Monday, December 12, 2011

On The Move

This will be the last post I'll be doing from this house!  In a way it's really sad to leave a home that has served us very well for 20 years. This photo is from my back deck looking north as the sun is setting.
These four walls have seen us go from the pinnacle of our careers to retirement and have seen our children grow from adolescence to adulthood!  This photo is of our cul-de-sac and the wonderful neighbours we'll be leaving. I'm getting a bit weepy just thinking about leaving, but the house will have a lovely young family in it soon.
Everywhere I look today I see boxes....stacked to the ceiling in several rooms!  Where did all this stuff come from?  I'm known for tossing things out on a regular basis, but right now I feel I've not used a heavy enough hand!
We have decided to leave the looms pretty much intact during the move - it just seemed to me there was much more chance of damage if they were in small piles - I really hope this is the right decision, we'll know soon enough because the big move is in two days!  We have boxed and sorted for what seems to be weeks now, and on Wednesday morning the movers come and it's out of my hands.
To get the loom empty I had to bite the bullet and cut off my latest warp.  It's a great looking project, but I just couldn't concentrate on weaving, so I did the nasty deed and cut off the second runner's warp...I will definitely do this warp again, but not until I can settle into the new studio.
I'm calling it a studio, but in actual fact my new space is the huge living room in the new house.  The house is set out with the kitchen leading into the dining area and into a huge family room and that's where I think we will do most of our daily living ~ so the living room is mine, mine, mine (at least for now)!

The built in desk is something I will really miss, I had so much fun writing this blog and playing with my weaving program Fiberworks PCW, it looks so forlorn now!

The new house will be our very first brand new home and frankly I'm really excited, only 2 more sleeps ~ the only down side is that the appliance package that I ordered will not arrive until after we do, so I guess we'll be doing the 'inside camping' thing for a few days.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lemonade out of Lemons

I made a little mistake when I pulled the warp for the polka dot scarves.  I had changed the draft making the scarves narrower than the originals that Mum made, but I forgot to change the corresponding information in the notes.  So I pulled the warp with the original numbers of ends.  Unfortunately I didn’t figure that out until I had threaded the loom and found that I had 42 ends extra.  It was too much yarn to throw away so I had to use it. That’s how these wonderful scarves started out!

I found a Fancy Twill on 12 shafts and 12 treadles with a really interesting motif.  The pattern repeat is huge, about 10 inches, so careful treadling was required.  But the motif is really worth it, very sophisticated looking.
I love the large scale of the pattern repeat and the colour combination of lemongrass and navy.  The lemongrass really warms up the navy warp.     
The second scarf was going to have a different intricate pattern repeat but with the house being sold there just wasn’t time for it.  So I went with a Point Twill treadling and powered through the scarf in two days, a couple of hours per day. 
The silver of the weft just gleams against the navy warp.  The diamond motif is very striking.  The treadling wasn’t my first choice but I really like it. 
I would definitely use this draft again and I think that there are a lot more variations to be discovered.
These are the last scarves to be woven at this house.  The packing has started in earnest and there is no more time to weave until we get to the new house in only a few days time! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Moving to Vancouver Island ~ A Big Change

We put our house on the market in the spring and despite plenty of viewings, our market was flat. So, we did what all sensible people do - we went on vacation! Our month in France was wonderful and you'll be happy to know that I won't bore you with my travel photos.

After our return we accepted the fact that our house would be ours throughout the winter, so we decided to pull out our pellet stove and put in a fabulous top of the line gas fireplace. Now things get interesting.....

On the last day of our listing November 3 - we got a request for a viewing. My immediate answer was to say no since we were in mid demo mode, but saner minds prevailed and I agreed to spit polish the house one final time. On November 4 the new fireplace was installed at the same time we were negotiating the offer for our house!

So now we trade this Okanagan beauty
For this Island dream
In the course of one week we got the offer, traveled to Vancouver Island and bought a brand new head is still spinning. We did this so fast that I couldn't remember what colour the house was painted! We move on December 14 and it feels like everything is happening so fast! So it will be Christmas in the small city of Comox which is about 1/2 way up Vancouver Island and about 3 hours drive from my best friend Susan in Duncan.
I thought I'd show you a couple of photos of our booth at the South Okanagan Slow Fibre Festival. I really think the booth looked great and the sale was a success for us.
We really had a wonderful space and the colour blocking we did with the scarves really increased their impact.
Just before the house offer came through I decided that I wanted to put a warp on the loom for a couple of table squares. I wanted to work on a fine piece and I was looking for a challenge. The warp is long enough for two table squares and it is only 2-1/2 yards long!
I decided to use white 4/24 mercerized cotton for the warp and 1/14 linen for the weft on the first table square. The square is 21-1/2" wide in the reed and the finished fabric should be 20" x 20". The sett is 40 epi and I needed 857 heddles for the pattern and border. I only have 100 heddles on each of my shafts and adding heddles is a pain, so I traded looms with Ngaire as she has 150 heddles per shaft. So now I'm working with very fine fiddly yarn and on a loom that although is the same make and model as my beloved Lily Louet - it's different!

The piece is bordered and so it has unique corners. The pink line is just a hem marker that will be removed later.
This is the bottom border repeat for the reversible hem I intend to do.

The photo above is the first glimpse of the pattern developing. I really like the large sunburst motif. I think that mixing a modern motif with traditional technique and materials can be very exciting. Now I'm in huge rush to finish both pieces so we can dismantle the looms! Such an exciting time for us!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spot On

I have always adored the polka dot scarves that Mum did a fair while back.  I love the fact that I can lay in straight lines of weft and magically produce pretty little circles; it is amazing what networking a draft will do!  I have finally woven two of my own scarves and I thank Alice Schlein for the pattern. The warp is navy 2/8 Tencel and I put enough warp on for two 70 inch long scarves.  The weft for the first scarf is red violet 2/8 Tencel and the second scarf is a stunning celadon green 2/8 Tencel.
As I was weaving I noticed that the navy warp was releasing a lot of fibre dust, it was making the proverbial dustbunny under my loom!  After washing the scarves I hung them up to dry and careful smoothed the wrinkles away then I noticed that my hand was covered with navy fibres.

When I was steam pressing the scarves I noticed that they had a halo of navy fibres that really blurred the pattern.  So I used a sticky lint remover sheet on each scarf to remove the excess fibres and the scarves look amazing, the pattern is now crisp and clear.
These polka dot scarves are just wonderful!  I loved weaving them and I love the look of them, fun and funky enough for a young woman, but classic enough too.  The light dots on one side and dark dots on the other give the scarf a sense of depth and make them a versatile wardrobe addition.                                                      
This green is much, much fresher in real life - seems that greens are very temperamental about having their photos taken.
Both looms have had to be moved into the dining room and here they sit, back to back while the studio is having a remodel.  The dining table is pushed against the picture window and the chairs have had to be put into our guest room!  What a kerfuffle! We've pulled out the pellet stove and are in the middle of installing a gas fireplace, so the dust will be flying for a few days more. 
Right now the plan is to put one loom in the den/office and the other in the family room. I keep telling myself that change is a good thing!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Ready to Go Slow

Ngaire and I are getting ready to be vendors at the Slow Fiber Festival in Penticton next weekend, so if you are in the area, please come and say hello! This will be our second time as stand alone vendors and there seems there’s a huge amount to get done, far more than I expected!

In the past the sales that I’ve participated in have always been group affairs and always in conjunction with other weavers, spinners and fiber artists. It’s a very different situation when you venture out on your own, so many things to think about and to buy. When Ngaire joined forces with me, suddenly our combined production made it possible to have a booth dedicated to weaving only.I have had two black wire mannequins named Fric and Frac for a number of years and they have been so versitile that I’ve purchased some companions for them. But first Ngaire had to spruce them up as their original white paint was showing through! Here’s the first photo of Tyra and Naomi – so named because they are taller and skinnier, they should really make the scarves pop!

We’ve pulled out the black fabric that I had originally purchased for Hallowe’en costumes yonks ago (OK I'm a few years behind on my sewing projects!) and I’ve cut and hemmed to fit the eight foot long tables that are provided. Oh yeah, we’ve ironed and defuzzed too, neatness counts as far as I’m concerned!We’ve purchased a small swivel mirror and added a couple of extra lights for the display and now it’s time to think presentation. Every item has to be pressed and labeled and I’m always surprised at how far behind I can get on this! I love to weave and I hate to label….go figure!

I’m not a huge fan of items overlapping or laying flat on tables, so we are looking at everything in the house to use for props, from glass vases to stainless steel waste paper bins! I’ve recently woven bookmarks and rather than have them lie about limply I’ve mounted them on cardstock and plan to fan out a selected few at a time. These are my least expensive item, but I swear I’ve spent more effort on them than they’re worth!I’ve hauled out my stainless steel towel rack as a display stand for tea towels. I’m planning to display one of each style of tea towel per rung with the remaining stock stacked neatly below - much neater than in this photo! This is a lot more difficult than I thought because those red tea towels don’t play well with the other colours!

I found that hanging scarves exclusively on the metal hangers that fit on the wire display racks can look neat, but being shown edge on didn’t do them justice.

This year we’ll have fewer items on the wire display and they will be featured on these small busts, I have three now, but I've decided to add three more. We don't know what the walls will be like in the hall, so Ngaire came up with a the idea to use brown paper to back to panels - the width is perfect and we'll use bulldogs to hold everything in place.

The South Okanagan Slow Fibre Festival will be from 10-5, Saturday October 29 at 2965 Main Street in Penticton, and we'll be there with bells on!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Whole Bunch of Wrong

This project started out with the very best of intentions. I was on a stash busting mission and I wanted to challenge myself to NOT weave a defined pattern. I have come to the conclusion that ‘hording stash is tying up cash’, don’t you just love truisms? A quick look through my stash and I saw these bits and bobs of thick silk which spoke to me – mistake number one.

These are some dyeing samples that I produced when I was in a study group last year and I love the vibrant colours. I found a huge cone of this milk chocolate coloured single silk to act as a foil for the thick random dyed silk. Now my goal was to find a ‘non pattern’ to show them off. Aztec Wanderings by Russell Groff was my choice as it had potential.I pulled the thin silk warp separately from the thick silk warp. I can’t remember why this seemed like a good idea, but since I was getting ready for my trip to Europe, I’ll use that as my excuse. I warp from back to front on my Louet Spring – having two separate warps that needed to be interleaved – mistake number two just reared its ugly head. I ended up beaming the thin silk onto my back beam rod and the thick silk onto a supplementary wooden rod which I tied to the steel back beam rod. Not a pretty sight, but it worked

This is when I left for my month in France and while I was away I’ve got to say I didn’t think about my loom at all, so coming home to this jury rigged warp was a reality jolt.

I treadled a bit of broken twill to start and then swung right into the small band of pattern I had planned. Mistake number three just showed up, I had screwed up the threading on the thick silk ends. Not so much that I couldn’t make a pattern, but enough that it wasn’t the pattern I’d intended. This is the point that I looked at this warp and decided I loathed it. Not just disliked, but vehemently hated it! The pattern was all sorts of ugly and the lovely milk chocolate coloured silk looked like poop! I treadled most of the scarf without the pattern. I had wound two regular bobbins of the thin silk a few months earlier for a project that didn’t pan out, so rather than rewind onto pirns I decided to plunk the regular bobbins onto my end feed shuttle – yup, being lazy made mistake number four! I’m quite determined and did force myself to deal with it nibbling my edges, but I probably cost hours to save minutes! I just couldn’t contemplate cutting the warp off, so I soldiered on and just did the broken twill. This proved to be my only good choice and the way the colours peak through are very enticing – don’t get me wrong it’s all kinds of funky and I still don’t really like it, but I’ve gone from hate back to dislike…..and that’s a good thing.

As the end of the warp approached, mistake number two reared its ugly head; the funky beaming became a sticky mess, so I decided to cut off about ten inches early and avoid the snarls. That’s when I discovered I’d made sackcloth… could just about cut yourself on the edges of this burlap! I’m holding my breath that wet finishing makes the difference. On another note, this is one of our last Fred’s Plum tomatoes and it’s huge, but beautifully sweet and meaty. A really wonderful tomato to grow.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Same But Different

I really enjoyed weaving the fancy twill runners so much so that I tied on.  For this set of runners I wanted to have the colour in the warp so they are different from the previous runners.  In the stash a four ply round cord in blue leapt out. 
The blue cotton was a mystery cone that I didn’t know how much was on it so I pulled the warp in 50 thread groups.  And I tied on from the middle of the warp so if I ran out I could change the pattern as I needed.  Thankfully I was able to squeak out enough for the entire warp although I did make the warp short but the width remained the same.
For the weft I used white cotton, actually the same stuff that was the warp in the previous runners (it is a really big cone of white cotton!).  I love blue and white colour combination; it’s so clean and classic.
The last 6 inches of weaving was terrible.  I had eased the knots through the heddles and they were sitting just behind the beater.  Every time I changed treadles I had to clear the shed, all the knots were sticking.  How come the knots were OK behind the heddles but in front they were a sticky mess?!  I was able to slowly weave until I was 4 inches away from the knots.
I don’t think that I will tie on another warp.  I don’t think that it actually is a faster warping process than what I do now.  I don’t think that it saves me any warp either.  This time I was able to have only 4 inches of warp waste but next time I wouldn’t weave with the knots past the heddles so I wouldn’t save any warp.  I just found the whole process tedious, slow and frustrating. 
But the runners are off the loom.  They are sitting in a pile waiting to be washed.  I hope to get to them sometime this week.  They look great and I can’t wait to see them washed, hemmed and on a table!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fancy Twill Table Runners

It's harvest time and I’ve been busy trying to keep up with the tomatoes, by planting over sixty plants means that there are tomatoes ready every couple of days. The raspberries are also ready so I had to make some jam too!This post is about the table runners that I started back in August, they are a cotton warp and silk weft in a plum and a grey and the pattern is a fancy twill. Here they are side by side before washing. I was able to get them the same length with the same number of pattern repeats!After washing and pressing them I noticed that they are no longer the same. The grey runner is longer than the plum runner by five inches. And the plum runner is wider than the grey runner by two inches. It is amazing the difference weft can make to a project even when the two colours are supposed to be the same.The both runners are finished with a two inch border with fancy hemstitching in the middle. The plum runner has trellis stitching and the grey has ladder hemstitching which I am going to be lacing a ribbon through to add a punch of colour. I haven’t bought the ribbon so I don’t know the colour yet but I am thinking blue.For the plum runner I chose the weft dominant side. I think the warp dominant side too white and it washes out the pattern, although in the picture it looks pretty good.For the grey runner I also chose the weft dominant side but for a different reason. The weft is a thick and thin variegated grey and black silk so on the warp dominant side there are splotches of black that look like mistakes.On the weft dominant side there is more colour and the black blends in better.The runners were so much fun to weave and I love the colours. The runners made a nice change to all the scarves that I have been weaving. I really like these runners, so much so that I have tied on, but that is another post!