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!

Monday, November 23, 2009

M's and O's Placemats With Mixed Fibres

I’m trying something completely different on the loom right now. The GCW exchange this year that arrived at our house was featuring table runners; and one of the runners that came really excited me. It was an M’s and O’s runner with multiple wefts, similar in appearance to a rag rug. I reworked the draft and changed the width so it became appropriate for placemats. The warp is 2/8 natural cotton and there is a lot of it! I am almost at my looms maximum weaving width at 20 inches. The weft is lots of different fibers. Mum and I went through her stash looking at everything that was in the natural, cream, white and brown family. We ended up with some 4/8 cotton, ramie, a soft twist cotton/linen blend, chenille, a shiny brown acrylic and some bumpy and lumpy cotton stuff. With some math I figured out approximately how much weft will be needed for a single placemat. I pull the weft on the warping board in small groups before it gets combined while wound onto the rag shuttle. Before I started to weave I did a dummy run with a thick synthetic yarn to check the threading as I didn’t want to unweave with the funky weft. As I am weaving glimpses of the different wefts peep through the warp; it’s creating a bark like appearance, really lovely. Weaving these placemats is like weaving a little rug, completely different from scarves and I like it! An added bonus is that I’m getting really fast and competent at hem stitching.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Network Twill Spots and Fixing a Funky Fringe!

TaDa!!!! My first network scarf is finished and I’m in love with this weave structure! My understanding of network is that it's all about tonal values. Twills in general will give one tonal value over the entire cloth; networking the twill you can get 3 tonal values, light, dark, and mid tone. As you can see, the spots are light on one side and dark on the other, so cute!
A real bonus for me is the amazing circles! I love the fact that I can get a circle from what is in fact a series of right angles – boggles the mind!On my last post I had planned to weave my first scarf in this series with navy weft; but in the tradition of 'best laid plans' – when I opened my Tencel bin, the first thing I saw was a beautiful shiney, tightly wound pirn of this lovely slate grey! Serendipitously beautiful I think! This is the photo with the truest sunlight colour, I have noticed that this scarf looks different according to the light it's in. I can't wait to see the navy scarf completed!
A Bit Of A Problem and how I fixed it, with a tutorial of the process.
A very interesting problem arose after washing the Azure Canvas Weave Block scarf. The fringe that Ngaire had so carefully and beautifully fish tail braided completely buckled after the intense washing I gave the scarf to encourage shrinking. The end result is a very short, squiggly ratty looking fringe! My first thought was to macramĂ© the fringe to see if that would improve the look, and although it does look nice, it’s much too stiff for the lovely soft scarf – deep six that idea. This is what it looked like when I undid the braid, arrrragggghhhh!I wet down one fringe bout to make sure that I had enough for a nice looking fringe and I still had 6 inches to work with.My idea was to add 8 Tencel threads to each fringe bout to fill them out and to stabelize the curl still left in the bout. I cut groups of threads twice as long as I needed and had them ready to add to each bout.I first attached them to the fringe through the hem stitching and with a snitch knot. I then twisted the additional threads with the wool that was in each bout. Then twisted the two bouts together. It’s a bit candy cane but still looks good and has kept a decent length. My new problem was that if I finished with an overhand knot, I’d lose precious length and I needed every inch, so I decided to wrap the ends.You start this process by taking about 5 inches of yarn and making a loop which you hold against the fringe with your left hand in the spot you would normally place your overhand knot.Using your dominant hand wrap the long end of the yarn around the bout; in this case I did it 6 times.
When you have wrapped enough times you then take the wrapping end and pull it thought the loop. You then take the other end of the yarn that was laying against the bout and pull gently; the top loop will be pulled under the wrapping and out the bottom of the wrap. You can use a darning needle to help increase the size of the hole so you can get the yarn tight. You may have to needle weave the other end back through the wrap to finish it off, it depends on how many wraps you do and how tightly you do it. The end result looks good to me, and gave me 6 inches of soft bouncy fringe that compliments the scarf. Now on to the beading - but that's another story!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

M's and O's Pattern With Too Few Puckers

The mailman arrived with the Tencel four days after the order going in, which was great. In the meantime I was able to do a sample. The pattern is M’s and O’s with one weft stripe done with the pink Merino Wool and the other weft stripe done with coral Tencel. The picture below is before washing and you can see that as the sample relaxed that some puckering already was showing up. The dimensions before washing were 12 ½ l x 8 ½ w. The sample was then gently hand washed and there was only a little puckering so into the washing machine it went. The sample was placed in the machine for 6 minutes on the Delicate cycle. While there is a bit more puckering there still isn’t enough difference to make the statement that I hope that it would. The dimensions after washing are 10 ¾ l x 6 ½ w.
Since changing the weft is time consuming and a little awkward as I was running the wool weft along the selvedge. The result just wasn’t worth pursuing so I have decided to just to do the entire scarf with wool. The Tencel stripes in the warp give a lovely soft sheen to the scarf. I also know that the Merino wool will help lighten the weight of the Tencel in the scarf. While this scarf isn’t what I thought it was going to be I am still excited by what it is; and I am looking forward to seeing off the loom. In a side note the studio is looking a little funny this week because all the scarves, shawls, throws and tea towels have gone off to the Ponderosa Guild Christmas Sale. It is amazing how empty and colourless the studio is feeling. But Mum’s azure blue canvas weave scarf went up today and soon my scarf will be joining it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Canvas Weave Block Pattern

Today I pulled the Canvas and Basket Weave Block Scarf off the loom and it’s quite lovely. These photos are before washing or finishing.I feared that the scarf could be a bit stiff because it is slightly weft faced, but to my pleasant surprise it has wonderful drape. Before washing the dimensions are 8-1/2” by 70” plus fringe. I will be tossing it in the washing machine today and have hopes for some differential shrinkage…… Got to wait until the fringe is finished to see if that happens.As soon as Lily Louet was empty, I warped her right back up. This warp is slated for two eight shaft Network Twill scarves. Here the warp is on the Spring loom’s built in raddle, (I love this about the Louet looms). I have sleyed the scarf for 24 epi, so that translated to 4 groups of 6 ends then an open dent. My plan was to start with light blue on one side and to end with green on the other selvedge. I pulled out all my Tencel in those colours and have come up with this final result. Silver was my starting place which then blends into sky blue, which blends into azure which finally blends into blueberry. The colour changes to the green range starting with a grayed teal which blends into mineral green which blends into pale green. The result is light selvedges and a darker center.
My goal is to weave two scarves, one with navy Tencel weft, the colour of the second weft is still to be decided. I’ll just have to wait and see where the colour muse guides me.I’ve been having photo problems for some time now, and rather than blame my lack of skill, I blame the computer! So after listening to me moan for a bit Michael bought this baby! No excuses now for grainy photos….well, maybe it’s the camera! I think that I’ll start my Christmas wish list now! Remembrance Day is on Wednesday and my mind is on family. During the summer my brother went to the UK with his wife for her daughters’ wedding, a very happy occasion.
Bob and Joan went to the Canadian section of the Harrowgate Cemetery in Yorkshire called Stonefall where my Uncle Lawrence is buried after being shot down May 23, 1944. While there my brother put 600 small Canadian flags on the graves of each Canadian buried there, a rather lovely gesture I think. I would love to have a UK style paper poppy pin to go with the photos of the Memorial my brother took, so if any of my readers are from the UK and would agree to send one or two, I’d be most grateful. Please contact me at