Tuesday, January 30, 2024

It's In The Sett

The bright happy tea towels are off the loom and ready to hem.  I have worked on creating this pattern for some time and have in the past woven a very similar pattern  without issue.

My goal this time was to create a very colourful, uplifting tea towel that was really thirsty and would really hold water well.  So, I decided to change the sett on the weave.

I chose pink, magenta, blue and aqua green for the warp colours.

I decided to sett the tea towels at 20 epi as this has been recommended on several recent articles I have read with the goal to enhance the functionality of the tea towel while preserving the weave.  Sometimes a fabric that is woven too closely will be a little water resistant.

Here is a photo of the tea towel on the loom and it shows distinct diamonds with both warp wise and weft wise floats.  A lovely pattern that gives a lot of surface interest when interacting with colours.

After machine washing and drying I took the tea towels to ‘McSteamy’ my pressing machine and gave them a light press.

To press anything with length you have to accordion it behind the plate and press it while moving forward.  I thought that this was a pretty cool photo.

Then I fold up the hem 5 cm and give it a second quick press.

Here are the tea towels all ready for hand hemming, but where did the lovely diamond pattern go?  I think that the looser sett allowed the weft threads to move around and consequently the pattern has been hidden, drat!

I think that this is a beautiful thirsty tea towel that will function well and brighten up any kitchen, but since I intend to create and sell the PDF pattern on Etsy I will be reweaving these tea towels with a closer sett and few more modifications to ensure that the pattern holds firm after washing.

I have started knitting a new pullover from Drops Design 180-22.  This is a top down stranded knit pullover and so far, so good.  Here is what it should look like when finished.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Navy Blue and Yellow Tea Towels on 12 Shafts

It’s January, so it must be tea towels; that seems to be our slogan here at Dust Bunnies. As I was trying to figure out what tea towel pattern I wanted to do, I got a commission for 4 tea towels.  The colours are navy blue and yellow.  In the picture you can see that the tops of the tubes have been coloured.  When we get a new order of 2/8 cotton, we colour the tubes so that we can keep the different dye lots separated.  The bottom tube of navy is a slightly different colour and in the dark days of winter it could have been hard to notice when pulling the warp, so I'm glad I caught it.

The pattern for the tea towels is a point twill on 12 shafts, the pattern makes lovely shapes in the heddles.  It is one that we’ve done before in 2018 and 2020.

So far the hardest part of these tea towels is the actual weaving, this is the first attempt and I didn’t beat the weft hard enough and the left edge is a mouse nibbled mess; so  I pulled out the 5 inches that I have woven and began again.

The second attempt is much better.  I’m having to do a double beat to pack the weft in nicely and the pattern is showing up much crisper.  I also found that my hanging selvages had uneven weights, I had 7 pennies on the left and 10 pennies on the right and when I added the three extra pennies to the left my mouse nibbled edge magically disappeared.  Who knew it made such a difference?

I’ve finished one towel and I’m starting on the second out of the four yellow tea towels.  I’ve put on enough warp for 6 towels and I’m already thinking about what colours can I use for the last two towels!

We’ve had a very cold spell and then a big dump of snow so the garden is looking a little beat up.  There are no promising hints of green shoots showing today but by next week there could be as we are well above freezing.  Still, I'm longing for days when the sky isn't dull grey and fog isn't our constant companion.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Back at the Beginning Again, Tea Towels on 8 Shafts

I have a history of weaving tea towels in January.  It gives me a chance to focus on my posture at the loom while creating something beautiful.  This year is no exception so I chose a fairly straightforward pattern that I have modified significantly.

I pulled a warp in 2/8 cotton using some really bright and happy colours, pink, green, blue and magenta.  I wanted to work with summer colours while we are in the middle of Vancouver Islands greyest months.

I chose my pattern and then proceeded to make fairly bold stripes.  When I do this I work only half of the pattern and then use PCW Fibreworks to mirror the first half.  This makes sure that the placement of stripes is even across the fabric.  I let the program do the work for me.

I made the warp, which was a tad painful due to all of the colour changes and popped it on the loom.  Threading the warp was my next step and then tying on went well.

I chose to weave the first tea towel with navy weft and it wasn’t very far along that I noticed something amiss.  There was a 9 thread float dead centre of my warp! 

It took a bit of sleuthing, but what appears to have happened is that when I mirrored the threading on the computer I must have deleted a single thread and boom.....9 thread float.

I really didn’t want to pull the entire warp off the loom, so I cut out what I had woven and at this point I decided I didn’t like the navy weft.

I un-sleyed half of the reed, up to centre where the error was and added two string heddles to the warp. I hung these two floating warp threads and, Bob’s your uncle, I’m ready to move forward.

While I was looking on the computer to find the error, I also decided to change up the treadling and I’m very pleased with the change, so a new treadling and a new weft colour;  I guess my mistake was meant to be!

I’m still really enjoying knitting hats at the moment and this is my very first original pattern.  It hasn’t been blocked yet, but I think its a winner.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Louet Spring Loom Maintenance

It is the beginning of a new year so its a good time to do some loom maintenance.  

The first thing I did was walk around the loom with a screwdriver and wrench and tightened up all the bolts and screws.  Don’t forget to do the bench also! 

Next its time to check if the shafts and lamms are even.  As the Louet Spring is a countermarche loom I start the levelling process from the bottom lamms and work my way up to the shafts.  At the end of each lamm and shaft is a black and white end cap that we call the ‘biting penguin’ and in the centre is a roller that you can adjust to lower or raise the lamm or shaft.  Usually there isn’t any need for adjustments.

I then removed all the lamm tie up cords to make sure that they hadn’t stretched out of shape or frayed.  I measured each cord against a new one and removed any that were too long or too short.  For my loom the short treadle cords measure 35 cm long (13.5 inches).  The long treadle cords measure 55 cm long (21 inches), so measuring was a good indicator of stretching.  I marked each one with sharpie to indicate which hole to button.  I also check that the screws that line the treadles are even because if a screw is too far out it can catch on a treadle cord which can halt the action of the treadle.

Next job is to unfurl the cloth beam to check the condition of the texsolv cords and to ensure that the bar is still balanced.  On the Louet Spring the apron cloth is replaced by three doubled over texsolve cords which are snitch knotted onto a metal rod.  The rod is 36 inches long and there are 3 sets of cords, so there will be 4 spaces between the cords; 36 divided by 4 gives 9, so there should be 9 inches of rod at each end and 9 inches between the cords.  When I measured mine they were slightly off because I nudge the knots to one side or the other when I tie on my warps. This could make the cloth beam pull the newly woven fabric onto the beam unevenly. A fairly quick fix to mark these spots and re-centre the cords.  I do the same for the warp beam at the back.

I check the spring tension apparatus and the texolv cords for any wear or stretching of the cords or springs.  

I also check the condition of the texsolv cords at the top of the castle down to the bottom of the lamms.  

And check the brake mechanism for stretched or frayed metal cord.

Lastly I replaced the beater and made sure that it was level.  If your beater is crooked, then your web will beat on an angle.  If it had been off true I would have used the adjustable pivot points at the base of the beater to get it to level.  Then I vacuumed and then lightly wash with just a damp cloth and dry the loom.  I’m always shocked by how dusty my loom is.

So now the loom is clean and reset for the New Year.  I can’t wait to start a new project, and as its January its tea towels.  I have a new tea towel weaving draft for sale, Zinnia Plaited Twill Tea Towels.  It is a 12 shaft twill in fiery hot colours of orange, purple, gold, red and brick.  For Sale.

Final garden photo is the seed heads of a grass, up till now, we have had a mild winter so the grasses are still standing proud in the garden but today we may be getting our first snow!

Monday, January 1, 2024

First Post of the New Year

Happy New Year and our wishes for a wonderful 2024 to all of you.

This past couple of weeks have been absolutely packed for us.  We have celebrated two birthdays on top of  Christmas so we have really been hopping around here, with no real weaving time at all!  

The first birthday was Michael’s a few days prior to Christmas.  We went all out on the cake and made him an explosion of chocolate.  

This is a white chocolate and orange cake with dark chocolate ganache filling covered with milk chocolate Swiss meringue butter cream frosting.  It then has is chocolate feathers on the outside.  Needless to say, it was a big hit and thankfully we had friends to help eat it!

Then came Christmas morning and we made this lovely Star Bread for Christmas breakfast....just plain yummy.

Immediately after Christmas Ngaire’s birthday arrived and we jumped right back into the over the top cake bakes; we decided to make a Prinsesst√•rta.  Of course, since the cake wasn’t difficult enough we changed up a few things.  The cake itself was an orange chiffon cake, white chocolate puffed rice crunch layer, homemade dark cherry jam, vanilla pastry cream, vanilla creme diplomate, homemade marzipan with a homemade fondant rose.  It took virtually all day to make! 

It was pretty hard to cut, but tastes like a dream.

I have also been doing some knitting over the hols and I fell in love with the Alpine Bloom Hat by Caitlin Hunter.  I bought the pattern on Ravelry.

I knit the black and pink hat out of handspun merino and Ngaire was very happy with it, but I found the brim a bit too long for my liking.

I knit the same hat again with Rauma Garn (Norwegian wool) in a brighter pink and deep blue and I was much happier with the results with the fold under brim.