summer flowers

summer flowers

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Project Started

I have still been finishing old UFO's.  I'm pleased to get some things done, but when I clean areas of the studio, I am finding more yarn that I bought for projects and it is just stacking up.  

My son moved out and is clearing out his bedroom, and unfortunately I am moving boxes in there to get the studio cleared and cleaned.  We made a deal, he will continue to take his stuff out if I will continue to get mine put away also.  (We want to get the room cleared up and put in a desk, sofa bed and make a nice extra room to relax in and give my DH a space for his computer that is comfortable.  I do plan to move my Baby Macomber down into that room...we have to have a loom in every room!)

I have to show you the pumpkins that my DD and I did in a class.  I saw the sample from another teacher at Pioneer Craft House and had to set up a class with her.
Our new Halloween Decorations
The pumpkins are zentangle drawing on the fake pumpkins that they sell everywhere.  You need a Sharpie oil pen and then you just get going.  The small one is my DD and she made very dense patterns.  Mine is the larger pumpkin and I divided the spaces up and just started going. Today I was adding some more lines, a few white dots and patterns and putting some gold bits on.  Like my friend said, I will just keep adding stuff to it until I ruin it...  I think they will look great with my grinning pumpkin man from the sister date.  I wish I had the soot sprites, they would look great with it, but they went to my sons house.  I still have several eyes and a ton of yarn so I could knit up some more.

My new weaving project is towels for my sister's big birthday.  She turned 50 while we were in Europe together, but we are having the birthday luncheon next month, finally.  I had her pick out some colors and I have been thinking of the pattern I want to use for about a year.

Last time at Intermountain Weaver's Conference,  I took a class from Robyn Spady.  She introduced us to a wide group of weave structures.  These were unusual, most I had seen and read about, but this class give me a chance to weave and try them out...including velvet!
If you have a chance, take a class from her.  She is a great teacher and loves to share what she knows.  I learned a lot in the class, and after 30 years of weaving, I very seldom can say that after a class.

The first structure that I wanted to try from this class is her "Better that basket weave".  This weaving looks like basket weave, but has tie-downs to make it a structurally sound fabric.  

I know Sharon Alderman worked out a version of this structure in her book "Mastering Weave Structures", so that is another place to look up how to weave it.

Doesn't this look great...8/2 cotton
I love the look of the pattern, sorry I was bad and did not wash the sample.  In the two color areas, you can see the tie-downs.  In Robyn's towels, these were less visible...she had washed her towels, of course!

Yes, I am copying Robyn.  She made her towels in three large blocks of color, and I will be doing the same.  The sample shows the way the blocks are set up.
I loved the look and of course the pattern is the same on the other side.  Robyn suggests setting the yarns closer that with plain weave, for the 8/2 cotton she suggested 24 epi.

Her towels were great and I decided that a light, a medium and a dark value would be great for my sister's towel also.  But when I presented my sister with the available colors from UKI, she picked out middle value for two of the colors.  Oh well, they are to match her new kitchen after all!  (I decided on the UKI, because they had a sale on the available colors.)  I went through the color card and along with my sister's colors, I picked out some for me to have on hand for further weaving.

Nile Green on the bottom, 2 strands of the yellow green I ordered.
It's never easy is it?  The green that she wanted was out, so I ordered another light green and I planned to  over-dye the yarn to get a good color.  

After thinking about the dye problem (I had just over-dyed two and a half pounds of yarn for another project where the available color did not work), I decided to try the net.  I asked all the lists that I am on if anyone had that green that I could buy.  I received a number of suggestions, but not yarn.  I decided to contact other yarn stores, as per suggestion, to see if they had any on hand and found some!  I ordered the yarn (it was more expensive, but less work than the dye job) and I got notice from another weaver who had checked the stash and found some.  Many thanks to the weaver, but mine was in the mail!

So now I have the three colors.  I decided on a darker neutral in the center of the towel, so all the colors are closer in value. 

Tonight I'm going to the Witches Halloween party with Mom and my sisters and next week my family has reservations to see "The Wave" in southern Utah.  So I hope to have the towels on the loom next weekend and get going on them.  The birthday party is next month, so I don't have much time. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Shawls and a Scarf from the Thrums

I was asked to design a shawl using an alpaca yarn.  I have had the skeins of yarn for a few months.  I had planned on weaving it in the design that I had used for some wool shawls some years ago.  I went through the old weaving notes and found the draft.  I was surprised to see that I designed this shawl in the 80's.  It is a loosely woven Bronson Lace and I really like to play with the design.  Since the Bronson is a block weave, I can vary the design by weaving lace in different blocks on each shawl.  I ended up putting enough warp for two shawls for this test run.

Blue sample from my original pattern test and alpaca yarn above it.
I remember when I wove the sample.  It was loosely woven and I was sure when I put it in the wash to full, that it would dissolve like cheesecloth.  I was so pleased when the washing set the structure and opened the lace.

Notice that there are no more heddles on shaft one and more yarn to thread
Atwater-Bronson Lace is threaded with every other thread on shaft one, so you need to count your heddles before you start threading.  I though I had counted right...but not so.  There was no real problem because I had left the extra 5 heddles on the right side before I started threading (I thought there would be five extra heddles on the left side too).  Heddles are easy to move on the first shaft, I put a safety pin on the upper loop and the bottom loop, slip them off the right side, then put them on the left side and take off the pins.  I was able to finish the threading easily.  The weaving went well too. 

Plain weave on a Bronson threading is lifting shaft one against lifting everything else and sometimes shaft one will lift with the "everything else" treadle.  With this loose of sett (6 epi) I did not have trouble with shaft one lifting so there was no need for extra rubber bands added to shaft one.

Shawl two in the weaving, loose sett and squares of lace
  I keep the tape measure pinned to the shawl as I weave.  (I pre-punch holes in the tape so that the pins don't have to punch through each time...I really miss the old fabric tape measures.)  

The first shawl had a pattern of diamonds on it and the second is stripes and squares.  I worked with graph paper for a while to get the patterns that would work on this threading and those two were my favorite.  
Shawl two with stripes and squares.

Shawl one with diamonds

I had a couple of yards of warp left, not enough for another shawl and too much for a sample, so I just cut off the shawls and fulled them.  Shawl one was fulled in the wash machine, agitating for 4 minutes.  Shawl two was fulled on the rolling felting machine for 10 minutes on each side.  I was curious to see if it would felt/full up as nice on the machine.  I was surprised that it felt softer and the fringe finished nicer.  I may try the roller more often to full my work.

Here you see the comparison of unfulled on the left and fulled on the right.
Because I put the warp on back to front, the 2 yards remaining were uncut at the warp beam rod, and were 4 yards long.  This is long enough to make a scarf, so I decided to weave a scarf in the same structure, but with a sett of 8 epi to compare the finished hand of the fabric.

Here you see the slip knot 
I put several slip knots on each group of threads as I pulled them off the loom to keep them in order.  I threaded the loom from front to back in a smaller version of the Bronson Lace blocks.
After threading, groups look bad, but have the slip knots.
I kept the warp as tidy as possible, and all the groups are held in place with the slip knots, but it does have the look of "spaghetti" in the picture.  Once the threads are tied to the back, and have something to pull against, I know that they will straighten out just fine.

And I tied an overhand knot in each inch of warp threads.  To attach the knotted groups of warp ends, I borrowed some heddles from my inkle loom and looped them on the warp beam rod.  

Putting the knotted warp through the loops.
Here's the loop heddles, used to "lash" on the warp.
I really like the loops to attach the warp when I go from front to back.  In this case, they are a little long, they could easily be half the size, but I just grabbed some from the inkle loom.  I need to make a few especially for this loom.

The warp wound on perfectly and I'm ready to tie on.
As I suspected, once I tied one end of the warp, I was able to get it straightened and it wound on easily.  I will be weaving off the scarf this week and I am deciding if I want to try fulling it on the roller felting machine (she is named "Proud Mary" by the way..."she just keeps rolling along").  When using the machine, the end on the outside of the roll fulls more, so you need to re-roll the project to full the other end.  It may be over-kill to use Proud Mary for just one scarf, but she could really speed up the fulling for a group of scarves!

Another view of shawl one tied like a scarf.