summer flowers

summer flowers

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

End of the Year Projects

As the year comes to a close, I am finishing up some things and wishing I was having better luck with some of them.  

I joined a SAL/KAL (I showed you the roving here Nov 24), it has been fun and disappointing.  I really loved spinning the yarn.  I pre-drafted and spliced the roving to give short color changes at the first of the project where the knitting rows were short and long color changes where the rows were longer.  This worked, but as I was knitting, I wished I had spent more time getting a more consistent yarn.  
Nice striping and no pooling of color.
Actually after knitting, the variations are not that bad, just while you are knitting it is so close and you notice all the little loose or tight spots.
The lace pattern was ok, but I wondered about binding off with the large needle,  I tend to knit so loosely anyway.  Sure enough the edge ruffled and looked funny.

Even after blocking, the edge was still loose, but it looks much better.

You know how it is, sometimes the project is better than you imagined, sometimes it is just finished!

And there there is the unfinished.  I have a loom sitting in my living room that is waiting for me to sand, oil and get it working.  It has been that way for over a what do you do with it???
Yes, you decorate it!
On the weaving front, there have been some little problems with the warps I have been working on.  I have two tea towel warps and both of them have been giving me grief.  The first is on a loom at the PCH studio.  I designed the plaid to use some yarns...more white, tiny amount of red.  After I designed the plaid, I wound it on the warp board...half way through I realized that I was only adding one red stripe in the block instead of two...actually half had one stripe and half had two (but not evenly).  So when the warp was in the raddle, I added warps to make all the blocks have two red stripes.  Problem number one corrected. 
After I had threaded and sleyed, I noticed 2 black threads hanging down and, sure enough, there was a black block with 11 threads instead of and resley.  (Fortunately, it was next to the last black stripe, so not so bad.)
Re-threading the warp
I wove a small start of the piece before I had to go home, and it looks like the twill is good.  I threaded a basket weave at the selvedges...not sure how I like that, we will see.

The other towel warp is on the Baby Wolf at home, I can work on this one this week while I'm home for the holiday.  I'm using #10 linen singles and although it worked fine for a narrow warp I wove earlier, this wider warp is having trouble shredding and breaking at the selvedge.  It started when I wound the warp twice as long and folded it to warp it on.  When I do this method, I end up with crosses on each end and so I pull the warp through lease sticks as I wind back to front.  With this singles, I think dry spun, yarn...I developed fuzz balls at the cross.

So I had to watch the cross carefully and clean out the fuzz balls when they developed.  

I have been thinking a lot about huck lace, so I designed a towel where I could put huck in the stripe, or alternate it in the squares.  This way I will have several related but different designs for the towels.  

I started weaving with a single color weft for the first towel.  With singles linen, I often wet the weft so that it makes a better selvedge, and after testing, this yarn needs to be wet for a better edge.  The problem is the the edge is fraying badly.  Maybe I should plan on a plyed yarn for the edges when I use a singles linen.  I will also try wetting the warp as I weave to strengthen the edge threads.

For this first towel, I am weaving the huck in the body, but not in the gold stripes.

Do you notice the reed stripes.  I have threaded this yarn 2 per dent in a 10 dent reed.  I hope the spacing is less noticeable after washing.  Maybe I should have done 1 per dent in a 20 dent reed.  

After I had woven some and was winding the warp on, I noticed one side go loose...I was afraid that I had done something wrong in the winding...bad tension or something....But it was the tie-on rod getting stuck, I was lucky this time.  We'll see how the tension at the end of the warp is with plain weave in some areas and huck in others...!!!

Tie-on rod getting struck on the side piece.
Speaking of loom things, do you tie the brake pedal on your Baby Wolf higher or lower than the treadles.
I tie mine lower.
After these two warp, I think...all I want for Christmas is a warp that goes on easily, no counting errors, weaves like a dream and gives me a WOW finished product.   Not too much to ask for, is it!!??

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Almost Christmas

The year is drawing to a close, and we are in the middle of storms and snow here.  At least, the air is clearing out and we had some sun yesterday and probably some tomorrow.  

I did manage to get a tree up this year, but it was a close thing.  I put new garland on the shelves and almost let that go as the greenery for us this year.  For several years, I have missed having a hutch or cupboard in the kitchen to put greenery on.  I finally found some cabinets that I liked and this year I put the nutcrackers and greenery along the top.  I made so new bows to add color and painted some of the pine cones that I have had around.
My favorite nutcracker...the Linen seller
The new bookshelves in the living-room have new garlands.  I saw one at the store, came home and put it up then went back the next day for another one.
This is how the first one looked
After I got the second one, I also got some red ribbon and wound it though for some color.  Maybe next year I will make bows like I added to the nutcracker garland.   The pine cones on this garland don't show at all.  I will need to take them off next year and then re-position them for a better look.

I put up a few of my favorite decorations on the tree, and talked my DD and DS to put up some of theirs.  

I had to put up one of the funny little gnomes...They are probably 70 or 80 years old, they were on my great Aunt's tree years ago.  I have two left, although the red one needed repair this year and will not be on the tree.

I also put the plastic nativity...I remember putting these on our tree when I was little.  It is probably 40 or 50 years old.

This one is from a kit that we bought when we were first married to decorate our tree.  It is a metal frame and came with plastic beads to put in the spaces.  Then you heated them in the oven to melt the plastic.  These are only about 30 to 35 years old.

It is fun to get out the old decorations and relive the memories that they bring.  We never did get any old ornaments from my DH's family and the decoration he had as a child, so I like to have mine there.

I quite a number of sheep that I have collected over the years.  I only put a couple of them up this year...the tree is so small it did not need to be over-run by sheep!

So many little things to remember and enjoy this holiday season.  I hope you all enjoy the peace and wonder of the holidays.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December already

It finally seems like winter...Last week we still had flowers blooming and 60 degrees during the day.  This week 2 inches of snow, a high of 20 degrees, and more snow expected.  What a difference a week makes.  

I did get the first Christmas decoration up, my Advent Calendar.  I made it when my children were little, about 30 years ago, but I love seeing it every year.
Here's a picture of it several years ago.
Last year I actually put some nails in the wall to hang up some Christmas pictures.  I had not had them hanging for several years and it was fun to see them again.  I think I will get them up today.  I wanted to put new hanging wires on some other pictures to hang there during the rest of the year, but I did not get that done.  Oh well maybe after the holidays this year...
The color is a little off, but I did take a photo last year.
All of the pictures are stitchery, and all are about 25 years old.  The center white on white is done by my Mom using the candlewick technique.  The other four were a series that I did.  I like the variety of sentiments and the variety of techniques.  The Santa "Joy" is embroidery, the family "Tree" is counted cross, the snowman "Frosty" is needlepoint, and the baby Jesus "Nativity" is trapunto.  It was fun to put such a variety together.  The four 8" x 10" pieces hung for several Christmas seasons in a special place between our bookshelves.  When we got rid of those bookshelves, I had no place to put them.  It is fun to enjoy them again.

And I got the final shipment of my order out, I hope it reaches her in time for her show.  I know the first got there and she was very pleased with my work.  When I did the shawls this time, I used huck lace instead of Bronson lace.  I had just taught Huck lace in my class, so it was on my mind.  I have never done these in Huck and I really like them.
White on white shawl
Beige on white shawl
Here's a Bronson lace from the first shipment
I like the Huck better, maybe because it is the last warp I did!  I would not mind having a huck lace piece, I was thinking of cutting holes in it for my arms and wearing it like the lace "vest" that I saw Anita Meyer wearing.

I also did some ruanas, and ponchos for her.  The short poncho is a new design.  I like the versatility in wearing it.

Flipped over the shoulder
They really worked out well.  I just blended the colors of warp, then used two different wefts for them.  This is the 1800 yd/lb alpaca again, but this shipment had some colors to play with.

I also got a new loom yesterday, a very old, and needs some work, Schacht table loom.  I will probably use it in the classes.  It makes a great loom for beginning students and for rental.  It travels quite well.  But there are a couple of pieces missing and the wood really needs some TLC.  I would like to replace the apron cord with Texsolv, I hope I have enough left (I just replaced the apron cords on my Baby Wolf...scissor accident when I was cutting off one of the alpaca pieces.

I finally found the pattern and the yarn and the knitting for the socks I have been working on forever.  The pattern is slow knitting, cable work every row, and I only carried the part of the pattern I needed at the time.  So there was periods where I was looking for the pattern, then found the pattern and could not find where I put the half finished socks...anyway, I have all the components together and I want to get them finished.  I am really tired of this pattern.  That may be another reason it has taken so long, I knit for a while then put them away to do a less demanding design.
First sock at chevron cuff, the second sock is there now! Yeah!

And with the Alpaca work done for a while, I can get back to my yardage.  I am interested in seeing how far I get with the handspun yarn...I have more than I thought.  I may be able to have solid handspun in the whole body of the jacket instead of just stripes in the front and back.

I thought I had a picture of how it looks now that it is on the loom, but this is just a picture of the test.  The actual fabric is not that "stripey".  I think I will like it, even if it is MUCH brighter colors than I usually wear.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

One Order Done

I am not very good at getting things done.  I seem to do it in my own time instead of in the time it should be done.  Anyway, I finally have the first shipment done.  
Box of nine pieces
I really enjoyed weaving these fabrics.  I liked the alpaca yarn, and I got to make some clothing pieces that I had not done before.  It took me a while to figure the "shrug."

I ended up with nine pieces; three shawls in Bronson lace, three ruanas in twill and three shrugs in point twill.  The shrug is an interesting piece, a cross between a jacket and a shawl.  It stays on your shoulders, but doesn't button up.
The shoulders are a little extreme on this manikin 
I like the way the piece fits and it seems to look good on a lot of body shapes.  My sisters seem to like it, so maybe I need to weave up some for me to give as gifts.  (I know I will hear from my sisters with that statement.)  The three fabrics were slightly different with the different wefts.
I really like the gray and beige on the right.
The shawls in Bronson lace are very light and airy.  Light enough to where in the summer and in cold air conditioned buildings.  I think I would like to try weaving some in Huck lace also.
I had several colors of natural alpaca to use on the pieces
Two of the shawls ended up white on white and one is tan on white.  Maybe I should have done a gray on white also.

The ruana took a lot of weaving.  I like my pieces with a lot of coverage.  I will have to make some short versions on the next batch.  
These are long enough and light weight enough to belt up.
I like the look of them belted up.  They have a seam down the center back, so it is not the pointed shawl back like on some versions.  

And they cover enough to be warm over a dress or jacket, but lightweight enough to wear on a summer's evening.

All three fabrics came out great.  
I like the shoulder stripe on the ruana, it brings you eye up to the face of the wearer.  

Anyway, these were a great series to.  I am now working on the second series using dyed yarns.  All of the yarns have been spun by a local mill...Spinderella.  They have a high quality yarn and I have enjoyed weaving it.

I have also got some things done for me...unfortunately not anything on my house.  But a shawl that I spun is finally photographed.

This started out as two hand dyed bumps from my LYS, before she closed and moved to fresh opportunities.  The yarn spun up easily and the color change is wonderful.  I call the piece "Rose Red."
I have knitted a version of this diagonal lace before and liked it.  With the color change here, the diagonal is really emphasized.  

I signed up to do a SAL/KAL on Ravelry using Greenwood rovings, and found a couple of them in my stash.  I have not been able to get started on them, due to my commitments, but at least I finally got a picture of the fiber to post.  After my second series of alpaca is done, I can get started on it.
Two rovings and pattern
The shawl pattern starts in the center back, I am trying to decide how to split the roving so that I will not have a pool of color at the start.  I want short sections of color at the first with the short rows and long sections of color at the last where the rows are long.  I should be able to figure something out...I think.

Finally, here I am at the castle in Napa Valley.  We had a great time on vacation last August; drinking wine, visiting San Francisco and seeing big trees...

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Long Lasting Cough

I have a history of a cough that lasts months.  When I was working full time I was on the phone all day.  So when I had a cough, there was really no time to get better, and I spent lots of days with cough drops and small humidifiers in my cubical.  (I also got walking pneumonia two years in a row for a January surprise.)  So now when I get a cold or cough, I panic. 

I am now teaching a couple of nights a week.  (Well, a week ago 4 nights, the cough came at the end of that week. Then the last week three nights of classes, and the cough just got worse.) Now I am working toward the end of the quarter of classes, so there are only two classes a week.  To help the cough and prevent others from getting it, I have stayed home and kept the talking down for a few days.  (I had invites to two family baby showers, people that I have not seen for a while.  So I felt bad missing them...but the chance of giving coughs to two pregnant girls sounded awful!)

I did ride over to see my DS's new house.  He bought a townhouse...he was tired of paying rent...great place.  He is really disappointed with the counter space in the kitchen.  It is a good sized room but not well designed for cooking.  No matter where you stand, you are working in your own shadow.  It will be fun to see what he does with it

After several days in bed, reading, watching video, I have to get to work.  It is one thing to be take years to finish my projects, but when I am doing projects of others, they need to get done.  I wove the first warp of ruana's, and got it off the loom.  They look good and I think I can check the fabric (cut any loose ends) and sew them this week.  
Last of three ruana's (six panels)
I tried fulling them on the felt roller and it worked very good.  It is fun to try something new.

I put on a second ruana warp and this time the color changes are random and mixed instead of striped.  
Here's that beautiful warp on the warp beam
I had some trouble with the color choices.  The yarn had been sitting on the Bergman and I would take down different cones and play musical cones with them to see how they looked together.  This warp is mostly in the mid-value range.  Now what color on the wefts...there are three ruanas so that means three different wefts.

Here we are all threaded and showing the first weft and pattern.  I like the diamonds and X's on the pattern, but it is a 16 shot repeat and during the cough medicine period, I could not keep track of the repeat and had to stop weaving!  It's awful when you are not able to count to 8 and back again.
Nice natural brown weft

Here is the row of cones that are left.  I will probably do a mid-range green for the next weft on the ruana, but I am not sure of the third one. 
I decided to use the light value yarns for some lace shawls and I think the black and dark value yarns for another warp of three shrugs.  Black is always a great color for clothing.

Beautiful row of dyed and natural colored yarns from Spinderella

My other project to finish is some felt.  I have had the felt roller of some time on loan, and it is now time for it to go back to the owner.  I was supposed to felt yardage and I did the first run and mailed it off.  Then the second run got felted and things sort of fell apart.  

Two weeks ago I went through boxes to see where I stand and what it would take to finish this order.  One box had four finished pieces, about 50" by  125", then two large boxes contained batts for four more pieces.  I managed to finish one piece before the cough got too bad, then I was our of commission for a few days.  Last weekend I finished another piece, a great white piece with a mauve pattern on it.  That bag turned out to have enough batts for two pieces so I am working on the second of those today.  I hope to have the fourth piece tomorrow...that would only be one more piece before they pick up the roller!!
Mauve 1 finished
When I was felting Mauve 1, I had the roll of felt start loosening on the roller.  I re-rolled it several times but it continued to loosen.  I finally realized that the piece was too wet.  I got a few cups of the water out and it rolled just fine after that.

Wetting out the alpaca is a test each time I do it.  I have started letting it soak for 30 minutes or so before I start the felting.
Mauve 2 wetted out
The white areas in the felt are either dry spots (not enough water) or air bubbles (not pressed down enough).  Either way those areas will not felt as well and the finished piece may have loose layers in those areas.  On Mauve 1, I added more water and I guess I ended up with too much.  This time I will be more careful to wet out well, smooth the wrinkles and get a good felt.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I have finished a few things

I keep waiting for the big drama to happen to write about, but I really don't want big drama in my life.  I just "keep on keepin' on" and doing the normal daily things.  So I need to get used to just writing about the little daily things.

I am excited about being in Handwoven magazine.  When I was asked to write about my shawl, I was so excited, but I don't think I told hardly anyone.  I didn't want to jinx it I guess.  The piece is my beautiful Copper River Shawl.  I have been using that for my banner for a while.  I am very pleased with the piece and want to continue to wear it.  It got delivered back to me last week and I have been showing it and the magazine around to friends.  

I have also finished a few things.  One of the 100 Projects, that I thought I could finish a couple of years ago... finally, I have got another one done.  The Bohus cuff that I started in the knitting class.  Now my DD wants me to knit her a Bohus sweater.  On those small needles, it will take some time to finish, but the yarns are wonderful to work with, so I should get a lot of pleasure out of the project for some time to come.

I also joined a KAL, mostly because it was Mountain Colors yarn...I love their yarn.  The shawl above, is also their yarn.  But for this one, we did fingerless mitts and I bought a kit from my LYS.  They turned out great, now I want to get a new coat to wear with them!

My classes have been going pretty good.  The Beginning Weaving did not get enough advertisement so it was small, but the rug class filled.  The students warped most of the looms in the studio, so the studio looks "lived in".  Looms are so much better when they have warps on them, even though these are only 8 inches wide, I like the looms filled.
Students warping the looms for rug samples
The bobbin lace group had a member teaching her christmas ornament again this month.  She designs a new one for each year.  I started last year's, but never got very far.  So I did not start the new one, but instead took last year's to get help starting again.  I'm pleased that it is coming along.  Today I ran into some problems with the Halo Spider, but I will get that down too.

But I am very happy to have my Big Mac back in working order.  I have been dragging my feet on this one.  Way back last year, I did a sample for some yardage with a handspun yarn I had.  I loved the Zephyr for the body of the fabric, so I ordered another cone of that color. Unfortunately, they were redyeing all the colors and my color was not next on the list.  After a few months the yarn came, but I had lost momentum.
A couple of months ago, I measured the warp (720 ends) and wound it on the warp beam of the Mac.  Then I realized that there were not enough heddles.  (I had moved to big eye heddles for making the rugs, but there were not enough rug orders to keep the loom busy.)  I wanted to move the big eye heddles off and put on the regular eye.  (The big eye heddles weigh quite a bit more and I don't need that weight on this loom when I try to lift the shafts.)  
So finally last week, I moved heddles off twelve shafts and put on new ones.  Between the ones coming off and the ones going on, I moved over 1300 heddles.  And I only got the first 12 shafts done, I needed to get more heddles for the last 4 shafts, but this fabric only takes 12 shafts.  So now I am ready to go with the yardage.

Within two days I had the heddles threaded and yesterday I finished sleying the reed.  (I had studio hours at PCH both days and that slowed me down.)  
Today I tied on the warp and started weaving.  It looks like I will have enough handspun to completely weave the front and back of the jacket and I can have the sleeves in the background color.  I though I would only be able to have stripes of the handspun down the center front and center back.  
This shows the ground weave and the start of the handspun
The color of the handspun is much brighter that I usually wear...but I like it and it will be fun to have in a jacket.  I put on six yards of warp, so may have enough yardage to make a skirt or something to go with the jacket...I just need to sew it instead of putting it in a box like most of the yardage I have woven....Oh I should take some out and finish those projects also!