Friday, May 27, 2011

A Really Good Day

Yesterday was one of the best days! I received an email from a lady in Montana saying that she had just received her May/June Issue of Handwoven magazine and she saw me in it. Now that the issue is in circulation I can at last stop being a ‘secret squirrel’ about it – it was very, very hard not to say anything all these months! Later the same day I received the parcel from Handwoven returning the scarves along with a cheque and a lovely note from Madelyn Van Der Hoogt the editor; this day just keeps getting better! If you get Handwoven Magazine – yup that’s me on pages 46 and 47….and my article is titled ‘Spaced Warp with Leno’.

I wove these scarves last fall and submitted the idea to Handwoven and was thrilled when it was accepted. I wove two scarves for this article one in silk and one in bamboo. My idea was that you use a leno twist to hold the spaces in the warp and to prevent the warp threads from wandering– it sounds much more complicated than it is.

I wanted my first (and I hope not my only) submission to really look nice, so beading the fringe was essential. I’m really very happy with the way they turned out. Handwoven chose to feature the natural silk scarf, but personally the lilac bamboo was my favourite, its' the colour that really gets me and the beading was a little more flash.

Then, as the final cherry on top Michael and I went out and bought our tickets for our September holiday. We will be spending three weeks in France and I can’t believe how much I’m looking forward to the adventure. I feel that I’ve spent the last week online getting our accommodation and car organized, but it seems that the best airfare was eluding me, so off to the travel agent we went.We have booked an apartment in Paris for a week in the Montmartre a minute from the Moulon Rouge. I'm jumping the gun on this one a bit because I haven't confirmed the booking, but I'm pretty confident as the owner has agreed. Today the Paris apartment was confirmed - now I'm really getting excited!This is our gîte (a self-catering holiday home) in The Dordogne region, this one is confirmed and paid. It is in a tiny medeval village and we have it for a week.Then a few hours south east and we have our gîte in The Languedoc region for another week. This time we chose to be in the centre of a small town and right next door to the village church, it's going to be great! Then one night in a Paris hotel near the airport, then home on October 2. I can foresee some excellent wine and cheese in my future!

Now for the big question – are there any special weaving sights I should be sure to take in? If you have been to any of these regions and know of hidden fibre related gems, please, please let me know about them. We will have a car for the last two weeks and so we will be able to mosey along at our own speed and hopefully get a lovely feel for these regions of France.

Our weather continues to be unpleasant to say the least, we are having the coldest spring in fifty years according to the news and today there was 20 centimeters of wet snow dumped on the surrounding high hills. Fingers crossed for some warm weather!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Home Again

After spending a wonderful week on Vancouver Island it’s lovely to be home again. We had a great visit with Susan in Duncan and I got a sneak preview of what she has on her Louet Spring. While I was there Susan gave me one of the lovely 'breaks and recesses' tea towels that just came off her loom…..visiting sure has it’s advantages!

Before I could sit at my loom and get down to weaving I had to get my veggie garden planted immediately. Michael roto tilled the garden plot and we were away! Our very cool spring made planting extremely late and my poor tomatoes are mere babes, maybe if you squint you can see a leaf or two! The rhubarb however is amazing this year and the dark marks in the soil is where we've watered the seeds and plants! I grow my organic heirloom tomatoes from seed that I save myself, and this year I started them outside in my potting shed/greenhouse. Needless to say the weather conspired against me, but nature will win out and they will soon catch up. The lilac in my back garden is simply amazing this year, with abundant blossom heads over a foot long! And the chestnut tree in the front garden is covered in snow white cone shaped flower heads, while the ginko tree in the background is just coming into leaf. Before we left for the Island I warped ‘Lily Louet’ with 3 yards of hand painted 2/20 silk, so when I got home all I had to do was thread and tie-on. The silk was dyed in very bold deep purple, red and yellow. My goal was to weave a scarf that would show strong colour changes; I dyed some 1/20 bombyx silk purple for the weft. What I hadn’t counted on was that the weft I’d planned on using (in the ball) completely killed my pattern when it crossed the purple patches. Now I was on the hunt for weft, which seems to be a never ending saga in my life! I pulled out my Itten’s Star and found the split complementary was olive green, after a few picks I thought that the olive overwhelmed the yellow portions of the warp, actually changing the colour to a weak dull lime green, yuk! Then I tried a yellow gold which blended into the yellow and hid the pattern, the same with red…….so back to basic black which was the only colour that seems to enhance all my colour changes! I chose 2/20 black tencel as the fine grist of the weft makes the scarf very light and still allows the colours to show through.The pattern is advancing twill on ten shafts, which is treadled ‘trom as writ’, and I’m extremely pleased with it. You can really see the neat pillow shapes that this pattern makes and the black weft doesn't seem to darken the colours too much.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lame Huck

I wanted to weave something different and remembered how much I liked weaving placemats. While flipping through an old Handwoven I saw a nifty draft for Huck placemats with three different treadlings. The placemats are made from 2/4 Cotton in teal for both warp and weft.
The thing with placemats is that it is hard to get them to be the same size so I am using the idea that my Mum had with the book marks. I am weaving two placemats at the same time. The draft is a 4 shaft Huck so the first warp is on shaft 1 through 4 and the second warp is on shaft 5 through 8. So two warps with 300 ends each, it made for a long time threading!
The placemats are 15” in the reed so I placed them as far apart as I could so the extra heddles had to go in the centre. I was able to get 5 inches between them, making room for me to manipulate the shuttles.
Actually weaving the placemats is pretty easy; the one thing that I have trouble with is the tension, I am used to using fine yarn grist and changing to such a thick grist meant that I had to re tension the loom. For the Louet Spring that means releasing or tightening the texslov cord that leads from the springs on the back of the castle to the floating front beam.
The first set of placemats has the huck blocks offset which produce diagonal lines. This one is my favorite of the three. The colour in the picture is true, a very pretty teal.
The second set of placemats has a pattern of huck blocks all over. They are very light and airy.
The third and final set has huck blocks and then the next row is the huck blocks up side down.
The interesting thing that I found was the sheds were different on the two placemats. The placemat that was on shafts 1 through 4 had a much larger shed then the placemat on shafts 5 through 8. I then realized that geometry had reared its ugly head. Because shafts 1 through 4 are so much closer to the fell line, the angle that is produced when the shafts are moved is more obtuse. But shafts 5 through 8 are much further away to the fell line so although the shafts move the same amount to angle is much more acute. In this case the shed was half an inch smaller.
The size of the shed really impacted me at the end of the warp. I was able to weave with the normal shuttle on one placemat but the other one I had to change shuttle to a little tapestry shuttle so I could get the last couple of picks that I needed to finish the placemat. I also wove as far to the very end of the warp that I could!
I didn’t like weaving these placemats because they were boring! So I finally got them off the loom and put them away in a drawer. I am going to have to get them out and wash them at some point but not today!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eight Shaft Twill Tea Towels

I put on this six tea towel warp to do some relaxing weaving and to have an easy project to work on while we were working on our house. House is complete and so are these tea towels, but I’ve got to say they were soooooooo boring to weave, it was a straight eight shaft twill and it got old pretty fast. I actually found it difficult to go to the loom, I just wasn’t into them at all! I've go to tell you that none of my photos came out with the right colour - they are much more yellow than they appear in my photos - mea culpa!I wove three of the towels with the same lemon yellow weft that was in the warp. I had alternated two yellows and this weft was one of them. These are really fresh looking and I like them well enough. I knew I had enough weft for these three towels and enough of the butter yellow for three more, but...As soon as I changed the weft to this butter yellow I knew this was destined to be the only one, it really looked peachy on the loom and I wasn’t sure I liked it. Turns out this colour became my favourite after washing! Go figure. I hunted through my stash and found this darker yellow and so this became weft number three. I liked it on the loom, but found that the stripes came out reading a different colour. I used the same green for my stripes as I used in the warp, but when it crossed this dark yellow it seems to read bluer somehow.
I didn’t love any of the new wefts and since this was my final tea towel I thought I’d take a chance and I switched my weft to a lime green. The lime had a bit of a blue tinge to it so I though it might work. I’m pleased with this one, it looks fresh and clean and now I wish I’d been brave sooner!

Needless to say I’m not in love with these tea towels and so I thought I’d forego my usual hand sewing on the hems and bring out the sewing machine. I’ve never done this before, but I just couldn’t see putting much more time into these tea towels that are now destined to be mailed to my son as they are the perfect colour to brighten up his apartment. I was really careful in my ironing before sewing and pinned the hems in place every 2 inches or so, but find that my stripes are not perfectly aligned, it seems to have gotten progressively worse as I sewed along the hem. Any suggestions on how to avoid this without purchasing a walking foot for my machine? Do I need to pin more frequently? I realize that it is the different speed between my feed dogs and the top layer of fabric, but if you have a fool proof method, please share!I also noticed after the fact that I’d hemmed one of the tea towels wrong side up and it’s really noticeable. Seems that this warp is one blunder after another!Here they are all together. From left to right is the lemon yellow weft, lime green weft, lemon yellow weft, dark yellow weft, lemon yellow weft and finally the butter yellow weft.

Here’s the draft:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Making A Move and Twill Tea Towels

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis can probably tell that there is a bit of a kafuffle going on. We usually post a blog about every 4-5 days and now it’s a scramble to get one blog a week!
We have been in the process of listing our home and so we have been extremely busy for the past three months. My husband, daughter and I have painted every interior room, re-trimmed, made two new closets and put hardwood floor on the only room that didn’t have it and styled the house like crazy folk. I swear we’ve cleaned like Will and Kate are honeymooning here! We finally got through the arduous process of choosing an agent and the house will hit our market on Tuesday…..whew! This is a photo of my studio as it was during the month of tear down – it looks like a bomb went off! I find that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do well in clutter, so the past few months have been very difficult for me. But since I’m the kind of gal who likes to plan ahead ~ Ngaire and I pulled a bunch of warps in anticipation of this commotion and now we’ll start working our way through them.There are two tea towel warps, 5 scarves and 1 set of placemats to weave while we are tucked into a corner of the room that we are showing as the family room.I have a seven yard tea towel warp on the loom right now and I am just finishing towel number four. It’s a very graphic pattern for me and I’m able to vary the weft colour and so far have used three different yellows. This is a 2/8 unmercerized cotton warp in twill and it’s weaving up really quickly. I love this type of weaving as it gives me a chance to center myself and practice technique rather than concentrating on the pattern. I have used a broken twill for the two tone green stripes and two different yellows for the 2/2 twill portion and the broken twill gives a very interesting pattern due to the colour changes. I have also done weft stripes in green beginning three inches from the beginning of each towel to add interest.A member of the spinning study group that I belong to is in Nepal right now and so are these two hats. Her group is taking a dozen pair of new hiking boots for the lady guides they are using for their trek and she asked us to knit a wool hat to tuck into each pair of boots. These two are made using Merino and silk. I created the yarn variations by spinning more than five different pinks and purples at the same time. These are so soft; hopefully the ladies who receive them will like pink!