Friday, March 29, 2013

End of the Month Already

I look at the stuff I wanted to do and I feel like I have not got anything done.  Do you ever feel like that?  We need to step back and look at what did get done.

I have been working on the Rug Weaving class.  I had several requests for this class, so I scheduled it for spring.  When I pulled out the information...I had not taught the full class for a very long time and all the notes, handouts and examples needed to be refurbished and updated.  I based the class on the old "Rug Weaver's Sourcebook."  This book has six different types of rugs, with the chapters written by six different weavers.  I loved this book and this class is an overview of rug weaving.
Six little rug samples
In this class we weave six different structures, use 5 different rug warps, 4 different rug wefts, and finish the samples with six different rug finishes.  It really is a nice overview of rug types and materials.   Like I tell the class, any one  of these techniques could be explored for a very long time and not repeat yourself.

This class is, of course, a "musical looms" class.  (You weave on six different looms so need to work with others to have everyone finish the six samples.)   I am teaching this at Pioneer Craft House on the floor looms in the weaving studio.  So I had to repair brakes, wash down and oil, and replace broken parts on six looms.  This was the main reason it took so many months to get ready for this class.  I've talked to some great people at several loom companies to get parts and help on my loom problems.  I am so happy that seven out of our eight floor looms are working and looking good. 
There had not been much work or TLC done on them for a number of years (maybe forty years on some) so the wood was dry, the heddles were out of order (a pet peeve of mine) and I have used a full bottle of Howard's Wax and Feed and half a can of Johnson's floor wax.  The wood is still dry and needs to have another layer of wax and oil before the summer is out...But the looms are working.

Heddles out of order
Heddles in order
The heddles are so much easier to thread when they are in order....

So now my looms at PCH are in pretty good working order, but my looms at home are sadly neglected.  There has not been much weaving going on.  One is empty and waiting for me to wind the warp, and the others sit is various states of partially done projects.  I will try to concentrate on them while I wait for brake parts on the last loom.

I have been having a good time though.  I find I smile more than I did before I stopped working at "X."  The world is a happier and more beautiful place.  I enjoy the blue skies and warm weather that we have been having...my flowers make me smile also.
Don't these golden faces give your heart a lift?
My first daffodil had a setback in the snow but is blooming today
As my son said, the snow is over now, because my daffodils got snowed on.  It seems like for years we have experienced this.  My daffodils come out and then there is a snow storm on them, and then winter is over.  Today the sky is blue the flowers are blooming and I even made it to the gym.

I have been weaving for a friend.  She has been a weaver for years, but with health problems has not been able to treadle a floor loom.  She offered me the job of throwing the shuttle for the projects that she warps.  I have had a great time helping her out and since I no longer have a full time job...this is the best job I can think of.  
She recently had a blanket to be woven.  She plans, warps, sets the beat and winds the bobbins.  I come and throw the shuttle for a few hours.  When I went to weave on the blanket I had slept badly and had a bad night, but sitting at a loom with the sound of the shuttle and beater, after two hours of that I was able to face the world for the rest of the day.
Weaving every inch!
We wanted to weave every inch to get as much length as possible on the blanket.  After taking the tension off the piece and cutting the loops, there was about 6 inches left as loom waste!  That was just enough to twist the fringe.  I can't wait to see the finished blanket...

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's warmed up a bit...so time to make felt

It's warm enough that I can get out in the garage and start to make felt.  This is wet finished felt so, lots of dripping water.  That is why I put the machine in the garage, but it is colder in there and felt takes longer if it is cold.  Now that the temperature is up above 40 degrees, I need to get some work done.

Today I have been felting some needle-felted pieces.  The customer wanted to have something that was a more stable fabric than the needle-felt is.  This felt was thicker that the other needle felt that I had worked with and it was much denser.  But it is dirty...it feels greasy...like it still has lanolin in it.  I'm not sure how it was processed to get to this point, but with the lanolin, it is taking longer to wet out.
Here's the first batt
Here is what the backside looked like after a jug of water...about a half gallon.  I had sprinkled it on and patted it to get it to work through, but when I turned it over this is my surprise   It took another half a jug to wet it.
White batts on blue bubble wrap
On the white batts, the color of the bubble wrap showed through where the felt has wetted out.  There was some unevenness in the batt, but most of what you see is where the batt is wet the blue shows through, where it is white there is a dry area.  It was just hard to get the water in the fiber and without wet fiber....I can't get good felt.
Wet floor...see why I do it in the garage!
The water was running out of the roll, and then when I unrolled the felt, I still had dry spots...like the stuff was waterproofed.  It took more time to wet out this wool than I am used to, I guess it is the lanolin.  It is a lot nicer to felt with clean wool.

The other interesting part was how the felt held together.  I tried to fill in some thin places like I usually do.  Take some wool from a thick place and put it on the thin place.  But it is not so easy with the needle felted wool.  It holds together quite well.
Test pull on the felt surface.
The white was a little softer.
Test pull on the white batt before wet finishing.
The white batt was softer, but when I tried to separate a section of the felt, it just stretched out of shape, but would not let go.  Interesting...so the fibers are felted together, but they will pull out of shape quite easily.  Good for a batt in a quilt, but not so good for making a felt item.  It would probably work well for shoe inserts...if it was clean...but not for cut and sew projects.  I am learning lots about needle felting with this project.

Needle tracks on the first batt.
Another interesting thing is the needle tracks.  On the needle felted pieces I had wet felted before, the tracks almost disappeared from the surface.  This time they remain pretty dominate.  Is this because these batts were needle felted longer?  The other batts were much softer and when I felted them they flattened and thinned.  These are so densely needle felted that they do not flatten or thin out.  I even tried the vibrating sander on the surface to see if I could get a different look, but to no avail...it still had needle tracks.  On the darker wool, there is a pin-stripe effect.  I think it will be fine in the finished items, in fact, it will add a bit of interest to the surface. I don't know if the customer will be adding a design to the surface, but it will look good with or without additional decoration.

The wet finished batts are nice.  They hold together well, these will not stretch out of shape, and they will make some great cut and sew projects.  I am pleased with the ones that I have finished.  The white ones are still on the machine, with the softer surface, I think they will show less of the needle tracks.  I'll take pictures for you tomorrow or Wednesday.