Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Autumn Leaves Scarf Finished

I can’t believe its been a month since the last post!  I’ve finished weaving the autumn leaves silk scarf.  To remind you the warp of the scarf was hand dyed in orange, plum, moss, bronze brown and scarlet and the weft is eggplant purple Tencel.  The pattern is a personal favourite, it is a network twill that kind of looks like leaves.

The finished scarf is quite lovely, the bright hit of the orange really stands out.  I think that a scarf needs to be bright and cheerful against a dark winter coat.  For Sale.

We went on the first botany walk for the year and while there wasn’t much to see yet, we did some identifying of trees by their bark, there was some hints of spring.  These are fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum) and they are probably blooming now, three weeks later!

In our garden, we’ve add a new raised bed into the vegetable patch.  We put it into a difficult corner where the land dips making it hard to plant, but, it is the hottest part of the garden so we don’t want to waste it.  We are doing H├╝gelkultur which is a layering technique for a raised bed.  You start with a layer of wood/logs, then compost-able leaves and debris, then compost and lastly top soil.  It helps to bulk out the new bed so you aren’t having to buy lots of soil.  It is also composting so there will be nutrients available for years as the layers break down.  We are still in the process of layering.

The forget me nots (Myosotis scorpioides) are blooming, they have such a pretty delicate bloom.  And the lilacs are starting to leaf out and the blooms are just starting to form.  It is hard to believe that it is only the beginning on April.  I think that we are almost two weeks earlier than normal for spring here on our part of Vancouver Island.

In one of the Japanese maple trees there are two branches that are crossing but they are both integral for the shape of the tree.  So we are pulling one branch down using a piece of string tied to a rock, it is working but it does look like the tree has a pet rock that it is taking for a very, very slow walk!  Every time I walk past this tree it makes me giggle.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Autumn Leaves Silk Scarf

In the last post I mentioned that the hand painted 2/22 silk warp that I had picked for my latest project looked like autumn leaves with its splashes of red, orange, plum, brown and moss.  So I went with a tried and true pattern, a 10 shaft network twill that I think looks like leaves.  It can be difficult to pick a weft colour, I like to try a lot before deciding.  First lot of weft choices are 2/8 Tencel, in scarlet, moss and spice.  I wanted to pick colours in the warp so I could highlight the colours of the warp but, nope, nothing worked, it all kind of blended into the warp.

Next weft choices are purple Tencel in amethyst, blue/purple and eggplant.  The eggplant is a possibility as it tones down the orange but the other colours in the warp can be seen.

The last weft choices are gold Tencel in straw, Havana (bronze), gold, taupe and old gold.  I like the two gold colours.  But I’m finding the sett of the warp to be too far apart at 24 epi, especially since the warp has been washed once already in the dyeing process.

I changed the reed to a 14 dent so now the epi is 28 and I’m much happier.  I also retested the short list of weft colours, gold, eggplant and straw.

The winner is eggplant!  And now you can see the leaf pattern in the network twill.

After three repeats of the pattern I’m getting some strange looping with the weft on the left hand side on the scarf.

I think that the looping is caused by one of the shafts, in the photo you can see that one of the shafts is rising higher than the others.

I lowered the tie on texsolv loops on the treadles that corresponded with the shaft that was too high.  I also added four threads of eggplant Tencel to each edge of the scarf to make a border to also help with the looping.

The loops have disappeared and I think that the eggplant makes for a nice frame for the scarf.

Final Garden Photo this week I thought it was going to be daffodils blooming but we got one last snow storm.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Choosing a Painted Silk Scarf

The navy blue tea towels are off the loom and the yellow ones have already gone to their new owner.  The red tea towels have had their final product photos taken and are almost ready to go up in our Etsy store.

Now I’m trying to find something to put on the loom.  All week I’ve taken out different bins of yarns to see if anything leaps up and grabs me.  So far nothing has inspired me, maybe it’s the grey sky.

I finally just pulled out the painted silk scarf warps that we painted last fall.  They are gleaming in the light and they are definitely making me happy!  I lined them up and then had a look at the scarves that we have in the Etsy store, to see what colour we are missing and if any of these would fill the gap.  

I went with the one in the middle of the pile, it is 2/22 silk dyed in moss green, brown, orange, scarlet and plum.  I think that it looks like autumn leaves.  I don’t have a pattern planned or a weft chosen but the warp has been pulled onto the loom and it looks exciting.

We are in the long pause where it isn’t winter anymore and spring is just waiting around the corner.  The daffodils are heading up and the rhubarb is starting to appear from the ground.

The catkins, female flowers and leaf buds of the contorted Hazelnut, Harry Lauder's walking stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') are always an early indicator of spring and frankly I can't wait!

Monday, February 12, 2024

Mistakes Happen

As a follow up to my last post ‘It’s All in the Sett’; I did decide to work on this tea towel pattern. The pattern has so much potential and by sleying it at the wrong sett I did the pattern an injustice.  I did however get some really lovely tea towels, just not exactly the tea towels I wanted.

I had to make 42 more ends to have the tea towel come in at the correct width, so this entailed reworking the entire pattern to ensure that the stripes are well balanced.

As well as adding more ends I was running low on the aquamarine blue, so I had to swap out some of the stripes.....essentially making an entirely new stripe sequence.

As you can see I’m nowhere near ready to weave, but I shall persevere and I know they will be wonderful!

While the weather here on Vancouver Island has been rainy and dull, dull, dull I decided to go to my happy place, which is my kitchen.

Three days ago I started making ‘Cold Rising Sourdough Bread’ from Martin Johansson’s book Bread, Bread, Bread.  This is actually a three day process, with Day 1 invigorating the sourdough culture,  (I made this no yeast culture about 10 years ago and she’s a goddess!)  Day 2 was actually making the bread and doing all the intermittent stretches and coil turns and then popping it into the Bannetons to chill overnight in the fridge.  This morning all I had to do was to bake the two loaves.

This is the round one.

This is the oblong one.

And this is what happens when you are too lazy to put them on separate baking sheets to bake independently!  Thankfully they still taste amazing.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Navy Tea Towels on 12 Shafts ~ Part Two

After I finished weaving the 4 tea towels that are fulfilling a commission, these four were woven in golden yellow. I can now turn to the 2/8 cotton stash for the last 2 tea towels on the navy blue warp.  There is so much colour to choose from blues and teals, pinks and purples or the oranges, reds and greens.

I went for the bright red for the last 2 tea towels.  It is a classic colour combination for a reason and deservedly so; its such a lovely combination.

The 6 tea towels are finally off the loom and they make a satisfying pile.  I cut them into pairs and using the sewing machine stabilize the raw edges before tossing them into the washing machine and dryer.  I did put the red tea towels in a separate wash load just in case the red dye decided to run a bit.

I spent all day yesterday ironing!  First I like to press the tea towels in the steam press before cutting them apart and pressing up the hems.

Then I use a metal ruler and an iron to press up the hems, being careful not to burn my fingers on the hot metal of the ruler.  I pin the hem in place and they are ready to be hand sewn.

Here is the stack ready to be sewn.

Final Garden Photo is frost.  Everything this morning looks like it has been flocked with a thick layer of white.  The black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus) in the back is beautifully outlined.

But there are hints that spring is close, the hoop daffodils (Narcissus bulbocodium 'Arctic Bells') in the foreground are almost ready to bloom and in the back in a small pile of crocus that are just peeking out.

The greenhouse is also thickly coated in frost but as the sun climbs in the sky it hits the edge and starts to clear the glass.  There are already seeds started in the greenhouse, sweet peas, primroses and hellebore's.  They like a long and cold start before becoming seedlings.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

It's In The Sett

The bright happy tea towels are off the loom and ready to hem.  I have worked on creating this pattern for some time and have in the past woven a very similar pattern  without issue.

My goal this time was to create a very colourful, uplifting tea towel that was really thirsty and would really hold water well.  So, I decided to change the sett on the weave.

I chose pink, magenta, blue and aqua green for the warp colours.

I decided to sett the tea towels at 20 epi as this has been recommended on several recent articles I have read with the goal to enhance the functionality of the tea towel while preserving the weave.  Sometimes a fabric that is woven too closely will be a little water resistant.

Here is a photo of the tea towel on the loom and it shows distinct diamonds with both warp wise and weft wise floats.  A lovely pattern that gives a lot of surface interest when interacting with colours.

After machine washing and drying I took the tea towels to ‘McSteamy’ my pressing machine and gave them a light press.

To press anything with length you have to accordion it behind the plate and press it while moving forward.  I thought that this was a pretty cool photo.

Then I fold up the hem 5 cm and give it a second quick press.

Here are the tea towels all ready for hand hemming, but where did the lovely diamond pattern go?  I think that the looser sett allowed the weft threads to move around and consequently the pattern has been hidden, drat!

I think that this is a beautiful thirsty tea towel that will function well and brighten up any kitchen, but since I intend to create and sell the PDF pattern on Etsy I will be reweaving these tea towels with a closer sett and few more modifications to ensure that the pattern holds firm after washing.

I have started knitting a new pullover from Drops Design 180-22.  This is a top down stranded knit pullover and so far, so good.  Here is what it should look like when finished.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Navy Blue and Yellow Tea Towels on 12 Shafts

It’s January, so it must be tea towels; that seems to be our slogan here at Dust Bunnies. As I was trying to figure out what tea towel pattern I wanted to do, I got a commission for 4 tea towels.  The colours are navy blue and yellow.  In the picture you can see that the tops of the tubes have been coloured.  When we get a new order of 2/8 cotton, we colour the tubes so that we can keep the different dye lots separated.  The bottom tube of navy is a slightly different colour and in the dark days of winter it could have been hard to notice when pulling the warp, so I'm glad I caught it.

The pattern for the tea towels is a point twill on 12 shafts, the pattern makes lovely shapes in the heddles.  It is one that we’ve done before in 2018 and 2020.

So far the hardest part of these tea towels is the actual weaving, this is the first attempt and I didn’t beat the weft hard enough and the left edge is a mouse nibbled mess; so  I pulled out the 5 inches that I have woven and began again.

The second attempt is much better.  I’m having to do a double beat to pack the weft in nicely and the pattern is showing up much crisper.  I also found that my hanging selvages had uneven weights, I had 7 pennies on the left and 10 pennies on the right and when I added the three extra pennies to the left my mouse nibbled edge magically disappeared.  Who knew it made such a difference?

I’ve finished one towel and I’m starting on the second out of the four yellow tea towels.  I’ve put on enough warp for 6 towels and I’m already thinking about what colours can I use for the last two towels!

We’ve had a very cold spell and then a big dump of snow so the garden is looking a little beat up.  There are no promising hints of green shoots showing today but by next week there could be as we are well above freezing.  Still, I'm longing for days when the sky isn't dull grey and fog isn't our constant companion.