Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unexpected Road Trip

What a Sunday! My son and friends were visiting The Okanagan and had planned on staying until Monday, but ….work called. Eamon was being sent up to The Yukon and had to be in Williams Lake poste haste! Eamon's friends had plans, so first thing Sunday morning we were off, a flying trip to Williams Lake and home about a 900 km distance, or 10 hours driving…..crazy, fun day! I took a few photos of the on the way. We started in the southern interior, a fertile valley on a 100 km long lake. The Okanagan Valley is a premier grape and tree fruit growing area and I love living here!We set off north east toward Kamloops, above, which is located where the fast flowing mighty Thompson River carves a canyon which widens into Tunkwa Lake (formerly and much more beautifully called Lake Tranquille). This is the start of serious dry high ridges.From Kamloops we continued north east toward Cache Creek. We passed Walachin , above and below, which is on a high prairie overlooking the Thompson River canyon. Walachin was settled in 1909 by the English who were led to believe this was a bountiful place. In fact it’s a dry belt and gets only 20 cm of rain per year. When the First World War broke out and the men went to Europe to fight, almost none of the settlers returned. There is a train on the left side of the photo, to give you some perspective.Now we reached Cache Creek the beginning of The Gold Rush Trail to the Klondike! Again this is on the Thompson River, but dry, dry, dry…. The river has carved remarkable hoodoos which show the iron in the rocks. We are now heading north toward 100 Mile House, 108 Mile House and 150 Mile House. Great names eh? These are all stopping points for those who trekked to the Klondike in search of gold. This is very high plateau country with very little top soil! We really did feel on top of the world as the sky was huge!There are some really lovely lakes and Lac La Hache is one of them. The fall colours were really starting to show, so pretty. As you can see from my photos, there aren't all that many old building between the towns, just a whole bunch of space....we really are a very new country and little remains of original settlements along the road.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Turned Taquetè

When I was putting the warp on the loom for my twill yardage I found out that I had miscalculated and that there were some extra warp threads – enough to do a scarf! The warp is two colours of teal blue in 2/8 Tencel.
The warp was pulled so the teal blues were in stripes but I didn’t want a stripe-y scarf so the idea was to use one dark teal blue then one light teal blue etc. So, I had a warp colour plan, but no pattern in mind. Looking at that style of warp, in that size and that type of yarn just shouts Turned Taquetè. This is one type of weaving I haven’t done one yet and the chance to design a new pattern is always exciting.

This meant that when I put the warp through the raddle I changed the warp threads from coloured stripes into alternating threads.
The funny thing is that when I beamed the warp it went back to the stripes! All that work separating and alternating the warp thread colours for nothing! Sorry about the photo it is a little blurry.
It took a while to design a 12 shaft Turned Taquetè pattern because I had a finite number of warp threads to use; I only needed to add 6 Hunter green Tencel threads to each side to create the scarf!
This pattern is really nifty because at different angles the pattern changes, the photo above is like diamonds. The photo below is more like a Greek key.
There are two different sides to this scarf, one side having more green and a lot of texture. The other side is bluer and has no texture. It is really interesting that the weft is only hunter green and yet there seems to be horizontal stripes in teal.
The scarf has a lovely sheen, but little iridescence. As you can see there are definitely two different sides to this pattern.
The scarf has wonderful drape and is really pretty, and I’d definitely weave it again in the future with a different colour way.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sheep to Shawl Competition

Saturday was the Sheep to Shawl competition at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair. The Shuswap Spinners and Weavers were our hosts and they put on a wonderful day for those of us competing in the event as well as a sale, display, weaving, carding and spinning demonstrations.

This year there was a major rule change – for the first time we supplied our own weft fleece and drum carders were allowed. This may seem like a minor change, but it made a huge difference. For the first time we could plan our shawl to include weft colours! This is the shawl that Ngaire and I planned and warped, the group chose to dye our corriedale handspun warp in gradations of red to yellow and we layed it in the warp randomly. We used natural brown romney lamb for the weft and we chose to do huck lace circles on six shafts.
There were only three teams of 6 this year, but the competition was fierce. The teams are made up of one weaver, one plyer and four spinners. Each team comes with their looms completely warped and over the course of four hours we spin, ply, weave and wet finish a 60” long shawl.
Much to our delight our team came in 1st with a score of 290 out of 300! We got full marks for everything, with a small deduction for selvedge mousing. There are only four of us in this photo as two members had to leave before judging. Right to left are Chris MacKenzie (spinner), Ngaire (weaver), Brenda Howe (plyer and drum carder) and me (spinner) with our blue ribbon! Missing from this photo is Kirsti Jarret and Susan Garvie both spinners.The Monashee Spinners and Weavers (my other spinning group!) had a stunning shawl in turned Atwater-Bronson lace in blocks of greyed red to yellow.The Shuswap Spinners and Weavers shawl was going to be wonderful, but alas, they did not get if off the loom in time. A complicated twill pattern in black and apricot.

Do you see something of a theme here? Yup, unknowingly we all chose the same colours! Something about fall makes one think of gold, orange and red doesn’t it?I just finished this shrug in a soft pink handspun wool for Ngaire. I love this pattern and this is the second time I’ve knit it.
There is something about the lace areas that make handspun yarn look great. Remember I used 2 foot of rigid insulation for blocking my weaving, this is a great use of the remaining 4 foot length!
Here are a few more photos of the Shuswap Weavers and Spinners display. The mauve shawl is in very fine wool and is double weave blocks, by master weaver Gudrun Weisinger.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Huck Lace Blocks with Boucle Yarn

This scarf started a little unusually for me; I mainly start with a weave structure that I want to do then draft around that but this time it all started with a yarn. It is a 77% wool and 23% viscose blend that has little loops and it is variegated dark greens. It is partnered with a 2/12 olive green pure merino wool. The picture below shows the true colours.
I knew that I wanted the novelty yarn to be an accent but I also wanted to use it in a way that made sense. So came up with the idea of boxes with the novelty yarn used as the defining perimeter. That left the interior of the box for something interesting. A huck lace block seemed to fit the bill. It is a two shuttle weave so I needed to have a way of knowing when to throw the novelty yarn. As the huck is an 8 shaft pattern I was able to have shaft 12 raise with the pattern shafts which told me to throw the novelty yarn, much better then counting the pattern repeat!
After washing all the loops and bumps showed more prominently which is fantastic. It really gives this scarf interest and shows of the novelty yarn to its best advantage.
I wasn’t sure on how to finish the fringe on this scarf and so I tried a couple of things. I tried just twizzling the fringe but for some reason it didn’t look to be in scale with the scarf, they looked too thin. So I went to my tried and true wool fringe technique – the fish tail braid! It is thick enough to fill in the fringe and I was able to do the novelty yarn the same way so the fringe is cohesive.
The squares of huck lace are really pretty and add interest to the scarf without competing with the novelty yarn.
This is scarf has a lovely drape and feels amazingly soft, before washing I was a little worried about the novelty but it has become wonderfully supple after wet finishing.
I am the weaver for the Salmon Arm Fall Fair Sheep to Shawl competition again this year. Since it is always a learning experience with wool as this is not my usual yarn of choice; creating this wool scarf is very timely. It seems to take some getting used to the springiness of wool and having the correct beat. Now that I’ve had this little bit of practice I am looking forward to the Sheep to Shawl!