twice! Just goes to show the saying “do it right the first time” has merit!
Weaving Words
The word for the fabric Gabardine comes from the Spanish word gabardine meaning protection against the elements.