Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of Resolutions and Gratitude

Here are a couple of the scarves Teresa dyed after I wove them in white and black silk.

As 2008 slowly ticks away, I can't help contrast this year's end with last year's end. And think about all that has changed, and all that hasn't.

For the last 3 or 4 years, my new year's resolution was Stash Reduction! Generally I've done pretty well at using up or selling off a fairly hefty chunk of my yarns. Even with not being able to weave at all for several months this year, I did a pretty good job of weaving quite a lot of my yarns when I could weave. :) And even accumulated more yarns when Lynn gifted me with some of her fine linens in October. :D

As I look around my storage room, I still see great mounds of yarns that need to be used up. Some of it has been shipped out for the workshops I'm teaching in '09, but there is also a lot that I'll have to use up myself, for one reason or another.

In addition to what's here,Teresa has more wound warps to paint and which I'll eventually get around to weaving once she's got them dyed.

So what has changed from this time last year? I no longer deal with bone-crushing fatigue and chronic pain - the two most obvious things that changed once my condition was recognized and dealt with. For that alone, I am truly grateful on a daily basis.

The other thing that changed was the nameless dread that followed me every day has now gone. When I think about how I was feeling just one year ago, I am once again amazed at the strength and resiliency of the human body and spirit. I wonder now how I could even move, let alone weave, dye, travel long distances to do shows and teach, given how I had been feeling.

I am also enormously grateful for a doctor who was willing to listen when I told him how sick I was this summer, and who was open to my suggestion that I was having a massive adverse reaction to the statin drugs. I'm not entirely sure that the Ezetrol is something I should be taking either, but that's something for the end of January when I see him again. I'll ask for a check of my liver enzymes to make sure nothing untoward is happening there. If I can't take the Ezetrol I'm not sure what else is available but I know there are some other medications to try yet.

What hasn't changed is my love of weaving. What hasn't changed is that I can now, finally, weave like I used to do - something I wasn't sure I was going to be able to achieve given how ill I was feeling this summer.

Whether or not I will continue to weave at this pace once my stash is used up I don't know. Neither do I know if I will continue to travel long distances to do shows and teach. Right now I'm just focusing on meeting my current obligations for '09 and will wait to see what opportunities come after those are met.

Every day I try to remember and be grateful that Doug and I are still alive, still learning whatever Life has to teach us, still able to be creative, and hopefully - helpful to others.

Life is full of challenges. We have been lucky that until this year our challenges were relatively minor - hindsight is always so clear - and that we have managed to survive this year after all.

May all your challenges be minor. May your warps be well tensioned, bobbins wound well, and any surprises that happen on the loom or in the wet finishing be pleasant.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Big Scarf, Next Installment

Here is the tail end of scarf #2, (on the left) and the beginning of #3. This time I remembered to reset the Compu-Dobby so I got the full 158 pick repeat. :)

I'll tweak it a bit tomorrow and do something similar, but a little different for #4.

With a 30 yard warp, I could get at least a dozen scarves off this warp. I don't think I'll have enough weft for that many, however, so I will likely get some small towels off this warp, too.

The question is, can I sell that many blue and white scarves? Probably not. So why am I continuing to make them? It's not just that I'm into stash reduction, although I am. I also know a professional dyer who will take blanks and turn them into gorgeously dyed finished items. So I expect I'll be sending some of these to her.

If I remember I'll take a photo of some silk scarves I wove in black and white and Teresa dyed for me. Teresa, if you're reading this, post the URL for your website in the comments? I'll put a link to it on the side bar, too.

Before and After

Here is a photo showing the rayon chenille Big Scarf before and after wet finishing.

The pattern is somewhat more obvious before finishing, partly because I gave the scarf a hard press which flattened the chenille and made it gleam. It also changed the feel of the fabric, which I like more than the unpressed, although others may prefer it unpressed. Both feel nice in their own way.

After finishing, the fabric was very supple which I think you can see quite well in the picture.

Finished weaving the first scarf on the new warp this afternoon, then re-tooled the treadling and started the second scarf. In the end, I had a memory lapse and forgot to re-set the treadling on the computer, so wound up with only a few picks (40) of the new treadling repeat. After weaving several inches decided that I liked the truncated version and will carry on with it. I'll do the longer version for scarf three. Since I've got 30 yards on the loom, variations are encouraged. :)

There is probably sufficient rayon chenille to do quite a few scarves. I'm looking forward to getting that used up!

I'm also winding some of the warps for the Birmingham Gamps Galore workshop and hope to get that into the mail on Friday. With any luck I'll get their Mug Rugs and More workshop boxed up on New Year's day and mail both at once. Over the weekend, I'll do the Columbus workshop (Magic in the Water).

I'm also trying to sample the buffalo yarn on the Fanny, but that may have to wait a bit. I'm supposed to be organizing a Show and Share bobbin lace day for Jan. 25th, too. Somehow I keep procrastinating over that one, though. :}

Monday, December 29, 2008

BIG Scarf

Had lunch with a friend today, then up to the guild room to dye a bunch of yarn. Got home around 4 pm, finished sleying the warp and started weaving after dinner.
Of course I had a sleying error to fix! Fortunately it was simple to fix - I put two working ends per dent, and about an inch from the beginning, I had only put one per dent for two dents. Really glad I spotted it so quickly.
Wet finished one of the chenille 'shawls' the other day and the shrinkage weft-wise was much greater than I'd been expecting - from about 22" in the reed to 14 after wet finishing. So instead of shawls, I decided to market them as BIG scarves. Instead of fringes, they will be hemmed - much faster than fringe twisting such tiny little threads! The fabric has incredible drape and feel. If I can get a good photo of the finished fabric, I'll post that.
Since this warp is narrower than I prefer for tea towels, I'm going to finish off all of the 3000 yard/pound chenille on it. If there is any warp left once that runs out, I'll weave the singles 12 linen on it. While the resulting towels will be narrower, they will still be about the same size as commercially produced cotton towels, so will be useable - just not as generous as I like my towels. They will make good hostess gifts, though.
The photo only shows a small portion of the overall pattern. I wanted to get a good close up so you could really see the fabric. I'll play with the tie-up and treadling so that each scarf is a little bit different.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Finishing - a Little

This photo doesn't really do these towels justice. The subtle colours make the fabric very rich. The cloth has two different sides - one more blue, the other more beige.

I got two of the cloth storage rollers cleared off and serged everything that could be serged. Today I ran a load of tea towels through the washer and dryer, and just finished pressing them.

The ones above were the most successful - and the ones I'd been most dubious about on the loom. The natural linen before wet finishing was a kind of drab greyed beige. It lightened up considerably after scouring. :)

The next most successful ones were those I'd thought were going to be too flimsy when they were on the loom. They turned out perfectly, while the ones I'd increased the ppi on were a little too dense and a bit stiff. Live and learn! Always...........

However I now know that I can go ahead with the next warp and use up the last of the 2/40's combined with the 2/20's with the singles 6's for weft and at 24 epi/ppi, I'll get some nice towels. And use up a bunch of yarn that really needs to be used up!

The current warp is nearly half threaded, but tonight I'm trying to finish transcribing WeaveCast's latest episode. I first met the Other Mary Black when I took a workshop at Coupeville Arts Center on Whidbey Island.

I never met The Mary Black in person, but did have some correspondence with her when I put together the original profiles of the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weavers.

GCW recently transferred what I had done on slides and a transcript onto CD. It is for sale at a very reasonable price. If you are interested in a snippet of the history of weaving in Canada, the profiles of these women (for they are all women - so far) you'll find lots to inspire on the CD.

Some of the people who achieved the GCW Master certificate: (The) Mary Black, Dini Moes, Linda Heinrich, Jane Evans, and of course, moi, along with many others.

I'll find the URL and put it on my list of links to the right.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Threading For Blue Warp

Not exactly a snowflake, but this threading fits precisely into the number of threads I wound so how could I not use it? This is how it looks woven as drawn in. No doubt I'll play with the treadling, although I think I'll use this one with the singles linen. It should be very pretty.
I started running out of threads on the spools, so this warp is a little bit narrower than what I've been doing for tea towels, but oh well. The warp will be 17.5 inches in the reed - smaller than I prefer, but when the yarn starts running out......
The warp could have been shorter, but hindsight is 20-20!
The bad news is that there is more 2/40's left than I'd hoped - dang that yarn is fine! So I may wind up doing one more warp with the 2/40's and 2/20's. It won't be nearly as long - maybe 15 yards instead of 30? We'll see.
With my first trip coming up so quickly, I doubt very much I'll get this one woven off before the end of January. What I really need to do is deal with the 3 cloth storage rollers with 20-30 yards of woven fabric on them. But first I need to do the warp yarns and instructions for Birmingham and Columbus. A job for tomorrow.

B-b-b-blue Christmas

When I moaned about how long it was taking to use up the the red cotton, I had obviously forgotten how much blue I had! It seems like I've been weaving predominantly blue for a long, long time. Of course, such fine thread weaves for a long time, so.....

This won't likely be the last blue warp as there is easily enough to do one more. But I think this is the last warp that will combine the 2/40 and the 2/20 - the 2/40 should be about used up on this warp. The dark blue is about as used up as can be - what's left will go to my lace buddies for making lace. While 2/20 is considered fat in the lace world, it suits us just fine! :^)

I haven't chosen a threading yet, I am just going ahead and beaming the warp wide enough for tea towels. Probably I'll use one of the 12 shaft drafts from ARS Textrina. Something 'fancy' - snowflakes?

We kept a very quiet Christmas, having an early dinner with mom. Then we came home and I started beaming this warp.

The best Christmas present is the fact that since I took myself off the Crestor (statin) about 10 days ago, my bp seems to be settling down nicely. I had one day last week with a small spike, but am suspicious that it was due to an allergic reaction and/or the fact that I didn't weave for three days. Anyway, since that small spike, my bp has been just about as perfect as one could hope for. Very reassuring as I set off on my teaching schedule in a couple of weeks.

When I saw the doctor on Monday, he agreed that I could just stay on what I am taking now for the next month - he didn't try to increase the Ezetrol (the other cholesterol medication) - for which I am grateful. It has equally nasty adverse effects, and I really didn't want to increase the dose. No doubt we will check my cholesterol levels - and liver - in the near future (the pharmacist said about 3 months was usual for cholesterol).

Since my cholesterol was not particularly high to begin with, I'm hoping that they won't get all firm about getting it way down.

Hope everyone is having a good holiday and finding a little time for some fibre activities.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Young Weaver

Here is Asaph at mom's loom. Sister Evangelina is in the background, sitting on the biggest spinning wheel I've ever seen. One of these days we'll give it a go and see if we can actually spin on it.

Asaph wasn't able to get started on the warp due to some mechanical problems, but we got those sorted out today and by the time I left, he'd finished the first placemat and started on the second.

This is the warp we designed utilizing the Fibonacci sequence to make the stripes.

Another picture courtesy of my Blackberry. Hey, I might get the hang of this yet! :D

Now it's back to the studio to finish getting the LA warps ready to be mailed tomorrow.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No Weaving Today

Looks like there will be no weaving for me today.

The morning was spent getting the place mats and runners I pressed yesterday trimmed, tagged, priced, inventoried and delivered to the local consignment shop. (I also swung by the local book shop to buy Doug some Christmas presents.) :)

This afternoon I updated the Gamps Galore workshop for Tucson, winding four of the warps. Sometimes it's just easier to do it myself than try to clearly explain something. :}

There are 10 signed up, and I may duplicate a couple of the slower weaving ones in case a couple more sign up between now and January - although that's a bit of a long shot.

I still have to finish getting the master copies ready, type out a list of the warps and how many shafts, shuttles/bobbins the various warps will require, bag everything up and load it all into a box. Hopefully I have one that is the right size because this box really needed to be in the mail last week. :(

LA is still hoping for more to sign up, but I'll start on their box as soon as Tucson is done and get that into the mail on Tuesday. Both boxes will have to go by air mail. Hopefully everyone will have time to get their looms ready, although I've found that the longer lead time some people have, the longer they procrastinate. Sometimes a short lead time is a boon. I know it is for me! :D I'm definitely deadline driven, and the closer the deadline, the more driven I get! :D

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back to Tea Towels

I'm back to the AVL and tea towels, weaving with the single 6's cotton.

My initial choice (to the left) seemed to be a bit flimsy to me, so I decided to change the weave structure and ppi. Instead of a fancy twill, I changed to an advancing twill treadling, and increased the ppi from 24 to 28. (the section between the red lines) The intention was to create a thicker fabric that was still supple. The advancing twill structure has fewer interlacements -the weft can pack in tighter without becoming stiff.

After a 3 day hiatus where I wove only on the Fanny, I went back to the AVL and looked at the web again. Even at 28 ppi, I felt the resulting fabric was still going to be a bit on the light side and changed to 30 ppi (to the right) You can see that the white looks more intense to the far right than it does to the far left or between the red lines.

Gearing down to 30 and 32 ppi, it sometimes takes an inch or two to get the ratio right, and you can easily see the section at the beginning where the auto cloth advance was actually advancing two clicks (I have the old gear wheel system) resulting in 15 ppi instead of the intended 30 ppi.

The down side of using more ppi is that it is going to take longer to weave a towel than at 24 ppi. The up side is that I will use up more yarn! :D

The yarn, being a single, shows the inconsistencies involved in spinning more than a 2 ply would, and the fabric has subtle weft wise streaks in it. This should even out to a large degree during wet finishing, which will include a hard press.

Many people do not understand that a hard press is not ironing.

When you iron, you sweep the heated iron back and forth across the cloth. A hard press is when you clamp the iron down tightly in order to compress the threads. This effectively notches the warp and weft together. The surface becomes smooth. Threads that shine become much more reflective and gleam - something that we prize in yarns like silk and linen (or Tencel, mercerized cotton, and so on.)

When I'm wet finishing my goal is to get a cohesive fabric, one where the warp and the weft come together becoming a whole that is greater than the individual parts. When I feel a fabric, I do not want to feel individual threads, I want to feel an integrated cloth.

Right now I am blessed with owning and being able to operate an industrial steam press. This makes the enormous job of hard pressing much more efficient. I used to use an Elna flat bed press - a small home press. Doug and I pressed literally thousands of placemats on it. Pressing yardage could be done, but it was difficult and slow. The industrial press makes short work of pressing yardage as well as smaller items.

I don't know how much longer I will be able to afford to house and operate the press. It's one reason I'm madly weaving up as much of my fine thread stash as I can. I can easily press scarves on the small flat bed press even though it takes me longer, but tea towels and larger items are more fiddly on the small press. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008


The January/February Handwoven arrived today. My article on fulling Harrisville yarn is on page 24/25. I also have the Endnotes essay on the last page. :D

For anyone interested, there is a video clip on my web site showing one way of fulling by hand. Go to then click on Store and CDWeaver. The video clip is available for both PC and Mac thanks to my web master.

I realized the other day that I've been posting an awful lot. Part of the reason is that I'm weaving a lot. One of the reasons I'm weaving a lot is because I'm not going to be home much from January to June. Los Angeles and Tucson have both confirmed their workshops in January, and I'll be working on getting the warp yarns and instructions ready to mail out, hopefully by Monday.

In the meantime, however, the warp on the Fanny is nearly done - one more table runner and it can come off - tonight, I hope.

It's looking good for the workshops in February, although Indianopolis won't know until later in January. The March workshop in Boise will go ahead, although they are looking for more participants. The April workshop in Grand Forks will go ahead, too. I'll drive to that one and hopefully visit a bit with friends along the way.

In May I'm booked to do two seminars at the HWSDA conference in Olds, Alberta. I'll also be at the ANWG conference in Spokane, but only in the vendor area. I'll be manning Teresa Ruch's booth while she teaches. :)

The last workshop of the year is in Lake Orien, MI at Heritage Spinning and Weaving. I was there a few years ago and am really happy to be going back. Joan and her crew are great.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One More Place Mat Warp

This will be the last placemat warp for a while. I've got new yarns I need to sample and incorporate into the up coming workshops.

This warp is another doubled 2/8 cotton - one beige, one peach - threaded point twill and woven in point twill progression.

I finished off the thick textured yarn (yippee!) and was left with the two finer textured yarns. I added a third even finer thread which is probably some sort of rayon or other synthetic that's been lurking on my shelves for a long, long time. It's a sort of cream colour with darker beige nops or lumps - all rather fine - but introduces a little visual interest which you may be able to just barely see as beige spots here and there in the web.

The fine rayon is being doubled with the slub and all three wound onto bobbins at once. So far it's working well, and although the fabric is lighter in weight than the other two, it should work nicely for place mats.

The set on this warp is 16 working ends per inch and it's beating in pretty much square. Interestingly, the 'eyes' of the point twill show up more in the photo than on the loom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So, I am now the proud (?) owner of a Blackberry Curve!

Since I'm going to be travelling so much in the new year, I thought it might be a good idea to get a new cell phone and voila - my current cell phone provider sent me a letter yesterday offering me a free Blackberry Curve if I upped my service to use a Smart Phone.

Well, let's just say this phone is a whole lot smarter than I am. But I did succeed in taking a photo, and eventually figuring out how to get it posted to my blog! This is progress - I think!

Anyway, the reason I've got the yarn dangling from the back of my loom is because I made a mistake (one of the bundles) and the other I knew was going to be surplus to requirements. I have a bar near the ceiling that I use as a warping valet, but was originally installed in order to hang repair threads from. Occasionally it dangles surplus threads, too.

The extra yarn won't go to waste - I pass it on to my lace making buddies. Or else I'll offer it to the other Laura who was at the craft fair last weekend. She does surface embellishment and asked if I ever had 'extra' yarn left over when I was done weaving a project.

hee-hee - do I ever!!!!! :D

All Dressed Up

...and ready to go. Here are the placemats from the blue/grey warp tagged, ready to be priced, inventoried and delivered to the local consignment shop.

What many people don't realize is how much time 'finishing' a product takes. They don't understand that when you cut the web from the loom, it isn't yet ready to be sold or gifted.

It must be inspected and repaired (called burling in industry), wet finished and given a final trim if there is a fringe. After that, it must be tagged with care instructions (required by law in Canada and the US) and of course one's own label so that people can identify the maker.

My logo is a butterfly, and this incarnation was designed by local artist (painter and felt maker) Ruth Hansen.

No contact info is on my label due to shops not wanting customers to by-pass their shop and deal directly with the artist (and expecting to get wholesale level pricing by so doing!) My studio is not set up for retail customers, and in fact I discourage people coming here. My studio is a working studio and generally in a state of extreme chaos. Not something I really want people to see and judge me on.

In Canada, the manufacturer must provide contact info, so I signed up for a CA number which is on my label. The vast majority of people have no idea what the CA number is for, or that they can contact me that way, so I rarely get contacted because of the CA number. Since the rise of the internet, I have been contacted that way because people simply Google me. :D

The bottom line, however, is that if you don't include the time involved and the cost of the tags in your retail/wholesale price, you wind up working for free when you do this very necessary job. It is one area that most new wanna be craftspeople most often forget to factor into their prices.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Whoo-hoo! Another cone of yarn used up! :D

There is still warp left, so dug through the store room and came up with 3 different cotton yarns. One is a slub, one is a highly textured 'gimp', and the third is - well, textured.

So I combined the slub and the gimp and changed the treadling to a broken twill, but this one has two picks of plain weave incorporated in it. The treadling sequence of b,1,4,a on the Wall of Troy threading is producing an interesting fine stripe with a thick textured cloth. It should make great place mats.

Since I found three more cones of yarn suitable for place mat weft, I have started winding another doubled 2/8 warp, but this one will be at 16 epi because two of the textured yarns are quite a bit thinner than the heavier cotton/rayon/linen yarn I started with. And there isn't a whole lot of the gimp, but should be sufficient to finish weaving the blue/grey warp at the very least.

The bad news is that when I placed my yarn order with Brassard, I forgot to order the 4/8 cotton I wanted to use for warp with the buffalo rug yarn! Now I have to place another yarn order and since it's not economical to just order a couple pounds of yarn due to the cost of shipping, I've been thinking of ordering in more of the 2/8 bamboo. I wasn't sure if it was a floss like Silk City's Bambu 12, (which is approximately a 2/16 size) so didn't want to order in too much at once. But it is a true 2/8 with a tighter twist than Bambu 12 so now I'm thinking I'd like more of that yarn in some different colours in order to play with it. I'll make up my mind tomorrow as I think Brassard is going to be closed for a few weeks in the new year and if I want this yarn for the up coming workshops, I need to place my order before Christmas. :) Oh darn! More yarn! :DDDDD

Friday, December 12, 2008

Making Headway

While it feels like I haven't used up much of my stash (there is still soooo much left!) I guess I must be making some headway because I unearthed a bunch of huge cones of single 6's cotton that have been lurking in the corner of my store room for a very long time.

The yarn was a mistake - not mine, but the spinning mill who sent it out in error. Several cases of it! I kept one case because it was spun tightly and I figured it would work to make collapse fabric. It did, and I used up quite a bit of it both as warp and weft. But there are still half a dozen or so cones left and I thought I'd try it on this warp for tea towels. (I used to order natural 2/8 cotton by the case, a minimum of 100 pounds at a time. Cases were 50 pounds each if I remember correctly - it's been 20 years.)

Dimensional loss is going to be a lot higher with the cotton as compared to the linen, so I reduced the number of repeats in the treadling so that they don't wind up really long and skinny. They will be, overall, smaller than what I've been doing but that's okay. They will still work, and will make good hostess gifts if nothing else. :)

I wasn't entirely happy with the first one I did, which you can see below running towards the back of the loom and the cloth storage roller. I used a 1/3/1/3/3/1/3/1 twill for that one but it felt like it was going to be a tiny bit sleazy. So I changed the tie up to 1/3/2/2/3/1/2/2/ to provide a few more interlacements.

The design isn't quite as bold, but I think it will perform better this way. And it may not draw in in terms of width quite so much.

Oh yes - the beam, which is covered in sand paper, has a couple of cloths wrapped around it where it's bare. I do this to protect the shuttle when I flub it (yes, I do that, too) and the weft. Some wefts are really grabby and latch onto the sand paper which gets really annoying when I have to stop and go back to re-do the pick properly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blue/Grey Place Mats

Here is the blue/grey warp with the doubled cotton/linen/rayon weft.

You may notice that the twill line is not the ideal 45 degrees. This is where my adage "If you can't be perfect, be consistent" comes in.

I wanted this fabric to be thick, so the fact that it is slightly weft-faced is actually A Good Thing.

(In truth, the twill line looks flatter in real life than in the photo for some reason - perhaps the angle I took the photo at?)

Since the exercise is to use up stash and hopefully have a textile that will provide insulation from hot plates, I wasn't too bothered by the fact that the set could have been 15 rather than 12 in order to achieve that 45 degree angle. And if the set had been fewer in number, the fabric would be a bit thinner, so......I am just concentrating on having a consistent beat and not worrying about the fact that it isn't "perfect". :D


Being meme'd! Well, since I don't have folders, I just chose a picture of me. :D This photo is from CD Weaver, showing me doing a hard press with my trusty old GE iron.

I'm so new to blogging I don't follow a lot of them and one of them I do (Tien's) gave me the idea to just challenge other bloggers to do the same thing.

Choose your 6th photo folder, and then the 6th photo in that folder, then tag 5 others.

I'm not sure about protocol - if you can tag someone who has already been tagged - but since out of the few blogs I follow three have already been tagged, this seemed like the best approach. :^)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Place Mats Again

On Monday Karena got the next warp for place mats beamed, threaded and sleyed - and still had time left over to trim fringes, and vacuum. I think she was pleased that she's getting faster with practice. :D She used the warping valet and only needed a few suggestions to do it all by herself, including tranferring the cross.

Karena dressed the loom from start to finish - all 11 meters, 15 inches wide at 12 epi - in under two hours.

For this warp I chose a twill I learned about my first year of weaving. It's called Wall of Troy in M. P. Davison's green book. I like it because it's a very simple 10 thread repeat. Generally I thread it as shown above (two repeats shown in warp and weft) by threading the first 4 ends beginning from the right, then the 6 ends that make up the point.

Karena threaded it four ends, four ends, then two ends.

For treadling I count to 10. If I have to stop to replace a bobbin, I just hold whatever number I was on in my head. By knowing the number from 1-10 that I've just done, I know which treadle is next in my treadling sequence. If the phone rings, it doesn't usually take more than a few seconds to complete the 10 picks so that I can stop at the end of the repeat.

Part of the challenge with this warp is that the last was so recent that muscle memory is remembering the broken twill treadling. So I've had a few 'senior' moments when my feet were doing something other than what the brain intended. :) However, it won't take long for the new choreography to take hold.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blue Towels

After trying several different treadlings, I've settled on this one. What can be seen is the hem portion at the bottom, with one repeat of the pattern at the top.

It's subtle but pleasing, I think.

It's been a challenging day as I got news that didn't please me from the doctor. My cholesterol levels, which had been very good after a trying time on Lipitor, went from very good to bad in just 3 months. So I'm back on medication - another statin, unfortunately. :P~

This one apparently is better tolerated than Lipitor, so I'm on the lowest possible dose along with a companion medication which when taken with a statin drug makes the combination more powerful than either one taken alone.

After the horrid 6 months I had on Lipitor, I'm not best pleased to be taking a statin of any description but neither can I stay off medication, unfortunately.

He also told me to double the Norvasc as I've been having bp spikes. Not anything dreadful, but not recommended over the long haul.

So after I got home I turned for solace to the loom and finished the last of the chenille shawls, then started messing around for tea towels.

The corn fibre yarn is thicker than the chenille, so I will have to change the pick wheel to weave with that. The linen is the same grist, or close enough, that I didn't need to change anything but my tie up and/or treadling. And since therapy and solace was what I needed most, I just wove, not being too concerned about the fact that I didn't like the first two options. They're towels - they will function just fine. Someone, somewhere will like them.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Red Towels, Finished

Not sure why this photo looks so fuzzy on the blog - it looked fine in my Kodak software. Oh well.......

These are the 100% cotton towels, woven last - October? My how time flies.

Anyway, I got them wet finished and pressed today. They will be used as gifts for anyone buying a copy of Magic in the Water until Dec. 15. A little extra treat for the holidays. :)

In terms of stash reduction, these towels are very satisfying. The 2/18 red cotton had been purchased way back in the 1980's and had graced my shelves for a rather long time waiting for the right time, the right project. Well, the time had come, and the project appeared!

Speaking of Magic, the Canadian dollar continutes to sink in value making the price in US$ more and more attractive. I'd hoped to sell the last copies this year, but there are still plenty left. :}

On the weaving front, I did do some today. Got another chenille shawl woven, and a second one started. I think it will be my last on this warp. I bought some corn fibre - not INGEO - from a knitting shop. I heard there was a new corn fibre out now, and it would appear this yarn is it. I'll do a melt test and see if it melts at a low temperature like the INGEO, or if it's more stable. There were 5 balls of it on sale at the shop, and I think there should be enough for weft for a shawl. Since I've never seen INGEO or corn yarn on sale before - only the fibre - I'm interested to weave this up and see what sort of cloth it makes.

After that, it will be back to tea towels..........

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finishing Piling Up

Dawned on me today that I'd better slow down on the weaving because the finishing is really starting to pile up - literally.

While I have 4 cloth rollers, two of them now have yardage stored on them with the 3rd on the loom and being added to already. That means I'd better push the fringe twisting a little harder.

What you can't see is the bucket of shawls woven in September and October that still need to be fringe twisted as well. :}

The beam on the inspection table is the 25 yard warp I just cut off. The red cloth is about 20 yards, maybe a bit less. I cut the cloth off the loom part way through because I needed to get cracking on the place mats. They got taken into the local consignment shop yesterday.

It started to snow today - seriously - although Doug says he heard that it's supposed to warm up. I'm of two minds - I'd rather winter came and stayed, than freeze and melt. On the other hand we have a craft fair to do on Saturday, and I really don't enjoy setting up when the weather is bad. And people don't come out if the roads are nasty.

Only time will tell!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Place Mats

Spent most of the day Tuesday out of the stuido running errands, then pressing the placemats woven on the red warp. Only got some of the towels done, but they are now ready to be hemmed, and then given their final pressing.

After years of not making place mats and table runners, (we used to wholesale mats/table runners in the 80's throughout western Canada) I now find myself back to making place mats. :) The local consignment shop has had requests, and since I've still got stash to reduce.....

So this warp on the Fanny is for mats for the shop. Since they will most reasonably sell before Christmas, there's a deadline looming!

I tried the rayon/linen (it is, indeed linen) textured weft singly, but wasn't happy with the results for a place mat. So my first try was woven 34" long for a table runner. For the place mats, I've doubled the weft and am much happier with the weight.

With a hemming and fringe twisting pile beginning to resemble the Rocky Mountains, I decided to hem stitch these on the loom so that once cut off all I have to do is wet finish and trim them and deliver to the store. Hopefully sometime later this week or early next.

Since the body of the mat is woven with a very thick and highly textured yarn, I begin and end each mat with some of the same yarn as the warp but only a single strand, and hemstitch after 3 picks. About 4 inches has been left between for the fringes which will get trimmed to about an inch and a half after wet finishing.

Today I'll deliver the place mats and some towels that were pressed yesterday. All that's left is to tag and inventory them.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Little Help From My Friends

This is a picture of Karena beaming an 11 yard warp by herself using a warping valet.

The warp runs under the breast beam, then over a rod hung from the ceiling.

This warp is two 2/8 cotton ends which will be threaded together through the heddles for place mats. The weft will be a textured rayon/cotton blend. It may have a little linen in it, but I don't remember for sure.

The warp is 14 inches in the reed, and I find one jug of water works just fine for up to about a 15" wide warp chain. If I have more width than that, I wind two warp chains and use a jug for each chain filled to the same level so that they weigh the same.

For warp packing, I use bamboo blinds with the hardware removed. They are just under 2 yards long and because they are flexible it's not so critical to get them inserted as precisely as with corrugated paper. I find it more efficient than having to stop and insert sticks because I can wind 2 yards or so (depending on the fibre) before having to stop to insert another blind.

Karena used to be my almost full time studio assistant, but now she's a full time mom and comes for 3 hours a week to help me with various things. She's much better than I am at organization, so she gets to do things like re-organize my yarn and inventory as well as dress looms and other stuff that fits into her weekly 3 hours.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Changing Direction....

Generally, by the time I'm sitting at the loom shuttle in hand, I've thought through all the possibilities and have made up my mind what I'm going to do. Sometimes minor changes are made, but I've spent a lot of time thinking before I start weaving.
This warp, however, seems particularly fluid. After thinking about how I would set the warp up for two weeks, when it came time to start beaming I radically changed what I was going to do in order to use up some 2/40's cotton along with the 2/20's. This meant a change in density, and doubling the very fine linen weft for the samples.
As I wove the samples, I was quite pleased with the results, but the fabric was not really suitable for towels. In order to make good towel fabric, I figured that I'd need to re-sley to 27 or maybe even 30 epi. That would make the fabric a bit skimpy on width for towels, so I really didn't want to do that.
However, I felt that if I used 2/8 Tencel for weft, I wouldn't have to change anything, and I'd get a pretty nice shawl out of it. So I wove one using some 2/8 lavender Tencel for weft, which turned out quite nice, I thought.
Unfortunately, most of my 2/8 Tencel is in rather intense jewel tones, not pastels. My only other option was bleached white.
About the time I thought about using bleached white weft, my fibre choice radar pinged, and I suddenly remembered that I had some 3000 yard/pound white rayon chenille. Quite a lot of it, in fact.
So here I am in mid-stream, radically changing my weft choice, and being rather pleased with the results.
Sometimes you just have to be open to alternate possibilities.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Asaph's Place Mats

After spending about 4 hours in the guild room dyeing yarn and threading/sleying the guild loom for a group project (Bronson Lace place mats/table runners) I really didn't feel like weaving when I got home.

Since I was also beginning to feel the pressure of all the finishing that needs to be done, I decided to sit in front of the tv and do some of the hand hemming that had accumulated.

One of the things I've been doing is helping a 10 year old boy by the name of Asaph learn how to weave. He'd done a little bit with his mom, but life has been a little too interesting of late so she asked if I could give him a hand.

We started with a 5 yard warp in July. I wound it for him out of my stash of 4/8 cotton. He said he liked blues, purples, greens and grey, so I wound a randomly striped warp wide enough for place mats and table runner.

He finished weaving it a while ago, and I made it to their house and cut it off the loom on Monday.

While there we planned his next project - more place mats for Christmas gifts. The look of dismay on his face was a wonder to behold when I told him that the first thing we had to do was some math!

We worked through the calculations to see how long and wide the warp was to be, then used the Fibonacci sequence to design an asymmetric stripe. He started winding the warp. By lunch time he was nearly done, so I took over and finished it off, then beamed and threaded it while he ate his lunch and did some chores.

Tonight I finished hemming the red linen/cotton towels I wove in October, and started hemming Asaph's place mats. For a 3rd or 4th project, he did pretty well. And now he has a deadline - get the current warp done in time to give the place mats as a Christmas gift - weaving may go a little faster? :D Nothing like a deadline!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


One of the ways I earned my income as a production weaver was to weave yardage for a fashion designer. Since I billed per yard woven, I needed a fast and accurate way to measure the fabric, both on and off the loom.

I found a meter - a very expensive one, I might add - built for the textile industry which is accurate in the way that the cheap small ones aren't. Since I was going to rely on the meter for my invoicing, accuracy was of the highest priority.

The meter could be purchased with various measuring wheels so I bought two - one with a textured circumference (as shown above) for measuring fabric, the second with a channel for measuring yarn (for when I'm filling spools for beaming sectionally, etc.)

This meter has been well used and was well worth the price - for me. It's probably overkill for most.

Doug made a wooden gizmo to use for attaching it to the bottom of the loom between the cloth storage roller and the front directional roller. It sits just inside (about an inch) of the selvedge, and counts in feet, rather than yards or inches.

Once done weaving, I would transfer the cloth to my inspection table (also built by Doug - what can I say - he's a keeper!) where I would measure for billing purposes, then inspect and repair the cloth before shipping.

I still use the table for inspection and repair although I no longer weave for the fashion designer. It's just so much easier to stand at the table which was built for me and Doug to do this job than anywhere else. (Doug used to be my studio assistant.)

This method of measuring was much more efficient than any other. Since I was weaving anywhere from 3 to 50 yards (or more) of any particular fabric, using a measuring tape or string or any other method was not going to work particularly well. All I have to do is figure out how much length I need in feet, and then check the meter from time to time to see how close I'm getting to the finish line.

Speaking of finishing lines, I figure I need about 20 feet of this 20" wide fabric to do the samples for Seattle Weavers Guild. They send out between 350 and 360 newsletters, so it's a pretty big job for everyone involved. OTOH, they are still sending out actual samples most of the time, and that's something that not every guild is doing anymore.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flowers in November

After the weekly errand run with my mom I came home and finished threading the warp and sleyed it at 24 epi (with the doubled ends counting as 'one').

This is the very beginning of the weaving. I keep left over weft on bobbins to use for headers, cut lines, testing colours and so on, so I began with the natural singles 20. It was difficult to see the pattern to check for oopsies so I switched to the red singles 20. Thankfully there were no threading or sleying errors, so I was able to begin weaving.

While threading, I continued to mull over my plan of using the white singles for weft, and after comparing it to the singles 20 noting that the white was much finer than the singles 20 (in spite of being labelled singles 12, both on the cone and the invoice) decided that I had to double it. Especially for the floral motif. So I dragged out my trusty doubling stand.

The resulting fabric is open and not suitable for towels, but the length of the floats would rule out use as towel fabric anyway. It would, however, make really nice fabric for a window covering. It's light enough and open enough that it would not block out the light entirely, but would provide sufficient privacy.

Once again I'm weaving this fabric up-side-down in terms of which side will be used for the face. No real reason except that I used the draft as given, which was probably written for a counter balanced or countra marche loom.

The draft is taken from the monograph done by Pat Hilts for Ars Textrina. She translated two old German weaving books of patterns. Many of the patterns are similar to Irene Woods monograph The Fanciest Twills, another book I often peruse for ideas. A third resource is Olesner's book.

Yes, I could draft these patterns from scratch, but when I have a concept of what I want, I will sometimes flip through these old books until I see something close to what I want. Sometimes I find precisely what I want, in which case I give a nod to the resource, thanking them for not having to spend a couple of hours at the computer clicking the mouse. :)

Sometimes I take their draft as a starting point and adapt it to my vision. In this instance, I was just looking for something to weave for the Seattle Guild newsletter, and somehow weaving flowers in deary November seemed very appealing.

PS - while winding a bobbin, the cone on the top of the doubling stand had a break in the thread and I lost the end. The yarn is so fine it's difficult to see, and finding the broken end proved fruitless. Inspiration struck, and I grabbed the lint roller, rolling it around the cone in the direction the yarn was winding off the cone. It only took a swipe 1/4 of the way around the cone for the broken end to be caught on the sticky roller, saving minutes - possibly quite a few minutes - not to mention the frustration. :D

Sheep Puzzle

I enjoy jigsaw puzzles, and have been making them on-line at

They allow the option of adding puzzles to your blog, so thought I'd give it a try. Not sure how successful this is, but as an experiment..........

Enjoy if you like puzzles, too.

Boat & Sheep Jigsaw PuzzleBoat & Sheep Jigsaw Puzzle

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Next up!

After thinking about my next warp while weaving the last of the red, turning possibilities over and around, much like a jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces - I tossed all my plans out when I walked into my storage area and spotted the 4 cones of 2/40's mercerized cotton I'd purchased from Lunatic Fringe, lo these many years ago. :}

There is still a lot of bleached white 2/20's cotton left, so after mulling over what might be the best approach to using up the 2/40's (a fairly 'fragile' yarn), in the end I decided to pair each of the 2/40's with a 2/20's white.

My best guestimate for set is 24 epi with the very fine singles white linen planned for weft on this warp, but until I start weaving I won't know for sure. So I may wind up with some rather narrow (for me) towels if I have to re-sley to a higher epi. Oh well. People tell me my towels are on the generous side, so a smaller size is probably going to be fine.

It's not visible in the picture, but I have a lamp (anglepoint in England, not sure what they are called in NA - swing arm?) that I attach to the loom at the back. Doug mounted a small square block of wood with a hole drilled into it onto the back of the loom that the light fits into. There are two more blocks on the front of the loom for additional supplemental lights for threading.

My studio is in the basement and at this time of year light can be rather dim so the extra light really helps, especially with such fine yarns.

My spool rack is from Leclerc and allows me to work from spools/tubes from the side, or take the yarn off the top of the tubes/cones. Doug modified it with an additional rail along the very top so I can beam from 60 packages of yarn (from the side) or 50 packages (from the top).

For this warp I'm working with 40 packages. I'll wind 25 sections (one inch sections) but sley at a working set of 24 and see how it looks.

There's a rather sweet draft I found for a small floral motif. The threading is just point twill over 16 shafts. Part of this warp will be samples for the Seattle Weavers Guild newsletter for next year so I thought I'd do that for the samples and then play with twills for the towels. The guild samples are just 3 inches, so I wanted a repeat that would fit into that size. I think the small floral will look quite nice in this pastel fabric.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BP Meds and Me, Weaving

So, here are the towels woven with red linen after wet finishing. And the second red warp is done, too, hooray!

One of the challenges this year has been to get my blood pressure under control. After my brother died, my bp soared through the stratosphere, and in addition to bp meds I was put on Lipitor to reduce cholesterol. My bp bounced around like a yo-yo, and my doctor tried just about everything under the sun and nothing seemed to work. On the contrary, as the summer progressed, I got sicker and sicker. For 6 weeks in July and August, I could not weave. At all.

Finally I realized that it was the Lipator causing problems, and although my doctor can't confirm that I was having an allergic reaction on top of a severe adverse reaction, I'm pretty convinced that that was what was happening.

Since my cholesterol wasn't high to begin with, we did blood work the end of September to find out if the Lipitor had been working. It was. My cholesterol level was now low instead of high normal, and he agreed I could stop taking the Lipitor.

Once the drug had cleared out of my system, I found that I could weave for 30 to 40 minutes with little discomfort (i.e. no muscle pain) with short (5-15 second) breaks. A sip of water, raising the weight on the cloth storage system, changing the bobbin - just that little break in weaving rhythm and I could carry on.

One of the other drugs I was taking was Metoprolol, which is a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers are given to cardiac patients to prevent their heart rate from speeding up, and they often work to reduce blood pressure. As I wove for longer periods of time I found that my heart could not keep up with my weaving speed, and I wanted to get off of that drug.

The doctor agreed that I could begin to wean myself off the Metoprolol after I had a severe reaction to the combination of a new bp medication called Norvasc, and the Metoprolol. As the beta-blocker dose gradually reduced, I found myself with more energy and on Sunday I took the last partial tablet.

Warned that my heart rate could now speed up, I started wearing my heart rate monitor all day, not just while I was weaving. On Monday, my heart rate was high as forewarned, and recalling that I'd seen a cd called Theraputic Drumming at the local independant book store, I swung by on my errand run to town and bought it.

After listening to the cd, my heart rate dropped significantly, and I was able to continue weaving with my heart rate at between 95-105 for about 30 mintues, after which it began to climb to 110. (It had been between 115 and 130 earlier in the day - higher than the 110 that had been recommended to me by the cardiac nurse as the upper limit for cardiac patients.)

For the rest of Monday and throughout Tuesday, my heart rate stayed at that level, but on Wed. and Thurs. it started climbing again. Unfortunately I spent all day, both days, roaring about with appointments and commitments such that there was no time to lay down and listen to the cd. This morning my pulse continued between 120 and 130 while weaving, so I made time to lay down and listen to the cd again.

The good news is that my heart rate came down nicely and I was able to finish weaving the red warp after dinner.

The other good news is that the current combination of drugs seems to be slowly working to bring my blood pressure down. It's not happening as quickly as I'd like, but patience has never been a character trait I could claim. :^) The other good news is that since I'm no longer taking the beta-blocker, there is one more drug that is a possibility should the numbers remain higher than the doctor would like to see them.

This year has been - well - challenging. However, now that I'm feeling so much better and able to weave for 40 to 45 minutes at a time, several times a day, I have to admit that not only am I feeling better than I was this past summer, I'm probably feeling better than I was before all of this happened. My energy is finally returning, and so is my brain. I'm even managing to sleep most of the night, nearly every night.

Amazing what getting sufficient oxygen will do!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Noise...

Am steadily working my way through the red/blue warp. It is now officially more than half woven. :) This is a shawl woven with 2/10 black Tencel in twill blocks. The ribbon you see pinned to the cloth is one of several I have in various lengths. Rather than use a tape measure, I bought some hemming tape in different colours, cut them to various standard lengths, and pin them to whatever I'm weaving to measure the length I want. For shorter lengths, I'll program the actual number of picks but for longer lengths, like shawls or scarves, it's just as easy to measure with a cloth tape.

About noise.....

Some looms, like the Leclerc Fanny (and almost every Louet loom I've woven on) are very quiet. With the Fanny all you really hear is the slight clatter of the metal heddles as the shed is changed, and the low whump of the beater as it strikes the fell. Not even that if the weft is being placed, rather than beaten.

Other looms, like my AVL, are extremely noisy - unless you weave v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-ly. Since I'm trying to earn money by weaving, I don't have the luxury of weaving slowly/quietly.

When I got my AVL in 1984, I realized that it was much noisier than any loom I'd woven on before, partly due to the sharp clatter of the plastic pickers on the fly shuttle, partly due to the larger sized everything - more shafts, bigger beater and so on.

At the time, Doug was working for an industrial supply house, with a particular interest in safety equipment. He brought home a set of ear muffs, specifically for high impact hearing protection.

Eventually I got headphones so I could listen to books on tape or music, but always rated for high impact hearing protection.

During a recent discussion on a chat group I belong to about wearing hearing protection, one weaver commented that after weaving on her AVL for 20 years - without ever thinking about hearing protection or wearing it - she now has 50% hearing loss.

While we all have to make choices, and ultimately it really does depend on how much you weave, if you have a large AVL at least thinking about hearing protection would be a good idea. Especially if you are a young weaver with many years of weaving ahead of you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I keep a block of Post-It notes by the loom. They come in handy to scratch myself notes, but they also make a dandy 45 degree angle gauge when folded on the angle. The sticky part keeps it from unfolding, which is nice, too.

Hopefully this photo is clear enough that the angle of the twill can be seen. It's steeper than 45 degrees, but that's okay. I'm much happier with the drape of the cloth (or as it will be after wet finishing) with 32 epi and 30 ppi than if I'd done it 'perfectly' at 32 picks. This is definitely a case where consistency makes more 'perfect'. :^)

The lighter picks at the bottom are the fugitive ends which will be cut away as I fringe twist. Bobbins left over from other projects are generally used for these picks. They only have to be similar in grist, not identical, and of a contrasting colour.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting things finished...

Spent much of the morning today getting some things pressed. I have an industrial steam press which makes short work of the pressing, but since I like to make it worthwhile to fire up the boiler I usually do a large batch of pressing all at once.

Today I did four of the shawls woven recently, some scarves that had been hanging around waiting for the next pressing day, and the red tea towels woven with the red linen as weft. Now I've got a stack of hand hemming to do in the evenings....

And whoo-hoo! The red cotton - other than a few dribs and drabs on bobbins - is used up. The rest won't go to waste as there is plenty to do lace with.

The two shawls pictured are from two different warps, woven in September and October. The one on the left has Bambu 12 as weft, the other has 2/8 Tencel weft. There is still a big stack of them left to fringe twist, but I wanted to get some of them done in time for a sale on Nov. 23rd.

Today I started weaving shawls on the last red warp. Well, actually I started last night, but after thinking about it overnight, decided that I wasn't going to be best pleased with 32 picks per inch and decided to roll the 6" I had woven last night forward and start again at 30 picks per inch. It doesn't look much different, but there will be a difference in the hand of the cloth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Stash Reduction

I suppose that if I hadn't included the blue in my first red warp, I'd have been able to use up all of the 2/18 red cotton in one warp, but I did so I had lots of red left over. Since stash reduction is one of my primary goals right now, and I'd decided I really wanted to use up something, I did another red/blue warp, but this time put stripes on either edge instead of one in the middle.

The bad news is that even after winding a 40 yard warp, there was still over half a pound of red cotton left - too much to throw away, too little to do another warp on the big loom. So, even though I'd thought to only weave shawls on this warp, I'm weaving more tea towels, using up the last of the red cotton as weft!

One of the things I like to do is weave curves into my fabric. Weaving is mostly about perpendicular crossings of the thread, with deflections of those threads generally pretty minimal. Some weave structures depend on deflections - waffle weave, lace weaves, deflected warps and/or wefts, etc. But you can also get curves as pattern. The weave structure in this photo is actually twill blocks, but woven so that curves are created.

Sandra Rude plays with this sort of patterning a lot although she takes a different approach - a link to her website is in my links list. Her water series and fire series are especially appealing to me.

The tubes you can see at the bottom of the picture are hoses for the air assist on my loom. Several years ago I added air assist for the fly shuttle, which I haven't used in ages because recently I've been weaving fairly narrow warps where the fly shuttle doesn't work particularly well. I figured I might as well finance air for the treadle at the same time. I'm really glad now I did, even though I can't weave as quickly with the air assist treadle as I could without it because I realized that my right knee had been giving me problems. I have also developed arthritis in my right foot comparable to the sort of arthritis long distance runners develop (although they usually get it in both feet) so the air assist in the treadle has really allowed me to keep weaving.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rough Week

Although I had every intention of cutting this warp off and re-sleying it to weave shawls, this week has not been a great one, and even though I'm not thrilled with the beige linen on the red warp, it's good enough for therapy weaving so that's what I've been doing.
Since my brother died, my bp has been erratic, fluctuating sometimes wildly and not responsive to the standard medications. We finally figured out that part of the problem was that I am allergic to Lipitor and since my cholesterol is not high - in fact my levels are well within target, given my Coronary Artery Disease - I was able to stop taking it in October.
Unfortunately, my bp has not gone to anything remotely near to target, and on Tuesday it spiked to scary high levels for no reason that we could figure out. :(
The good news is that I was able to get in to see my doctor early on Wednesday, and he added a 3rd bp medication to the chemical cocktail I've been taking, and this one actually seems to be working. But I haven't been feeling particularly well. When my bp sky rockets like that, my brain ceases to function, and problem solving or any sort of challenge is beyond my capacity to deal with effectively, so instead of cutting the warp off when I finished the red linen, taxing my brain with designing new tie ups and treadlings for gorgeous shawls, I opted for therapy weaving. :}
While the beige linen isn't nearly as dynamic as the red linen, it looks okay - and face it, therapy was the number one priority this week, with stash reduction a close second.
This morning I spent more time in waiting rooms getting lab work dealt with. My doctor is now on the search for what the medical community calls "secondary causes" to see if there is some other physical problem creating all these high numbers and wild fluctuations. Fortunately I have a large stack of library books as I've needed them to wile away the time spent in waiting rooms. I find waiting much less onerous if I've got a good book to read.
Finished Jim Butcher's "Cursor's Fury", read Terry Pratchett's latest, "Nation" and this afternoon polished off Linda Barnes' "Lie Down with the Devil".
There are four more library books in my bag (we won't discuss all the books I own, but haven't yet read!) Sharan Newman's latest "The Shanghai Tunnel", Jim Butcher's "Captain's Fury", "The Apostate's Tale" by Margaret Frazer, and "Death Comes for the Fat Man", the latest by Reginald Hill.
Oh - re: the towels - in the photo you can see the hems for two adjacent towels with two picks of red thrown as a cutting line. When the cloth beam comes off the loom and gets put into the inspection table, I'll cut the towels along the line and serge them before wet finishing.
The good news is that I've nearly used up all of the 20's lea beige linen. If there is any warp left when the linen is done, I may re-sley for shawls, or I may just weave off the rest with some cotton flake or other yarn that wants using up. Goodness knows, I've got lots!
Since there is a lot of both the red and blue cotton left, the next warp will likely be something similar, but this time dedicated to just shawls.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CD Weaver

After publishing Magic in the Water; wet finishing handwovens, people started asking when I would be producing a video.

I was highly reluctant to do this for several reasons. First, I had done just enough video camera work to know exactly how difficult it is to get good video.

Secondly, I knew that in order to get good video, it cost a whole lot of money - money I simply didn't have after researching, writing and self-publishing Magic, filled as it was with before and after wet finishing samples of fabric (originally 20 projects, now 22 - for a total of 44 actual fabric samples).

Third, unlike a book where you can open it to any page to review whatever part of it you like, you have to fast forward and back and forth in a video to see the bit you want.

As time went by, digital technology developed to the point where I realized that I could combine the best of both books and videos by doing a book on cd with copious full colour photos and video clips - or an ebook as I see they are now called. :)

I began with dressing the loom showing how I wind a warp, rough sley a reed and beam from back to front. The second section included hints and tips - how to hold and throw a shuttle, hemstitching, dealing with more than one shuttle, winding bobbins and pirns and so on.

This past winter it became clear to me that I was having health issues without being able to define what those issues were. All I knew was that it was imperative that I do the third section on wet finishing and at the same time, I had my web master archive the majority of the writing that I've done over my career onto the cd along with the original sections and the new one on wet finishing. Frankly, I didn't think I'd be around very much longer, and that my website - well, if I wasn't here, my website wouldn't be either..........

So CD Weaver III contains the information I consider essential for a new weaver. I am very fast after years of earning my income, always looking for the most efficient, most ergonomic way to do the various tasks. When I find a new way to do something that will require less effort, I take the time to learn. Most recently I changed the way I hold my hook to sley. It took about 6 warps to cotton on to the new method, but I use it all the time now. The change was small, but I do the same job with tiny hand movements instead of using my whole arm.

This change allows me to work with less effort over all and was well worth taking the time to learn.

I am puzzled when I show weavers how I do things and get the response that it's too much trouble to learn something new. But I also have to remember that people are weaving these days, not to earn an income, but for rest and relaxation. And the learning curve can be steep and slippery and not very comfortable, especially if you are trying to unlearn something and do it a new way.

So for those people who are interested in becoming more efficient, CD Weaver is available. My methods won't work for everyone - there are differences in physical size and ability that make no one method the perfect one for everyone.

Until American Thanksgiving, anyone who orders Magic in the Water; wet finishing handwovens will receive CDWeaver III for free. I've had my webmaster post a new video on the CDWeaver page on my website. This one shows how to significantly full a mohair loop scarf, which I later show being brushed to raise a nap in the It Isn't Finished (until it's wet finished) section. The clips are available for free download, and for both PC and Mac users.

The photo above was done for It Isn't Finished (until it's wet finished) and shows the mohair scarf that I fulled in the video clip. It also shows two teasels. The one on the right is a proper Fuller's Teasel. The other is the one that is most commonly found growing in ditches and that people think is a Fuller's Teasel.

To go with the new CD Weaver, I also produced sample sets of the fabric I wet finished, including the above scarf. These are available for sale while they last. They also serve to upgrade Magic in the Water with 5 additional samples. Info on my website. Click on Store, then CD Weaver or Magic in the Water. Email me to order.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

First Towels

One of the advantages of weaving the fabric up side down is that when it rolls onto the cloth storage roller, the right side is up.

Once in a while a warp will turn out just as nicely as one hopes it will. I am very pleased with this warp and these towels. I hope the shawls will turn out as well. :}

The good news is that we have tweaked my medications and I am now able to weave for about 45 minutes at a time (with minor rest breaks) so I am able to weave one whole towel at a sitting. While my diastolic blood pressure remains too high we changed meds a few days ago, and I'm hoping that it will soon kick in and bring things under control. The paperwork says it may take up to two weeks to become effective, so I'm not fussing too much about the high number - yet...

People often ask about pricing. I don't use a pricing formula such as 3 times the material costs. As mentioned in my previous post, the largest expenditure in the creation of textiles by hand is the labour. Very early on, I realized that if I used the "times the materials" formula, I'd soon starve.

Pricing is a complex process, like weaving itself. If one is to truly earn their income by weaving, over head costs cannot be ignored. Nor can the cost of marketing. If you don't double the cost of producing a piece, you are effectively retailing at your wholesale price.

If you rent a booth at a craft fair, or sell on consignment, those expenses come out of the retail price.

My towels are on the large side. This particular towel is about 22" in the reed, and being woven about 34" long including hems. The retail price for these towels will be $36.00. Towels with less linen content of about the same size (i.e. cottolin weft) are priced at $32.00. Towels made from 100% cotton are priced at $28.00.

How did I arrive at those numbers? Partly by looking at the prices of smaller towels, partly by pricing expensive towels of similar quality, partly by deciding that I wanted that much for them to reflect the size and quality. My towels are hand hemmed, not because I object to machine sewing per se, but because I'd rather sit and hem as a tv watching job than drag out my sewing machine.

A friend described such handwork as "creative fidgeting". I can't just sit and watch tv. I like to have such creative fidgeting jobs to hand - hemming, knitting, bobbin lace, fringe twisting. If I really don't feel like "working", I enjoy jigsaw puzzles. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Red Warp Pattern

Managed to find some time late last night to work out a threading etc., for the red warp, fine tuned it and started threading this morning. Got it finished before I left for the demo and just now finished sleying the reed. I hope to start weaving yet tonight, but I'll see how tired I am after I tie up and get the loom's computer programmed.

The diagram shows one pattern repeat and part of the border. The design is repeated 3 times in the centre of the warp and bracketed by 5 and a bit repeats of a point twill progression.

The towels will be woven as drawn in, which is as shown, but for the shawls I'll probably play around with tie ups and treadlings to get variations.

The tie up has one block weaving 3:1 twill (3 shafts raised, one down) while the other blocks are weaving 1:3 twill. With 16 shafts, the fewer shafts raised (on a rising shed loom), the less physical effort is required. While this is no longer a consideration for me - my loom has air assist - I figure what's good for the weaver is also good for the loom and continue to choose to lift the fewest number of shafts where ever possible. Even if this means weaving the fabric up side down. The towels will be presented with the the most amount of warp showing as the right side, but I'll be weaving it with the back side towards me.

Since I've earned my living at weaving for over 30 years, one principle has become very clear. The largest expenditure in terms of creating textiles to sell is not the cost of the materials, but my labour. So when ever I design a project I always look for ways to work with less physical effort and the least amount of time.

To this end I've worked diligently to find methods that streamline the process as much as possible. I've also learned that extra time spent in preparation generally cuts down on effort - and frustration. I might spend extra time winding a warp, for instance, knowing that taking greater care in this step of the process will make the actual weaving time a lot more pleasant, if not actually faster. :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Red Warp #1

After musing for several days about what I wanted to do with the red cotton I came up with a plan. A solid red warp didn't appeal, somehow, and I still had alllll this blue left, so...

I wound spools of red cotton, and then set up the bobbin rack with 8 red and 24 blue and wound the centre 6 inches/sections. Then I cut out 8 of the blue and replaced them with red and wound 3 sections on either side of the centre. Then I cut out 8 more blue and wound 2 sections on either side, and so on. The last 2 sections on either side have 4 blue and 28 red spools.

Since this warp is to do double duty - towels and shawls - I will set the towels at 36 epi/ppi and weave off the last of the fine red singles linen. I may use some of the natural beige for towels, too, but I don't think I'm going to be happy with that as weft. Only a sample will show for sure, though, so I'll do a couple of inches and check it out. But I think the natural beige isn't going to do the dramatic blue/red combo justice.

Once I'm done the red linen, I'll cut off and re-sley to 32 epi for the shawls. I've been quite pleased with the fine bamboo, which is about a 2/16 size, and with the 2/10 Tencel as weft for shawls.

While I've not yet decided on the specific threading that will be used, I know the effect I want over all. It's a matter of sitting down at the computer and working out the details.

That won't likely happen today, though. I've volunteered to demo at the guild booth at the local craft fair, plus I'll be doing door duty tonight as Doug is working late. :) Maybe later after the trick or treating is over for the evening, or tomorrow morning before I go demo again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Craft Fair

This is how the booth looked at the craft fair at the University of Northern BC over the weekend. The picture is dark because of taking the photo into the light coming through the windows. The advantage of the booth location was that there was lots of natural light.

Doug built the booth structure, and made it so that it collapses and folds down into small boxes, so it transports easily. It's also fairly versatile in that I can have shelves, or hang things from the cross bars. Or both.

The bottom shelf is draped and there is storage underneath. Doug built it to fit our most common packing boxes, so there is lots of room to store over stock in the booth. The boxes for the booth structure generally get taken back out to the van for storage during the fair.

I never do a show without my own supplemental lighting. So often large halls have either dreadful over head lighting, or they are low/no light shows (no overhead lights at all). I was extremely fortunate getting this booth placement as it had both natural light, and access to power for the supplemental lights.

Doug set the booth up so that the scarves could be hung, and the table runners and tea towels were put onto the shelves. The booth was 6 feet by 12, so there was lots of room to set things out so they could be seen.

We also use a tall stool to perch on, rather than sitting in an ordinary chair. We try to stand or perch in order to easily make eye contact with the customers. One of the biggest mistakes I see is a booth set up where the craftsperson is buried in the back of the booth.

During a recent discussion on one of the chat groups I belong to, I said that I cannot afford to give any of my booth space to demo-ing. Many people insisted that part of the job of selling was to educate. I agree! But I do that within the context of discussing the features and benefits of my product, not by dragging a loom into a booth and weaving. In my opinion, if you are weaving in your booth - and educating at that level - you aren't selling. If you strongly feel that you must weave in your booth to educate people, then my recommendation is to have a second person in the booth to handle customer service and write up sales.

This weekend I'll be demo-ing at another craft fair. I haven't decided yet if I will bring my bobbin lace pillow or a spinning wheel. I don't have a small loom that is easily transportable. The local guild will do several demos this fall/winter. Such demos are a great way to talk to people, show them what is involved in the craft, and get people interested in learning more. I'm hoping the guild will offer some classes as they haven't given any weaving classes for a couple of years.