summer flowers

summer flowers

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Weekend in Texas

My niece was getting married in Texas.  My Mom (Grandma) wanted to go, but couldn't travel alone.  I am no longer working, I have never been to Texas. I over booked July without noticing and I did not need to add another weekend out of town, but Mom wanted to see the wedding and I wanted Mom to see it.

I always thought of Texas as desert, hot and dry, but I was in the south of Texas and it is HOT and WET.  The temperature was about what we were at home (98 to 99 degrees) but the humidity was unbelievable.  I am used to humidity of 15-20 percent and we were in 85 percent.  I could hardly breath when I first got there.  And I am not used to feeling the air laying on my skin.  Luckily we found plenty of air conditioned rooms for Mom to relax in (and me too).

The bride looked beautiful.  Her dress was, as she put it "awesome."  Even better, I had helped fit the dress to her.  She needed the bodice shortened and I was glad I was able to do it.  We had done the dress changes a couple of months ago, before she left for Texas.  I was so happy to see how great she looked in the dress.
Here's the beautiful bride with Grandma
It was a wonderful thing to share this occasion with my sister, my niece and her family.  I also got to meet the groom's family and enjoy a great dinner and party afterword.

I'm sure the professional pictures will be much better.

The day after the wedding, we got to go to South Padre Island and play on the beach.  Mom and me got to put our feet in the Gulf of Mexico.  There was a nice breeze coming off the water, so we felt great, until we had to walk back to the parking and humid!
Mom, Daughter and Granddaughter at the beach.
All in all, we had a great time, but we also had an adventure coming home.  

My Mom carries a little Swiss army knife in her purse and she had not flown for several years, so did not realize the problems that would cause.  I managed to get it in the checked luggage on the way down, but on the way back she put it in her carry on instead of the checked in luggage.  She knew not to put it in her purse!  I did not catch it, but TSA did.  When they took it, Mom's face showed how upset she was and they suggested that we go back to check-in to see if we could put it in the suitcase.  (This is a small airport, and there was a chance.)

Alas, it was not to be.  Mom was upset and said we had better just turn it in.  We went through the check out again, I gave the knife to another TSA agent and he saw how upset Mom was...She had bought the knife in Switzerland some fifteen years ago, and it had her name engraved on it.  He suggested that we see if the airport office had a box or envelope that we could mail it home. (Like an idiot, I did not have the phone numbers for any family still in Texas that could pick up the knife.)  

We went to the office and asked about a box or envelope.  The gentleman there said to Mom, "You must be Barbara."  The story had already got around the airport! I said it is a small airport.  He sent the office manager to find something, he had a business envelope and I proceeded to tape the knife securely to the side of the envelope, and tape my address to the window in the envelope.  The he told me there was not post office and they did not have stamps...I remembered a couple that I had stashed in my wallet and put them on.  All we could do is hope for the best.

When we left the office, the TSA officer that had suggested we try to mail the knife, met us and said that he would take care of getting it in the mail.  Mom was so pleased that she wanted a picture with him.  We went through check out a third time and relaxed while we waited for our flight.
Mom with TSA.
Small airports are able to be a little more personal than the big ones that handle so many people and bags.  We were lucky to have the help that we did.

I do understand the worry of people with knives on airplanes...I'm glad that TSA is there to keep us safe.  But I also understand and agree with the man in the airport office.  As he said, "I can't see an 89 year old woman running down the airplane aisle with a inch and a half knife, yelling Take me to Switzerland or I'll do your nails." 

There is, of course, a good ending to this story.  Four days after I got home, the knife came in the mail.  The envelope was crumpled and slightly torn on the back...but the knife was safe and it is back in my Mom's purse!
Mom's knife came through the mail in one piece.

Gratuitous weaving picture

I had to add a picture of the 3 shaft bound weave I've been doing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I spent May out of the country, and June trying to get my head back in place.  I have had a hard time coming back up to speed.  
May was wonderful in the South of France.  We took classes, ate great food, traveled around the area, welcomed our kids for a couple of weeks and relaxed.

I have had a hard time coming back to earth.  I still am not sleeping well...but last night was an improvement.  My classes have started and I am enjoying teaching.  I finally got to some weaving.

I was able to get some old know...when they used to make a really great smooth linen.  This was Bernat Linen Special, about equal to a singles 20 linen (20 lea). I needed to weave some samples for exchange, and decided I could use this yarn.  I got one tube each of several colors and wanted to make a mixed stripe warp and an over twisted weft.  I decided that I could weave the samples to test the collapse, then weave a collapse scarf.  I was really thinking about a summer scarf that is light and airy. 

It turns out that the yarn is all very similar in value.
I didn't think it would make the mixed warp look that I wanted.   

I had read a blog talking about using three colors in 60%-30%-10% of colors to make a good balance, so I decided to try that with natural, blue and yellow.  I still wanted a random stripe, so I wound 10% of the ends in yellow and put them through the reed in a random stripe.  I wound 30% of the blue and added that stripe sequence to the reed, then I wound 60% in natural to fill in the remaining dents.  I know that warping front to back is not a good idea with singles linen, but it is only a 5 yard warp and I figured I could wind it slowly and all would be well.

all yarns in the reed
I didn't have that much trouble winding it on, and I liked the random stripe I had designed. Because of the trouble with the selvedges I had on the last linen warp, I used 40/2 linen for the last two ends on each side for strength, this worked very well.  

For the over-twisted weft, I used a technique that I learned in a workshop with Theo Moorman.  She used to combine yarns to make a boucle like yarn for areas of her tapestries or to blend colors for her technique.  She showed us how she twisted the yarns together as she wound them on the bobbin.  I used a single ended hand winder to add twist to my weft as I wound it on the bobbin.  

You add twist like a spindle, or walking wheel, holding the yarn at a slight angle off the tip of the spindle.

After I added the twist, I used ten rotations of the handle for each 18 inches, then I put the yarn perpendicular to the bobbin and wound the yarn on.  This method, mostly, keeps the yarn taut so it doesn't back twist.  I wet the bobbins and let them rest overnight before weaving.

I wove up the lengths for the samples I wanted to send.  I decided to send a washed and an unwashed sample to show what happened with the yarn.  There was not as much collapse as I wanted, but the samples worked out well, and I got them in on time which really made me happy.
Before and after washing
For my scarf, I decided to twist the yarn a little more on the spinning wheel.  I still counted the twists that I added...I probably varied some, I did it watching Netflix.  (It was a lot like plying a yarn, nothing interesting, just treadle and let it go on the bobbin....boring)  The scarf wove up quickly, but every so often, the yarn would double back on itself and I would have to stop and untwist it to continue.  I had no problem with breaking and I kept the tension slightly loose so that I could get an even, very open beat.

The only problem, besides the back twist, was when I wound on the cloth beam.  I usually use a length of one sided corrugated cardboard to eliminate the bumps from the tie-on knots, but my cardboard was old and too soft to do the job.

I noticed after I wound the first wrap, I got an open space in my weaving.

I actually got three of them where three knots did not get smoothed over.  One on each end and one in the middle.  Since I was planning on the weft shifting in the wash...all I could do is replace the cardboard and hope for the best.

When I finished the weaving, I decided to twist the fringe to control it and trim it off to about two and a half inches.  After the first wash, the collapse was great, but the linen felt stiff.  I used a rolling pin to flatten and soften the linen a little.  I washed it a second time, then rolled it up wet and put it in the freezer.  I had read once that freezing and putting in boiling water softened the linen.  After a night in the freezer, I dropped it in boiling water, then hung it out to dry.  It softened up a bit more and I took some pictures.
After two washes and freezing.

On the close-up, you can see the crimp and the slight shift in the weft.  I think I will throw it in a wash a couple more times to continue to soften the linen.  I am pleased with the results and now need to get some towels on the loom.

View of Gordes I took on vacation