Saturday, October 24, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
When the coming of computers was touted as delivering us into the Age of Information, what the pundits failed to mention is that not all information is 'good' or 'helpful'.
There is a lot of poor information that floats around the internet with people seeming to rely on what they have been told instead of looking at the actual science of fibres and textiles.
In my younger days, I would leap into every fray, trying to let people know actual facts instead of the myths that were being perpetrated. But it seems a certain subset of humanity wasn't all that interested in facts but wanted to cling onto their perceived knowledge. They could never be 'wrong' about anything, did not suffer any kind of additional information with any kind of grace, or admit that someone else might actually know more than they did.
Over the years (I entered the world of the internet in 1994 so I've been around for a while) I got tired of being told I was wrong, that my factual information was suspect, that their source was more accurate than mine. Fair enough. If I am wrong, tell me how so I can adjust my information.
One of the confrontations that about did me in was the soap/detergent controversy (for the umpteenth time).
I explained how what you used depended on the quality of the water you were using - if it was highly mineralized, the soap will bind with the minerals creating a grey skuzz (technical term) on the surface of the water, in which case you will want to use a detergent.
I had a pile of people tell me I was WRONG - that you should never, ever use evil detergents on your wool. Then, much to my amusement, some of them would highly recommend Synthropol or Orvus Paste as being The Best Thing Ever!
Both of which are detergents. But that information seemed to go right over their heads.
So a recent discussion on a group had people highly recommending using ammonia on wool. This is not something I would recommend, and if it is used, should be used in a very light solution.
In terms of wool, the book pictured above has really great scientific information. There are other books but I prefer this one because it breaks information down into 'just the facts, ma'am' and also has comparative charts.
For wool, which is a protein fibre, it lists wool has having low resistance to alkalis - in other words, alkalis can damage wool. It has medium resistance to acids. Again, light solution, limited time. It has high resistance to solvents. Poor resistance to sun and microorganisms and insects.
When using soap or detergent, use a light solution for a limited time.
The optimum range for wool is pH neutral - around a 7 on the scale. There are times when - for special purposes, pH can be shifted either end of the pH scale, but not to the extreme ends. Alkali will begin to damage wool over10 on the scale.
I did an experiment with my guild - asked them to bring whatever they use for soap/detergent and got some pH paper. We then tested each of the products to find out where they fell in the pH range.
In light solution (and those words are critical) every single one fell within the safe range of pH for wool.
Another problem that crops up with wool (or any fibre for that matter) is mould. What do you do if you find you have mould in your yarn stash?
There is a product called Concrobium Mold that actually kills mold. Bleach is not the best way to get rid of mold, and used in quantity isn't good for human beings, either.
Boiling it is not best practice for wool, either. Wool + moisture + agitation = fulling.
When in doubt, find some science. I highly recommend The Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers. This book has been used in the textile science classes at the University of Manitoba - the authors are professors there - and is now in it's 3rd edition, I think. Since it's a textbook, the latest edition is very expensive, but can routinely be found in 1st and 2nd editions for cheap. Worth every penny, imho.
Currently reading Louise Penny's latest - All The Devils Are Here.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
The internet has done a great job of promoting pithy comments, sometimes quite eloquently. I think my faourite is 'Don't hang onto a mistake just because you spent a long time making it'.
For me the break through was using something called risk assessment and deciding what was most precious to me - my time, or my yarn. Which was I going to risk?
With my father dying at the tender age of 56, I came to the craft knowing that life is short. That while I could always make more money, I could never make more time. And bottom line? We don't know how long we have, anyway.
When I ran into an obstacle - whatever that might be - the question was - is this going to take more time than it is worth to fix? If so, then remove it and move on.
I know, I know, not everyone has money to buy more yarn. I was, after all, a starving artist for 4 plus decades. Money was always, always, tight. But saving a few dollars in yarn preventing me from putting my time and effort into creating something that I could sell? Writing an article I would get paid for? The yarn got sacrificed. Because I could always get more of that.
Some people hang on to a project because they have a notion that they are not allowed to 'fail' so they must pull a success out of a situation. Sometimes people have been told that mistakes are not allowed, so they have to fix what is going wrong.
But what if the problem isn't with them, their processes or anything else they can control?
Like the silk warp I was working on in January. I wove one scarf, then something called my attention away from the studio for a week. A week during which time humidity dropped like a stone. And I hadn't released the tension on the silk warp because I was going to get right back to it. And then I didn't.
When I came back to the loom - same warp, same weave structure - threads began to break. And break. And the selvedges were no longer behaving. I might have been able to weave the second scarf, but it would have taken me days. And I didn't have days. I was on deadline to submit the article.
And so I emailed the editor, said the second scarf would not be forthcoming, but I had the first one - the one I had promised - done and would mail in the next couple of days. Because I also had company coming so I needed to get the scarf and article ready before then.
So that silk warp? Went into the recycle bin.
Yes, it was silk. Yes, it was probably $20 worth of yarn. Maybe a bit more. But $20 worth of silk had become a huge obstacle and it needed to go.
Recently I listened to a podcast with Sara Lamb and she talked about yarn not being precious.
But we all get to choose. We choose to invest the time in fixing a mistake. Or removing the obstacle, if that is what it has become. Just don't hang onto it because you've spent a long time making it.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Today is a grey day and it was hard to get a photo of these two towels to show the subtle difference the change in weft colour is making.
In real life, the beige is a bit darker, dull in appearance. The white isn't quite this bright but still seems livelier, cleaner. To my eye. Which may be becoming suspect depending on how quickly the cataracts are developing. It's one reason why I'm trying to get this series done, this yarn used up.
And I have been thinking a lot about 'boredom' and 'fatigue'.
In my life I have experienced very little 'boredom' - at least since I left childhood behind - but a lot of fatigue.
It was one reason I latched onto weaving in the first place - I could see the scope for constant learning, constant studying, constant experimenting. Constantly being surprised - sometimes in a good way, sometimes...not.
This warp has provided some of those surprises. The sleying error that turned the first towel into a piece of cloth that may wind up as dish rags. Oops. Still not perfect!
The biggest (good) surprise was how much I liked the white as weft. Which was a good thing because I had quite a few nearly empty tubes I wanted to use up and I'm going to use up a lot of them.
There might be enough white for four more towels leaving a bit of warp left for maybe using up some more beige. Just a different shade of beige than the one used first. There are two I'd like to use up - one is more brown, the other more peach. I doubt I'll use up both, but it would be nice to use up some.
People shake their heads at me, wondering if I don't get bored with my 20 yard long warps. The honest answer is no. There is very little boredom in my life. Boredom is when you think of something you'd rather be doing. If you'd rather be doing something else then perhaps what you are doing doesn't need to be done. Or it might be changed in some way. Sometimes people cope with a long warp by changing the tie up after every item. Or they change the weft colour. Or both.
And as for the selvedge on these towels not being ruler straight? They were on the loom. But during wet finishing, physics took over and the tiny scallops developed due to the threads shifting and moving to areas of least resistance. The more resistance at the selvedge, the less the threads drew in.
Do I consider the selvedges on these towels to be imperfect? No, I don't. It is the threads doing what they will do once off tension and relaxed during wet finishing. They are consistent. And that's good enough for me.
I'm not bored yet with this series of warps, but perhaps I'm ready to move onto something else soon. However my desire to use up as much of the 2/16 cotton keeps over riding my interest in anything else as I pull yet one more combination of colours off the shelves and put it into the queue to be woven.
Right now I have two combos waiting in the wings, with a possibility of one more. We'll see.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Monday, October 19, 2020
Sunday, October 18, 2020