Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paper Spot Weave or Dropped Tabby

Now that Christmas is over and my son Eamon and his girlfriend Meghan are on their way back to Vancouver, I thought I’d share the sum total of my holiday weaving. These are also the first photos taken with my new Christmas Camera, how exciting! I'm still learning, so please bear with me during my learning curve.I was able to use the same warp of 2/8 unmercerized cotton that I had on the Jane loom from my last sample foray. I kept the sett at 24 epi but rethreaded and changed the weft to 2/8 orlec. Orlec is a well known yarn in Canada and is essentially Orlon that has all the properties of 2/8 mercerized cotton without the shrinkage and has a wonderful price point. This combination produced a dull warp with a shiny weft which showed the Paper Spot weave on eight shafts off perfectly.This group of weaves actually has no spots of which to speak; it is actually a dropped weave with an appearance much like Huck Lace, but without any holes in the fabric. The weave structure is a series of floats which are weft faced on the front of the piece, so in my case shiny; and warp faced on the back which is dull. It is a perfect weave structure to use with linen for tableware as the unwoven or dropped threads are held firmly in place structurally by plain weave.I wove one pattern repeat in a darker colour to show the lovely pattern. I think that this weave structure has plenty of potential and is rarely used as far as I can tell.

Well today is Ngaire’s birthday so I’m off to the kitchen to make one of Julia Child’s favourite cakes the ‘Queen of Sheba’ chocolate cake to finish off what I'm hoping is a wonderful birthday dinner.

Happy New Year and see you in 2010!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Tree

Time to ‘fess up’ and admit that we're a family of 'foodies' and Christmas is our favourite time to throw caution to the wind! It then naturally follows that our Christmas Tree reflects our culinary leanings. I thought I'd share some of our favourite decorations.
We visited a beautiful little town in Germany called Monschau at the House of Glass where we bought our first hand blown ornaments and glass became my passion from then on.My husband Michael found the first food ornament when he was on a work related trip in Peachland BC. This aubergine started it all and is still a favourite!
The garlic bulb looks so real. The pickle and the garlic were gifts from my daughter Ngaire and never fail to make me smile. There is a tradition related to the pickle, it is said that who ever spots the pickle on Christmas morning gets to play Father Christmas and pass out the presents. I found the Swill cheese at the Hudson’s Bay Company of all places, you've gotta love it!We picked up some of the wine bottles in the Okanagan Valley which is one of Canada’s premier wine producing areas and where we are lucky enough to live. Love the tomato!But the Champagne bottle brings back special memories of a family summer in the south of France.I found the ice cream cones while on a trip to the Rockies with friends from New Zealand----go figure!The pineapple and the chili were purchased along with far too many to mention at a wonderful Christmas shop in Spokane Washington.So my Christmas Tree serves many purposes it's a reminder of many family holidays and lovely meals planned and enjoyed together. It's also a wonderful visual reminder of how very fortunate we are....Merry Christmas to all.

Lynnette and Ngaire

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shadow Weave on Four Shafts ~ Without a Shadow

I’ve decided to finally buckle down and apply myself and attack one of the test questions looming over me!

I am still chugging along on the Senior level of the GCW Master Weavers program, well chugging could be an exaggeration, moseying may be a better word. The Senior level has test questions #21 – 30, and this one is for question #29 entitled Colour and Weave. The question is in four sections. Part A is a briefly written piece about Colour and Weave. Part B is a briefly written piece about Shadow Weave. Part C is weave a sample of either Shadow Weave or Colour and Weave on 4 or more shafts. Part D is a record and draft of the woven piece. Sounds easy right! This is a single pattern repeat of my chosen pattern.
I decided to make it easy on myself and do a 4 shaft Shadow Weave. I chose to do the piece in navy and turquoise 2/8 unmercerized cotton. My colour choice had two criteria, the first being that I wanted a strong contrast and the second is that it had to be out of my stash. I've only put on two yards and plan to get it right the first time (or two).The rules state that I must weave it a minimum of 12" x 18" finished and may not use floating selvedges (drat!).This piece need not be an original pattern so this draft came from Marion Powell’s book titled 1000(+) Patterns in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weave. This book is without a doubt one of the best resources for Shadow Weave that I have found, I really recommend it. Here are a few facts about Shadow Weave. Shadow weave is usually set on a twill sequence threading, it is not a true twill, but rather a plain weave with two thread skips, which because of the use of two colors, one dark, one light, alternating in both warp and weft, make shadows between the changes of the hatching. Shadow weave threads run at a 45 degree angle with distinct dark row alternating with a distinct light row with the edge threads interwoven with each other in a definite feather stitch pattern. If you use an ascending progression a dark thread precedes a light thread; descending is the reverse. Shadow weave is a firm durable weave which is completely reversible. This is my guilty purchase for the year, OK maybe not my only guilty purchase, but the latest one anyway! It arrived just like this, nothing but the clear plastic wrap and my name on the side, and it was just abandoned in my carport - they must have been sure it was ment for me...I have been eyeing a steam press for a couple of years and was hoping to buy one second hand, but one never appeared on any of the sites I searched. I found this one on the internet but always talked myself out of this rather large purchase, until Ngaire found it discounted $60.00 at Costco! It was meant to be I guess! I’ve always felt that my pressing is my weak spot, I just can’t seem to press hard enough, so hopefully this will fix that problem. By the way the table cloth the steam press is siting on was made by my mother in the 1950's and it a real treasure! This press has settings for different types of fibres, from synthetic to linen, so it should fit all my needs.And it has lots of steam jets! Apparently it only needs 4 seconds in contact with the fabric to press it perfectly. I’m looking forward to giving it a try and seeing if it really performs as I hope it does. Now where, oh where do I put it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

M's and O's Placemats ~ You can eat off ‘em!

The M’s and O’s placemats are finished! I thought that I’d put on enough warp to do only eight placemats but I got lucky and was able to do an extra two placemats. As you can see there are a lot of placemats!
One of the bonuses for doing these placemats was the possibility to use up some of Mum’s stash. Below is a photo of all the weft’s I was using and the next photo has all the empty cones! I used two cones of soft twist linen, three tubes of natural cotton for my warp, and a tube each of gold chenille and a brown ramie. I also used most of the white boucle there is only a little tiny ball left.
Here they are packaged in pairs before being packed up to go to a sale. The placemats are very generous at 18x12 with a two inch fringe with each end hem stitched to secure the fringe. These are thick and a very nice size as they are easily able to hold a plate, cutlery and a water glass.
I enjoyed doing these placemats so much that I’ve put more on. I just tied onto the warp - which is a task that I hated; I think that it took me longer to tie on then if I had just pulled on a new warp. I hated tying all the overhand knots and it looked very messy to boot. I didn’t even take a picture because I loathed it so much!

The new placemats I’m working on are in various blues, I’m using several different shades of blue in cotton, a natural and a blue linen and for hints of colour I am using a blue linen that has bits of hot pink and yellow. The hints of colour really make the different shades of blue unified. As I am again using up the stash I have to pull the weft for two placemats at a time because I never really know how much yarn that I am going to have left and I want to have at least two matching placemats.
One thing that I am doing that I am really pleased with, is that I sit down and weave an entire placemat and do the hemstitching and before I leave the loom I set up the next placemat by doing the hemstitching and getting the shuttle ready. The next time I go to weave everything is done and ready for me; it is like having elves do the grunt work! I was taking some photos for this blog entry and Mum jokingly said that I should take a picture of the oven so people would know why she isn’t blogging! After running the self cleaning function she then spent over an hour detailing - it looks like new!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

It must be the fast approaching holiday season, or the cold winter weather because something out of the ordinary is making me seriously stupid!

Last week I put a short 2 yard 2/8 cotton warp on my Louet Jane table loom. Admittedly I have only put 2 previous warps on this loom and this warp was a spur of the moment thing, but that's no excuse. I wanted to make a couple of samples……that must be it…..sampling is a foreign thing to me; regardless, the warp went on slick as a whisker and I was feeling extremely proud of myself for getting it done so quickly with no threading errors or problem warp threads. I was ready to weave. Here it is ready to go – then I hear a quiet hesitant voice say “Mum, ummmm, you’ve forgotten to sley the reed”. I can’t believe it, what the heck! I blame the loom…., yup, it’s Janes’ fault for having a beater bar that flips out of the way so I didn’t see it! Or it's the stress of putting up the Christmas lights, or it's that first skiff of snow outside! So, feeling very dim witted, I untie the warp and flip down the reed and think that I’ll start again the next day when I'm fresher and have all my wits about me. Later that evening I hear that same sweet voice “Mum, ummmm, you’ve forgotten to go over the back beam!”

No, no I say…..that can’t be true! How is it possible to make that many mistakes on one 2 yard warp? Thankfully, I still had the lease sticks in place and it was an easy fix, but very humbling to say the least. I’m just glad that my daughter noticed it before I sleyed that pesky reed which has a tendency to hide! So here’s the sample that I needed for my workshop “A Method in the Madness”. The title is a quote from Shakespears’ Hamlet and now I really appreciate how appropriate my choice was! Thought I’d share this photo just because it’s pretty. A bouquet of chartreuse Chrysanthemums caught in a ray of winter sunshine… lovely.

Weaving Words

Dimity is an old fashioned word for a turned 1:2 twill. It always has a strong diagonal.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tie On To An Existing Warp and Beading The Fringe

This is the second scarf in my Network series. This scarf was woven on the same green/blue/grey Tencel warp as the last one. This time I changed the weft to navy blue Tencel and the look of the circles is much more defined. So now it’s time to bead the fringe.These are the tools I use to bead with the most important item being the very fine Japanese beading needles and the “Thread Heaven” which is a thread conditioner to help keep the thread from static curl. This product works like a dream and I can’t thank my gal pal Susan enough for giving it to me! It takes me a bit of time to work out my beading sequence and I find putting it on these quilters pins really help me try out the different combos’ possible. This is the finished fringe, just a wee bit of bling!

I think I mentioned in my last blog entry about this Network Twill pattern how much I love the effect, well, I love it so much I decided to tie on another scarf length. Tying on is not something I usually do but in this case it seemed like the perfect method because the warp I decided to use is handspun silk. This silk is very fragile and softly spun, so I figured that tying on would minimize the trauma to the threads. Here is how I did it. After pulling a three yard warp and securing the cross, I put the lease sticks through the cross and tied it to my front beam. Because the existing warp on the back beam was so short and the rods are heavy there was pronounced droop, so I also secured the back rod to the castle. This allowed me to have the slack in front of the reed where I needed it. Then matching one thread from the reed and the next thread through the lease off you go. I have tried various knots over the years and have found that a basic overhand knot is the fastest and the most secure. After all the knots have been tied, I move the lease sticks to hang loosly in front of the reed. Here are all the knots just ready to be pulled gently through the reed and again gently tugged through the heddles. I have found that working in small groups at this stage works best.Once all the knots are through the heddles you just wind the warp as usual and voilá you’re done! This is the work in progress, my warp is hand dyed and hand spun very fine silk and I have crossed it with navy Tencel. This scarf really shows the dark/light/midtone gradients in the weave.

Over the past few years I have made a concerted effort to eat locally, especially out of my own garden. I have come to the conclusion that I can do without many things, but not olive oil, olives and citrus. I just can’t live without a lemon! So I decided to try and grow a Meyer Lemon in my house. I splurged on a small (make that very small) bush in August and …. My first blossoms. Almost open. Wow, amazing and the fragrance is almost overpowering. This wee bush has more than 30 blossoms on it right now and I am diligently pollinating by hand. Hopefully I’ll get a lemon or two next year!