Monday, August 29, 2011
Wherein I Take Another Stab at the Stash
The baby wraps were not particularly hard or difficult to weave but since the loom was giving me the fits during the weaving of both 30 yard warps I'd pretty much had it with 2/20 mercerized cotton warps and fly shuttles. For a while at least.
Not to mention I really need to continue to de-stash in a very serious way.
The 2/30 silk had been on spools for - oh, way too many years. If memory serves (not that it is these days - serving that is) this yarn is left over from weaving the samples for Magic. So we're talking at least 10 years. (And OMG, does time ever fly by quickly when you're not paying attention!)
I'm relieved to say that I emptied, or nearly emptied, a quite large number of spools. The bad news is that there are still way too many spools left with serious amounts of silk on them. Which means I either wind more spools of the 2/20 silk on cones and do a mixed warp or I think of something very creative to do with the left over yarn.
(The little bits of yarn left will go to my lace making buddies - there's far too little to weave with, too much to throw away and lots to make many lace bookmarks, or other lace goodies. And I like enabling my fibre friends.)
I did think of using some of the left over silk yarn as weft on this warp but the intention was to use up some of the very large (2 pounds?) of tussah silk in a rather bland sage green. I may wind up doing some of each even though the warp isn't all that long as I wimped out and only did 20 yards instead of 30, fearing I would run out of silk. (Ha!)
At any rate, the intention here is to dye the scarves after weaving. The tussah silk will take the dye differently than the white silk and should look quite nice.
Now that I've got the header woven and am satisfied that the treadling will work (no outside ends falling out of the cloth, etc) it's time for lunch, the chiropractor (my back is slightly 'out' but I know from experience that it won't go back 'in' by itself and why wait until it gets truly painful?), the guild room to thread that overshot pattern and then maybe come home and hemstitch and start weaving the first scarf.
We'll see how the best laid plans go.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Another Mini-Milestone (or two)
This morning I went up to the annex and did some more pressing. The colours of the Fox Fibre yarns are actually a little more intense than shown here - guess the flash wiped some of the intensity out.
From the left - 50% green, 25% green, 50% brown, 25% brown, then regular 2/16 unmerc. cotton in cream and on the far right, natural white wefts. I was going to put some of the 'raw' yarn on the cloth to show the change in colour - and I forgot. Brain is truly not firing on all cylinders these days. :(
Three of the wraps are almost ready to go. I still have to sew the Fox Fibre label onto the two FF wraps that are ready, measure them and attach the care/hang tag. The other three will get sewn some time this week, depending on how I feel after Wednesday.
In the meantime I have a long list of things that need to be done yet, including threading the guild loom on Monday, drive mom to her doctor's appointment and so on. I'm still hoping to get the silk scarf warp sleyed and tied on today but it doesn't look like I'll get any weaving done. We'll see how things go on Monday - hopefully I can at least get the first scarf started.
My web master made a truly Herculean effort last week and it looks like he's getting very close to finalizing the transfer of Magic to digital format.
Since word of mouth is the most effective marketing tool I'd appreciate it if you, dear readers, would pass the word that Magic will be available sometime in September in digital format. I'm taking names and making up a contact list to let people know when I have cd's in hand and available to ship. For those who prefer a 'real' book with actual fabric samples - there are still 14 abridged copies of Magic left. They are listed on my Art Fire store http://laurafry.artfire.com/
People on my contact list will receive their copies of digital Magic first, then I will be listing it on my Art Fire store as well.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
From time to time I wind up being a 'ghost weaver'. In other words I weave for someone else. In this instance I'm not doing the weaving, just dressing the loom for another guild member.
She wanted a 15 yard warp, which is about 3 yards longer than I can do on my warping board. However another guild member had her large warping mill in the guild room so I asked if I could use it. Here is the warp about 1/3 wound. I made it a little bit longer. Each side of the mill is 27" or about 3/4 of a yard.
Here is the warp all ready to go.
The warp went into a plastic bucket and then I started rough sleying. The set on this warp will be 18 epi. I used a 4 dent reed and sleyed four per dent except for every 8th dent where I put 8. That's why it's called 'rough' sleying. :)
Just beginning to beam the warp. I split the warp chain into two because I don't have a warping valet to help hold the warp and I felt 18" was just too wide to try and weight with just one water jug.
And here it is - ready to thread. I'll go back on Monday and do that.
Currently reading Triumph at Kapyong; Canada's pivotal battle in Korea
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The weaving of these shawls went like the proverbial hare. The finishing, however, is proceeding like his opponent, the tortoise.
What many people don't understand is that the basic construction of hand made items can go quite quickly. The finishing details - well, quite often that takes as long - or longer!
So it seemed appropriate today - the day I was supposed to get my next chemo but my white cell count isn't good enough to go ahead and another week delay has happened - to remind myself that I have been accomplishing things. That in spite of the current challenges I am not stymied in my life or my work. That progress is being made, life goes on and that eventually I will see the end of this particular stretch of the road, just like I am beginning to see a dent in the pile of finishing that accumulated earlier in the year.
Later today I'll pack up some of these shawls and put them into the mail. And then I'll get back to more fringe twisting. I think I wove something like 58 shawls of this type. I'm far from done with the fringe twisting, but at least the mountain is being eroded by working on it a little bit every day.
For now it's back to the loom. I need a little weaving/physical activity therapy today.
Monday, August 22, 2011
All Wrapped Up!
stack of 'finished' wraps
sewing the 'hand woven by Laura Fry' label into the seam
The thing about weaving is that what you are mostly making is squares or rectangles. Towels, place mats, shawls, scarves, table cloths. Rectangles. Or squares.
Generally if you are making something out of your fabric, you can make any sort of shape you want, like garments. Or bags. Or - well, your imagination is the limit.
I'm not a seamstress. Yes, I can sew - if I have to. But to make a garment that fits well and doesn't look home made instead of hand made - well, I would rather be weaving.
So when I was approached last December about making baby wraps, I thought that would be a great new product for me. I wove a prototype and then could not contact the person who asked me about it - their email elicited no reply, a message left on their voice mail garnered no return call. So I boxed the prototype up and pretty much forgot about it.
Until I met my latest student. :) She's a big fan of baby wraps and essentially wanted to learn how to weave so that she could make herself baby wraps. I remembered my prototype and found it in the store room (a bit of a miracle, really!) and gave it to her to test drive.
Her feedback was great and I revisited the idea with her input. And now I have 3 completed wraps with 3 more yet to come, possibly 4, because I made a couple of them shorter than originally planned.
Whether or not the baby wearing community will be interested in my baby wraps is yet to be determined. But I feel confident I've got a product that will perform well and, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And besides, they are rectangles. If they don't sell as baby wraps I can always cut them down into table cloths or something, right?
Digital Magic in the Water
My web master started work on converting the project pages into a pdf format. Just a teaser - here is what Project 1 looks like - the draft info is included on the following page. This is one of those samples that doesn't look a whole lot different after wet finishing. Click to biggify - you should be able to read the text.
The text pages have been proof read and sent to my web master as of this morning. Looks like we are on track for late September publication. :) And yes, there are still 15 copies of abrided Magic left for people would would like some actual fabric samples.
Currently reading Hangman by Faye Kellerman
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I'm quite pleased with the results. The green and brown are the Fox Fibre weft yarn, the white uses 'ordinary' 2/16 cotton in natural for weft. The pattern in the two Fox Fibre cloths is quite subtle now but shows up when viewed from different angles. I like the way it plays peek-a-boo. ;)
The warp is over the half way mark now although I'm not exactly sure how far. I'll measure the 3 pieces tomorrow when they are dry and get them sewn up. I've got massage tomorrow afternoon so probably won't weave after that - sewing these items will likely be a better activity (and let my neck muscles rest from weaving).
I'd hoped to have this warp off the loom before Wednesday but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. I'm thinking the next warp might be a silk scarf warp. I've got a bunch of 2/20 natural white silk already on spools so beaming that warp will be easy. For weft I have some finer tussah silk. Since I can only sell a few 'white' scarves I'll probably weave them up and then dye them after weaving. Which means a hem stitched end, not fringe twisting. :) I've got way more fringe twisting to do, I really don't need to add to that mountain of finishing work.
The really nice thing about hem stitching is that no further 'finishing' is required once off the loom. And hem stitching a scarf really doesn't take all that long.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
That Old Magic in the Water
light green on left, light brown on right before wet finishing
It truly felt like magic in the water! The wefts before finishing were quite subtle. After wet finishing they turned darker and took on a lot more definition. And these are spun with just 25% of the naturally coloured cotton.
The colours may deepen further yet although I'm not sure because I haven't sampled them to test how far they will go.
Sometimes it's nice to have an element of surprise. Plus my target market is aware of these yarns and that they will change colour. Or at least some of them are, from what I understand. Lots to learn about the customer base yet.
For more information on naturally grown coloured cotton you might find this website interesting:
naturally coloured cotton
Thursday, August 18, 2011
More of the Same
One of the things that you have to do when you are trying to earn an income from making things is to show up for work. Every day.
You have to make working a priority. And sometimes there are tasks involved that you don't much like or care to do but they need to be done and someone has to do them. Most times that someone is you.
For me, the weaving is the fun part, the zen part, the part that, once I get into the 'groove' - well, the time just flies by. Usually I put on a cd or cassette tape and when it ends I'm reminded to take a break.
Doesn't matter much what it is I'm weaving. I just love to be weaving. Some things I love more than others, naturally, but when I'm doing something that isn't on the top of my list of favourite things, it's usually because it is necessary to achieve the quality of cloth that I desire.
So it is with this cloth. I decided that I really truly needed to use a temple. Now I don't like using a temple because moving it forward every inch slows me down. But in the long run I'm much happier with the results and once I get into the rhythm of 32 picks, move temple, it actually goes fairly quickly. Faster than hand throwing, even.
So I finished the light brown weft cloth, partly because I have a potential client and she wanted the cloth shorter than what I'd planned, wound the pirns for the medium green and got nearly 20" of that woven before quitting for the night.
I even managed to do a tiny bit of paperwork and fringe twist.
All in all, a pretty good day.
Currently reading Downpour by Kat Richardson
Photos of Samples for Magic in the Water
after wet finishing above, before wet finishing below
Project number 5 is one of the more obvious differences in the before and after appearance of the cloth. Not all cloth changes quite so dramatically.
I spent an hour or so getting ready before my friend came over and then we spent some time getting the camera and samples where they needed to be, turned on the photographic light and between the two of us had quite an assembly line going. What would have taken me several hours to do on my own, the two of us (many hands make light work) took about an hour.
Leaving everything set up we sat down for a visit, restorative cup of tea and some good chuckles. Laughter truly is the best medicine!
Although I really wanted to do some weaving I decided not to procrastinate and get the rest of the job done in case I had to re-take any of the photos.
By the time I finished I was way too tired to try to do any weaving and decided to just wait until morning and cleared away the set up so that we could have our living room back before Doug got home from work.
There is still a great deal of work to be done by my webmaster but other than doing the bibliography and bio, I think my part is done. Whew!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
So instead I waited until Doug left for work then dragged everything up to the living room. You can see just how dull the day is in this photo. I didn't turn the photographic flood light on for the picture.
I have prepared all the samples by opening the staples from the back side but not yet removing them. I'll do that as they get photographed. Number 1 is ready to go, centred in the camera lens. I'll trust Karen's younger eyes to decide if the macro range I've chosen is actually in focus or not. It looks good to me, but I'm not trusting my eyes much these days.
With two of us the photography ought to go much more quickly than with one and I'm hoping to get everything done in a couple of hours. And then I will have to crop the images, which I hope I can do tomorrow. Or maybe even work on some tonight, although I do want to do some weaving today, too.
My proof reader has done several pages and found 13 typos so far - 'an' instead of 'and' and so on. Stuff spellcheck won't catch and my eyes/brain did not process.
This whole project had taken on mountainous proportions. I'm pleased that it seems to be coming together relatively quickly.
ps - as well as the original 20 projects I will also be including the supplemental info from CD Weaver III as an appendix - It Isn't Finished - which has 5 additional samples.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This is another variation of Wall of Troy. I'm very happy with the subtle undulations happening in the cloth which help to break up the very rigid stripes. Not that I don't like stripes, but sometimes it's fun to have something 'other' happening visually to add interest to the cloth. Especially for the intended purpose of this fabric.
(Still not ready for the big reveal - waiting for feedback from an end-user.)
Weaving has been progressing more slowly than I'd like, but the text edits for Magic are 95% done. All that's left is the bibliography - and the bio, which I'd totally forgotten about and still need to do. The rest of the pages have gone off to another pair of eyes because I'm not entirely trusting mine - nor my brain - at the moment. :) Besides, someone else always sees the typos more clearly than the person who wrote the text in the first place - their brain knows what it meant to say!
Yes, I'm using a temple on this cloth. I tried without but wasn't entirely satisfied with the situation. I finally broke down and ordered a temple last week and Maurice Brassard et fils and Canada Post co-operated in getting it to me on Monday.
The really good news is that the loom is fixed - and as near as I can tell, no oil on the cloth. I'll find out for sure once I cut it off the cloth storage roller.
Currently reading Monster in the Box by Ruth Rendell
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Equipment Fail Part II
As part of the diagnostic process Doug had turned up the oil flow on the oiler and while following hoses hither and thither I guess the routing of the exhaust hoses got disturbed.
All of that is to say that when I started weaving in earnest yesterday, I noticed that there was a great deal of oil all over the right hand side of the loom.
A very great deal. In fact, it was fairly dripping off the metal rollers and loom cross members, although it looks like it missed the cloth. I'll find out when I take it off the cloth storage beam. If there is some oil on the cloth I'm hoping that I'll be able to scour it out in the wet finishing. :(
It would appear that one or more of the hoses actually wormed its way out of the jug used to catch the exhaust so that the oil was simply spraying out into the air. Either that or it was spraying out of the jug itself. Or both.
Needless to say I did not weave today at all as Doug was working today. He got the hoses sorted out tonight, turned down the oil flow and tomorrow I'll start weaving again, this time watching to see if there is further spray back from the exhaust hoses.
The photo above isn't in focus - it was really hard to crouch down beside the loom and get a photo of the tangle of hoses on the right side of the loom. The black hoses are the air supply, the white/clear ones are the exhaust hoses.
Again, this photo doesn't tell the whole story as there are yet more hoses at the front of the loom too.
When the loom is working properly it's a joy to weave on. But when you add this much mechanical and pneumatic assistance, there are times when it does go wrong. Unfortunately I'm not a very patient person so the process last week of figuring out what was wrong and then having to wait while Doug found the correct parts and fixed it was very stressful for me. :(
However rather than fret about it today I went pressing, then came home and worked on Magic edits, did some spinning, read for a while, visited with my friend across the street and even did a bit of fringe twisting. So it wasn't an unproductive day - just one without weaving. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to finish the first Fox Fibre cloth and start on the next one.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Currently reading Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
with just the beginning of the 25% green Fox Fibre yarn showing at the top - click to biggify
Yesterday the fly shuttle on the left hand side began to fail again. I wasn't able to 'throw' from the left hand side at all with just half a yard left to weave of the white weft cloth so I finished that off last night by hand throwing.
This morning Doug examined the piston and air system and we think we have finally diagnosed the problem. Unfortunately we're not sure what the fix will be. I offered my opinion but Doug doesn't agree so he'll try to consult with some pneumatic people and see what they recommend.
Which meant that I still can't use the fly shuttle today. Since I was anxious to start the Fox Fibre cloth it meant I was back to hand throwing this afternoon.
Are fly shuttles really that much faster? Oh yes. In the same time I was able to weave a yard and a bit (45 minutes) with the fly shuttle, I was only able to just barely scrape through 18 inches of woven cloth using a hand shuttle. Which wouldn't be bad in itself, but the cloth is just wide enough that it puts stress on my neck and so I'm feeling the strain now. Rather than weave again I may just shut the loom down and get cracking on the Magic text edits. Well, I won't shut the loom down yet - but I will open those text files. My web master will be home from his holiday today and he'll likely be expecting some work. :}
Currently reading A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. In spite of the very English setting and characters in this book the author is actually Canadian. I can't remember who recommended the series but I'm very much enjoying it and hoping AB is busy writing the next one!
Monday, August 8, 2011
One box of yarn and half a dozen silk gimp shawls boxed up, ready to go to the post office. Crossing things off my to-be-done list, one at a time.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Whittling Away the Pile
I weave some waste yarn to use as a cutting line, then roll the warp forward about 6" and weave in a few more picks of waste yarn. The waste yarn nearest the weaving gets cut away in small amounts - about 3 to 4 inches worth at a time - then gets pulled out. And then I twist all of the loose fringe before I pull out the next bit of waste yarn.
The book is an atlas and provides enough weight that I can pull against the cloth to keep the threads all nice and neatly in alignment while twisting. I use a small hand held twister (manual, not battery) that Doug built for me, and count how many twists per bout. If you can't be perfect, be consistent! After wet finishing I trim the wisps of the yarn away so that the fringe looks like it's beaded, not fuzzy.
It's a lovely day today with the sun shining brilliantly. Not too hot but finally, a taste of summer. And the lovely brilliant reds/oranges/yellows of this shawl are happy colours, too.
P. S. - did you know it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown? :)
Saturday, August 6, 2011
I've spent a couple of quiet days, resting and working on getting some inventory ready to ship for the show in September. There is now a box of hand dyed silk gimp yarn ready to go and this bucket of hand spun is on it's way. I spent much of the afternoon weighing the skeins, counting how many strands in each and will calculate approximate yardage and then write it all out on the hang tags.
I've also got enough shawls (two different designs) ready to pack up as well. Once those boxes are out the door I need to concentrate on some writing projects - an article promised for a magazine, and of course, Magic files.
While I'd hoped to have more handspun ready by now there is more on the wheel and I can always mail another box later in the month. The show goes on for 17 days so not everything needs to be there for opening day. :)
The last day of steroids is tomorrow and my energy should start to pick up again although all the warnings given about energy flagging appear to be true. But I'm 5/8's the way through now - only 3 more cycles left and then - look out world, here I come! :D
Currently reading Dead in the Water by Aline Templeton
Friday, August 5, 2011
Something to Think About
initial scan of draft page to be cleaned up yet....
Publisher's Weekly had an interesting article about the 'value' of books - hard copy/paperback vs digital.
At a conference a number of years ago, a participant was complaining vociferously about the fact that the instructor of a seminar charged a whopping $10 for two sheets of paper (which happened to be double sided and crammed full of information). Her complaint? The cost of running off those 4 pages/2 sheets was approximately 50 cents and she'd been royally ripped off.
Obviously she was putting no value whatsoever on the information contained in those pages. The conference refunded her the $10 and took back the sheets, which was apparently of no value to her.
As I prepare to convert Magic into digital format I am faced with a similar conundrum - will people value the digital version? Obviously I have spent a great deal of time and money publishing Magic in the first place, and should have recouped my costs by now, so why should I put anything other than a low value on the digital format? OTOH, I will have spent hours more converting the files to digital, including paying someone else for their time and technological skills.
I know that not everyone is enamoured of the digital format. Personally I also prefer to have pages between my hands rather than reading on a screen. But at this point in time it's either nothing or digital. So I will continue to work on the conversion and hope that enough people will be receptive to having a digital format, burned onto a cd, to make it worthwhile for everyone concerned. Ultimately people will be able to print out which pages they want in hard copy, and they will still have the entire file on the cd should they experience a computer crash or lose the printed out pages. Or, as some people have mentioned, they like to print out pages and make their own notations on the sheets without feeling like they are 'wrecking' the book by so doing.
If anyone is interested in a cd/digital copy of Magic when it is ready later in the fall please email me and I'll give you a head's up when it is ready. I'm ballparking the retail price including shipping at $20 to $25 Cdn. Final price will depend on the shipping charge at the time, currently running around $7.50 postage for a small packet.
Currently reading Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (which takes place mostly in Quebec City, which having recently visited there is very vivid in my memory - thanks to Anne Marie for the driving tour - wish my ankle hadn't been so sore so we could have walked the cobblestone streets and visited some of the shops, etc!)
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
This is another variation on Wall of Troy.
Since I'm still debugging the cloth I've used plain old ordinary 2/16 cotton rather than the Fox Fibre yarn. And while I can't really tell if the temple is necessary yet I'm going to go ahead and order one in - just in case. Can't have enough toys - er, tools!
After running the sample of the Fox Fibre weft through the washer/dryer 3 times, I cut that sample in half again and ran one piece through a few more times. It has darkened slightly from the 3 times through and I'm not sure if I will test it any further or not. I'll save the darkest brown yarn for a warp that is a mid-range tonal value rather than use it on this lighter tone stripe. Instead I'll use some of the lighter values because even if they do darken they won't be as dark as the darker brown. I don't like high value contrast as a rule.
So, cycle 5 is a 'go' and I'll be spending the afternoon reading tomorrow. :) Fortunately I just picked up a stack of books from the library so I've got lots to choose from. The good news is that they will decrease the Vincristine (the most caustic of the chemicals) so my white cells should not be wiped out so drastically nor should there be numbness. I asked the doctor if needing to decrease the Vincristine was a good thing and he said that it was. So I'm really hoping hard that I will only need 6 cycles in total, not the maximum of 8. They will do a scan after #6 to check for any evidence of disease and then I'll find out if more cycles will be needed. With any luck I'll be done chemo by the time mom has her surgical date and I'll be able to accompany her to Vancouver. But that will depend on when her surgery gets booked. It looks like the 'interesting' times are going to continue for the rest of this year but with any luck at all both mom and I will begin the new year healthy!
Monday, August 1, 2011
With chemo scheduled again on Wednesday (given my white cell count is up high enough) and energy reserves getting noticably lower plus the pages of the calendar ripping off at what seems to be the speed of light, I realized that instead of just drifting along I needed to pay attention to deadlines.
Today I finished threading the next 2/20 merc. cotton warp and hope to get it sleyed either tonight or tomorrow afternoon after my clinic appointments with the goal of weaving enough to see if I need to order a smaller temple. (Although I might email a friend to see if she has one I can borrow - I didn't think to ask her when we had lunch today.)
I'm also hoping to get the two prototypes sewn tomorrow so I can pass them along to my friend to field test, but that may not happen. Will just have to wait and see how the time goes.
Once the prototypes are sewn, I'll be clearing off the work table and setting up the camera. I really need to get going on the pictures of the Magic samples.
The handspun skeins need to be labelled and made ready to mail south for the upcoming shows in September and October, not to mention shawls. I've got a good selection of two styles of shawls ready now. It feels particularly good getting that mountain of finishing, dry and wet, diminished and product ready for the fall shows. Not to mention the reduction in stash! :^)
There are also the text files for Magic to edit. I'm hoping to start on those once the photography is complete. My web master will be ready to start dealing with the files in September sometime but I've got a lot of work to do before I can send them to him.
Those are the jobs that are most 'critical' for the next couple of months. Now to quite procrastinating and get them done!
Currently reading Where Shadows Dance by C. S. Harris
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