Friday, October 31, 2008

GCW Hand Towel Exchange

I received another parcel today, so that makes seven of the ten I’m expecting. I’m the coordinator for the Guild of Canadian Weavers yearly weaving exchange and it is great fun to receive all the submissions, best part of the job! The idea of the exchange this year was to send hand towels and receive different ones in return. There were few restrictions on the towels, just roughly 12”x16”, any pattern, any natural fibre and how ever many you wanted to send. The exchange was open to anyone with a membership in the Guild.

My hand towels were the final project - my swan song on my 12 Shaft Scandinavian Countermarche loom (it now lives in Anchorage Alaska). A beautiful but very large loom!

I wove 7 hand towels using patterns from Foot Treadle Loom Weaving by Edward Worst (a fantastic book by the way!) I chose white 2/22 cottolin for the warp and very fine singles wet spun linen #10, which I doubled on the doubling stand for the weft. I treadled three different patterns.
This fun project gave me a chance to try a few different hemstitches too. I tried ladder, trellis and Italian hemstitching, which is my new favourite, and is on the photo below.
The photo above has trellis hemstitching.

The hand towel below is different in many ways as it is the only one with lilac weft, all the others are pale blue. I wove 2 inches in pattern for the turn under, then wove 1 pattern in linen, then 2 patterns in cottolin again. The hem is very firm and I think looks good.
I did have a bit of warp left after I’d run out of linen weft, so wove myself a mat for my kitchen table. I used 2/22 orange cottolin for weft and I love it. I did three rows of Italian hemstitching, alternating white and orange. I took this photo with some Friskars scissors – same colour as the weft, like free range egg yolks!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Squished Witch

Here's a photo of the incident that happened at the house!

Night brought me a witch on her broom,
In my window she peeked at my loom,
Round and round in a tizzy,
Flying til’ she was dizzy,
She flew on her broom to her doom!
Yesterday we went for a quick drive in the beautiful Salmon River Valley to get some local raw honey. I wish I'd remembered my camera so I could have captured some of the amazing colours on display. It was a day when Mother Nature could not be outdone and the bold red Sumac next to the almost hot yellow Alder, all framed by a clear blue sky was astonishing! All around us we can see the seasonal changes, and the Larches are really making a show in the Provincial Parklands I see from my Studio.
I have added a new section to my weaving binder - this is a book where I keep a piece of every yarn I have in stock and a notation of the amount I have left. The book comes with me when I go shopping so that I have a clear idea of what would work best with my existing stash. That doesn't mean that I don't get swayed into a totally off the wall purchase, but it does help me to keep a bit of sanity in a yarn store! I'm now keeping a record of the most pleasing colour combinations I see, hopefully this will help me to think outside of my own colour preferences when project planning. I love the sweet, pretty colours but really want to try BOLD, BRASH, BRAZEN!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adding a Metal Apron Rod to Louet Spring Loom

After I finished tying my cottolin tea towel warp onto the wooden apron rod on my new favourite loom, Lily Louet; I walked away for about 20 minutes as Jane Stafford’s video; which came with the loom, suggested (loved the video by the way!)
When I came back, yup, a full day later I noticed that the apron rod seemed to have twisted or torqued overnight. There was not much tension on the loom, and I could see a definite bowing on the centre section. I feel that this may be caused by the fact that the Louet has the apron rod attached to the cloth beam in only three places. The first and last attachments are about 6” from the edge but the centre is about 12” from the others. This seems to allow more bending to occur in the centre. My husband suggested that we replace the wooden apron rod with a 3/8” metal rod, so off to Home Depot we went, and under $10.00 later we had a new apron rod.

This is the wooden apron rod.
The replacement rod in place - can you see the floating front beam?

This seems to have done the trick and after retying the warp, I’m weaving and loving it! The front beam on the Lily (who is a Louet Spring 12 Shaft Parallel Countermarche loom) floats and moves slightly forward with each shaft change, this action makes the shed huge. I’m being a very good girl and advancing the warp every 6” or so and because the front beam pops forward when you advance, getting your tension back is simple; you roll the cloth beam forward until the breast beam is back to the upright position.
After about 12" of weaving the pattern of twill stripes and plaited twill stripes is showing.I'm using 2/22 Borgs Cottolin as the warp and 2/8 unmercerized cotton in blue as the weft. I plan on making 9 tea towels and will vary the weft content and colours, and add stripes to some. With 9 towels at a yard each, there is plenty of chance to create on the fly.

My only difficulty so far is ME! I’m a bit of a diminutive person (Ok I’m just plain short!) so reaching all 14 treadles is a bit of a stretch for me. Seems that my trusty Leclerc weaving bench just won’t cut it on this loom and a commuter style bench is what I’ll need to find. Right now I’m using my rolling computer chair which works, sort of, but is certainly not the right answer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nothing Holding Me Back Now

My shadow weave came off the Minerva loom today and I quickly gave it a wash and press so I could post it. I'm not thrilled about how the colours are showing in this photo as they are not a true representation of the lovely soft grey and burgundy that I chose. The front and back are essentially the same so it would make a lovely shawl if woven in a fine yarn and if the selvedges could be worked with to minimize the colour shifts.

It really is quite amazing how complex a 4 shaft shadow weave can appear isn't it! I found the basis of this weave in a Marion Powell book and made a few changes to make it my own. Now I Spring into action and get going on learning my new loom.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Waiting to Weave

Lily Louet sits there all warped and ready and I’m not starting! I still have a warp on my little Leclerc Minerva and for some reason unclear to me, I’m driven to finish the shadow weave I have on it before I will allow myself to start on the Louet. I really, really want to start the beautiful tea towels, but I fear it will be like ice cream. You know you buy vanilla and when it’s only half consumed you crave chocolate, so you get it and find you really want strawberry. In the end what you have is a freezer full of half used ice cream. My fear is that I’ll do that with weaving and end up going in a vicious circle and never accomplish or really enjoy any project.

Don’t get me wrong, the Minerva is a sweet little loom, 24 inches wide with 8 shafts and 2 sectional warp beams. My friend Susan told me that this loom was for sale about a year ago and when I called the owner I found that it had been bought new in 1979 and never used. Needless to say I snapped it up and it is like all Leclerc products a wee workhorse that does everything she promises. The only disadvantage that I have found so far is that it’s a bit squeaky on the beater movement and the metal heddles clack. That’s both a good and bad thing; good because I have a bit of an audible beat to work with and bad because so does everyone else!

Last night while I was weaving on the Minerava with the burgundy and grey shadow weave ‘flowers’. I was thinking about the tools I was using. My Glimakra temple and 2 Schacht end feed shuttles. The temple is a love hate relationship, I love the fact that my draw in is minimized when I use the temple. But, I dislike the fact that I can’t see the fell of my cloth as well as I’d like when I’m weaving. The other little foible I’ve found is that on the first one or two picks closest to the temple there is a tendency to catch your yarn on the teeth and not realize it; and of course the fact that the tenterhooks can be a bit hard on very fine yarn. I still feel that there are more benefits than not and whenever I can I use the temple. The Schacht end feed shuttle are just plain wonderful. I’m still not winding the perfect pirn yet, but that too shall come. I do love the smooth release of the weft.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Debut

The arrival of a new loom seems like the perfect time to begin a weaving log and maybe to share a few really great recipes at along the way. Weaving and eating are two of my favourite things to do, so combining them seems like a good idea.

My 12 shaft Louet Spring arrived on October 7 and it was really exciting to open the boxes and start to learn about the loom from the bolts up and really get a feel for the whole thing! I have never received anything so well packed, it was amazing.

After ording the loom, I had decided that the best way to get to know her would be to put a comfort warp of tea towels on her as soon as she arrived. So a week before "Lily Louet" was to arrive I started to make the warp. A 10 yard striped cottolin warp, sett at 24 epi was my choice. I started to pull the stripes and 3/4 of the way through I could see that the green wouldn't make it if I stuck to plan. So back to PCW and after a few adjustments I was able to feel confident that I'd have enough of every colour to finish the warp. This messing about took time and I had just finished chaining off the warp when the truck pulled up. Unbelievably, it was only about 10 minutes.

So now a few days later I have Lily warped and ready to go.