summer flowers

summer flowers

Thursday, January 30, 2014

How I Finish My Towels

I have not been getting much weaving done...January doldrums, classes starting, etc, but I did get one set of towels done.
Three and a half Towels
These towels were an interesting process, too many errors that could have been avoided.  I started with a few tubes of 10/2 unmercerized cotton.  Since I only had a finite amount of the yarn, I designed the repeat based on the yardage that I had.  Red was 1050 yards, white was 4200 yards and black was 3150 yards.  I divided the amounts down until I got the number for the pattern repeat,  5 of the red, 21 of the white and 15 of the black.  I played around with some plaid designs and looked at tartan books, I finally came up with 14 black, 8 white, 2 red, 4 white, 2 red and 8 white.  (Pretty close to the figured amounts above:  4 red, 20 white and 14 black!)

Since I could only wind a four yard warp with the amounts, I had hoped for four towels, and since there were so much color changes, I wound 8 yards, but only wound half of the color changes.  I then folded the warp in half and put both ends on the warp beam rod.  

First error, about half way though the warping I realized that I had left out 4 whites and 2 reds in two of the stripes...they only had one red stripe in them.  So I measured out the additional threads and added them to the warp beam rod...I missed two stripes so, since I folded it in half, I had to repair four stripes. 

The warp wound on quite well.  Due to the folded warp, I ended up with a cross to pull all the threads through, but they were strong and did not tangle up too much.  Threading went well,  I was using a four shaft twill, but I threaded on eight shafts because I had an eight shaft loom empty!  I decided to try Marge Coe's idea for basket weave on the selvedges...we will see how it wears.  

Second error, I had calculated the number of heddles needed at an early stage of the designing and I had added more to the stripes so as I got to the end of the threading I ran out of heddles...I hate to move heddles on a half threaded loom!

Third error, because of all the adding and messing around with the threads, they were very uneven at the front when I started to tie on to the front apron rod.  Hoping for the best, I lashed the knots on so I could get as much length as possible.

The towels wove great.  Changing colors for the plaid slowed me down a lot, but I love the look of the plaid!

Since I had four towels, supposedly, I decided to do two with the plaid and two with a solid color weft.  The white towel was so fast to weave and at the last minute I decided to make the fourth towel black weft.  

Fourth error, yes I ran out of warp and only got a square for the black towel instead of the 30 inches that I wanted.  It seems that I cut the warp length too close, there was enough yarn left over that I could have added another half yard or more to the length...oh well, sometimes it goes like that.

I will often miss a knot when I am weaving, sometimes I take it apart to repair it sometimes I mark it so I can repair it when they come off the loom.
It's not that hard to weave in a correction to repair the knot.  I have a few tools that help me. When we were clearing out my Dad's tools, I found some great over glasses magnifiers...I grabbed them before my sisters had a chance.  So with those great magnifiers and a tapestry needle, I can fix some of my errors.
With these on, I can see where I want the thread to go.

Between my towels, I weave the hem turn-under with sewing thread to eliminate the bulk.  
You can see the two shots of red that are my cut line and the fine white thread that I weave the hem turn-under.  I then sew the edges to get ready to cut them apart.
My machine has a serpentine stitch, if you don't have one, don't zig-zag, just use two rows of straight stitch, it holds better.  I cut the towels apart between the two colored threads and then wash them.

I try to wash them harder than they will be washed in real life.  So, hot water and regular agitation and throw them in the dryer.  Then I tell everyone I give them to that they should wash the towels in a delicate cycle, with warm water and then dry them flat...

I didn't add a hanging loop to these, although I did weave one on the inkle loom.  But they finished up nice.  I think they will wear well also, I sett them at 30 ends per inch and they feel sturdy.
The black "towel" will turn into a square mat to go on the table under a vase.  Since I am giving these towels to my son for his new house...I guess I had better buy a vase and some flowers, too.  

I started teaching a Rigid Heddle weaving class, and the shop is using Cricket Looms.  What a great little tool.   I have a Rigid Heddle loom and have woven on it off and on for years, but I had not woven on this new loom.  This is the scarf that I designed to test the loom.

 I threaded 2 strands of Rowan Pure Wool in brown and one strand of Mountain Colors Teton in gold.  I love the Mountain Colors yarns, yes they are pricey, but only one skein gave me this great scarf.
The scarf finished up soft and wonderful to have around your neck.  It makes me want to get more yarn and make another!

I plan to make some more Rigid Heddle projects, both for examples in the class and to try the new things that are coming out for them...have you seen the great direct warping method, it's great.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Year and a New Start

I had thought that my first entry of the year would be a great total of last year's weaving and sparkling new work started for this year...

It didn't work out that way.  I have not taken pictures of the looms for the new year (except for the Bergman which you saw decorated for Christmas and not set up for weaving) and I have not even been able to finish the two towel warps for a photo shoot.

I feel like my body has been wanting to hibernate.  I wake up at a good time...6 or 7 in the morning..I might even get up and do something, but I often end up going back to bed and sleeping for a couple more hours.   No...I am getting to bed at a normal time at 10:30 or 11 usually.  I can't believe that some nights I am sleeping around the clock!  Is it the cold and dark weather?  Will it improve if I get in the sun for a few hours?  What do I need to do to get back on track?

Christmas put away.  Lace and flowers are out.
I have been doing some weaving, getting ready for a couple of classes to start.  For my first two classes, I needed to empty two looms and put on a new warp for each of them.  The first one needs a doubleweave sampler,  for the students to see the techniques and the second one needs a rigid heddle project showing the starting header and weaving.  I had to weave off the overshot sampler to get the doubleweave on,  I finally gave up and just cut off the warp.  I wove 3 samplers to add to the overshot class, but I just didn't want to spend the time to weave the whole warp and I have to put the doubleweave sample on today for class tonight.  The rigid heddle loom had a finger manipulated lace warp that had been on for a couple of years.  Now that I am teaching a RH class, I need to do some more work on that loom.  I put on the second pillow from two I started years ago.  Of course I ran out of yarn, it is no longer available, so I had to find a substitute that I could use to finish the many times I buy yarns for a great idea, then I don't get to it or redesign it later and I am no longer able to get more of the yarn...  

I was late getting things done for this class, because the furnace went out in the studio, due to holidays off there was no one to get a repair man in.  I did spend one day working, but the temperature in the studio was 38 degrees so I was not working very fast.  I put a small space heater by where I was working, but the cold was in the floors and the treadles and it was not fun weaving, and I did not spend the time cleaning up for class that I needed to do.  So I was not ready for the first class, and to top it off the weather was bad and we only held a short class so we could all get home before the roads got icy.  (The furnace was back on before I had students in so at least we were warm in class.)  Now a week later we have had temperatures in the 40's and 50's so the snow is almost gone and the ice problems are also gone for a while.  (Climate change is giving us very weird weather...)

I am excited for the things I have on the looms, I enjoy weaving when I sit down and do it, but I feel lethargic...I know what my son would tell me..."get up and go to the gym, work it out of you" and I do agree with him, but I also look at the bed and it looks like a better idea!!...

The local weaver's guild had a great meeting.  We did a zig-zag braid on a kumi himo plate and the teacher showed several members how to warp their inkle looms.  We ended up with 5 to 7 inkle looms.  I brought mine, but just talked with friends instead of doing anything on it.
I did get a nice braid worked on with the plate, however.
Isn't the braid great?
I put a warp on the next day.

The cotton ribbon that I put on the inkle loom the next day will be the perfect hanging loop for the black and white towels.  I used the same yarn and a similar stripe pattern.  I did the shortest warp I could on my inkle, and I finished it the week after the meeting.  I haven't taken it off, but had fun weaving on that little loom.  Maybe I should do another ribbon out of the linen for the other set of towels!