Monday, March 22, 2021

Greenhouse and Back Garden

This is the first year that we’ve had the greenhouse and it’s already much loved.  The benches have been added and the first of the seeds have been planted.  There’s still room for a bistro set which is a lovely place to have lunch.

We started some flower seeds and tomatoes in early March and now the tomatoes are just starting to come up.  It is always an exciting time going into the greenhouse and seeing what is up.

We watch Gardeners World with Monty Don, a TV show from Britain, which showed us a different way of starting seeds.  He uses half seed trays and once the seeds have their first true leaves he then pricks them out into larger pots.  We are trying this method this year, although we can’t buy half seed trays for love nor money so we’re using supermarket mushroom containers, as they are about the right size.  To maximize the use of the containers we use a piece of milk jugs to separate the container into two sections, the milk jug is made from food safe waxed paper.

Some other things that are in the greenhouse are some soft wood cuttings that were taken in the fall which have survived the winter and are starting to leaf out.  They are Weigela, a lovely flowering shrub, in the back and Enkianthus 'campanulatus', a wonderful flowering tree also a bee magnet, in the front.  They are a bit of an experiment and we have no idea how long they will take to become big enough to plant out, nor where they will be planted out to!

The garden is still in the winter clean up stage, as it has been a lot colder than in previous years but some things are starting to show.  In the back the Clematis is about 6 inches tall and the black pot is full of Crocosmia but the tips have been touched by frost.  In the front are some pansy’s, why do they always bloom away from you?!  This garden along the fence is going to get a makeover this year so it will soon look very different.

The 60+ heads of garlic are up and are a very promising start to spring.  We are already looking forward to making garlic scape pesto in early summer!

In the front garden the daffodils are showing their sunny faces and wonderful calling card for spring.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Spring Plaid Table Runners

The yellow, peach and pink plaid runners are off the loom.  They made a very satisfyingly large and heavy pile while I was taking them off the loom.

The runners were then washed and air dried.  I run them through the steam press for the first pressing before folding up the hems for hand hemming.  With the plaid pattern there were an amazing number of ends to clip!

The runners are now waiting to be hemmed, just need a sunny day because sitting in the sun and sewing is really lovely.   Now that it is early spring and the garden is calling to be cleaned up every time the sun shines, so a real conflict!

I did a small photo shot to show what the final runners look like.  The first table runner that I wove had a very long repeat; so long, in fact, that I couldn’t see the whole thing as I was weaving.  I was a little worried about it but the runner came out great.  I like the large scale of the plaid stripes.

The second runner has more stripes of plaid and it’s longer overall.  I have to remember when I photograph these runners for Etsy, to take my time to straighten the stripes.  They looked straight on the table but the camera really exaggerates even the smallest of the wiggles! 

I really enjoyed weaving these lovely runners and I’m already thinking about putting more plaid runners on the loom.

The garden photo is crocuses.  They were hidden under some leaves so they are a little bedraggled but they are very welcomed sign of spring in the garden.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Sunshine and Spring Table Runners

There are many different ways to design a weaving project; do you choose the item, the fibre or the pattern first?  For this project I start by looking into the stash for colours that pleased me.  What caught my eye were large cones of 3/10 cotton in sunny yellow, warm peach and spring flower pink.

I decided to do some more table runners; that Etsy shop section is still low on content.  The fresh colours of the warp are such a pleasure to work with on the cloudy late winter days.  

The runners are going to be plaid so I started with the draft for the Lynch tartan, our family tartan.  Mom wove the Lynch tartan back in 2014 using wool in the Ancient colour palette of blue, green and scarlet (blog post 1 and blog post 2).  I have changed the colours to yellow, orange and pink.

For the first runner I choose to weave double the number of threads in each stripe, for example the pink stripe went from 4 to 8 threads.  It made for a surprisingly long pattern repeat of 20 inches!  I was only able to get three repeats for the entire runner.   

I’ve just started weaving the second runner and I went with a smaller repeat, which is lovely but I’m changing colours a lot more frequently, so the weaving is slower too.

Final Garden Picture is a vase full of willow branches in the front hallway.  The branches are lined with fuzzy silver tufts of catkins; they are a lovely sign of spring, and a gift from our neighbour.

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Last of the White Linen Table Runners

This white linen table runner warp was as boring to weave as I’m sure it is boring to read about.  This table runner warp was a repeat of runners that I had just woven but the originals had a threading error in warp so I thought that it would be a good idea to reweave them.  Well, I couldn’t really get excited about the runners so everything about them took a little longer to do.  This is the last runner which was woven with clear blue cotton and it is really pretty.  (I have to keep saying that so that I can finish them!)

Just like the first runner from this warp I finished weaving the runner just as the pirn ran out of thread.  Totally winning the weaving game!

I washed the runners and was able to air dry the runners outside last week.  It has been a warm and mild winter this year but that changed this week as we have had an Artic outflow over the island so we have been 5 to 10 degrees colder than normal for this time of year.

One of the benefits of the cold Artic air is that it tends to be sunny so I was able to get some product photos done of the table runners for the Etsy shop, WovenBeauty.  They will be up for sale sometime next week.  

The last three days we have been walloped by a large snow storm, so far we have about 2 feet of snow.  The snow is heavy and sticky so it perfectly outlines the branches of the trees and shrubs, so pretty!

I had thought that I would be showing you a picture of daffodils in bloom; here is a photo of the daffs just 5 days ago, now they are buried under feet of snow!  I really hope they survive the heavy wet blanket sitting over them.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Re-purposing A Runner

Waaaay back in 2017 I woven three Double Huck Lace Runners in gold cotton (here).  The pattern is really lovely, but the selvedges really were disappointing.

After washing and pressing and really looking hard at them, I just couldn’t put them up for sale with edges that didn’t please me, so they were packed away at the back of the guest room closet.

The selvedges of the runners had been stabilized with 2 inches of plain weave and I was sure that 21 ends of plain weave would be enough to even out Huck’s tendency to bulge unattractively; but it was not to be!

I find one of the simplest and most effective way to update a room is to change out the cushions, and this year is no different.  I happened upon this amazing butter yellow textured cotton on sale and snapped it up.  I was able to make cushion covers for some beige silk cushions, the change to the room was immediate; and while the cushions are lovely, they needed some contrast to really pop in the room.

My mind went back to those Double Huck Lace Runners and I figured that I could cover the small cushions that came with the couch, you know those meagre cushions that the manufacturer throws in with your purchase.   My first job was to unpick the hems of the runners.

I sewed three sides of the runner and gave the envelopes a rough fit, it was almost as if it was meant to be and it was a perfect fit.  It was at this point that I decided I wouldn’t bother with a zipper like in the larger cushions but sew the cushions into the envelope.

To make sure I was working with the straightest edge possible I pulled a weft thread and gave the hemline a trim.  Then folded the edge to the inside and pinned securely. 

Now I was ready to sit in the sun and sew that seam closed.  This way I could get a really good fit to the cushion.  

The 18”x18” cushion really works well with the bigger butter yellow cushions and I think the double diamond motif is offset beautifully by the darker cushion inside.

They look smashing on the teal armchairs too!  

The garden shot today is of the Japanese style tree supports that we made.  I'm a huge fan of Japanese Maples and have six different varieties in the garden.  Generally they are low to the ground and these nifty creations help prop them up without allowing the tree to absorb them into their branches.  Yup, had that happen on one of them and now I have metal hooks dangling like earrings on the poor branch!

Monday, January 25, 2021

White Linen Table Runners Again

I’m reweaving the white linen table runners; I made a threading error on the first batch from the end of last year (Blog post 1 and Blog post 2).  I love pattern and the classic blue and white colour combination so much that I felt compelled to make these table runner right.

I carefully threaded the warp in 2/16 white linen then tied on and woven the first six inches and then I stalled.  The runner sat there for over a week, while I did some spring cleaning and gardening outside.  (It’s snowing today but the daffodils are up and three inches high!)

But I finally started weaving, and I’m reminded why I like to weave this snowflake twill pattern; the treadling is a joy to weave.  The weft is a denim blue cottolin that is a nice compliment against the white linen.

I finished weaving the denim blue cottolin runner and had a lovely surprise at the end; I finished the runner and finished the pirn at the same time.  Winning at the weaving game!

I put on enough warp for two runners so hopefully I’ll finish weaving the other table runner next week, but the spring cleaning list beckons.  We like to get it all done before March when the garden sends out it's siren call.

Final garden shot is of the daffodils almost ready for Spring.  I took on that photo on Thursday, as I’m writing this it is snowing and the forecast is for 5 -15 cms of snow!  It has gone from warm sunny weather to winter in just a couple of days. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Parallel Threaded Scarf 2

 I know, it’s been forever; that would be November 23, to be exact; since I started my two Parallel Threaded Scarf .  After really working at the second scarf for the past two days, I have just cut them off the loom.  Like many of you out there, I have been stalled in the doldrums, so nothing in my world is moving at any kind of speed.

The first scarf I wove on the orange and green warp was crossed with Blue/Purple Tencel.  This produced a scarf where both sides have very similar depth of colour.  The pattern is reversed but since the colour saturation was very similar, the differences are quite subtle.  The iridescence is really lovely with the fourth colour wandering into the crimson/purple range, although the grey day and my camera really didn’t capture it well.  And of course it needs to be washed to snug up all the threads and allow the colour play to develop.

This photo features the bluer side of the scarf and it has all the potential to be a stunner.  Not sure how I’m going to treat the fringe at this point though.  I have several options (a) just twist two green and two orange threads together (b)  isolate the colours and let them go (c) add weft coloured threads to each bout.

This second scarf is by far my favourite.  I worked on the treadling and took out a lot of the pattern echoing and reduced the pattern to these lovely small flower shapes.  I changed the weft to Iris Tencel and the greater contrast really made the scarf pop.

The iridescence is wonderful and there is more of a rosy/purple shine coming through.  I’m sure once it is washed and the drape show, it’ll be a real looker!

I did learn a lot, even though I moved like a snail....I learned that using split complementary colours to create iridescence works and you CAN move the placements around.  The accepted norm is to use colours next to each other on the colour wheel as the warp, then use the colour opposite on the colour wheel as the weft.  I split this up and it still worked just fine.

I will post a couple of photos later after I've done the fringes and when the light is better and hopefully the beauty shots will shine!