Friday, April 30, 2010

Yarn Sources

Sharon asked where she could obtain the fine cotton slub I like for towels and other household textiles. Click on the photos for a close up.
The reason I like this yarn is that it is finer than most slubs I've seen from other suppliers which means that I can make a lighter weight textile. :) Generally speaking, you cannot make a thin cloth from fat yarns.....
This yarn is 100% cotton, comes on 8 ounce tubes with approx. 1875 yards per tube. I use it singly for towels, or combine it with other yarns to make a fat weft for placemats. When using a 2/8 cotton warp I set that at 24 for twill and this yarn beats in nicely at about 20 to 24 epi depending on weave structure and how dense you are aiming for. The Spring Towels on the AVL are beating in nicely at 22 ppi.
As it happens I sell this yarn. It comes in a limited selection of colours as shown above. I don't stock every colour - I don't 'love' every shade it comes in - but can get it.
The price is $11/tube (Canadian). I can also get the bleached and natural on 2 pound cones (approx.) at a retail price of $20.00 per pound. I do take Paypal payments and would be happy to take orders. I'll be putting an order in to the supplier over the weekend. If anyone wants to order some of this yarn, 2/8 cotton (warp twist) or cotton boucle please contact me by email: lauraATlaurafryDOTcom.
If there is interest I can put the colour cards for the 2/16, 2/8, 4/8, 8/8 and cotton boucle on my blog too. This yarn comes in 70+ colours and the 2/8 was what I used for the colour gamp kits.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


One of the challenges when one is using up stash is that at times there might not be quite enough of the yarn/colour needed to complete a warp. :}

Once this lovely pale blue and lavender warp was wound, I looked at what was left over and decided there wasn't enough of the pale blue to use two ends in the weft bundle so I went hunting in the store room. Lo and behold, a cone of 2/8 cotton in a darker value but greyed so that it would 'fit' with the other two colours was lurking in a corner.

This darker blue would not have been my first choice, but in the end I'm quite happy with it.

It's these happy little surprises that keep me coming back to the loom. I wound up using the same darker blue for the hem because I didn't want to run out of the pale blue. Of course, you know what this means....I'll be left with an ounce of the pale blue!

But I'll also have used up some of the darker blue cone. A cone which probably dates from the mid-90's! I also found a couple of peach cones so they'll also be used to make up a warp with a pale shade of orange. The cloth will probably resemble orange sherbet and whipped cream. Yum. A nice thought for a rather grey and gloomy day.

On the ankle front, I can now tolerate about 90% of my weight on my left foot. This is very exciting because it means I'm getting very close to being able to walk again. Hooray!

Currently reading Beyond the Cleavage by Raquel Welch

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fruit Salad

This warp has a little bit of everything in it. :) These are the yarns from the pastel colour gamp kit, all mixed up, a little bit like fruit salad.

On the other hand, it's a nice, spring-like colour combination, and I'm enjoying weaving on it very much.

The weft is a fine cotton slub, the weave structure is twill blocks treadled in points. I think you can see the treadling but click on the photo for a close up.

Mizz B came today. She cut and serged the two place mat warps I got woven last week then wound two more mat warps for me, again using some of the pastel colour gamp colours. One warp using one end of pale blue, one end of lavender. The other uses a pale orange and yellow. Should also be nice and spring-like to work on.

I'll dress the Fanny loom tomorrow and continue with my therapy weaving.

Speaking of which, the physiotherapist said everyone should have a foot powered loom to help recover from a broken ankle. :)

I've got stretches to help loosen the muscles/tendons at the back of my ankle. The good news is that I'm now able to stand with my weight equally distributed on both feet. Am getting really close to being able to stop using the moon boot I hope. But it's obvious that I'm not going to run any marathons or climb any mountains any time soon. :} No matter, so long as I can weave!

Currently reading The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rolling Along

I kind of surprised myself last night when I managed to dress the loom all by myself - and the help of the various systems I've put in place over the years. I doubt I could have accomplished it at all without the warping valet. :) It truly is the most forgiving of helping hands - if I need to roll back a bit it doesn't sigh and roll it's eyes. It doesn't need a drink or potty break. It just holds the tension, evenly, consistently - no complaints.

So this is the next warp. The weft this time is the same natural cotton boucle, plus two ivory 2/8 cotton and one ivory cotton slub.

Yes the current placemats all look the same. This is called developing a line. A designer will create a quality of cloth, then interpret that quality in a variety of colours. This allows the customer to decide that yes, they want that quality of placemat and gives them a variety of different colours to choose from.

It is this ability - to weave essentially the same thing over and over - that convinced me that I had what it took to be a production weaver.

For me it's not all about what the cloth is and more about the doing of it. Of immersing myself in the process, striving for that zen state where I am at one with the loom. When I hit that zone the minutes fly by and at times I have to remind myself to stop and take a break.

Well, not right now, of course. My ankle is hyper-aware of when it needs a rest. :^) But all said and done, I threaded, sleyed and tied up the warp before lunch, then went back down and wove 4 placemats. I'm going to ice my ankle, take a fairly long break and then go back down after dinner to see if I can weave two more mats. That will finish the bobbins I filled this morning, so then I'll fill the bobbins again in readiness for tomorrow and then see how it goes. Find out whether I've pushed too far today or not.

And Monday I've got an appointment for physiotherapy booked at 3:15. That should give me enough time that I can do some weaving before the therapy because I may not feel like doing much of anything afterwards.

Currently reading Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Excursion Day

Yesterday Doug had the day off and I had a number of things that I, personally, wanted to do so we took the opportunity to test how mobile I was and see if I could manage getting out and about on my own. The verdict? I can manage - and very day it's a little bit easier. :D Yay!

One of the first things we did was go to the accountant where Doug ran up the stairs and got the paperwork, hoofed it down to me sitting in the van to sign, then back upstairs to finalize the paper so that we could go to the bank and I could pay what I owed as well as deal with the stack of bills that had accumulated. :}

Then we went for lunch out and over to the Studio Shoppe so that I could take some pictures of the display in the Featured Artists Room. I thought the display looked quite nice with Dahne Andrews' paintings on the walls and my textiles nicely displayed.

Even better, I was told that two scarves had already sold and two were on 'hold'. :D

Then after we got home I iced my ankle and went down to the Fanny loom and wove 4 placemats, leaving a mat and table runner yet to do. Doug is off today, too, so I'm hoping to finish weaving that warp then get him to help dress the loom. I suspect I could manage it pretty much by myself, but it will be a lot faster (and safer!) if he turns the handle and inserts the bamboo blinds.

In the evening we went up to the annex where I pressed some placemats for hemming while he tried to wrestle some order out of the chaos.

Today is also Earth Day. It seems that there is always a lot of controversy about what is 'environmentally friendly' and what isn't. People hold very firm ideas!

Doug and I have composted in one of those regurgitators (not truly making compost but breaking vegetable matter down into a sludge which Doug empties out occasionally and buries in the back yard) for many many years. When we started composting I was amazed to notice that the number of garbage bags set out at the curb was reduced by one third.

A few years later the city started a recycling program, accepting paper 'donations'. When we started sorting out the paper products our garbage set out at the curb reduced by one half. In other words instead of setting out 3 nearly full bags of garbage we now set out one bag a week and very often that bag isn't even full.

We also keep all plastic bottles that can be recycled and turn those in. Our province has a fee for plastic beverage bottles that you can get refunded when you turn the bottles in to a recycling place and quite often we'll get enough money for several cups of coffee. Out - usually at Tim Horton's - as a treat.

Since I have numerous food allergies, I buy very little pre-packaged food products. (Doug does buy a few things that he can zap in the micro-wave.) Mostly we buy fresh fruit and vegetables, a few canned vegetables, and unprocessed meat. I make lots of stews/soups in my biggest pot so that the stove is only used once and then individual servings are micro-waved (never in plastic!)

It took a while to convince Doug that leftovers were A Good Thing, but now he's sold on the fact that it's environmentally friendly. The stove (220 v) gets used once, then the micro-wave (110 v) gets used for a few seconds to re-heat servings.

In the studio I save my thrums handing them over to a surface design artist who uses what she wants and then both of our 'waste' goes to the Salvation Army who has a textile recycling program. I save cardboard tubes and cones, using the cones on my cone winder, the rest going into the city's paper recycling program.

I use 'natural' yarns as much as possible - i.e. fibres that will break down into dust, not yarns made from petroleum products. Yes, I do use regenerated cellulose yarns.

Unfortunately I don't like the light generated by flourescent bulbs, so I'm 'wasteful' in that I still use incandescent. I am waiting for new technology to come up with a light source that I can tolerate, that doesn't create a lot of excess heat (like the halogen bulbs), gives good ambient light and doesn't use a lot of electricity.

I replaced the very old computer I used to use with my loom and my electrical bill actually visibly reduced! I try not to use a lot of things that use batteries, and if I do, I try to get re-chargable ones - although that isn't always possible. (e.g. my fringe twister is hand driven, not battery operated.)

Doug and I plan our routes when we drive in order to use the least amount of gasoline and buy/lease vehicles with the best mpg that we can afford. If they made a hybrid van I'd probably look very seriously at leasing one of those, but we also have to keep in mind our bottom line. :(

Our society is very wasteful. Rather than repair appliances, it's now cheaper to just buy new. :( But as individuals we can each do at least one thing to be a little less wasteful, a little more environmentally friendly, and every little bit does help.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More Progress - sloowly, slooowly

After having a good wallow in my disappointment yesterday, I woke up this morning (having had 7 hours of sleep - hooray!) determined to surrender to what is, instead of struggling with what isn't....
A friend who is an RN commented that I needed to toughen the tender bones, so once I was dressed this morning I put the moon boot on and hobbled, using the walker to support myself, up and down the hallway and into the kitchen and lr for a change of scene. Managed about 5 minutes before my toes started to tingle and decided that was probably enough to begin with.
Then I went down to the studio and started weaving on the placemat warp. And right away noticed that weaving was easier today than it had been yesterday. So I counted that as real progress, no matter that I only managed 3 mats before deciding that that was probably enough for today.
After lunch I went back down to the studio and found that I could actually put a little bit of weight on my foot without wearing the boot while using the crutches. (No room for the walker through the pathways!) So again, a tiny bit of progress.
In the end I managed to thread the entire warp in one sitting before deciding that my foot had been down long enough.
The colours in the photo are not true - my camera seems to have a thing about not representing blues very well. The warp is in reality less yellow and more mauve/blue than what you see in the photo. I think I'm going to go with the natural white cotton slub and a very simple twill block progression. The warp is threaded point over all 16 shafts.
I took the 9 colours from the pastel kit and set them up randomly on the spool rack and then threaded them 'randomly'. In other words, I just made sure that no two adjacent ends were the same colour.
Since there were only 9 colours (two spools each) the warp was beamed at 18 ends per section but I'll sley the warp at 24. With this 2/8 cotton I can fudge the width so I'm not anticipating any difficulty reducing it from 26" on the beam to 19.5 in the reed.
After all of the above activity my foot hasn't even swollen up too badly so I'm going to go for 4 mats tomorrow and see how it goes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Progress - of a sort....

Well the good news is that I was able to weave two placemats on the Fanny loom. The weft is a bundle of 2/8 cotton, cotton slub and a fairly fine cotton boucle' woven in broken twill.

The bad news is that I'm not nearly as mobile as I was expecting to be. :(

Saw the surgeon at 8 am this morning. He, at least, was pleased with my progress! So pleased that he wasn't even going to write me a referral for physiotherapy but I asked him if I could have one and then decide if I was managing well enough on my own or needed some help. He was kind enough to let me use my discretion and wrote the referral to a clinic of my choice. I'm to wear the moonboot to walk for the next two weeks, gradually weaning myself off of it. (Freudian slip - I originally wrote "weaving myself off of it"!)

I, on the other hand, expected that I would at least be able to stand on my own without the moon boot, but that is only just barely possible. Forget being able to walk or go up and down stairs without it so I'm still bum-de-bumping up and down. I have no idea if I can even make it out of the house on my own yet - boot or no - so Doug will be called in to help me run some errands on his days off this week.

Doug reminded me that he was 3 months recovering from his broken ankle - and he didn't have surgery - so he said that I'm doing as well as he expected even though I'm not living up to my hopes. :}

Mizz B came today and cut and serged the tea towels while I wove. Then she serged the washcloths that she had woven after which I showed her how to beam sectionally and she got a 10 yard tea towel warp onto the AVL. I used the yarn from the pastel colour gamp kit in a random sequence and which I'll thread randomly in a fairly simple twill progression - probably. If I use the linen/rayon boucle for weft the weave structure will be plain weave. If I use the cotton slub it will be twill.

My self-directed physiotherapy will be to weave on the Fanny for a while (without moonboot, working on increasing flexibility and weight bearing) and then work on the AVL. The AVL is ready to thread and I can do that on my own.

But after putting my life on hold for 6 weeks, I am having problems surrendering to the inevitable and facing up to the fact that it's going to be another 6 weeks (according to the surgeon) before I even begin approaching some semblence of 'normal'. And a full year before I can consider myself as good as I'm going to get.

Just in time for my next surgery. :} Gotta admire the timing of all of these things!

Currently reading Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

In many ways I think that this combination is my favourite for this warp.

Once I ran out of the 24 nm linen, I switched to a fine cotton slub that I've used for towels before.

It's a finer slub than I've seen from other suppliers and makes a nice quality of cloth suitable for towels. The slight slub gives a good texture and they are fairly thirsty.

The yarn comes in a small range of colours but this time I only ordered in natural and ivory which should also add a nice bit of texture to the placemats on the Fanny loom. Ivory was used here because I'd used ivory as the neutral in this warp.

And the warp is now done, done, and I've been thinking about how I'm feeling and what I'm realistically going to be able to do beginning tomorrow.

Beginning by beaming a warp requiring two beams, one of which is only a half yard (which means 80 turns for that part of the warp, even though it is only 10 inches wide) seems like that would just be asking way too much of myself.

So I'm thinking I need to do something less challenging - say another towel warp using up some of that 2/8 cotton set aside for colour gamp kits and using either the cotton slub or a really nice linen/rayon boucle' for weft. It would also be a small enough warp that I could show Mizz B how to beam sectionally and not be too concerned if she takes a little while on the learning curve. It would only be 10 yards after all. :) So we'll see what she says if she comes tomorrow.

Over the years I've taken flak for my equipment choices, the last time being when I added air assist to the loom. One person told me that if I were handicapped it might just possibly be acceptable to use such equipment and still call my work 'hand woven'. Why I should need to be handicapped to justify using the equipment I have no idea.

Well, right now I am handicapped and from the looks of things will continue to be so for some time even though it is temporary.

The air assist is allowing me to get back to work and weave much sooner than if I didn't have it. While I am not yet behind schedule in terms of production for fall sales, I would be if I wasn't able to weave for a couple more months.

And so I am extremely grateful that I didn't allow the nay-sayers to determine my choice of equipment. I don't know how long it will take before I can comfortably weave on the Leclerc Fanny - probably much sooner than if I had a jack loom - but I can and will be weaving on the AVL, looking ahead to the fall sales and continuing to use up stash.

Weaving is not just what I do. In many ways it is what I am.

And I am so glad I have been able to get back to the loom once again.

Currently reading Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Search of Clarity

I think that if you click on the picture you can just make out option #2 (at bottom) and option #3 (at top).
I confess I'm not actually loving this warp. Perhaps it's the colour combination which I mentioned previously isn't amongst my favourites.
But right now, making something I personally love to bits isn't a priority.
Now that pain levels are manageable and my time of confinement nearly over (5 more sleeps til I see the surgeon) I have been thinking through possibilities for the future.
Since my teaching dates in May got cancelled - a mixed blessing because I realize now I probably would not have fared well doing a long airplane journey, hefting heavy bags through huge airports, then spending two days on my feet - it also means I have no guaranteed income for the month of May. :(
And since I'm self-employed and our household relies on me bringing in a certain amount of income, well, I've had to do some serious thinking about my business and where I might go with it.
Doug is pretty desperate to retire, but he's got less than 2 years until he's 65 so I keep reminding him about the extended medical benefits he gets as a full time employee with Home Depot and how badly we need them. Especially now that I'm facing weeks, possibly months, of physio-therapy. If we run out of physio benefits, we will have to pay for it out of our own pockets so it would be really handy if he still had a regular paycheque out of which to pay them.
And because the studio in no way brings in enough money to cover that on top of whatever else the studio pays for - utilities, van lease, etc.
So what I have I deduced so far? Well it's been a process of elimination.
Number one on the list is to finish dyeing the yarn that needs to be dyed in order to sell it and then not do that anymore. Part of the reason is because I have more medical procedures coming up and lifting huge containers of water and wet yarn isn't something I should really be doing long term. Since I don't consider myself a particularly skilled dyer I won't mind giving that up.
Number two on the list is to discontinue making any more kits. It seems that no matter how well I try to explain things, someone somewhere misunderstands and then complains that my kits are 'no good'. So I just won't bother with them any more. (I do still have yarn left to make the colour gamp kits although I have removed them from my Art Fire store. If you really want one or two email me - preferably before I use that yarn up making placemats.)
So what will I do? I mentioned around the new year that I'd been talking with a publisher about writing an e-book. Since my recuperation is going to take some weeks/months, it seems like now might be a really good time to start working on the manuscript.
I have other (volunteer) committments that have been ignored for a rather long time, foremost among them transcribing the WeaveCast podcasts. I'd hoped to be able to work on those while I wasn't able to weave but since I couldn't tolerate having my foot down until this week, well, that didn't happen. However since it's going to take a while to get up to speed, instead of watching daytime dreck tv I will be working on the transcriptions.
Stash reduction will continue to be a priority. If this warp doesn't use up the last of the extremely fine linen I will put on one more tea towel warp in order to use it up.
And then I need to start working on inventory for the fall sales which begin in September. For far too long I've not had the mental wherewithall to really dig into my creative well for new designs. Working with the rayon chenille and the Diversified Plain Weave I will have at least one new scarf design for the fall sales.
As far as teaching goes, I'm going to leave that on idle for the time being. I have another surgery scheduled sometime around next February. Surgery that will once again prevent me from weaving for about 6 weeks - or doing much of anything else for that matter. So until that's done and I - hopefully - have a clean bill of health, I think that trying to find a whole lot of teaching dates doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
So what does that leave me? Pretty much in Neutral. And worrying about where my income is going to come from. :( But I have decided that I'm not going to cancel Complex Weavers/Convergence. That's what plastic is for after all?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Use it or Lose it

red and white bookmark completed

Well, I made it down to the AVL today with every intention of weaving two tea towels.

It was made very clear to me that not only has my left calf muscle wasted away, so have many other muscles in my body. :(

About half way through the first tea towel I realized that my arms and shoulders were feeling the fact that they have not been used that way for 5 weeks.

It's truly amazing how quickly muscle tissue disappears when it isn't used, but I've been assured that it will come back quickly once I'm active again.

And so I went ahead and wove two towels. My neck is aching a bit now, so instead of weaving three tomorrow I'll probably just do two more towels and call it a day. Will see how I feel tomorrow.

The really good news is that my ankle is a tiny bit more flexible every day and pain levels have not gone up significantly with the activity I've done so far.

Really hoping that I won't need months of physio and that I'll soon be back to 'normal'.

Currently reading Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker - will have to ask Doug to pull some more Terry Pratchett out of his office 'cause I can't get to them myself

Monday, April 12, 2010

One Step Forward

Mizz B is here and helped get the studio sorted out so that I could wind bobbins. Found an old 'sloppy' sock of Doug's and slipped that onto my foot which I rest on the top of the box housing the fly shuttle air switches when I'm not weaving with the fly shuttle.

Things went fairly well and I had originally intended to weave two towels so that I could get Mizz B to help cut the apron out and put a storage roller on but decided that perhaps that, along with bobbin winding and tieing the warp onto the apron etc., was quite possibly a bit much for a first day back in the studio. So I stopped at one.

Not totally in love with this warp - oranges are not really 'my' colours - but the linen weft mutes them a bit so.........besides, this is by way of being a therapy warp (mental if nothing else!) so it doesn't really matter about whether or not I'm in love with the colours.

Point of fact, these towels would probably look really good in my kitchen with the rosewood cabinets and soon to be cork floors. :) So who knows, I may keep a couple for myself.

I'm really hoping this warp will use up the rest of the extremely fine linen - or use up enough that I can justify recycling the rest(?) - and then move on to the rayon chenille Diversifed Plain Weave warp.

But we will see. I really need to be harsh about my stash and either use it up or pass it on. Since Mizz B is doing so well I may bequeath some of it to her. We'll see what she likes to work with and if she's at all interested in being creative with yarns that I'm bored with.

Currently reading Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bunch o' Bookmarks

Don't know if two and a bit bookmarks can legally be called a 'bunch', but oh well...

I've made this pattern numerous times, in a variety of colour combinations. It's sort of a colour exercise because depending on the stitch (woven structure) the colours can read quite differently. Click on the photo for a close up.

The blue and white bookmark looked quite incipid on the white pricking, but really pops on the dark blue cushion.

A friend in England has a lace supply business and I can get bookmark sleeves from her. As soon as I'm mobile I'll dig through the mountain of boxes hiding my lace supplies with the sleeves in it so I can file the bookmarks I've managed to make so far in their protective sleeves.

What do I do with them? I give them away. It takes me several hours to make one - which means that if I were to sell them I'd have to charge about $30. I doubt very much anyone is willing to pay that much for a bookmark so rather than offer them and be rebuffed, or charge way too little to reflect the time and effort that goes into them, they are used as gifts.

The good news is that I'm able to tolerate having my foot down for longer periods of time (although I think I've hit my limit for today) so working at the computer or the lace isn't so uncomfortable. Just nine more sleeps and I see the surgeon who will hopefully allow me to put weight on my foot so I can start doing things again. :}

On Monday when Mizz B comes I'll get her to set the studio up so that I can wind bobbins and I'm going to try to weave a tea towel on the AVL. It's been a long (almost) 5 weeks away from the studio.

Currently reading Eric by Terry Pratchett.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Making Plans

One of the warps that has been on my to-be-done list for a rather long time is a production run of rayon chenille scarves woven in Diversified Plain Weave.

I first came across this weave structure in a copy of Weaver's Magazine where it was referred to as Diversified Huck because the threading system was a single end huck progression.

This wasn't necessarily the easiest approach in terms of threading/weaving and people played around with it and came up with the theading below.

I'm going to futz with it a bit more and change it again because of the way I thread to this:

I'm right handed and find that if I thread the end furthest away, then the thread nearest me my body likes that a whole lot more. (See the threads on shafts 1 and 2)

But no matter how one twiddles the threading, these sorts of threading systems are not simple or easy and setting the loom up will take a fair amount of time.

Which is why I'll put on a fairly long warp so that I can amortize my time over as many scarves as possible. And use up a significant amount of my all too generous stash of solid coloured rayon chenille yarns!

Right now I'm thinking 40 yards - 40 turns of rayon chenille on the big beam, and 80 turns of 2/16 bamboo on the smaller second beam.

The beauty of this threading system is that the tie up can be changed so that I don't have to weave all of the scarves in the same pattern. What I've shown here is just a very simple twill progression that will make chevrons but that's only the beginning.

I did afghans in this weave structure last summer and really liked the quality of the cloth. I think it will make great scarves.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


There are a lot of 2/3's in my life right now. Fer instance - the bookmark is 1/3rd done, so there are 2/3's left to finish it.

But far more important to me right now is that I am 2/3's the way through the 6 week non-weight bearing portion of my recovery.

It has become very clear to me that I will not throw down my crutches and arise fully healed, (or should I say fully heeled - too much Terry Pratchett mayhaps?) but that there are going to be some weeks, perhaps months, left before total recovery.

But that's okay. I *will* recover. Many people live with mobility issues every day of their lives (my neighbour being one of them - boy do I empathize with her right now!)

Mizz B came yesterday and helped me re-assemble the AVL once I finished sleying the tea towel warp. She wound another scarf warp for the rigid heddle loom. She needs to finish weaving her scarf on it, but there's no screaming hurry. I also talked her through beaming the warp I will use in the first stage of my physiotherapy - a 2/8 cotton warp for placemats. Not sure if it is totally ready to go so if not she can finish that next Monday.

It was the longest warp she's beamed so far and we had some adventures but she got it on and threaded. Took her an hour to thread 300 ends - not bad considering it was only about the 4th warp she has threaded so far. I'm giving her Rising Weaving Star status already. Can hardly wait to see what she does once she gets her own loom the end of May. :D

In the meantime I need to order more yarn in for placemat weft and if I do that tomorrow or the next day it should arrive in time for me to start weaving in two weeks. Right now I'm planning one placemat a day and see how it goes.

OTOH, since I have air assist on the AVL and don't need my left foot at all to weave on that loom, I'm hoping that I'll also be able to weave at least one tea towel, perhaps two, a day.

Currently reading Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett (and for fans - I went to his website last night and discovered a new title will be out in September)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Random Thoughts

bamboo and wool/lycra

My supply of wool/lycra is nearly gone (I think there may be 16 cones left) so I was pleased to see that Ashford now supplies colcolastic - a cotton/lycra yarn - and in a variety of colours. I'd made plans to include this new yarn in Magic in the Water, Part II and test drive it in the workshop at Columbus, OH in May ..... BUT..... when I started investigating air fares, it was going to cost twice as much as my workshop fee to get me from here to there.

I offered to cancel the workshop, and they accepted my offer. :(

While I like living where I do I also have to accept the fact that I live a long way from anywhere else. Out of the $1000+ air fare to get to Columbus, $500 of that is just to get me from Prince George to Vancouver. The shortest leg of the journey.

So now I'm wondering if there is even any point in my continuing to offer to teach for guilds. When it costs twice as much to get me to the guild event than it does to pay me to teach, it's the airlines that are making the bulk of the money. :( OTOH, weavers don't realize that - they just know that it's way too expensive to have me come to them.

If the workshops in Joplin had gone ahead there would at least have been two groups to share the cost of travel, but for a variety of reasons there weren't enough people for them to go ahead and the entire cost of travel fell onto the Columbus guild's shoulders.

Right now I have just two events booked for next year, one in January, one in July, both in the east of the USA. If guilds on the eastern seaboard want to share travel costs with either John C. Campbell Folk School or NEWS, let me know. Either that or sign up for the events so that they are full and the two organizers can afford to pay the travel costs.....

Currently reading Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Thread Under Tension...

is a thread under control.

Kati Meek has reprinted her book Warp With A Trapeze.

She describes herself as a 'lazy' weaver in the same way I call myself lazy. I don't want to do any more work than I absolutely have to. The process of weaving is complex enough that using inefficient processes and equipment can add serious time to the whole enchilada.

I was first exposed to the tool I call a warping valet (because that was the translation provided to me) in Sweden in 2001.

It was a smack-me-upside-the-head sort of experience. Of course this tool needed to be introduced to my studio! No more requirement for assistance for long/wide warps - I could be completely independant of needing helping hands.

Now any time I beam a warp longer than 3 yards and/or wider than 15 inches I use the warping valet.

Over the years I've tweaked the process - I was never shown how to use the tool, just saw it mounted on some looms in a studio in southern Sweden - and my process is somewhat different from Kati's, but not in any major way.

Rather than use a raddle, I rough sley a reed and mount that into the beater with the valet positioned at the front of the loom. My valet is mounted into the ceiling - not something that is practical for many people. Therefore mounting the apparatus onto the loom itself is probably the way to go for most.

But this book has more than just how to use a trapeze/valet. Kati also talks about how to sit and beat to reduce stress (the same way I do) and how to hold and throw the shuttle (the same way I do).

It's nice to have confirmation that other weavers have found the same processes as efficient as I find them. :)

Kati also shows how to install a free weight braking system. I first saw this in Allen Fannin's Handloom Weaving Technology, but Kati provides much more information and lots of pictures to help someone install one on their loom.

Overall a very handy resource.

More information on Kati's blog

ps - I will be at John C. Campbell Folk School Jan. 9-15 2011 giving a workshop The Efficient Weaver and will be doing some seminars at NEWS, ditto.