Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Lovely month of May

Every day when I get up this month, I think what was I doing last year on this day.  Last May we were in Aix-en-Provence and having a wonderful vacation.  Below you can barely see me and DH looking out from our  apartment window.
We stayed in a great hotel/apartment
 The family was able to enjoy seeing some of the sites in the area.  We had a great time and today I realized that we are half way through the month and a year ago, we were saying good-by to my son when he left after spending a week with us.
Both kids were able to come over for some time.

This month has, of course, been much less of an adventure.  I have been worried about the continuation of my teaching...there is some concern that the city the studio is in does not want to continue the craft school.  We have had some good rain so the plants are doing well, I need to get some help with the Dye is really overrun.

I would like to put in more traditional dye plants, most of the ones in there now are just marginally considered dye plants.  Again, will l be able to stay in the studio to keep up the garden?...can I find some hardy souls to help me clean it out?...I am not much of a gardener.

I did spend a couple of hours doing some garden clean-up at my Mom's house.  She is ninety now and not able to do as much as she used to.  My DS was willing to come up and clean the roof of the carport, cut out some dead branches in the weeping birch tree.  We planted some flowers in the pots by the porch and trimmed back a bush my Mom wanted cut back.
We chopped off two bags full.
 Some time this summer we will need to shape the poor bush.  It was way overgrown and many of the branches had been tucked back into the bush making a "hedgerow" formation.

We planted the pots next to the porch to add some color.

I have not done that much gardening in my yard and I really need to get to it.  The herb garden needs cleaning and new plants and the deck and patio need massive cleaning and bagging up the leaves and pods that fell of the trees last fall and winter.

I have been getting a little weaving done.  The twill on the scarves was getting me down, so I re-threaded for huck lace.
Of course, with lace you can hardly see it on the loom

Looking from the side, it shows a little better.
I hope after the washing, it will open up and make a lace pattern that looks good.  I will probably put more lace on the next one, instead of the lace and spot sections.

We had some wild spring weather here.  We did not get any at my house, but when I I was at the studio we got quite a hail storm.  
View from the studio door
I could hear the sound of the hail hitting the roof, when I checked outside it was coming down and bouncing off the roof onto the side walk.  We ended up with the side walk completely white with the hail...Then in a half hour the sun was up and the hail was melted.  Spring weather can be so unexpected.  I remember asking about the netting over the fruit trees in Southern France and the guide told us that it was to protect the fruit from the hail!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Days Fly as Fast as a Weaver's Shuttle

Don't I wish my shuttles were flying fast!  

I think I have finally gotten over the stress of my DH's health.  It really hit me harder than I though and it has taken longer than I though to get back up to speed.  I still am not able to get to the gym, but I have started walking around the neighborhood in the mornings.  It is hard on my knees.  They should be doing better after I have been walking for a couple of weeks.  I am trying to take boron to see if I can get the arthritis pain down and the bones stronger. 

I have really enjoyed the spring flowers and the blooming trees.  We planed a crab apple in the front yard and it is beautiful this year.  The buds were so red and the blossoms opened to white.
Sargentina Crab Apple
Today when I looked at the tree, the blossoms seemed to be turning to a yellow gold.  The blossoms are already going, not quite the "rusting" color that my Mom's tree used to get after a rain.  I will have to get a picture tomorrow!

I managed to empty a couple of looms and warp up four.  The first I emptied was the Dorothy.  I got the Swedish Art weave sample off the loom.  I ended up with four panels and I will apply them to some pillow tops.
Unfinished ends but off the loom
I need to stitch the ends to stabilize them, the hot turquoise header at one end looks wrong.  It is nice to have the Dorothy empty.  But after all the work upgrading the levers on it, I do not want to sell her yet.  I know that I will not use it as much now that I have the Woolhouse, but it is twelve shafts...

I warped up the Woolhouse with 5/2 pearl in a corkscrew pattern for the Robyn Spady workshop.  I still do not like the corkscrew that much, it seems so stiff.  It may make a good bag, but do I want that much pattern on one?  I was thrilled that the warp got finished and I did not bring home a warp (another loom emptied)!  But some of the other structures that we did are more interesting to me.  

I am very interested in trying bead leno.  I would like to make it two or three blocks of leno, but what product.  Scarves?  Shawls?  

I also liked the networked pattern.  I now understand the method of making the structure, but I need to get used to a computer program so that I can explore the structure before I put it on the loom.  

After taking the workshop for the second time, I think I am interested in Beiderwand.  With only sixteen shafts, my designs need to be simple, but I like the idea of an overall design, not sections of design.  Anyway, it has possibilities.

I threaded a Bronson lace pattern for a sample in my Summer and Winter class.  I did not get my sample done before the students started weaving on it, but I am interested in doing some blocks of lace.  The interesting part is that I put some color stripes in it.  Usually, I think of lace in one color...this is a good improvement for me.  Now I will have a block of lace in the white section and a block of lace in the striped section.
Warp for Bronson Lace

I warped a long length on my Rigid Heddle loom.  This is an old Schacht loom and I had a woodworker make an adaptation for me so that I can use two heddles.  I want to teach a class in two heddles, and I had some students ask about double weave on the Rigid Heddle loom.  Funny, the only reason I wanted two heddles was to increase the density and make it easier to use finer threads.  
I warped up some napkins in doubled 8/2.  I am weaving the first couple off for a class sample for plain weave (using a single thread in the weft).  I plan to have three other samples off this warp.  One with the same half basket, the next with basket weave,  then I will resley with a second heddle to show the different hand with the warp and weft single.  It should be a good example of changes in density, but I am still not at weaving double weave.  I have some cotton that I wanted to make a large table mat.  I was going to sew two panels together, maybe I should try it double width...
When I threaded the RH loom, I did direct warping, but I attached a warp board to make the warp longer.  It is easy to find space to do a warp that is only a couple of yards long, but harder to find a place to do a 3 to 5 yard long direct warp.
Direct warping with a warping board
I used zip ties to attach the warp board to the front of the rigid heddle loom, than I started threading through the heddle, in this case two ends through each slot and eye.  I pulled the loop the same as usual, but wound it on the board to get a longer warp in a shorter space.

I used rubber bands to hold the apron rod to the heddle, and I tied a red marker each place where I needed to make the color changes for the warp.
Red ties on the heddle for the color changes.
It really went pretty fast and I managed to use more of that pink yarn.  (I think I finally found a project to finish it off!  More on that in a future message.)  

I ties several "choke-ties" to keep the warp tidy and then I wound the warp on.  

This ended up being a good way to make a longer warp on the rigid heddle.  Using zip ties to hold the warp board to the loom, was much better than the rubber bands and string ties that I tried before.

My last warp is a run of alpaca scarves.  This is some local mill spun yarn.  All the yarn is the same beautiful rag, so it is hard to see the pattern.  I have been doing an eight shaft point twill and I hope that the subtle pattern will show when they are washed.  I have five scarves on this warp and I hope to put on a second warp of five narrow scarves tomorrow.  (I am half way through the last of five on this warp.)
I hope the pattern shows up more when it is off the loom and washed
So there is my work, four looms warped, and two emptied.   I hope to empty the scarf loom and re-warp tomorrow.  And I am on the second napkin/sample on the rigid heddle so I am over a third done on it.   The Bronson will take more time...I need to re-do the tie up and to weave my design.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Towels are finished and ready to sale

I have been spending time with my sisters.  First, our big project this spring is planning a 90th Birthday party for my Mom and her twin sister.  Trying to make it a special time, but not going overboard is quite a job.  We are looking at lots of pictures of "the twins" and planning a time line for display.  It's fun to spend time laughing about all the pictures of ourselves that we find in Mom's boxes.

We, "the sisters", also spent several hours at the Vintage Whites Sale.  It was much more crowded than I expected and it took some time to explore the different booths.  We all bought things but I think I got the most, although I did not spend the most.
My haul
Here is my purchases.  I did not get the roses, but the frog in the bottom of the vase was my purchase.  I have wanted a smaller frog for a while and I was thrilled to find one.  It was the most expensive piece I got.  The lace worker picture is one from some magazine,  they mounted it on a board, I will probably cut down the board to frame it.  I love that it shows the water bulb and candle the lace makers used to light their work.  I need a brighter light and sometimes I need magnification when I do my lace.  The little bag is micro needlepoint and is lined with silk.  The clasp is missing something along the top edge (the price tag is there now) and I am deciding what to weave or bead to replace it.  I also need to restitch the join on the clasp on both sides.  Over the bag is a small linen hankie.  I have been limiting myself on these...I have so many and I have not made lace borders for many of them.  Under the bag is a fillet work runner.  I really love fillet work.  This runner may be able to go on the table under the window in the livingroom.  I have several fillet work pieces mounted on the window for my valance.

My lace valance

I finished the Bumberet towels...washed and ironed and ready for sales.  I was surprised about how the hems worked out.  I pulled out the old sample that I wove in Leslie Ruby's class several years ago and the hem was even worse on it.  This piece has been washed and dried several times.  

This towel is a left over bit from the samples I wove in the class.  The plain weave hem is on both sides and is hand hemmed.  It makes a beautiful ruffle at the end of the towel!

Back of towels

Here are three of the towels after I hemmed, washed and dried them.  I did not do any ironing on them, yet.  The bottom towel has a plain weave hem and was hand stitched, the middle towel has a plain weave hem and was machine stitched (I used a blind hem stitch), the top towel has a bumberet hem and is machine hemmed using the same stitch.  I was surprised how smooth the plain weave is with the machine stitching.  Does that line of stitching prevent some of the ruffling?

Front of towels
On the front of the towels, you can see some ruffling on the bottom one, but the other two look pretty good.

I learned that I need to think about the structure on the hems when I weave my towels.  I like the bumberet structure, it make a substantial towel, even out of the 8/2 cotton, and I like the chevron pattern better than the column pattern.
Chevron Pattern

Column Pattern

I took several "Beauty Shots" of the towels, but I need to get better at the layout.

Yellow and pink towels with Easter Bunny

Pink chevron and pink column towels with Desert Rose

Yellow and Rust towels with sheep

Beige column towel with tricycle

Friday, March 4, 2016

It's Spring

I was so excited when I saw my crocus blooming in the lawn, I ran back into the house to let by DH know that I had "five crocus blooming".  There has been more coming every day, and daffodils are showing buds. 

Many years ago, I had a couple of trees with crocus around them.  We took out the trees when they got too big, we dug up all the crocus and put in lawn.  Of course, the crocus still came up, but then they started coming up in the lawn down wind of the original plantings.  I look forward to these wild white crocus every year. 

As I said I only have daffodil buds so far, last year at this time I had full blossoms.  They looked great in the morning and were covered with snow in the afternoon.  Typical of Spring, this year I'm waiting longer for the daffodils.

I am excited about my DH also.  For the first time today, he dressed in regular clothes and went out himself to get the paper.  Since he had the fluid drained from his abdomen (almost 2.5 gallons), he has been able to breath better and move around better.  It is great to see him feeling better and I hope he continues to show improvement.

I lost my camera, in the mess of moving stuff around for my DH to be only on the main floor of the house.  (Really, I should say I found it in one of my bags of stuff I carry to class and the studio...not really his fault.  But it is easier to blame the sickness such.)  I was upset about not being able to take pictures of the few things that I have been doing, so no blog...sorry.

I finished the bumberet towel repair.  I had several treadling errors and spent too much time fixing them.  I decided that there was so much happening in my life that was out of my control (husband's illness and hospital stay), that having control over the correction of the towels helped me cope.  I corrected all of them...they look great.

I'm not sure how well you can see the error, it would really have looked bad after washing, but thanks to my jeweler's loupe, I was able to see the error well and this pattern is fairly easy to fix.

My new problem with these towels showed up after the wash.  (Yes, I found another error I needed to repair.)  But the new problem was the ruffled hems.

This looks so bad, after I hem, there will always be a ruffled/gathered look.  I just followed the pattern in "Handwoven" maybe I should have tested some stuff. I do have one towel that is only half size, so I will do some hem tests on that one with a plain weave hem on one end and a bumberet hem on the other to check out how it washes.  The towels feel good and should make a great kitchen towel...more colorful that I usually use, but I figured lots of people like a little color to brighten the day.

I finished the five yards of lace that I have been working on.  I really did get tired of that pattern, I guess because I have been working on it pretty steady.  I am now thinking of a very narrow lace to go on an apron that I have been thinking about.  And I need to pull down my other pillows from they shelves to see if I have any other half done lace.  I would like to spend some time doing some bookmarks.  I would like to have some available to give to friends.

I finished preparing the roving for my spinning.  I ended up splitting the roving in 16th's and I will spin it about the size of the 18/2 I am going to use for the ground.  I decided to two ply the yarn.  It will be two to four times the size of the ground thread when I finish and I think will look good in the threading pattern I have decided on.  
Little balls of roving and the ground thread

I decided to clean and oil the spinning wheel first, it has not been used for some time and needs a cleaning.  It is so much more fun to work on when it looks new and shiny!

I also pulled out some handspun yardage that I made.  I am hoping to make an additional length so that it can be a short kimono style jacket.  We'll have to see how much it fulls down to when I wash it.  
Plaited twill in handspun
This is the piece that I put on the Woolhouse loom to test the loom.  I loved working on the loom and the eight shaft pattern worked out great...except for one place I found when I took it off the loom.
Treadling error
I printed out the draw-down to see if I could correct the problem.  I spent several hours, but gave up.  The error is only about four inches from the end, so I will just cut it off for a sample in the records.  I have another skein of the dark yarn I used as the weft.  I will see if it is enough for a band and side panels to make the jacket.

My DD made the cutest bracelet.  She used that nasty tasting, heart shaped candy that you see for sale at Valentines Day.  

The hearts are dipped in resin so that you can still wash you hands when you wear it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Emotional Times

I had an interesting thing happen this week.  I was watching the last episodes of "Mad Men" on Netflix.  When the credits started on one of them, the music was "The First Time ever I saw your Face."  It brought back memories of over 40 years ago.  I looked up on YouTube and found Roberta Flack singing it in 1969.  I ended up listening to it several times and having tears run down my face.  It didn't bring back a specific memory, but mostly the feeling of another person that I was years ago.  

Afterwords, I wondered if I was crying for that person that I was, or the person that I am now, or if it just brought a release of the tension that I have been feeling with my DH's health and his status.  (Which is slowly improving, thank goodness.)  

It's amazing how hearing a song from the past can bring that kind of reaction.  It was not unpleasant, just interesting.  I do feel more relaxed about the things we have to face and the slow improvement of his health, so I guess it was a good thing...

I finally managed to get a picture of the "Cupcake" roving that I was spinning.  Just to remind you, I didn't like the color combination.  I usually love her dye colors, but this one came in a club I had joined and I got a variety of new rovings and batts to try.  
This was the original roving
This is a beautiful roving, but too "easter/ice cream" colored for me.  I looked at it for a while and decided to see if I could mellow the colors a bit so I would to like.  I decided to use it as a test, can I really change it enough?

I ran half of the roving through a drum carder to get a soft warm beige color.
First Ply
Then I split the roving on the other half, laid a couple of the split sections together and spun them.  I got some blending and some "candy cane" or "ragg" areas.
Second ply
The two ply yarn considerably softened or mellowed out the colors.  I hope my DD can knit something that she likes.
Finished 2 ply yarn
It was interesting to manipulate the roving to get something completely different from how it was dyed.  Too many times, I just end up with a yarn that adds nothing to the dye job.  Sometimes that works out well and I am happy with it.  But it is important to remember I can make it change to a different yarn.

I have been correcting the knots in the bumberet towels.  Since I was finishing up balls and cones of yarn, there were several knots that fell in bad places.  Also I had one broken end that I had added a completely different color replacement warp, because I did not have the correct color at the studio.

I found a couple of treadling errors in two of the towels.  I must have been distracted while I was weaving, or at least that is my excuse!

I was looking at the towels, and almost decided it was not worth the bother to correct them, it adds a lot of time and energy to the towels.  When I started looking at the problem, I had skipped a shot in most of the errors.  I ended up reweaving four shots in one and 3 shots in the other.  Only one of the corrections needed to have a thread taken out (I had treadled the wrong plain weave shot).  The others were just adding a shot.  and it was an easy shot, over three/under three across the piece.  
Correction in progress
On the right side of the needle, you can see the corrected shot; then on the left side, you can see the error.  Yes, it is subtle, but once it is washed it would have looked awful and I would not have been able to sell or give them away.  Now they are right.

And in the end that is what I feel good about, I made them look good.  I made the problem go away.  It is good that there are a few things that are under my control, and that I can fix! 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Things are getting better

My DH is doing much better, but there still are problems that we need to overcome.  I hope his body is able to recover more as the time goes on.  I still have the guilty feelings that I should have known or should have realized that there was serious problems, but I am getting better about it.  One interesting side benefit is that he is upstairs with me all the time, we are talking more and reacting more like we did in France.  That has to be good for our relationship!

I had two classes start this past week and they are both going great.  I enjoyed spending some time with my Mom and "the Sisters" had our "Sister's Date".  Once a month I meet with my sisters and we do various crafts.  This month we talked about the up coming birthday party for Mom (it's her 90th!) and we planned a quilt.  

Mom found some quilt blocks that she had done years ago, both pieced work and applique.  We laid the blocks out and found an arrangement that we liked.  Mom had some left over print fabrics and I think that we will be able to put a narrow band of the pink print between the blocks and use the other colors to make the border.
24 beautiful blocks

Mom did such a great job on the blocks, the corners are cleanly done and the applique is beautiful.  I love the "Sun Bonnet Girl", I will have to get a close up shot of her.  I only took pictures of the lay out so that we could remember it.  

One sister took the fabric to cut into strips, but she said that she was not sewing it.  I figure that is our March Sister's date...bring sewing machines and work on the quilt top.  We need to decide if we want the quilt machine quilted or hand quilted.  I am leaning toward hand quilting because the blocks are so beautifully made.  Mom knows someone that will do it for hire.  None of the sisters want to hand quilt this big of a would take us years to complete!

And I emptied another loom...yeah.  This was my table loom that stays at the Craft House studio.  I was weaving the overshot samples that I showed last month.  I finished several samplers that I will use as examples for my class.
Four samplers
And I finished five examples of the overshot patterns.  I have these patterns on handouts for my students and it is good to have examples of the design so that they can pick out which one they want to weave.  

Five overshot patterns

Wow I should have changed the tablecloth before I took the pictures.  An indigo shibori pattern really makes a busy picture!

Last month, I won a guest towel on Susan's website,  I was so excited and because it is my birthday this month, I decided that this towel will be a birthday gift to me.  It is beautiful and feels so soft.  It is a cotton/bamboo blend and the bamboo makes it "silky".
New Guest Towel..or Towel for ME!
I love the beautiful detail on the hem, a double hemstitch and hem turned under.  Susan does wonderful finishing on all her pieces and I get great ideas about how I can make my pieces look better.
Beautiful finishing really makes the piece.
I continue to work on my bobbin lace edging when I watch TV, I am continually running out of thread on the bobbins.  It is really time to be done with this linen thread.  I am over three yards now, and there is still plenty of thread on the spool of linen, but it is a pain to constantly be adding bobbins.

Friday, January 29, 2016

And we continue

My husband was in the hospital for nine days, that seems like such a long time.  I think they wanted to keep him there a little longer, but he decided that he had enough.  He has stabilized and is doing much better, but I am worried that I will not be able to do what is needed.  It doesn't help that I need to be in another town for three days this week for teaching.  Luck for us my DS is off work most of that time and will be able to be here.

My week of alone time was supposed to be a time to get things done.  I tidied the house, cleaned a kitchen floor that really needed it.  But I had trouble working on anything that needed attention (scrubbing floors takes no thinking and that was great). 

I did some bobbin lace, I have been doing this pattern or a variation of it for so long it is almost automatic.  
I finished another rotation of the pillow.
The picture shows the join on the pattern.  The marks on the upper left are the number of times I have finished a complete round of the pattern.  Each round is just over twelve inches, so I figure I have about three yards done.  I plan on five yards so I am more than half way.

I tried to work on the Swedish Art weave, but I made more mistakes that progress.  However, I did turn the loom over and take a picture of the halvkrabba.  After I was almost done with it, I realized that I did a similar variation of the same pattern on one of the other pillow tops, oh well, it is a little different.

You can see the the next pattern started that I kept making mistakes on.  It should look great, but I need some stress-free time to work on it.

Another weaving that I had problems with is the overshot sampler that I am working on at Pioneer Craft House.  I need to get this warp off the loom!  I am weaving several different patterns of overshot for class examples.  I finished the third one.
Sample # three
After I finished the sample, put some lease sticks in the back to hold the cross, then cut the piece off so that I could rethread for the fourth sample.

Bad Cross
Yes, in my over stressed condition, I put both sticks in the same side of the cross...and I tied them together without even looking to make sure I was correct.  I had to thread very carefully, and again I read the pattern wrong and had to start over threading a couple of times.

I did finally get it threaded correctly the next day and started weaving the pattern.  I want to get one more sample off the loom and then I am done and have another empty loom.