Monday, May 25, 2020

Sunny Day Tea Towels

What does fine weather, sunny days and weaving have in common?  For me, nothing....I just can’t seem to concentrate on difficult weaving when the birds sing.  So, I go to my happy weaving place and put on tea towels.  I find that tea towels lend themselves to a short attention span and right now that is exactly where I am.

I put on a white 2/8 cotton warp that was 7 yards long, this gives me 6 tea towels, each 36 inches long and plenty of loom waste and spacers so that I’m not skunching up at the end.  I really hate trying to weave off that last couple of inches when you can barely open a shed.
I have been using PCW Fiberworks for more years than I can remember.  I purchase my first iteration of the program when my invoice number was in the five digits!  My second upgrade came about five years later and my current update came on a wee thumb drive.  How times have changed!
I knew I wanted to find a pattern that would give me a clear, crisp motif and a pattern I had not seen woven before if possible.  So I started my search at home with this CD called Thrilling Twills that PCW also sells.  These drafts are almost all computer algorithms so all the differences come in the tie up, with straight draw threading and treadling, perfect for summer weaving.
I decided to look at some of the more unusual drafts and since I have 12 shafts I started looking at patterns on 11 shafts, because lets face it, not too many people choose to use 11 shafts! I found the perfect draft, it has a clear motif and is not too busy.

Dressing the loom took a few days as we are still painting our house in between rain showers and cool winds that come barrelling down off the Comox glacier.
This photo was taken in early April, but the mountains are still snow covered today and the wind can be darn cold!
I decided to do a stash reduction ~ and tea towels are perfect for using up that last bit on the tube ~ and use cottolin for my weft.  This is 2/22 cottolin, 60% linen and 40% cotton, and the colour that I chose looks like Sockeye Salmon.
Ngaire had tied up my loom so that the pattern was showing the reverse side and I was absolutely delighted when these lovely circles appeared.
This is the pattern as shown in the draft and frankly I’m happy with it too.  I took this photo by putting the camera lens between the warp threads, so not the best photo, but you can see it looks like the draft.  I really think I like the circles the best!
I planted this Cistus x purpureus (Purple Rockrose) last autumn and this is the first time I’ve seen it flower.  Although it seem to be more pink than purple it is lovely and deer resistant to boot, which is so important here on Vancouver Island because the deer think of my garden as their personal buffet!

Monday, May 18, 2020

No More Empty Loom

I’ve finally decided what I am going to put on my loom, tea towels!  Aren’t all these colourful  2/8 cotton cones just full of possibilities.
There is a small bag of little cones that I want to use up.  I think that I’ll only use a couple of colours but these cones are going to influence the stripes in the tea towels that I’m planning.  I kept some notes from other tea towels and I know that 10 ends at 7 yards weighs about 0.35 oz.  So with some math I’ll figure out how many stripes that I can do of each colour.
I haven’t decided on the draft yet but I am going to do stripes of colour woven in some sort of twill.  I’m looking at old drafts and at the Strickler book to see what leaps out at me.
Thankfully I’ve got a little extra time to find a draft as Mom gazumped me to the warping board.  She is also pulling a tea towel warp in white 2/8 cotton.
An update on the orange tree (Poncirus trifoliata monstrosa 'Flying Dragon citrus'), the flowers have bloomed and the smell was amazing.  Now there are little oranges!
During May the front garden starts to really come into its own and blooms abound.  The Siberian Irises (Iris sibirica) have started to flower as well as the first of the Alums.  In the background there are two Jupiter Beards (Centranthus ruber) in red and white that have also begun to bloom.  It is quite exciting and the bumble bees and honey bees are going nuts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Eight Shaft Frond Pattern Shawl

We have been having stellar weather here on Vancouver Island and so my attention has been focused on the garden, but I have managed to get my shawl warp up and running.
I love this point in the weaving process.  The warp is on the loom and the threading is halfway done; this is one of the most hopeful points, planning is behind me and all the possibilities are here!
When I planned this project I knew that I wanted a pink shawl, well, time blunted that certainty and so as usual I decided to audition a few wefts.
My choices were 2/8 periwinkle, 6/8 mauve rayon and my original choice of 2/8 dark rose.  Once they interacted with the warp, my choice was clear.
The periwinkle just seemed to speak to me, it was all ‘sky blue pink’ and it made both the peach and soft rose gleam.
The frond pattern really shows well and due to the doubled threads in both the pattern and the novelty yarn, it has a few reed marks, but with such a small amount woven, it is hard to say how it will finish.  The pattern seems to be weaving up very soft and airy....just what I had hoped for.
If you remember from my last post, this project was planned on the fly and amended
as necessary.  I had planned on a larger peach centre panel, (well, in truth it was all supposed to be peach) but I was four threads short of making a complete pattern repeat and had to pull 40 threads off the warping board.  Well, my lack of focus really showed up as I threaded the loom.  I had miscounted every one of the pattern panels by one thread, so here are the extra threads hanging off the loom; there are 8 of them, so I could have done the extra panel.....really crappy planning!
I just love the shine of the fabric as it runs over the breast beam and the weaving is a very comforting straight twill on eight treadles.
Although the weather has changed from the glorious sun and warm temperatures we have had, to this soft spring rain; I thought I’d share a photo of my newest shrub.  This is  Syringa x ‘Bloomerang’.  It is a recent lilac hybrid that is re-blooming and will produce flowers up to three times each growing season.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Designing on the Fly

Seeing my forlorn looking loom sitting empty has finally prompted me to haul out my little black book of yarns.
As I acquire yarn, I snip off a sample and file it in my binder making a note the fibre, grist and amount of yarn.  The aim of my book was to take it shopping with me to stop me purchasing; a) a yarn that goes with nothing that I have, or b) the same yarn yet again.
Today the yarn that piqued my interest was this rayon slub yarn in milky cream with peach and soft pink areas.  Yup, this will be the yarn that’s going to be the foundation of my weave.
Looking through the book, these two Orlec yarns from Maurice Brassard et fils seemed to work perfectly.
I decided that I wanted to weave a shawl and that I wanted to feature the slub yarn as a feature line.

The Orlec yarn weaves similarly to Tencel and both are of the same 2/8 grist, so I knew that a simple twill pattern would suit the yarn perfectly.
Please click on the pattern to enlarge.
I have woven this 8 shaft undulating twill before and it really lent itself to the insertion of the slub line.  After looking at the slub I decided to use it doubled to maximize the that even a word?

The pattern and the size that I chose needs 420 ends at 20 ends per inch to give 21 inches in the reed; of which 411 are Orlec and 9 doubled ends are slub.
I discovered that I was using the peach Orlec up at a rather alarming rate and at 344 ends the Orlec ran out!  I was just about finished panel #6, just 4 ends short of finishing it, when.....nope...wasn’t going to happen.
I pulled back the last 40 ends of yarn and decided to add a panel at each side of the web using the same coloured Orlec as I had intended to use for the weft, a lovely soft, sweet rose.  This will give me a total of 378 ends, so I will have a width in the reed of 18.9 inches, which is still pretty good.
Since I am using my intended weft on the warp, I’m going to use a darker soft rose for the weft to make sure I have enough to complete this shawl, here are the new and old weft choices.

The funny thing is that the lovely rayon slub that was my feature and what I wanted to use from my stash sort of faded into the background.  In all I only used 48 yards in the warp and you can’t even see where I’ve been on the cone.
Click on the photo to enlarge; this is the pattern I have ended up with and the upshot is that designing on the fly is precarious, I didn’t really embrace my intended feature yarn and the whole project will look vastly different than I intended.
 Post Script ~ As I was finishing making up the warp it dawned on me that I should really have a stabilizing selvedge on this shawl.  So I added a 4 end twill and an additional slub end and this both added width and more slub, so I’m calling it a win.  It only took four warp chains!