Monday, July 18, 2022

Fleur de lis

Sorry for disappearing for the last two months.  I got diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy in May, which means that half my face is paralyzed and drooping.  One of the problems is that my left eye doesn’t close all the way so I haven’t wanted to weave in case fibres/dust get into my eye.  But now my face is starting to get better and I’ve started weaving again.

Last month I had someone interested in one of our original drafts, the fleur de lis diversified plain weave pattern.  The pattern needs some tweaking so I decided to weave the pattern again to get it perfect.

I started from the pattern which Mom created to make table runners.  I pulled everything out of the stash that could be used for a table runner.  Diversified plain weave is a very hungry weave, it needs two types of threads, one thick and one thin in the same (or similar) colour for both the warp and the weft.  So it can be challenging to find yarn that works. 


I’m also trying to make a project guide to sell as a PDF on Etsy, so I also need to use yarns that you can currently buy.  I ended up ditching the table runner idea and going with a Tencel scarf.  The warp is 2/8 Tencel in white and white sewing thread.  It was very slow going to pull the warp with such a fine thread as sewing thread!

One of my favourite steps is trying the different weft options, in this case grey teal, Ming blue, blueberry and azure, all different blues.

The fleur de lis pattern is looking pretty good but I can see a few more tweaks are needed to make it perfect. The pattern can appear quite different when woven compared to how it looks on the computer.  

The colours and motif looked quite familiar then it dawned on me that my scarf is going to be similar to the flag for Quebec!

The garden is still struggling with the colder weather, it is definitely Feb-uly.  But plants are starting to bloom and the summer colours are starting to come into their summery best.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are almost to the ceiling and laden with fruit, but nothing ripe yet, but the cucumbers in the back corner are the star right now and giving us a cucumber almost every day!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Twice as Nice

Twice as nice is the theme of these table runners, because it seems that I have to do everything twice!  I started these runners back in March and I originally pulled the warp for these runners at 5.5 yards but the warp ended up 100 threads to short.  The warp is made from 2/10 Pima cotton.

So I placed the warp back onto the warping board, it took two of us to stretch it back on, and unwound it.  I had pulled the warp using two cones that were ever so slightly different shades, so I had to carefully pick the warp apart into two balls. 

After more careful math I pulled the warp again at 4.75 yards long.  This time it worked out!  There is enough warp for two runners.

I have woven this pattern before many times; it is a favourite, so I used the threading chart that I had printed out years ago.  Well, I got about ¾ of the way through threading and I had run out of pre counted heddles on three harnesses.  I went back and looked at the computer, to find out that at some point I had created a second version of this pattern and I had threaded using the first version.  Oops.  So I threaded again using the correct version of threading.

On the home stretch, I finally sleyed the reed and tied on the warp.  I started to weave the hem and I noticed that I had a sleying error right in the middle of the warp so I had to fix the mistake and resley again!

I am finally weaving the first of the two runners; the weft for this one is a lovely lavender 2/8 Orlec.  The runner isn’t weaving up very quickly because between rain showers I’m running outside to work in the garden. 

It has been a very cold and late spring; we are about 3 weeks behind.  But the tulips are up in the spring flower pot, a promising sign of spring.  It is hard to believe that in two weeks, at May long weekend, that the tomatoes will get planted out in the vegetable patch.  The tomatoes that we started in the greenhouse are only about 2 inches high still.  They have some catching up to do!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Tartan Tea Towels on Four

Last week we received a lovely big box of colour from Maurice Brassard et fils.  Opening the box is such an exciting moment.

Once I get the tubes of cotton out of the box, the ideas for weaving projects seem to pop into my head, so many possibilities.

Before I put the new tubes of cotton away, I take the time to use a Sharpie and colour the top of each of the tubes.  I choose a new colour each cotton order.  This allows me to make sure that I’m using the same dye lot when I weave a project.

Why take the time to colour each tube you well may ask.  The marine blue cottons in the photo below are all the same colour, but from different dye lots.  There is a very noticeable difference in them ,sorry if the photo doesn’t show it well, but trust me they are very, very different!  If put side by side in a weave it would be a disaster.  Yup, learned this the hard way!

Now that the cottons are all here I thought I’d make some plaid tea towels.  Well not just plaid, but tartan tea towels.  This is the warp for the Cunningham Blue (Dance) pattern as found in the Scottish Registry.  I chose this particular pattern as one of my husbands great, greats was a Cunningham, so a perfect place to start. 

And the other part of the pattern.

Now that I have one full pattern repeat done, I’m stoked!  It is so very bold and lovely, I can't wait to see the final tea towels.

The garden here in Comox is really slow to start this year, it has been cold and down island from us actually had SNOW yesterday.  Glad we dodged that weather system.  Here is the lovely Violette odorante 'Sweet Violet' just starting to bloom in the wet garden, it is so charming and smells like heaven!

Monday, April 4, 2022

Tea Towels Redo

The 2/8 cotton finally arrived from Quebec so I can get started on the tea towel commission I received.  I originally wove the tea towels in October and I enjoyed weaving them so I’m excited to redo them (here is the blog post).  


The tea towels have seven different colours in the warp and there are a lot of colour changes making the stripes.  So I pulled the warp in four sections to help keep everything in order.  

The tea towels are lime green with wide ribbons of colour running the length of the warp.  The colours in the ribbons are purple, lilac, pink, periwinkle, turquoise and white.  I know, it sounds busy, but this is really a pretty weave.

The pattern is twill and the weft is navy blue cotton.  The colours of the warp really pop against the navy blue weft.  I wove four tea towels in total, all with the navy blue weft.  

For finishing the tea towels I like to use the sewing machine to stabilize the raw hems before placing the tea towels into the washing machine and dryer.  

I clip the weft ends before the first pressing of the tea towels.  I do another final press once the hems are stitched up.  Sorry for the yellow photo, I had to have the lights on because we are having lots of April showers this week; hopefully they will bring lots of May flowers.

The tea towels are almost done, they just need to be hemmed and I can take some photos for the listing.

Final Garden Photo is an update on the spring bulb lasagna pot.  It is absolutely heaving with ‘Tete a Tete’ miniature daffodils and purple violas.  The tulips are almost ready to bloom in a day to two.  Overall the lasagne planting of the spring bulbs has been successful and the pot has been a lovely addition to the garden.  We have it front and centre on the patio and it makes the back garden pop!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Waiting

There are empty looms in the studio waiting for the next project.  I know what the next project is going to be - I was asked to redo some tea towels but I don’t have the colours needed so I’m waiting for the yarn order to arrive from Quebec.

While I’m waiting I decided to get started with the next project.  I spied some lovely mercerized pima cotton in golden beige, in the stash, that is just begging to be made into table runners.  I’ve even started pulling the warp; here are the first 100 threads of the 5.5 yard warp.

As I finished one cone and started the next I noticed that one cone is a little lighter than the other.  Before I started pulling the warp I wondered if I should pull the cones together and I should have.  So I’m going to carefully undo the first warp chain and then pull the warp correctly.

We are waiting for the garden soil to warm up so spring cleanup can begin in the main gardens, meanwhile I’ve spent days sieving the soil in the Vegepod, a raised garden bed from Australia.  Last winter we planted some winter vegetables, kale and collard greens, but some stealthy critter ate them all.   I was hoping that I could find the culprit by sieving the soil but, after days of sifting I didn’t find anything.  I’ve finished sieving and adding nutrients to the soil so the Vegepod is waiting for some spring greens like lettuces, mache and spinach to be planted.

We are still waiting for Spring to finally kick in.  It has been cold, grey and wet but the daffodils are looking sunny and hopeful.  The new leaves on the Japanese maple trees are still waiting for some warmer and sunnier weather.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Black Table Runners Finished

To remind you of my last blog post I had just finished threading my loom with 2/6 black cotton for two table runners.  For the first runner I was able to use the original weft that I had intended to use.  The weft is 2/5 perle cotton in a stunning dark ecru/sand beige.  

The pattern is a 12 harness twill pattern that has lovely large circles with large diamonds surrounding them.  I do enjoy weaving circles!  The runner wove up quickly with the large grist of yarns.

When I nearly reached the end of the runner I had to decide if I had enough warp to squeeze one more repeat.  The pattern repeat is a little over 6 inches so I would have to ‘steal’ two inches of warp from the next runner.  I chose to go for it.

For the second runner I dipped into the stash and found a lovely pink rayon.  I took a bit of a risk because I know that pink can be a hard sell.

I wove most of the hem and the colour is lovely but the yarn has fuzzy bits and lumps which just didn't suit the high quality look I was going for.

I thought that it might be just be damage on the outside of the cone so I filled two more pirns but they are just as fuzzy and lumpy.  So I pulled out the pink rayon and went back to the drawing board for a new weft.

I tried a 3/10 cotton in true gold which worked but it seems a little brassy against the neutral beige of the first runner.

But I went for it anyway!  And I’m glad that I did, it’s graphic and bold.

As I had stolen two inches to finish the first runner, I had to squeeze out the last bit of the warp for the second runner.

The warp beam was as tight as it would go against the heddles.  I think that I was only able to weave so close because I use a counterbalanced loom.  A counterbalance loom lifts and lowers the harnesses at the same time, which increases the shed opening.

I haven’t quite finished the runners, I still have to hand stitch them but I took some beauty shots anyway.  Please ignore the pinned hems.  The first runner is black and sand beige, a classic neutral colour combination.  


The second runner is the bold true gold and black.  The large scale of the pattern just pops!


One thing that I was surprized about by these runners is that I didn’t really like the other side of the runners.  The pattern on the under side is warp faced and as I had used the black cotton for the warp the back is very dark and obscures the pattern.

Final Garden Photo is blueberries.  They are starting to bud up and it feels like they will burst into leaf any moment.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Finished

Finally, the tea towels are off the loom and finished.  It seems to have taken forever.  I feel very excusey (not really a word) when I say life this past month has been hectic.

As well as our washing machine giving up the ghost, our heat pump/furnace started struggling during a very unexpected cold snap and we are waiting on replacements.  And, to add insult to injury, just when we stated getting all of that under control the microwave just stopped working.  Needless to say it has been a very frustrating and expensive month for us. 

Now that I believe we are on an upward trend I can show photos of my tea towels.

All six turned out well and I did have the bonus of freeing up all of my pirns.  It is so strange to see all 12 of them empty!

I happened to look into my tea towel drawer just after taking photos of the new tea towels and it was just plain sad.  The towels were well over 10 years old, and like the painters house, the weavers tea towels were dull.  The one on the right front was actually woven in 2006!

I decided right then and there to be my own customer and so I am keeping the lot and don’t they look fresh.  The odd one out at the back is from the linen and cotton tea towel warp I wove awhile ago.


This weeks garden shot is of some sunflowers we grew last summer.  Our hearts go out to those in Ukraine.