Friday, July 12, 2024

Magic of Colour


end of the yellow, beginning of the blue/green

Yesterday I finished the yellow weft and started on the blue/green weft.  

I chose to weave plain weave for a number of reasons.

The yellow would blend more evenly with the warp colours and *appear* to be a bright green.

The epi on this warp was set for the thicker white weft I was trying to use up, which meant it was a little too 'sparse' for the 2/22 cottolin for anything else.  OTOH, 20 epi was perfectly fine for the cottolin woven in plain weave.

Plain weave is a bit 'thinner' and since I wasn't sure how much fabric I would get out of the tube, I didn't want to weave the yarn to 'measure' with hems.  Besides, my friend might like to make something other than towels with the cloth.  Plain weave would be more versatile, I felt.

Since I have a couple of different tubes of cottolin, weaving them off in plain weave seemed like a prudent thing to do.

But, as I was weaving, I was thinking ahead to the next article and wondered if I could weave some samples with that singles 6 with high twist energy in it, and if it would do some 'interesting' things?

I've used it before and it has loads of twist energy in it - it was spun to be plyed, so all that twist is still in the yarn.  It's just old enough it's gone 'quiet' but will re-awaken when it hits the water.


So I looked in my storage area, and sure enough I've got loads of the stuff.  So instead of switching to the blue cottolin (only about 1/4 of a tube left), once I've done with the teal cottolin, I'll wind some of the singles 6 and weave some samples.

I don't know how much warp I will have left when I've done that, but I might be close to the end.  Once I'm done weaving the samples, I'll take a gander at the warp beam and decide if I keep weaving or cut off and re-tie.  There is still that hemp to be used up and it would work nicely on this warp.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Simple is not always Easy


I've been weaving a lot of plain weave lately, in part because I need plain weave samples for a couple of the articles I've been writing.

It has been good to get back to 'basics' and hone my skills.

Because 'simple' does not equate to 'easy'.

I frequently see beginner weavers confidently stating that they are going to begin with  something easy, like plain weave.

Well, it may be 'simple', but it is not easy to do *well*.

Plain weave will show off every inconsistency in beat, especially when woven with contrasting colours in warp and weft.  OTOH, if the beginner can 'master' weaving plain weave well, every other weave structure will be a lot easier when they try those.

So I stifle any comment I might make and let them figure it out.

By the time I got to this, I'd already woven several yards on 2 different warps, all in 2/8 cotton.  With this warp I finished off the 'mystery' yarn in that 'fancy' twill I've been weaving, then grabbed a rather obnoxious yellow cottolin to use as weft on the blue/greens with accent colours of yellow, pink and peach.

The yellow had been sitting in my stash for quite literally decades because it was SO 'loud' I couldn't think what to do with it.  However, I have a friend who adores bright green, the brighter the better, and I thought the yellow would shift the mid-range blue/greens further into the green and be fairly bright.  Since she also likes turquoise, I figured this would be welcome in her kitchen - or wherever.  The tube was full because I hadn't used any of it, not quite knowing what to do with it, so I'm weaving it in yardage.  If she wants to make a table runner or something else with it, she can do that.  Or cut it up into towel lengths.  I'll leave it up to her what she wants to do with it.

Back in the early days of internet chat groups, there was the attitude that if you had a fly shuttle, or lord forbid, a dobby (then a computer assisted dobby), you were somehow 'cheating'.

I pointed out that I had two looms.  When I wove something the selvedges were straight and my beat was consistent.  Unless I did a fancy twill using all 16 shafts, no one would know which loom I had woven the cloth on.  And yes, I do weave plain weave over 16 shafts, like this bright green.

I no longer have a fly shuttle or auto-advance cloth system, but I can, and do, weave plain weave on all 16 shafts at times.

When I'm done with the yellow, there is a half tube of a blue/green, slightly darker than the darker hue in the warp.  That should also look good.  Again, I'll weave yardage, then decide what to do with it.  I might give it to my friend along with the brighter green.  TBD.  OTOH, I like the darker blue/greens so who knows, I might keep them for myself.  

I've finished the rough draft of the first article, and processed the samples for it.  My alpha reader says she has time to maybe read through it today.  If she does, I'll send the file to the editor and ask if she's satisfied with what I've done or if she wants something more.  I'm not sure how many words I've written, but I've got 7 pages (using a large font - because old eyes!)  (Just checked, and I've got just over 2200 words.)

In the meantime I am enjoying weaving this plain weave on the 'fatter' yarns.  But I am also getting antsy wanting to begin using up the white linen.  Hopefully I can finish this warp off over the weekend and start beaming the next.

Summer has arrived, the sun is currently shining, we don't have any particular wildfires bothering us (most are to the north, with one a little bit too close to the south and east, but no smoke from it - yet).  We are hoping that the recent rain has dampened the bush so that we don't have too many wildfires, but the province has issued a campfire ban for the entire province.  I really hope people pay attention and don't risk starting a fire while they are out enjoying the great outdoors.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Another Roadblock


When I went to the eye doctor yesterday, it was in expectation of being cut loose.  My last appointment showed nothing wrong with my eye, and the shingles appeared to have retreated to...wherever it goes when it goes 'quiet'.  (Yes, I had chicken pox as a child - I do NOT recommend anyone doing that - get your kids vaccinated and save them from...this...)

Instead, I was told that it had come roaring back and I now had extensive scarring to my cornea.  

It was *not* the birthday 'gift' I had expected walking into the examination room.

When counting 'blessings', all I could do was be grateful that it was my 'bad' eye, not my 'good' one.

I'm back on medication, primarily a salve that she hopes will beat the virus back and heal the, so far, light damage to my cornea.  She doesn't want to put me onto the anti-viral drug because she said I would need to be on it for literally years - and it is 'hard' on the rest of my body, which is already dealing with far too many other...things.

She also recommended adding Lysine to my vitamins and other meds as it has been seen to help reduce the herpes virus (shingles is in the herpes 'family').  No studies yet, but anecdotal reports that it helps.  I'll take it and hope it will.

Yes, I'm vaxxed with Shingrex, but I'm also immune compromised, and the shingles virus will use any opportunity it can to start growing again.  Because it *is* a virus, and that is what a virus will do - grow, when it has the opportunity.  My compromised immune system is, apparently, not well enough to keep it in the dungeon.

Needless to say, that news in the morning knocked me completely off my rails so I did what I usually do - I went to the loom and wove a towel.  

If I felt pressure before, I feel it all the more intensely now.  Between my eye and my back/legs, I have no idea how much longer I will be able to continue to weave.  So I *must* do it now, while I still can.

I did work on the experiment for the first article I'm doing and got the samples tagged and organized so that I can go ahead and run the experiment today.  My alpha reader has been warned that the text will be ready in the next couple of days.  And then I'll send the text to the editor, see if that's acceptable, or if they want more.  But I think I've covered the basics.

The second article is going to take a lot more time and effort to work through, both in terms of research, and expanding my theory into some kind of reasonable conclusions.  And the deadline is October, so I really need to stay on top of things.

If I can't weave, I hope I can still write.

I keep thinking about Emily Carr, who when she could no longer paint, took up her pen and wrote.

I told a friend the other day that I am a 'true' Cancer in that when I run into an obstacle I will go around it, under it, or simply rise above and over it.

In the meantime, I will take the pills (mohr pills!) and use the salve.

To the three friends who phoned yesterday to express birthday wishes, thank you for letting me vent.  I may not be on an even keel - yet - but you helped get me anchored and not thrashing around trying to figure out what I could do.

To the folk who bought towels on my ko-fi sale, thank you.  

Monday, July 8, 2024



Last Monday I cut the beige/brown warp off the loom, then spent the next couple of days beaming, threading, sleying and tying on this warp.  It's now Monday again and 5 towels are woven, with about 13 or 14 left to do.  (I also worked on the articles I'm researching/experimenting/writing.)

Each warp does around 18-20 towels, depending on how long each towel is woven.

At the rate of two towels per day (on 'good' days) that means another 7-8 days of weaving until this warp is complete.  (Finer yarns take longer to weave.)

I don't get 'bored' with weaving.  I know a lot of people can't stand to weave more than 1 or possibly 2 things identically.  They don't usually put 20+ yards of warp on their looms, and that's perfectly ok.  We each weave for our own reasons, and mine are not appropriate for someone else.

The more I read of the Pain Project, the more convinced I became that finding a way to keep weaving was important for my body in more ways than I had fully realized.  And I am once again aware and appreciative of how my current health 'team' have rallied behind me in order to help me keep weaving.

While I don't get 'bored' weaving, I do get 'tired', so the current warp was a pleasant switch before I went back to warps that are more muted in colour.  Not that I don't like pale hues, just that sometimes I like to see things a bit brighter.  Something a little bit 'different'.

So for the up-coming towel warps, I did something a bit different.  I ordered four different colours all very close in value.  As I weave each warp, I will change the combinations.

For the first warp I've chosen grey and green.  The next will be two values of blue.   And then I will start switching the combinations.  Pale grey and pale blue.  Green and blue.  And so on.  By keeping the hues very close in value and mixing them 1:1, the warp will have slight variations and will be more 'interesting' visually than a solid colour warp.

I have enough of the white linen to weave at least 5 warps, quite possibly 6.  Once the linen is used up, I will look at what other yarns I have on hand and continue the efforts to reduce my stash.

On the current warp the rest of the white 'mystery' yarn will weave about half of the warp, maybe a bit more.  Then I will work on some cottolin I have on hand and whatever warp is left will likely get woven with the Brassard natural coloured hemp.

I am no longer weaving like the hare, but the tortoise can still get stuff done.  

Don't forget my ko-fi shop BOGO sale ends midnight July 9, 2024.  There are 14 different designs to choose from.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

New Addition


While these towels are not actually hemmed - yet - they could be!  So I've added this design to my ko-fi shop and the BOGO sale, which ends at midnight July 9, 2024 Pacific Time Zone.

Yesterday I worked on one of the articles and am just about ready to send the text to my alpha reader for her eagle eye spotting typos and/or grammatical errors.

In the meantime I've also made a start on the new warp to use up what is left of the mystery yarn.

I have also made a decision on which colours to use for the warp after the current one, and there are two drafts to choose from to weave.  I'm sure I'll play around with them some more, but at least I'm on my way.

We are heading into a week of 'hot' (for us) temps.  I have two appointments to go to, but otherwise I intend to stay in as much as possible.  I'd really like to finish the current warp off this week and get back to working with the fine linen.  This interlude has been nice, especially since I will have used up both of those ginormous cones of 'mystery' yarn.  I may even use up some of the cottolin lurking in the shadows.  It depends on when the mystery yarn actually runs out.

And, as soon as I'm done with the first article, I will need to deal with the second one.  The October deadline will 'loom' soon enough.  Besides, I'd like to clear all the clutter away - all the books I've pulled from my library, all the samples I've woven, and of course the actual experimentation that still needs to be done, which includes clearly identifying the samples.

But for now, I am going to go weave, and think about all that other stuff later.


Saturday, July 6, 2024

A Good Yarn


This morning PLY magazine posted the above on their Facebook page.

This is something I have been trying to explain to weavers for, quite literally, decades.  I even did a whole series of publications, *with samples* to show how yarns with different characteristics will create cloth with different characteristics.  Sadly, now out of print with no intention to republish.

Just because you know the 'count' of a yarn, doesn't mean you know everything there is to know about the yarn.

This was a photo I took for A Good Yarn: Cotton.  

As I travelled all around the US, I constantly ran into people who would grimace when I would say my favourite yarn was 2/8 cotton.  In their mind what they saw was the yarn in the bottom of the picture.

Believe me when I tell you: while these yarns may have the same count, they are NOT the same.

How a fibre is prepared for and spun can create a myriad of different qualities of yarn.

But industry does not set out to make 'bad' yarn.  We, as weavers, can (and do) make inappropriate choices.

I'm not saying every weaver needs to be a spinner.  But what they do need to do, imho, is to look closely at the materials they are working with.  They need to understand the nature of the fibres *and of how the way they are spun* can enhance or diminish certain characteristics of those fibres.

To have people whiff away the fact that there is a quality of cotton with a count of 2/8 as being identical to a count of yarn with 8/2, is to ignore the fact that these two yarns have been spun differently.

When people tell me that the 'proper' way to write the count is 8/2 I point out suppliers like Jaggerspun who spin worsted wool yarns labelled 2/18, etc.

Maurice Brassard, who used to label their cotton 2/8 now, on the *English* side of their website call their yarn 8/2, but if you look on the *French* side of their website - voila, their yarn is still labelled 2/8.

The *count* only ever tells us how many yards per pound (or metric equivalent).  It tells us nothing about how the fibre was prepared for and spun.  For that we need to look more closely at the yarn itself.

Brassard's 2/8 cotton is ring spun.  The fibres are combed, and the twists per inch in the ply is tighter than the US standard 8/2 cotton which is open end spun with the singles tightly twisted but the ply less than Brassard's.

Why is this important?

Brassard's 2/8 cotton is stronger, smoother, and slightly *thinner* than the US 8/2 cotton, which has more air trapped in it so it is weaker, slightly thicker, and feels more textured.  The 8/2 ply presents a more 'saw-toothed' appearance that can feel rough to the touch.

This is NOT to say the 8/2 is 'bad' yarn.  It is what it is and if a weaver tries to use it beyond it's nature, there might be tears shed.  

So I happily use 2/8 cotton for warp, and will use 8/2 for weft.  However, when I do that, I know that it will shed a lot more 'lint' than 2/8 cotton.  

I wrote about absorbency for Handwoven a while ago.  People may find it helpful in understanding that aspect of yarn.

I also strongly suggest people get a fibre or textile science book to learn more about the nature of their materials.  My personal favourite is A Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers.  This book can be found second hand with prices ranging from under $10 to $100.  You don't need the most recent edition, which can sometimes be discounted as the newer editions are published.

Knowing your materials will help you make better decisions.  Just saying...

Friday, July 5, 2024

Begin Again


It's hard to get a photo of the towels on the loom because the 'right' side is on the underside.  In the photo it looks like there is a change in colour, but that's just the area where the light can shine through the warp, making it look lighter/brighter.

I'm very pleased with this warp.  The towels are quite thick but good for hands, or a good rub down after a long hot tub soak.

The sale on ko-fi is going well.  Several designs are officially sold out.  (Anything with just one towel left has been pulled from the shop.  I can use them for gifts.)

Yesterday I wet finished the beige/brown version of this design so I may post those tomorrow.

We are having a hot spell for the next few days.  I'm glad I don't have anywhere to be until Tuesday, when I see the eye doctor.  The optometrist told me that I have damage to the cornea from the shingles, and as such the eye doctor will likely monitor me for the rest of my life (or until she retires).  However, she told me the baby cataract isn't impinging my vision yet, so I won't likely need surgery for a while.  Since I'm not a big fan of someone poking my eyes with sharp objects, I'm fine with that!

Finished the book The Pain Project today.  It was helpful, informative, and I'm glad I read it.  It's helped me understand what is happening in my body, better.  Given another pain flare last night after several nights of no flare, meant I was more accepting of it happening.  And it will continue to happen.  That's just fact.  

As long as I can keep weaving, I will continue picking away at my rather too large stash, and try to enjoy the process as much as possible.  And if I need an afternoon nap?  So what.  I'm retired.  I can do that.

If I have the spoons today (maybe not given the lack of sleep) I will do the final prep for the first article I'm writing.  I might even start the FA part of the process.

WEFT has surpassed their kickstarter goal and are underway getting the first issue organized.  And I can now tell you I have been asked to contribute.  I really hesitated saying anything in case it all falls through, but...the word is out and my name is on the list, so...

Time for lunch, then back to the loom for the 2nd session. Then see how many spoons I have left.