Friday, October 26, 2012

Finishing Up

All three Snowflake Twill table runners are off the loom and the two longer ones are in need of a hem. I will be hemming them before I wash them as I’ve found that this is the best way to line everything up perfectly.

What's the difference between a table linen and any other length of textile? The answer in my mind is the border. When I plan a table runner or table square project I plan for a selvedge border that will compliment the centre motif and a hem that will mirror the selvedge border;  however I thread the selvedge is how I treadle the hem.  Which ever weave structure you use for your runner the border should also be woven in the same structure so that the take up is the same.  When you weave twill for example and then do a plain weave hem, the hem will be much wider than the twill fabric because the threads intersect more frequently in plain weave.
For this project I planned a selvedge border of 1 ½ inches in straight twill.  You can see 3 complete runs in the photo above; so to balance the selvedges I want a visible hem of 1 ½ inches.
First I machine zigzagged the edges before cutting the woven textile apart. I only do one run of stitching as I’ve found if you go over it a number of times it creates a noticeable lump in the hem, in this case ~ less is more.
On the two table runners that I was planning to hem I wove 4 ½ inches of straight run twill at each end.
I weave 3 times the length of the hem so that it can be turned over twice evenly. If it’s not evenly folded, a line will telegraph through the hem and leave a weird mark when you press the hem.
This is the right side of the runner and you can see that the selvedge and the hem are essentially the same width and there is a square of straight twill at the corner.
Here's runner # 1 ~It’s quite funny that this pattern is in the November/December 2012 issue of Handwoven on page 27 ~ I’m going with ‘great minds think alike’!  Just imagine how nice it will look after it's washed.
This is runner #2 and is treadled with Ngaires pattern. Both of the runners pressed and pinned and ready to hemstitch and the third was too short to hemstitch, so it’s got a twisted fringe. 
This is runner #3....I used a completely different weft and the Sesame Street tune of 'one of these things is not like the others' keeps running through my head!  The weft is a cotton and linen blend that has some lumps and bumps so there is a lot of texture and slight fuzzyness.  It's the same, but completely different!

Friday, October 19, 2012

One Wild Week

This was a very hectic week around here….and of course it was the weaving time that took the brunt of the time crunch. 
I did manage to get the first of the three table runners woven and I’m really happy with the result. This is the end of the runner with the 3 inches of border showing for the hem.
The black and ecru are a classic combination for a very good reason, it just looks great and I can’t wait to weave variation #2, the diamonds in two sizes that Ngaire developed and wove - shown below.  My runner will be longer, narrower, have no fringe and be in a different colour with an ecru border....the same, but different!
My excuse for not weaving is that; ( I feel like a kid and it’s the old ‘my dog ate my homework’ trick), my husband Michael got called on Tuesday and had knee surgery on Wednesday! We had just a few hours to: move the freezer, clean the garage, winterize the fig trees, put away the garden furniture and buy a TV and set it up in the master suite…..a very busy afternoon. The next morning we received a call and his 2 pm surgery was moved to 10 am, so we were doubly glad that we didn’t leave any of the tasks for another day!

His surgery went very well and he’s happily ensconced in his ‘big blue lazyboy chair’ while his favourite CBC radio program plays.  Yup, he's in the same situation as Susan at Thrums husband Bruce, right down to the same knee!

Oh, one more thing he got done on Tuesday was that he mounted my Leclerc Electric Bobbin winder which had been in storage since last October. We had been brainstorming like mad to think of the perfect spot for it and coming up blank, every spot was either in the way, not near an electric outlet, too high, too low...well you get the idea.  Then Michael wandered into the studio and spotted my Leclerc Holds All and it was one of those Eureka moments! It looks like it was made to fit there, and probably was, duhhhhh!
We have been having stunning weather around here and my geranium baskets are still looking pretty good, I'm going to leave them up until it's time to decorate for Halloween if they keep on blooming!
The white alyssum is still in bloom and the fragrance of honey is amazing as soon as you walk out the door, the front garden is looking pretty good and I am holding off on winterizing it too.
We pulled out the tomatoes last week, but we still have this great pot of chili peppers. The small ones are Thai hot peppers and the big ones are Spanish sweet peppers.
Amazingly they shared a pot and both did very well for not being in the ground.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Three Projects in the Works

My last project ~ the handspun and wool/silk shawl is off the loom, washed and dried and not what I envisioned ~ I saw it as being deeply pleated and….the pleats are really a lot shallower and floppier than I’d hoped.
The other HUGE problem is that my handspun is streaky, really, really streaky and not in a good way streaky!
The third problem was not so big, but still not what I’d hoped ~ the colour in my 50/50 Silk Wool blend ran like a cheetah. I swear about half of the dye abanoned ship in the wash! I had started out with a warm milk chocolate brown and ended up with a toffee brown, but oh man is it ever soft!
Ahhh well, best laid plans and all that! I’ll just have to wait and see what I can do with it! This is the third project I’ve woven with handspun and so far I’m batting a big fat zero!

Today to make myself feel better I pulled a 2/5 Perle cotton warp in black for a series of table runners. I’m hoping to make 2 runners about 50 inches each and a table square. The length of each will vary depending on how the pattern repeats work out, but I know that I want to hem them, so I need a 3 inch border to work with and how ever many pattern repeats gets me close to about 50 inches. I’m using the same basic pattern as this one. Ngaire has worked out three treadling variations so each runner will be unique, and I know they are a fun weave. I've got the warp threaded so I'm almost ready to roll.
Last April……I know……six full months ago….I warped up my Louet Jane loom with bookmarks! Sadly there it sat, looking mournfully at me each and every day. I love to weave bookmarks, but not one at a time ~ on my last project I wove 5 at a time, you can see them here, but because this loom is smaller I’m only doing 3 at a time.
All three of the warps are Bambu 7, two in black and one in taupe. I will be using various wefts (insert flying by the seat of my pants here), but my plan is to use matching coloured linen for the tabby picks to make them nice and firm. Well, that’s the plan ~ see above for best laid plans and how oft they go awry for me lately!
This May we planted 2 tiny fig trees in our garden and amazingly we got fruit to harvest. Well, only one fig, but it was a huge fig!
We ate this beauty as part of our ‘amuse bouche’ course at Thanksgiving. It was so good wrapped in Parma ham with lettuce, Dijon mustard and topped with a jaunty yellow Winter Pansy!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Project Based on Handspun Merino

I've been longing to weave using my handspun yarn for a while, but haven’t found just the right project until now. The yarn I’ve chosen to use in this project was black and brown merino sliver that I bought from Aurelia Fibers. I then cherry picked a package of ‘firestar’ and pulled out all the weird coloured fibres and just kept the gold and purple. I spun this blend loosely in a semi-worsted style making sure I got a fairly even blend of black and brown. I didn’t have a huge amount of the sliver, and I knew I wanted to use it as warp, so I plied it with a very fine black linen yarn. The idea was to reduce the ‘sproing’ factor and it worked! I’m really pleased with the result!

My plan was to weave a shawl using my handspun and some of the new 50/50 Silk Wool blend I’d just purchased. I also wanted to have two unique sides to the shawl and to have surface interest.  Here's my draft.
I decided to go with an 8 shaft pattern of bands of 1/3 twill and 3/1 twill which will give me pleats of solid brown 50/50 wool silk and handspun on one side and all black handspun on the other. The little bit of 'firestar' in the handspun really makes the yarn sparkle!
I didn’t want to use my favourite Schacht end feed shuttle because it just doesn’t hold all that much of this fairly uneven yarn, so I used this 15 inch Little Man Howell shuttle which holds an amazing amount of yarn. What you can get on this shuttle is astonishing!
I didn’t have a temple that was wide enough (well, actually I do have one, but it’s a Leclerc rug stretcher and it’s really heavy and so not a good choice for this lightweight fabric), so I made this simple home made version using paper clips, string and weights.  It hangs over the sides of the loom and really, really works!
I filled film canisters with pennies for the weights ~ this is a great solution and I found the idea here.
Side number 1 of my pattern consists of 2 inch stripes of handspun and commercial yarn alternating and you can already see how it’s already starting to pleat! I sett the yarn at 12 epi and hopefully this is not too close a sett. I didn’t want a sleazy fabric and I know that twill needs more epi than plain weave, so I’m still at the ‘fingers crossed’ stage and hope it works out.  As you can see from the streaking, my handspun was a tad unevely blended.....ahhh but that's the nature of the beast!
Side number 2 was really hard to photograph, but you can just make out the pleats and the all over handspun with each 2 inch stripe.
I'm almost finished and can't wait to see how it washes and pleats.