Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Last of the Collapse Weave

I think that collapse weave scarves have run their course for now.  I wove four of them and although I really enjoyed the process of weaving them, I’m longing to do some pattern weaving!
After the two  rose collapse weave scarves were finished, I tied on a scarf in cream merino and rayon slub and I think that this one is my favourite.  The merino became very lofty and soft after washing and the shrinkage was very even.  The overall effect is a very soft meander with shallow wrinkles.
Please excuse the poor photo; we have a very grey drizzly day today and it was impossible to find good light.
My last kick at the can and this time I threw caution to the wind and really mixed up the fibres; using 2/18 merino, tencel and a cotton novelty yarn.  Here it is off the loom, but before washing.  You can already see the movement in the scarf.
This scarf had much more warp shrinkage; mainly because the merino was much finer and there was more of it in the warp.  There is so much twisting and bumping, it is not like the previous scarves at all! We have had to pull and snap this scarf several times to calm down the curling fibres and it is still very lively!
Here they are side by side, so you can really see the differential shrinkage, so in this case, your fibre choices make all the difference!
Now that I’ve shaken off the collapse weave urge, here is my next warp.  This is one of my hand painted silk warps just through the raddle and ready to pull onto the loom.  The plan is to weave it in Crackle Weave.  Unfortunately you really can't see the stunning colours ~ darn rain!  I'm trying out a new pattern that I've modified for the 200 ends I had in the warp.  The pattern repeat is more than 240 picks long, so it will be quite a challenge after a month of plain weave!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Collapse Weave ~ Lesson Learned

I think that the old adage of ‘less haste more speed’ is true of my last couple of projects on the loom!  I really enjoyed weaving the rose collapse weave scarf and thought that I’d do another.  When I cut the soft rose scarf off I had heaps of warp left on the loom, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to tie on the new warp.
I wanted to use 2/12 cream merino as the base.  I only had 2 ounces in the stash  and when I pulled the warp I ended up with 78 ends.
So I went hunting through the bins and found that I had a few ounces of 50/50 silk and merino blend in cream that I could add to the mix.  I managed to eke out 35 ends of this.
As in the soft rose scarf I wanted to use a knotty rayon that has great lustre and heaps of interest, so out came the big cone of cream and soft gold yarn.  I pulled 96 ends of this so I had enough for every alternate end.
I decided that I could handle a quick 'down and dirty' tie up and so I pulled some knitting stitch holders out and used them to hold my crosses….not the best idea in the world!  I tied on the 35 silk/merino ends first, then the merino and then the rayon.
Basically after that, chaos ensued, I was trying to tie the merino alternately with the rayon, skipping the already tied ends.  This instantly became a hot mess of knots and dropped and missed ends!
Thankfully, after much pfaffing around it pulled through the reed and the heddles fairly easily and it wove up beautifully; you can hardly see the fell line as it is being woven.
The cream scarf came off the loom yesterday and still needs finishing, but I’m so loving this weaving, so I decided to pull another warp in blue.  This time I’m using 2/18 porcelain blue merino as the base.  For texture and colour I’m using 2/8 tencel in two colours ~ soft blue and azure and an amazing multi coloured cotton novelty yarn.

I told you I learned my lesson; so this time I pulled the base 2/18 warp first and holding the cross with lease stick tied to my beater I tied on to the existing warp in a very orderly way ~  I tied onto every alternate warp end.
I then pulled the other 4 yarns together as a warp and using another set of lease sticks tied to the beater; I tied these on to the left over warp ends. I felt that I had corralled those cats!
This was so much easier and so much faster than my chaotic effort with the cream scarf! I kept the lease sticks in place while I pulled on the warp and it ran on in a lovely controlled manner! I am already weaving away happily!
The garden shot today is from my neighbours yard late last night, so please forgive the poor quality; but it was dark!  Our deer on Vancouver Island are so small that they are almost the same size as the lawn ornaments.
I have been knitting in the evenings and this is the latest off my needles, such a fun scarf to knit!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Tea Towels Take Two

So to recap - I tried to weave some Christmas Tea Towels in a Christmas tree pattern in Summer and Winter.  The selvedges were terrible and the 2/16 cream cotton warp was starting to droop after weaving only 5 inches.

I went onto to look for a new pattern for my Christmas tea towel. is one of the only places that has 12 shaft weaving drafts and I needed to use all of my shafts because I had close to a thousand threads!  I found a lovely pattern that looked like poinsettias.
For tea towels I usually weave about half an inch of waste yarn at the beginning which evens out the warp.  But the edges were pulling in and puckering.
The bouts must have been too large when I lashed onto the cloth beam.  You can see the reed pulling the warp out almost a quarter inch.
So I put in two Venetian blinds and that spread out the warp enough to give me a nice firm base to weave from.  I’m glad it worked because I wasn’t looking forward to re -lashing the warp for third time.
For the first two tea towels, I used the 2/16 cream as the weft for the majority of the tea towel and wove it in the poinsettia pattern so the tea towel has a wonderful texture.  I wove a band of 5 poinsettia’s in 2/8 burgundy cotton on one end.
The next tea towel I used the 2/8 burgundy cotton for the whole tea towel.  I noticed that under every third poinsettia there were x’s not a diamond shape.  I was quite confused at what was causing it. Then it clicked it was the sleying of 3 per dent that was creating the shapes.
I thought that I had put enough warp on for four tea towels but after the third towel I was left with only twenty five inches.  I’m not sure where I lost the warp but oh well.  I just cut off the three towels ~  and to the washing machine.

Disaster!  The burgundy ran, it is hard to see in the picture (it was sunset when I took this photo) but there are light pink splotches everywhere.  So into the laundry sink filled with Synthrapol to soak.
I only placed the two light tea towels into the Synthrapol and after an hour the water was a lovely shade of pink.  The burgundy towel didn’t look like it was effected so into the dryer it went.  It wasn’t until I had dried and pressed the towel that staining showed up.
So right now the towels are in a pile waiting until I have time to try soaking the burgundy towel in some Synthrapol.  The two light towels are looking good I just need to cut them apart, pin the hems and sew them.  I may get these towels done before Christmas!
The final garden shot is grass seed heads on a typical day in late autumn here.  The day usually starts with dark clouds then it starts to clear in patches which are called ‘Sucker Holes’ (cause they sucker you into thinking it will be sunny all day) in the afternoon the fog rolls in again.  The tree behind the grass is a Tulip tree and if you look closely you can see the first ever seed head on the tree.  It was so high up that we didn’t notice the flower in the spring.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Collapse Weave in Plain Weave

I came home from my last guild meeting all fired up!  I saw a collapse weave scarf that really excited me.  It was woven by Linda Wilson and featured a warp of 2/18 merino alternating with a knotty rayon and crossed with a warp of fine super twist merino.  Linda was kind enough to share her recipe and sell me a cone of the elastic super fine weft so I could weave my own scarf.  The weft was soooo fine, like frogs whiskers and has quite a bit of spring to it.  It is the big cone in the back.
I swear I had that warp on the loom within 6 hours of the meeting ~ I was that excited!  This project fit me ‘stash busting’ requirements to a tee.  I already had a cone of  2/18 merino in blush pink and a huge amount of rayon knot yarn in cream and blush pink ~ so I was set!
The warp was sett at 12 ends per inch, and was 16 inches wide.  The weft was aimed at between 10-12 picks per inch, and as you can see, it’s very, very airy.
I must admit that it was quite difficult to maintain such an open weave and I found that squeezing the weft on a closed shed worked the best.
The scarf wove up really quickly because it was plain weave and even now, before washing, you can see the texture of the scarf.
Here it is after hand washing and a full 20 minutes in the dryer!  I must admit that putting it in the dryer was scary, but I checked every 5 minutes and only stopped when it was completely dry.
I think it came out beautifully, very much like crepe de chine and with an amazing drape.  The stats for this scarf are really interesting too.  The on loom measurements are 15 ½” wide by 80 inches long plus fringe.  The off loom, pre wash measurements are 13 3/8 inches wide by 80 inches long plus fringe.  The finished measurement is 8 inches wide by 73 ½ inches long plus fringe.  I had 48% shrinkage in width but only 8% in length.  I have enough warp on the loom for a second scarf and have changed the sett to 14 ends per inch to see if I can achieve even more crepe.
The garden shot for today is Fothergilla gardenii 'Mt. Airy' (Dwarf Fothergilla) which is changing colour in an amazing way.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Summer and Winter Christmas Tree Tea Towels

I wanted to weave some Christmas tea towels with Christmas trees and after looking at many drafts I found the draft that Mum had used to make Summer and Winter Christmas trees for Christmas cards.
For the warp I used a 2/16 natural cream cotton set at 36 epi so that is close to 900 ends with most of those on harness 1, 2 and 3 because of the plain weave.  I had to make some changes to the draft to make it work with my loom as I only have 100 heddles per harness.  So I expanded the draft onto 12 harnesses with harness 1 through 7 being the plain weave and 8 through 12 being the pattern harnesses.
I still needed ten extra heddles on harness 1 through 4.  Summer and Winter is a heddle pig!  So I had to take 40 heddles off harness 12, I don’t really like to move the heddles around on the loom because it hurts my fingers.  I call the black pins used to hold the harness on the texsolv system ‘evil penguins’ because they bit my fingers!  But I only move heddles once a year so it is OK but if I had to do it more often I think that I would spring for more heddles!  The picture is harness 12 being held up by the lease sticks.
The plan for the tea towels is to weave plain weave for the hem in the 2/16 cream cotton.  The first three inches in the Christmas Tree pattern in the 2/16 cream cotton.  Then weave a stripe of the Christmas trees in green 2/8 cotton.  I want the Christmas trees to really pop.  The rest of the tea towel will be woven with 2/16 cream cotton in the Christmas Tree pattern to add a texture to the bulk of the tea towels.
I noticed that when I was weaving with the 2/16 cotton that I had large loops on the edges.  In the picture you can see that the tension is fine with the 2/8 pink scrap cotton but the 2/16 is too loose.
I use Schacht end feed shuttle so that means that I have to change the tension on the spring plates in the shuttle.  To do that there are little screws on the side that you stick in an Allen wrench in and turning clockwise for higher tension.  A pro tip is that there are two plates and you have to adjust both of them so small adjustments on both sides!  I only adjusted one side and it really affected the draw and I was close to losing the whole plate by pushing the screw out!
In the picture you can see the tension adjustments being made in the selvedges.
Finally ready to weave the pattern for the Christmas trees after a lot of unweaving.  I even remembered to flip the pattern before weaving!   It is OK but . . .
The selvedges are terrible!
I don’t think that there is much that can be done to save the tea towel project.  There is already two inches of plain weave for the selvedge.  I was going to do 4 picks of plain weave between each Christmas tree motif but the draw in would make for terrible edges.  Also I had only woven about five inches and already some of the pattern threads were drooping which I don’t really get because I had only woven about ½ inch of the Christmas tree pattern.  I shudder to think what a mess that I would have ended up with after a full pattern repeat.
So I unwove everything, put the lease sticks back in, untied the cloth bar, pulled the warp out of the reed and the heddles – there is no going back!  So now I have to hit the books to find a different draft that is going to work for my Christmas tea towels.

Final Garden Shot.  I think that we post a picture of this plant every year because it is absolutely beautiful.  It is a Beauty Berry Bush (Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion'), the lime green leaves and purple berries makes it the star of the autumnal garden.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Custom Order for a Wall Hanging

I was contacted through our Etsy store about weaving a wall hanging for a lady on Denman Island.  She wanted to have something neutral in white/cream with a subtle pattern to disguise an electrical box in her living room.  I put together some colour combination ideas for her using cones from the never ending stash!  This was one very brave lady to have commissioned by just seeing some photographs of cones!  The first group of photos have a white Normandy linen base with different coloured linens.
The natural grey fine linen.
The linen/cotton blend with a warm straw colour with white streaks.

The second option has a natural creamy white cotton base with different silks. 
The soft green fleck silk.
The dark natural khaki silk.

My client chose to go with the white linen and the linen/cotton blend with a favourite pattern of mine; seven shaft snowflake twill. I was glad she chose to use the white linen because we had some warp threads already pulled from another project, Mum’s linen runner, which I was able to re-purpose.
I also finished the cone of white linen for the rest of the warp!
The linen/cotton weft is very fine and so very neutral that it is hard to see the pattern but it is really soft and lovely.
There was enough warp for another runner and I decided to do the same sized runner again but with a larger sized weft in a darker colour, this time in a silk/linen blend.  It wasn’t one of the choices that I had given the lady but I thought that it might be more in line with what she thought she was getting (if that makes sense, a little mind reading in my case.)
With the blog name of Dust Bunnies Under My Loom we don’t show a lot of dust bunnies but here are some giant linen ones that the linen created!
Here are the two runners side by side.  I wove them on the same warp and to the same length but after wet finishing the finished sizes were quite different.  The cotton/linen blend runner finished size is 18.5 inches by 56 inches and the silk/linen runner finished size is 20 inches by 54 inches.
The silk/linen is really pretty and the shine is gorgeous and that is the one that she chose!
The cotton/linen runner is much harder to photograph as the colours are very subdued with little flecks of creamy cotton.  But it, too, is lovely and has a wonderful linen shine gleaming through.  For Sale.
Final garden shot.  This year there is a wonderful layering of plants in the garden.  You can see Weigela, Dahlias, and Hibiscus and the Green Man on the fence.