Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spinning Fibres

River's Edge Billie Jean and Walking Stick (more green in real life)
River's Edge River Wide (more green in life) and Grand Canyon

River's Edge Stone Path (this photo is totally off colour - it actually has a lot more green and grey in it than shows here)

River's Edge Winterhaven Dark (shows more rose) and Blueberry Grape
River's Edge Olivine and Peachie Keen

River's Edge Winterhaven Light and Mountain Mist (Mountain Mist is more green and less turqouise than shows here)

River's Edge Polworth in three colours

In spite of heavy overcast and not using a flash, all of these photos are showing much more pale than the fibre is in life.

There is also one braid of a dark purple/blue - I took one of the two braids to try spinning so I could see how it was to work with.

The first 6 photos are a merino/silk, the last photo is of the 3 Polworth braids I have.

An email from Carol this morning informs me that she is bringing back a fine merino, silk, banana and Tencel blend. Since I've not heard of banana fibre before, I'm assuming it is regenerated cellulose but will check with her on that.

One of the reasons I was interested in Jacey Bogg's class was that it was about core spinning. She pointed out that core spinning was a great way to work with these hand painted tops because you get the majority of the fibre on the surface of the yarn.

Now I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new Joy wheel so that I can experiment with the technique!

If you are in the Lower Mainland area (or Seattle?) Doug and I will be at Fibres West March 18/19 at the Abbottsford Ag-Rec centre selling these and Ashland Bay fibres for spinning/felting, and yarns for weaving/knitting etc. Hope to see you there! (And for PG spinners, I can bring these to the guild room Tuesday night drop in if you are interested.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Too Dry!

On this warp I'm using a singles 12 for weft. Unfortunately when the humidity drops below 50% linen gets a bit wire-y and unco-operative. At the moment we are have a cold snap and the relative humidity is currently at 45% (I know, I know, laugh now all you desert dwellers!)

In order to make weaving easier I wind enough for two towels and pop them into a baggie with a wet cloth and let them sit. The longer the better, although these only sat for a few hours. As I finish the first set of bobbins I wind more and put them into a 2nd baggie and then rotate through using the ones that have been sitting in the moist environment the longest.

When I got back from my trip I eagerly started hooking up my computer to the loom and - woe! - could not find the crucial adapter that would allow me to plug the Compu-Dobby in! Doug and I drove all over town looking for one and could not find the correct adapter. At which point I tore the van apart. Lo and behold, the adapter had snuck out of the bag I'd put it in and was lurking under the packing blankets!

So this morning I finished setting everything up and was able to weave this afternoon.

While the bobbins were soaking up some H2O I wove a shawl on the small loom and then dressed it with another warp. One warp, one shawl.

I don't have quite the right shade of purple for this warp but as it has just a touch of a greyed green decided I'd use this skein of a sort of pale blue spruce shade.

In reality I ought to have been taking photos of the River's Edge spinning fibres while the sun was shining so brilliantly. But I'd been away from the looms for too long and weaving won the day.

Currently reading Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Full Circle

Life seems to run in a series of spirals. I got into weaving because I was taking a spinning class at the local college. I learned how to spin - not well, but with enthusiasm - and sold my yarns for a time. I also used them for knitting and weaving. One of the first things I made in my weaving class was a wool jacket woven from my singles handspun.

When I started weaving I left spinning behind. Oh, I kept a wheel which I dragged out for demo's from time to time and then reluctantly sold it because it was such a lovely wheel it deserved to be used. But I did keep a drop spindle and for many years that was the tool of choice for demo's. So much easier to drag out than a larger wheel or loom!

In the last few years spinning wheels came into my life once again and with all the health issues I've had I have found myself spinning more often. I now have a box of handspun singles yarn I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with - but the loan of a rigid heddle loom means I may toss a few scarf warps on that.

Since I've been selling yarns for weaving for the last 10 years or so, I've added spinning fibres to my inventory. The latest are the fibres from River's Edge.

Carol has a nice line of merino/silk plus a 100% Polworth hand dyed top. I've not spun with Polworth before so that will be a new experience for me. I did spin up some of the RE merino/silk during the class last week.

Now I'm home with a fill-in order from Ashland Bay, and a suitcase full of spinning fibres from River's Edge. Both have to be made ready for the vendor hall at Fibres West next month in Abbottsford. Should there be any left I'll post to my website. Unless I decide to keep them for myself!

And I'm about to order a Joy spinning wheel. Round and round we go...........

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guest Blog

Teena has written out some thoughts about her experience at John C. Campbell:

I was thrilled to get the announcement of Laura's class so close to my home and signed up right away for a recent one at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

I had already been weaving for a long time but knew from reading Laura's blog regularly that I could probably learn a lot from her.

Though I have woven since the mid 70's, I never really tried to make a living at it. I was mostly self-taught, so I did not develop my skills in any consistent manner.

I was, however, interested in selling my work and realized that I had to be as efficient as possible so was not averse to learning new ways of doing things when I had the opportunity.

I had worked in an apparel company and near the factories and sometimes with the industrial engineers so I was aware of time and motion studies and tried to apply whatever I could get from other weavers and books, especially Allen Fannin's and later Peggy Ostercamp's books on the skills of warping the loom and weaving.

I tried Allen Fannin's method of threading but have never gotten to the point of being able to thread 800 in an hour. Threading is a large portion of the time of setting up the loom and even if that was the only thing I improved on, it would be worth it.

I also had retired a few years ago and am trying to market my work in a more serious way than I have for many years and wanted to be as efficient as I could to accomplish that.

Taking Laura's class was going to be the first time that I had ever concentrated on those technical skills all at once, as opposed to picking up tips here and there. Laura was a very good teacher. She has abundant knowledge. She is able to give her students instruction that will help them no matter what their equipment constraints or weaving interests since those are also factors in efficiency.

I realized, for example, that I might become able to thread 700-800 threads an hour in a straight draft, but maybe not if the threading was very complicated. Laura also made the point that there is a commitment in learning a more efficient skill if you already have muscle memory doing it some other way. I was ready for that, though I was surprised at her rule of thumb, that it might take seven warps to become accomplished! Made me realize the amount of perseverance required and not give up too soon, just because a different way of working is awkward at first.

Laura also warped and wove during the time of the class while we were working. This was very helpful to see how it could be possible. Just watching her body in motion was helpful.

Just to prove the effectiveness of the class, I was able to warp and weave 10 yards total in three days. (Snow covered roads kept me from the first two days of the class. But because of a lot of individual instruction, I was able to get two warps done in the time that I had left.)

Also the others in the class produced a lot of work. When we had our exhibit of student work at the end of the session, we had by far the largest amount of work to show off of any of the other classes there.

Back home I am still enthusiastic about my new way of threading and am using it exclusively. It is still awkward for me but I'm improving and I'm looking forward to beating my past self. (I have been keeping records all this time to price my work.) It makes it more pleasurable to get to the weaving as fast as possible.

I would recommend Laura's class for those who are just beginning to weave. Better to start at once learning good habits, than to wait 40 years to be your most efficient! But she had much for me to learn, as well.

Teena T.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Giant's Shoulders

Someone asked me recently how long one should give credit for learning something. I very flippantly said "forever".

Judith MacKenzie talks about present day weavers standing on the shoulders of giants. The creation of textiles has been happening for 30,000 plus years. Can anyone nowadays truly say they have dreamt up something that no one else has dreamt of in all that time? Perhaps. Certainly technology has changed, but the knowledge of how threads act and interact? Weave structures? Colour combinations?

Giving credit where credit is due is a sort of geneology of how the skein of knowledge has passed through your hands. It is also a way to honour those who have come before, a tip of the hat to those people who shared their knowledge with you. A way to remember those people who gave you illumination on your path through this varied and complex craft - and life.

Some of my mentors taught me about weaving. Some of them taught me about life. Some taught me about both. Remembering them reminds me of the gift I received from them and acknowledges their role in getting me to where I am today.

The list of people who have taught and/or mentored me is too long to list here and now. But I do remember. And I am very, very grateful to you all.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Working or Playing?

One of the great things about having other creative friends is that you can draw inspiration from them. Betty has the following quote posted on her studio wall and I've always loved it. Thought it was time to share it with you:

Master in the Art of Living

As a master in the art of living
you draw no distinction between
your work and your play,
your labour and your leisure,
your mind and your body,
your education and your recreation,
your love and your religion.

You hardly know which is which.

You simply pursue your vision of
excellence through whatever you
are doing and leave it to others
to determine if you are working
or playing - to yourself
you are always doing both.

James Michener

Michener has captured in words what I have felt since before I started weaving. I knew I had to have some component of creativity in my life every day. When I'm not weaving I feel somewhat lost, a bit adrift, and feel a longing to feel fibres run through my fingers.

When your play is your work, and your work is your play, why would you want to do anything else?

Friday, February 18, 2011

All Spun Out

It was a busy day, learning (and re-learning) some spinning techniques from Jacey Boggs.

When I learned how to spin many, many moons ago we learned a variety of techniques, one of which Jacey covered in depth today. Her method made good sense to me and I enjoyed it enough that I'm seriously thinking of getting a Joy with the jumbo bobbins and sliding 'hooks'. :)

You see, I've got about a bazillion yards of very fine wool that could easily be used as core yarn and I'm looking ahead to recuperation from surgery sometime soon. I won't be able to weave much, but I ought to be able to spin. :)

Having gone through the recovery period from my broken ankle a year ago, I know that I will need something to occupy my hands and my time!

The workshop was great for another reason - Janet (who I hadn't seen in person since 2003 or 4) and Syne were there so I had a chance to visit with them. Then for dinner Janet and her mom Sue, Janet's dh and Heather who was at JCC last month and I all got together for dinner.

So all in all it was a very satisfying although tiring day. :)

Tomorrow I'm going to stay at my friend's and do some handwork and chill. Then Sunday I'll go back to Madrona with Betty, we'll tour the vendor hall one more time, I'll talk to Selah about her doing some sewing for me, and pick up a loom from Syne. She's loaning me a rigid heddle loom on a stand - another recuperation toy - er, tool. :^)

Thank you to everyone who has commented on my crptic note a few days ago. Yes, I did get some health related news. I won't know details until more tests are done and I get a specific diagnosis.

Early diagnosis means that the outcome ought to be good although I expect I'll be having a bit of a challenge as we go through the process. Right now I have more questions than I have answers. I truly appreciate your comments and concerns.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Leaving Winter Behind - Again!

The drive down to Kelowna was pretty good once I finally left the snow gently falling behind. Stayed with friends, dropping the two computers off to be 'trained'.

Set off at 7 am this morning, braving the Coquihalla (mighty mean mountain road). There was some snow/slush/nastyness but only part way.

Got to Chilliwack where I easily found the address of the new home for the spinning wheel and loom and had a bit of a visit with the new owner. Took one of her spinning wheel hooks as part payment. :) If I could remember the vendor who is carrying them at Madrona, I'd mention it here but I don't. (Jude? Are you reading this?)

Generally the weather was good, the roads clear and I made it to Tacoma by 4 pm to register. Wandered the vendor hall eventually meeting up with my hostess. In the demo area we talked to a couple of people we knew and then one of them said she was on the way to crash Syne Mitchell and Selah Barling's class so Betty and I tagged along. :D Great fun to see some of the garments that had been made.

Afterwards Betty attended a meeting and I crashed that. It was great seeing the show and tell.

Now we've stayed up way late visiting but I'm headed for bed now. I was informed that I should get to the hotel by 8 am to make sure I get a parking spot. I also realized I crossed the border without any US cash so I should really find an ATM although so far everyone has taken a credit card.

At least I remembered my passport!

And Doug was dealing with 6" of fresh snow this morning. Poor boy. (Did that sound at all sincere????)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Road Trip

One loom with stand, two spinning wheels, one large suitcase, one spool rack with 40 spools, bag full of slides I need to go through tomorrow night at Allan and Sheila's, miscellaneous odds and ends plus two computers and my over night suitcase still be be loaded. That van is full!

In addition to dropping the computers and loom and one wheel off before I cross the border, I am also bringing some fabric for someone to sew up for me. The cloth was the 2nd place winner at the yardage exhibit in Vancouver 2002 and I really want it sewn up into a jacket for myself. Since I don't sew anywhere nearly as well as I weave I haven't had the intestinal fortitude to do it myself.

But I know someone who is a tailor and since she will also be at Madrona (lucky coincidence?) I emailed and asked if she would be interested. She is, so the fabric is packed into the large suitcase.

I also have the cross stitch, which, unfortunately needs some assembly - hopefully the mom of the giftee won't mind doing the last bit. :}

This trip, which was supposed to be just a quick drive down and back has expanded into a week long jaunt. I can't believe how many things fell into place to make the drive down - in February (you have to be used to winter driving conditions to truly appreciate the adventure this might have been - it looks like I'm going to get lucky with the weather) worthwhile.

Since I received rather unsettling news this afternoon - I really, truly was not expecting that particular message - I am setting all the uncertainty behind me and just looking forward to some time alone (8 hours Wed., another 8 hours Thurs) to metabolize the news and get - I was going to say comfortable but that's really not the right word - accepting - of what I was told. And to focus on the positive elements of the situation.

And spend some quality time with some fibre-y friends.


Since I wasn't happy with the hem area of the illusion towels, I changed it to a 1/3 twill. I'd originally thought to have a mostly red hem, but decided I liked the beige better:

One of the great advantages of a computer aided loom is that I can program the entire treadling repeat for an item including the cut line and then I can just weave without thinking too much. Surface attention is required, of course, because the loom can go wrong! But if everything is working well only surface attention is required and I can get into the zone. It's like a working meditation with the added bonus of doing an aerobic workout, getting the benefit of the exercise and the endorphins that dump into your system as a result. What's not to love? :)

As previously mentioned I'm weaving this warp under high tension. Checking my twill angle you can clearly see that at 40 epi and 36 ppi, the twill angle is steeper than the ideal of 45 degrees.

OTOH, since the warp is being held under high tension and I'm measuring under tension, plus the fact that the cotton will contract at a higher % than the linen weft, I expect that once wet finished this fabric will be very close to the ideal.

So how do I achieve the degree of tension I need for this warp?

The balance arm is jammed up against the loom frame.

Now I have been publicly chastised for telling people I do this because it can't possibly work, so don't try this at home, folks.

Oh - the string hanging down toward the front of the loom is a 'sling' that I use to hold the balance arm when the brake is disengaged.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Different Roses

We are all different because we have stopped to smell different roses and knelt at different graves. Rumi (paraphrased)

This afternoon it took me about 40 minutes to thread/sley and tie on this silk gimp warp. The dark brown will be the weft.

When I was younger I thought I knew the 'right' way to weave. Experience has taught me that the only 'right' method I know is the one that is right for me.

That said, if someone isn't happy with their results, perhaps they need to look at a different method.

Human beings are wonderful at what I call magical thinking. We think to ourselves, well, last time didn't work out so great but this time I'll do exactly the same thing and it will turn out differently.

Ya, right.

Some people express amazement at how prolific I am in terms of weaving. It's almost embarassing to have them be so admiring. My secret is simply that I've honed my skills and gotten very efficient at what I do.

Take the above warp. It's silk gimp, a not paricularly friendly yarn. It's stretchy, lots of texture and a fair amount of twist in it. The warp has been hand painted so it's not pristine. And yet, there it is - all ready to go after taking about 20 minutes this morning to beam it, and 40 minutes to do the rest.

(Warp is 5 yards long, 180 ends, threaded a straight twill progression.)

What I do is no secret. If people are interested in what I do I'm happy to show them, either in person at workshops or via this blog, You Tube, whatever. I've been asked to do presentations at conferences (NEWS in July) and to return to John C. Campbell Folk School next year (March) to share my methods.

But changing what one does means first erasing muscle memory. And that is not easy. It takes concentrated effort to over rule what the muscle knows and is comfortable doing in order to allow it to learn something new.

I give myself 7 warps to learn a new technique. I've found that it takes about that long to first erase the muscle memory, then lay down the new physical skill so that it becomes the new default muscle memory.

But waiting at the hospital for the surgeon reminded me that while we are all the same, we are also all different. The lady next to me had broken her left ankle 3 months ago. She was still limping heavily and had not yet been able to return to work.

OTOH, I was back weaving before I could walk - and while I'm not 'comfortable' I can pretty much do what ever I want to do. The surgeon even asked me if I had been able to return to work - er, yes, it's been my primary therapy for recovery from this little misadventure! :D

Unfortunately the surgery to remove the hardware is considered elective and I will have to wait until such time as he can fit me into his schedule - between 6 to 9 months. I'm not thrilled about the wait, but since it's just a matter of comfort for me, of course other more critical cases have to be seen to first.

In the meantime I'll continue to count my blessings because I can walk without difficulty (very much), and I can weave. And it looks like both my surgeries will get done before the end of the year so I'm keeping fingers crossed that 2012 will be the start of a much more comfortable life.

Currently reading Murder in the Place of Anubis by Lynda S. Robinson (waiting to see the surgeon gave me 2 hours of reading time so I finished my last book!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be Kind... everyone you meet - all are fighting a great battle.
(Greek philosopher, name escapes me)

Silk gimp warp with weft....

A great many years ago I was having problems with muscle spasms and chronic pain. During a conversation with Allen Fannin I asked him how he managed to weave so much. He told me he was in pain every single day but if he didn't weave his family had no income. Since Doug and I were in the same position, he essentially told me to suck it up and just get to the loom.

Always one for plain speaking, Allen was. :}

Over the years I've become aware of how many people are dealing with something challenging. I don't think there are very many truly 'healthy' people! We all just do the best we can with the cards that we have been dealt with. Ultimately we have two choices. We can bow to the infirmity and let it set the parameters of our accomplishments, or we can acknowledge that we are battling and do it anyway.

Of course it isn't always that clear cut. Some days the battle is just too great.

Today is one of those days for me - almost too much. One of the things I've been dealing with the last few years is sleep disruption. Either I can't get to sleep in the first place, or I wake up after about 4 hours and can't get back to sleep. Sleep deprivation means my body isn't able to function properly and all my aches and pains are magnified.

Since I can't sleep during the day (unless I'm ailing with something) laying down isn't productive and I just get vexed because I'm not getting anything done. Even if that anything is just sitting and reading. :}

After pressing for a couple of hours my ankle is burning and my neck is aching so weaving on the AVL just isn't going to be possible. Instead I sleyed the silk gimp warp and checked the yarn I was going to use for weft and decided the green wasn't the right colour or value and grabbed this darker purple instead.

The warp has just a little green in it - as the warp goes on there is more of the red/purple so I think in the end the dark purple will be much more effective than the lighter, brighter green.

The added benefit is that weaving such an open cloth means that I'm not really going to be beating as such - just gently placing the weft in place.

And I think that if I can get into the rhythm of weaving I may actually weave fast enough to be gently aerobic and possibly dump some endorphins into my system which will make me feel better. And I'll certainly feel better having accomplished something productive.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seein' Red

Someone asked on Weavolution (I think it was) if people had a favourite weave structure or pattern that they keep coming back to. The above is one of mine. It's done on a 16 shaft point twill progression and is easy-peasy to weave with a dobby. It doesn't look it's best as it is on the loom under tension, but once wet finished the design resolves nicely into an illusion of plain weave. The bottom of the cloth shows the hem area which I'm not thrilled with, so I just finished re-tooling the hem into a broken 1/3 twill which will provide a nearly solid red hem for the face of the fabric and provide a nice border, I think.

And here is the waffle weave after wet finishing. I got enough woven that I could cut the cloth at the cloth storage beam and wet finish the 6 yard length of proto-type fabric plus one of the two waffle towels I wove. I am very happy with the results, although have no idea if anyone will want to buy them. But I'm happy enough with them that I think I will go back and do some more once I've finished the rather large cone of singles 12 linen I'm currently using on the woven illusion above. If there is any warp left, that is. I may be forced to do another warp just so I can weave some more of these towels? Or perhaps something else will capture my imagination.

In other news I've been working on paperwork - show applications, teaching handouts and such - and have been mulling over a one day workshop on working with colour. One group has offered to beta-test the topic, so that may join my offerings for next year. Since I haven't tooled up any new topics in quite a while, I suppose it's time?

Currently reading Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin - really liking this author - thanks to Jamie for the recommendation! It takes place during the reign of Henry II so falls nicely into place having just finished Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman

Friday, February 11, 2011


This morning I started working on the handout for the workshops and seminars in Quebec.

One of the huge challenges is going to be the fact that everything will have to be translated into French. Now, I'm used to speaking extemporaeously, so this event is going to be challenging on several levels. :)

However, I did manage to figure out how to scan things and it's beginning to look like the best way to approach at least one of my topics is to be a lot more 'formal' and do a Power Point presentation.

Much of the information in A Good Yarn is quite technical (see image above) and if I can get these pages translated, I could do an English and a French Power Point presentation and have both running side by side.

Or at least, that's my thinking now.

I still have to do the general session address and a Power Point presentation for that, too.

This dinosaur is going to be dragged into the technology one way or another, looks like. :^)

Currently reading Side Jobs by Jim Butcher

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waffling Around

A couple of years ago I messed around with waffle weave for towels. (before and after samples above)

Well, I wanted to revisit the towels I designed after doing the above sampling, but it appears that when I upgraded my computer, I 'lost' a bunch of my files. I think I remember shrugging resignedly at the time thinking I would not be wanting any of the files I 'lost', knowing that I could reconfigure anything I truly needed to.

And so I came up with this:

showing the hem and the first band of twill between the waffle areas

So many people get concerned about weaving waffle weave because the plain weave hems they use to finish their towels off flare so extremely in comparison to the body of the towel. To get around this draw in discrepency, I chose to use a 2/2 twill treadled in a point progression, and then inserted bands of the same twill into the towel body.

When the waffle contracts, the bands of twill will 'collapse' so that the hems will not look out of place. The discrepency has now become a design element.

The waffle I'm using on the red warp is a bit smaller from the looks of it, plus the waffle dimples are rectangular, not square. They also change direction so I'm very interested to see how that will affect the textile after wet finishing.

And no, I haven't done a sample. This time I'm winging it and letting the final results be a surprise. Let's hope it's a happy one. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feelin' the Burn

the fruit of my labours....

With this batch (and the previous batch) of colours, I was mainly trying to get some weft for the painted warps I have yet to weave up for shawls. What little of the silk gimp I had on hand already was varigated and not in a way that I was confident would look good on the painted warps.

The first batch of brown was too golden, but I got enough of the darker brown in the second batch for the 3 or 4 warps that brown will look good with.

The darker green in the middle was a happy accident - I was just dumping whatever dye was left into the pot and this lovely blue/green was the result. It will go with a couple of the warps as well. And I got some great dark purple for the painted warps, too.

The varigated pink/purple is some test skeins I'm considering dyeing for re-sale.

One of the disadvantages of being away for 3.5 weeks is that I wasn't getting my usual exercise during that time. Since it only takes a few days for muscles to deteriorate, my muscles are protesting my leap back into the fray.

Weaving on the AVL is much more tiring than usual because I'm out of practise. So, rather than weave again after dyeing all afternoon, I wound up doing some other stuff.

Like fringe twisting. Managed to get two scarves done while watching some tv tonight - only 28 to go.

But I also picked up books from the library this afternoon and I think I'm going to go do some reading now.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Admitting Defeat

I want this fabric to be sturdy, so chose a set of 40 epi. If you click on the photo you should be able to see the first tie up I used (the lower end, rounding the beam) which had a lot of plain weave in it with just a little twill for flexibility.
Unfortunately this weave structure at this set with these yarns did not want to beat in square, even with the use of a temple.
After nearly half a yard of fighting with the loom and the yarns, I decided to change the tie up to have more floats and tried again. It still wasn't beating in square so I decided to admit defeat and do what the loom and yarns wanted to do in this instance. Since I'm weaving under quite high tension, I figure that once the fabric is wet finished it will likely end up pretty close to square anyway. So why fight it?
When I decided to do what the loom/yarn wanted to do I had to figure out what the actual ppi was. So I took a contrasting yarn and laid it into the shed, wove 40 picks and wove in the other end of the contrasting colour. Then I measured how long those 40 picks were actually taking up and figured 36 would be a much better ppi - one that would allow the weft to beat in the way it wanted to beat in and yet still wouldn't be too far off 'ideal'.
Decided that the more elaborate twill was much more visually interesting and decided not to change that but leave it as it is.
I can weave about 24 picks before needing to move the temple so I count to 24, put down the shuttle and move the temple. Yes, it's slow - much slower than I prefer to weave - but that is what it is going to take to get this fabric woven.
Once I'm done with this I can switch to a different weft, weave structure and purpose - shawls don't need to be anywhere near as sturdy as this cloth - and continue without the temple.
With 40 yards on the beam, using up this much yarn to sample isn't a hardship. I know that most people don't have the luxury of 'wasting' that much yarn sampling for a project. But this fabric won't be 'wasted'. I'll give it to my local guild for samples for the newsletter.
The guild has discussed from time to time sending out electronic newsletters but several of our guild members don't even own computers, let alone get on to the internet, so for now we're still sending out paper newsletters and samples when ever someone has one to share.


After a jet-lag induced slow start to the week, I've had a satisfying couple of days.

Yesterday I threaded, sleyed and tied on the 2/20 mercerized cotton warp I beamed on the AVL on Friday and will start weaving today. The first 6 yards will be woven with a temple because of the density of cloth I want to build. The rest should go fairly quickly as shawls (with Tencel as weft) and tea towels (with cotton or linen as weft). I put 40 yards on so I will likely do a couple of shawls before starting the towels.

This morning Doug started work at 8 am so I was up fairly early (for me). I got to the annex by 10:30 and started pressing - 3 shawls, 14 scarves.

I confess I find the pressing the most tedious of the various tasks involved in creating textiles. But since it is absolutely necessary I try to space out my trips to Puff - no more than once a week. :) When I get there - usually on a Sunday so as to avoid the neighbours and lack of parking - I crank the stereo up loud and listen to music while I press. It takes about 20-25 minutes for the boiler to heat up so while that's happening I either read or try to straighten out the stuff stored there. This morning I was re-arranging the spinning fibres because I have a customer on Tuesday, plus I need to see if I have to order more fibres in.

Now I'm home for lunch and as soon as that's done I'll fire up the AVL and finish tweaking the auto-cloth advance in order to start weaving. The first bit will be slow so it will feel good to get that out of the way first. And I can return the small temple I borrowed in order to weave the cloth.

Tuesday evening I'll take the bucket of pressed items to the guild room and trim them there. It's also a job I find a bit tedious, so doing it with company will make it seem to go more quickly.

And later today I have to clear off the d/r table, balance my ledger and then set up my fringe twisting area again. I've a bucket of scarves woven in December that have to be twisted, then wet finished. I am determined to get on top of the wet finishing and utilize Puff as much as possible before I bite the bullet and get rid of him once and for all.

Can you tell I'm dragging my feet on that????

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Little OCD (and a lot of regret....)

Blue Angel - being finished and yet to have it's final pressing....

In the 1990's I started doing cross stitch designs. Not just any old design, only ones by a particular designer - Marilyn Levitt Inblum if I remember correctly. Being a little OCD I did many of her designs over a 10 year period until I realized that my eyesight just wasn't allowing me to work with the fine threads that she used for her angels. I never did finish the last one I was working on - the 6 shades of flesh on the natural linen worked petit point fashion? - well, let's just say I couldn't see well enough to complete it.

This one, however, I had finished stitching - I'd just never gotten around to getting it framed. It was intended for my brother and sad to say, he never got it. From time to time I'd unearth it and feel a pang of regret for never getting it to him. Would having a guardian angel have helped him? Who knows. It would have helped me to have given it to him.

Since it was all done except for the presentation I didn't have the heart to dispose of it so it has kicked around for 3 years with me unable to finish it or get rid of it.

Finally I decided I needed to give it to someone else. Since I can't afford to have it professionally framed, I bought some dark blue fabric to back it and bind the edges - at the same time making hanging tabs. I'm in the midst of doing the hand stitching to finish it off with the intention of pressing it, packaging it up and bringing it with me on my next trip to give to a friend for her son. With it will go my best wishes for his happiness and I suspect that he will appreciate it for what it is. But it will mean so much more to me to have it grace someone else's walls and life.

I rather suspect Don would approve.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Updating Schedule

While I was away the brochure for NEWS arrived. I'm looking for another group in the New England area (or at least further east than the mid-West) to share travel costs with NEWS. The dates for the NEWS conference are July 14-17. Any groups interested in having a workshop with me either side of those dates?

Their website is not active yet but when it is you can find it at

I'll be presenting at the Assoc. of Quebec Weavers the first weekend in June, followed by vending at HWSDA in Calgary AB. There is also a fibre festival in Grand Forks, BC in August which I'm just waiting to hear back from re: seminars. One of the topics they've requested is The Business of Weaving. I'm sure people will want to discuss pricing as that seems to be the most difficult thing of all for people who want to sell their textiles to come to terms with.

Today I dealt with some sample skeins for dyeing from Ashland Bay. They have a lovely light weight mohair boucle. I've designed a knitted scarf using the boucle and their lace weight merino/silk blend that I think ought to look really nice - I'll start knitting that tonight in undyed yarns just so I can see if it's going to work out like I think (hope?) it will.

Once I have some of the yarn dyed I'll work on a woven scarf, too. I have to start thinking ahead to the fall sales and what I'm going to do re: vending yarns. It's so very tempting to just sell off what I've got and down size that aspect of the studio. OTOH, sales of textiles are practically nil from January to August so selling yarns at least keeps some cash flowing during those 'down' times.

The good news is that my other upright wheel has sold - after the Jacey Boggs workshop. I need that wheel for the workshop. Bad enough I'm such a novice spinner - I at least have to show up with a wheel! Although I'm sure my friend would be happy to loan me a wheel, I may as well use one I'm used to using. :}

This morning the silk shawl warp got threaded, sleyed and tied on. Now to go weave a shawl. There are 19 more warps and I need more colours for weft so having a dye day on Monday is imperative!

Guess I'd better go down there and do something about getting that shawl woven.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CD Weaver

In spite of continuing jet lag issues - which should, hopefully, be over tomorrow or the next day, not to mention more appointments and Blackberry issues, now fixed, thankfully - I did finally manage to get some work done today.

One of the things that has been preying on my mind is whether or not to continue to produce CD Weaver. Bear in mind the year these were developed - 2004. Since then computers have changed vastly - Vista, and Windows 7, not to mention the Mac changes. It's been a scramble to stay on top of the changes.

I only have four CD Weavers left so today I decided that I would not continue to produce them and removed them from my Art Fire store and had my web master remove the page from my website. But I'm left with four CD Weavers. What to do with them?

The answer - give them away.

So, the next four orders of Magic in the Water will come with a complementary CD Weaver as a bonus gift.

This afternoon I got back to the skein winding and after dinner threaded the small loom as well. I can start weaving tomorrow. I'll likely do a batch of wet finishing over the weekend, and dye on Monday.

The good news is that both the small loom and one of the spinning wheels are sold and will be delivered on my trip south in two weeks, plus another person is interested in the other upright wheel. I'll keep that until after the Jacey Boggs workshop and then sell it if the person decides to take it.

Most of my spinning lately has been done on the turkish drop spindle, and Doug says he'll fix the more traditional wheel that isn't working due to a wonky tensioning system so I won't be entirely wheel-less.


With much regret it is time to find a new home for Puff. I have loved the ease with which I can apply a hard press to my textiles using the industrial steam press but the rent on the annex has climbed to a point where I can no longer afford to keep the space. And, since there is no room in my studio to accomodate such equipment, Puff has to find a new home.

Puff is driven by a small (referred to as a 'baby') boiler which is used in many homes that have hot water heat. The vacumm that drives the steam through the system is in the background. The system requires a heavy duty (like a stove) electrical connection.

Puff is made of cast iron and has a large bed - around 30 inches long and 14" wide. (I neglected to get measurements last night when Doug took these photos.) The boiler is supplied with filtered water and a gravity feed. If used for home heating, the boiler gets hooked up to the house water supply.

The lid clamps down and steam can be driven through the texile or not as required.

Puff weighs about 450 pounds and we hired a self-loading truck to deliver to the annex. If anyone is interested in Puff and/or the boiler contact me.