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!