Monday, October 31, 2011

Lesson in Humbility

It doesn't do to get complacent - that's when you stop thinking.

This warp is 36 epi.  I have a 9 dent reed, but it's very old and rough on the top and bottom so when I checked my stored reeds I noticed that I also have a brand new metric reed (35) which is also 9 dents.  Without thinking too much I popped that reed into the beater and proceeded to sley it.  The entire time I was sleying it I did not once stop to ask myself why I hadn't been using this reed, but the old battered one.  Or if I did, I didn't take the time to properly answer the question.

Turns out that the reed is too 'short'.  When I put the beater top back onto the beater, there was a 1/2 inch gap between the reed and the top. 

Now, you may be asking yourself how it is possible for me to put the reed into the beater without putting the top of the beater on.  The answer is simple.  On the AVL, the bottom of the reed is 'pinched' between two pieces of wood.  And, since the beater top is rather large and blocks the view in order to sley, I leave it off while I do that job.

I really dislike having to change reeds and resley because all my nice neat little bouts which I so carefully tie into slip knots are now gone and the danger of making sleying errors is much, much greater when the warp ends are all loose. 

However since I was not resleying to change the density, merely changing one reed of the same dents per inch to another of the same dents per inch, I realized that instead of pulling the warp out of the wrong reed entirely, I could transfer each group dent by dent which would mean the risk of sleying errors would be low.

How to do this when the AVL doesn't really have side frames that the reed could lay on?  I grabbed a couple of short lease sticks (for the Leclerc Fanny or other smaller loom) and rested them on each side of the loom across the bottom of the shafts and onto the side frame of the loom.  And taped them there.  The reed rests quite comfortably there and it's only taking me a few minutes to pull each group in it's order and put it into the reed which is clamped in the beater. 

If you click on the photo you should be able to see the set up more clearly.

Once the reed is completely re-sleyed I'll carefully pull the reed out and remove the sticks and then I can go ahead and put the loom back together (the sandpaper beam is also out of the loom), tie on and ought to be weaving this afternoon.  :)

And I can be pretty sure there are no sleying errors to fix.  But just in case, I'll be sure to check each shed.  Doesn't do to get complacent!

Currently reading Snuff by (Sir) Terry Pratchett

Saturday, October 29, 2011

UNBC Artisans of the North

Not great photos but here's a peek at my booth this weekend

The craft fair at the university is a fairly low key affair.  The booths/tables line the halls and corridors of the university as well as the cafeteria, which is where we are located.

There is no entry fee - come one, come all - and the crowd is generally younger than at Studio Fair which happens next week.

Although it is supposed to start at 10 am the public, in their eagerness, usually starts coming around 9:30.  Which is partly why Doug was still hanging the mirror when shoppers began to descend.  :}

I am very happy to be in the cafeteria because it has lots of glass walls, therefore natural light.  Unfortunately today the snow that has been predicted for several days began to come down around noon and the day is dark and dreary.  The snow, once it sticks to the ground, will help to brighten things up.  And the snow is surely a good reminder that people need a scarf or shawl to keep the cold at bay?

Thankfully we were all moved in before the snow started - we are just keeping fingers crossed it stops for move out tomorrow evening.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Staging Area

8 boxes of hand wovens all packed up ready to be loaded into the van

Once again my living room floor is acting as a staging area as we prepare for the first of four consecutive craft fairs. Doug has gone off to unload the rear seats of the van, store them at the annex and pick up a few things stored there that we will need for the shows.

threading proceeds on the beige tea towel warp

Recovery is not a straight line, as a friend observed recently, and the past few weeks have seen plenty of zigging and zagging as my energy waxes and wanes.  Getting a flu shot probably had something to do with the decline of energy this week, but at least I'm somewhat protected for nasty bugs as I head into a month's worth of high exposure to crowds of people.

And craftspeople are famous for showing up for shows, sick, mainly because there is no one to phone in sick to so they can stay home in bed.  :}  I know that's happened to me often enough over the years.

With a muzzy head I didn't do much threading this week but am feeling alert enough today to tackle that job and this morning got almost to the half way mark.

A lot of people colour their heddles as a way to keep track of where they are in their threading.  Personally I don't find that method particularly helpful.  My drafts are printed out with numbers showing which shafts the threads are to be on, which means that I would have to translate the numbers into colours.

Rather than attempt that mental gymnastic, I number the shafts - the top of the bottom shaft.  You might just be able to see the numbers if you click on the photo to enlarge it. 

Since I also quite often need to shuffle heddles from one shaft to another, colouring them really isn't all that helpful to me.

My hope is that I can finish setting up the loom over the weekend - the Artisans of the North at the U of Northern BC doesn't have killer hours - and maybe even weave a bit before we leave for Vancouver and Circle Craft.  But I'm not too bothered about that - mainly I just want to leave the loom ready to weave on for when we get back from Calgary (Art Market).

Currently reading Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Still 'Finishing'

Still making like a slug and very slow moving but I am managing to just stay on top of what needs to be done.  :}

Today I had lunch with a weaving buddy.  So nice to get out and about and catch up with someone I see only occasionally.

Then errands - mail a parcel, pick up a reserved book at the library (and a couple more, just in case), up to the annex to fetch more boxes and drop off something I'd borrowed back to it's owner.  And then I pretty much crashed.

However I do have the boxes needed.  I just finished cooking dinner and carrying up several armfulls of scarves to check for pricing and start packing.  After I eat.

There are still a few more armfuls to be carried up but there is no more room on the table so I'll deal with these first.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It Isn't Finished....

When you are weaving as a way of earning your income the job isn't finished until the goods are sold.

With the first craft fair of the season coming up it's time to get finished, finished and hope for some sales.  I've been remiss in keeping my Art Fire store up to date - but there is no way I can miss out on the craft fairs.  For one thing, they have been booked for months and they are an unparelled opportunity to make about 75% of my income in 1/12th of the year.

As you may have guessed, earning one's income from making and selling textiles is a cyclical affair.  The income dries up right after Christmas - although the expenses do not. 

And then there's the fact that I don't do inexpensive shows - rather I do shows that generally need to be applied to and paid for months in advance of the event.   And very high prices for the spaces, too.  But these are also the shows that appeal to people with disposible income, generally willing to pay a premium for hand crafted goods.  And I rarely hear the phrase "Your prices are too high." 

Learning how to budget is crucial in this business. 

Anyway, the textiles are not completely done until they have their care/hang tags attached as well as their prices.  I subscribe to the policy that everything ought to be priced if you want to sell it.  Since my prices are fairly high, if there is no price on it people will either assume that it isn't for sale or they can't afford it.

This has been my logo for a number of years.  I was told the last time I ordered cards that the printer was going digital and would no longer be using an offset press and that I would have to re-design my cards.  They have had a black logo with a slightly off set silver line around them.  Quite elegant looking I think.  But apparently this is something he can't do digitally.

I'm also thinking it's time to change the paper I've been using.  It isn't cheap paper, but then, my textiles aren't cheap.  I think it's really important to have your signage reflect the value of your product.  But since I haven't made a change for quite a while and I have to re-design my cards anyway, perhaps it's time to change the paper I've been using.

That's a job for after the craft fair season, however.  Fortunately I've enough hang tags to deal with the current inventory.  But first they have to get attached.

Currently reading Cradle to Grave by Aline Templeton

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In Pursuit of Perfection

two different waffle towels

As I was nearing the end of this blue warp I started having misgivings.  I'd changed the epi from 36 to 30 because the weft I was wanting to use was somewhat thicker than what I'd used on the last 2/20 merc. warps and thought that a more open warp might work better. 

Since I had another 2/20 merc cotton warp I wanted to do (got lots of that yarn to use up for weft!) I decided to check the finished results before committing to another 30 epi warp.

Am I ever glad I did.  I'm not at all happy with my results in the waffle weave.  The woven illusion actually turned out okay - better than anticipated anyway.

I used two different weft yarns on the waffle weave towels in the photo above, and two somewhat different tie-up/treadlings.  But the different treadlings are not enough to account for the humongous difference in dimensional loss - it has to be the weft yarn.

The towel on the bottom is woven with 2/16 unmerc. cotton.  The towel on the top is woven with the singles 6 cotton that I've used elsewhere for collapse effects.  As you can see, the singles 6 has most definitely collapsed (or torqued, would be a more accurate statement).  There is a 4 inch difference in the width of the two towels and the singles 6 towel is thicker.  The twill stripes in the singles 6 towel has ruffled much more than in the 2/16 towel.

So I'm going to try this again on the beige warp, set at 36 epi and see if that reduces the dimensional loss in the singles 6 weft towels. 

Like I keep telling my student, change one thing and everything changes.  :}

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fibre Geekery

This book popped up during a chat on Weavolution and I decided to take a look at it.  To buy it is prohibitive but I was able to get it on inter-library loan for a mere $8.  Well worth it to satisfy my curiousity.

As the title says, the primary focus is to identify fibres for forensic purposes.  As such, the book goes into much greater detail than a handweaver would be able to.  Not very many of us have spectroscopes and electron microscopes etc.

I found the chapter on fibre characteristics interesting as it went into far greater detail than most textile science books.  There is a great chart showing the classification of fibres.

But probably the greatest value this book has for weavers (and spinners) is the extensive book list that follows each chapter.  If you are interested in details of fibres and yarns, here is a great place to start looking for information.

Of course there is always my favourite source book, A Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers by Jackman and Dixon.   Judith MacKenzie has a brief overview of different fibres in her book The Intentional Spinner.  Or Google 'textile science' and I'm sure you'll come up with lots of hits.

It is my belief that, in order to make good choices for our textiles, at least a rudimentary level of knowledge about fibre characteristics is essential.  I'm very pleased that several more guilds are showing an interest in my topic A Good Yarn.  It looks like a couple of guilds will select that title for workshops/seminars next March.

Currently reading A Bitter Feast by S. J. Rozan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


on the loom

ready to go

There are certain weave structures I like to weave - as you may have noticed.  Wall of Troy is one.  This woven illusion is another.

They are both in the twill family.  Wall of Troy can be done on four shafts.  The woven illusion needs 16.

I've done the illusion in many different textiles, from scarves to tea towels.  On one level I like the visual pun - the illusion of a plain weave structure woven on 16 shafts in a twill.  It takes a weaver to really appreciate it, though.  Non-weavers don't 'get' it - they just see a sort of interesting visual texture, I think.

Quite often I weave the woven illusion in tea towels to use as hostess gifts for when I'm travelling to teach.  Since I'm nearly out of them and I have a longish teaching tour scheduled for next March, I figured I'd better make some more, hence the blue ones.

The blue and white towels are 100% cotton.  The warp is 2/20 merc. cotton at 30 epi with a 2/15 unmerc cotton as weft.

I used to order my natural 2/8 cotton directly from a spinning mill in Ontario.  Occasionally they would make a mistake and I'd get 'odd' yarns like this 2/15 cotton.  And the singles 6 that I've been offering for sale here for collapse effects. 

The red is also 2/20 merc. cotton at 40 epi with a fine linen for weft. The cloth is much stiffer, partly due to the higher density, partly due to the linen. I'm donating two of the red ones to Weavolution for a fund raiser later in the year.

diversified plain weave

I'm also donating the above scarf to Weavolution as a fund raiser.  I know the photo looks a little blurry - that's partly because it's woven from rayon chenille and 2/16 bamboo rayon.  Really hard to get good focus on rayon chenille!

Anyway, if you're a member of Weavolution, watch for the announcement of the fund raiser.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twill Bias

Tartan baby blanket woven in 2/8 cotton by Monique - I think this was her 3rd project and she knocked it out of the ballpark - no mistakes in the warp or weft order and a pretty near perfect 50/50 beat

One of the things that can happen with a 2:2 twill is that, upon wet finishing, the fabric can skew along the twill diagonal.

I'm not exactly sure what factors can cause it to happen more dramatically than at other times.  I'd have to weave a bunch of samples and check for things like twist energy in the yarn, density and so on.  All I know is that at times it happens and it can be quite dramatic.

So it was with Monique's tartan baby blanket.  I assured her that it could be reduced if not eliminated entirely in the wet finishing.

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The above is bad ASCII art showing an exaggerated bias along the twill diagonal.  (The twill line is running from lower left to upper right as in the photo.)

During wet finishing, before the cloth dries completely, what I do is take the cloth at the opposite points and pull the cloth back into a rectangular shape and then give it a hard press until dry.  In other words, I'm pulling against the twill diagonal (upper left and lower right hand corners).

One way to avoid this happening is to weave a twill where the diagonal changes direction on a fairly regular basis.  It's one reason I like Wall of Troy. 

If I want to weave large diamonds, I'll use a herringbone threading and treadling so that there are no issues with the outside threads 'falling out' of the cloth when the diagonal changes direction.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Art vs Craft

Flying Free

Water Sparkling Falls

Early in my weaving career I wove everything.  And I do mean everything.  If it could be made from thread, I made it.

In the early 1980's I even had a solo exhibition at the Prince George Art Gallery.  At the time I was known mainly for my functional household textiles and the curator (who had taken over the job after my show was booked) was very, um, trepedatious, about what my exhibition would actually be.  He probably envisioned stacks of placemats and table runners.  :^)

Flying Free was woven with a linen warp and gross grain ribbon and measured about 4 feet wide.

Water Sparkling Falls is huge.  I think it was around 18 feet wide and nearly 10 feet high. 

I had a long conversation with another artist (painter) who told me that some of my pieces absolutely broke design 'rules' but that they worked anyway.  I took that as a compliment.  :)

Interestingly my work seemed to appeal most to a younger audience.  An English teacher (married to a weaver) brought his Eng Lit classes to the art gallery and then had his students write a 'review' of my show and encouraged them to make comments in the visitor log.  Some of the comments were very thoughtful and saw through to the intent behind my making the pieces.

But the exhibition was an enormous effort.  In time, in money, in emotional investment.  I realized that my primary goal was to earn an income and that wasn't going to happen with textile art. 

Or at least, not in this town.  Perhaps if I lived in a large metropolitan centre I might have had more of a chance to sell textile art.  But here it just wasn't going to happen.  And so I turned back to weaving functional textiles.  To making them with as much beauty and grace as I could.  And ultimately we earned our income solely from the production and sales of functional textiles for 9 years.  Until things changed and I needed to choose another path.  And then another.  And then.....

My life has been a series of paths, some of them wildly divergent from where I had been heading.  Sometimes I consciously choose a new path, sometimes life set up roadblocks and I was forced onto a different path by necessity.  But one thing I can say - it's been interesting!

Currently reading Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Friday, October 14, 2011


click to biggify to see the butterflies

here is the profile draft

This is the final woven 'sample' for the master level.  It is a scarf woven in a fine silk (2/60) set at 45 epi/ppi.  I did a series of scarves and chose the best one to submit.  :)  The weave structure is huck lace.

In addition to the woven samples the candidate is sent fabric swatches that they are to analyze.  The samples are handwoven and the candidate is to determine the threading, tie up and treadling and the yarns used.  Sometimes this can be quite a challenge! 

So, now that you've been given a tour of the fourth and final level of my tests, do you want a tour of the other test levels?  The levels have been changed somewhat since I did them lo, these many years ago.

The test problems can be used as a personal study guide (along with Mary Black's (New) Key to Weaving and can be found on the Guild of Canadian Weavers website here.  The file is a pdf which can be downloaded for free.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Satin Problem

my camera didn't seem to like the royal blue of the yarn and the photo looks very greenish

As part of the fourth and final level for the GCW tests, there is a problem on satin.  It took me a couple of warps to get everything correct.  Fortunately I had quite a bit of hand dyed silk so was able to set the 'failed' scarves aside for sale and keep trying.

Since my loom has 16 shafts I used two 8 shaft satin blocks.

For the final level there are fewer woven samples in the problems and more written/theory work, although of course the candidate is expected to weave all necessary samples for their monograph/research topic.

When I did the tests the major project was called a monograph - I think the terminology has been changed to research project. 

At last count I believe that there have been a total of 29 people who have achieved the Master level, the first two being Mary Black (yes, that Mary Black) and Mary Sandin.  The most recent was Helene Ruel who submitted her test levels in French.  The first, I think, to have submitted in French.  I think I've blogged previously and listed all the master weavers and their monograph topics, several of which have been turned into books that have become classics in the handweaving world.

The tests are not restricted to Canadians.  There is one American GCW master weaver and I know that others from outside Canada have done at least some of the test levels.  

Marking duties are shared out amongst the current master weavers and from time to time I have had the priviledge of marking a test level.  The test administrator mails the test to the marker and it is all done anonymously.  The only one who knows the names is the administrator.

Doing the test requirements was most definitely a challenge and very intimidating.  One of the reasons I did the tests was to get a broad over view of the craft.  I was 'forced' to deal with weave structures that didn't particularly appeal to me and strive for a level of perfection that was, in many ways, much higher than my inclination.  I am not a perfectionist! 

I was determined to learn as much as possible and working on the tests kept me focused on exploring and learning.  And, having done the problems, why not submit them for marking?  A couple of times I had to re-do a test problem and I learned even more because of that.

Currently reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going, Going.....

...and soon to be gone - hopefully!

Over the past few weeks I've been worrying away at the piles (mountains!) of finishing that need to be done.  There is now one huge (or two smaller) stacks of shawls and scarves that are done to the point of needing their hang/care tags and prices.

I also managed to wet finish a dozen and a half knitted scarves for donation to a worthy cause and will deliver them at the end of the month, ready for distribution for the winter. 

Winter, which is creeping ever closer.  We have not yet had snow but it could come at any time.  With the persistent wet weather and the dropping temps, it cannot be far away.  Perhaps the chilly weather will remind people that they need a new scarf or shawl when the craft fairs begin in just over two weeks.

Beginning the last weekend in October every weekend for the following 4 weeks will be another sales event.  The first two are here, then Vancouver (Circle Craft) and Calgary (Art Market).  At some point in there we are expecting for mom to a) move and b) have her surgery.  No stress! 

A friend has also offered to get some of my textiles to the Seattle Weavers Guild sale Oct. 27-29.  I'm very disappointed that I won't be there as it is always so inspirational to see what others have been making but perhaps next year I can make it again.

In spite of the above evidence of things being finished, there are still buckets more to do.  I will continue to work on them over the next few weeks and try to get as much as possible done before we leave for Vancouver.  Doug has booked the time off to work the craft fairs because we were thinking I would not be recovered enough to do them myself so I may let him take the lion's share of working in the booth and rest up for the out of town shows.  My energy is a tiny bit better every day but I don't have much stamina so I don't want to overdo it.

Got all of the warps for placemats woven and started wet finishing those hoping to get some of them ready for sale, too.  The first batch is ready for hemming as soon as I've finished hemming the Fox Fibre towels - nearly done!  Hemming is a great tv watching job. 

And the AVL is now up and weaving - more tea towels.  Blue and white this time.  I've got a whole lot of the singles 6 cotton to use up so I'll try it as weft for waffle weave towels and see how they look. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Master Level Tapestry

As part of the master weavers certificate, the candidate must weave a tapestry.  It was actually the tapestry that delayed the submission of my fourth and final level for consideration by about two years as I struggled to get it woven.  Why?  Partly because I don't fancy myself an artist and partly because progress seemed so very slllloooooowwww compared to what I was used to on the big loom(s).

The border was free form (no cartoon) as was the background.  For the butterfly I did follow a cartoon.  Since I don't draw very well I purposely made the whole design a little - um - rustic?

The yarn was a blend of silk, wool and linen for the background and silk for the butterfly.  All the weft yarns were dyed by me.  The warp was a linen rug warp.

I used one of the techniques in Peter Collingwood's rug book for finishing off the ends and sewed all the warp ends back into the textile.  I also sewed in all the weft tails so that the back side looks about the same as the front.  There were some quite long slits in and around the butterfly because I wanted as clean an edge as possible (although if I'd been a more skilled tapestry weaver I could have probably dovetailed or in some other way joined them during weaving.)

But in the end the tapestry had become such a road block that I just kept telling myself that all I needed was a 'pass' and to get it finished!

There are 3 judges for the master level.  I don't remember what marks they gave me although I seem to remember that one of the judges was not at all happy with my efforts.  But the combined score meant that I got that pass.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

In Canada we celebrate a day of thanksgiving in October.  It's a great way to remind ourselves, whatever our religious beliefs may or may not include, that life is good no matter how challenging it may be.

In the course of the past 4 and some years I have learned many lessons.  I've always been the type of person to look for the silver lining in any clouds that may gather over my life but now I have really learned to stay in the present moment.  Because ultimately that is all we have.

I doubt that being goal oriented is going to change but somehow those goals have changed into more of a lodestone - a direction to which I am tending, not the imperative that they used to be.

I have also learned to choose my battles much more carefully.  When energy has been lacking it became much easier to see what things needed to be fought for and which could be left to slide away uncontested.

Ultimately the thing that I am most grateful for during this particular Thanksgiving Day is that I am remission - much sooner than I expected.  That I did not have to go through the entire course of 8 treatments and that I am in much better shape than I had any expection of being by this milestone.  Yes, energy is still low, but generally every day is a little bit better.  Most noticable improvement?  I am sleeping 'properly' for the first time in years and years.  What I had attributed to menopause appears to have been due to the lymphoma.  I am no longer bone weary with fatigue even though I still don't have much stamina.  But I am hopeful that as the chemo clears my system that that will return.

I am also grateful that my mother is finally moving into an apartment.  The timing could have been better, but it looks like she will be into the apartment before her surgery and winter.  Then all we have to deal with is selling her house - not something easily done in this town during the winter months.  But step by step we will deal with it.

And I am enormously grateful for the friends I have.  Walt Whitman wrote in "I Sing the Body Electric"

I have perceiv'd that to be with
     those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest
     at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing
     laughing flesh is enough.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving to all.

Another worsted wool that would not full - surprise!  Darlene lined it with a brightly coloured lining and again knitted an edge trim to bind the edges.

Currently reading Heat Rises by "Richard Castle".  I don't know who is ghost writing these books, but I love the Castle tv series.  Great dialogue, human characters, little references to Firefly if you are paying attention.  BTW, if you've never seen Firefly and like a great space cowboy romp, I highly recommend Josh Weedon's series (with a much younger Nathan Fillion).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coat with Angora

This cloth was traded for a piece of bobbin lace made by a friend - she tried very hard to get me making lace.  At the time I resisted but eventually did take up the craft a number of years later.  :)

One layer is 2/8 cotton, the other layer is a wool/angora blend.

The photograph isn't really out of focus - the angora has developed a halo during wet finishing.  You can clearly see that the loom state sample looks very open and loose on the back side.  After fulling it closed up nicely and a slight rumpled texture developed on the surface of the cloth.

The two layers are connected by way of the two layers exchanging places.

Currently reading The Vault by Ruth Rendell (the latest in the Inspector Wexford series - I find her other books to be too dark/bleak, generally)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

And Another One

click to biggify - the cuffs are turned back to show the other side of the cloth

This coat is another double weave with areas of pique'.  The ribs are 'stuffed' with strands of lopi type wool.

The fabric was woven with the ribs horizontal in the loom, then turned or 'railroaded' so that the weft is vertical on the body.

Darlene very cleverly made it so that it is reversible.  The blue is hand dyed silk.  The white yarn is a fine wool merino.

Darlene machine knit the edge trim with the fine merino in order to perfectly match the cloth. 

The finished fabric doesn't look very much different from the loom state.   And yes, this fabric was given a hard press in order to flatten it and make it easier to sew.

Unfortunately I haven't worn it much as it is dressier than my lifestyle calls for.  :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bedford Cord

Bedford cord is often used in industry for clothing, most often for fabric that will wear well if the ribs are in plain weave. 

I wanted something with a some drape and using the very fine silk for warp with the fine wool/cashmere weft and the vertical ribs, the cloth has stability with drape, suitable for this swing coat.  It is also quite cosy and warm.  I gave the garment to my mother who has worn it for years, even in the winter on quite chilly days and she says it is comfy.

Currently reading Spellbound by Kelley Armstrong

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another Coat

This coat fabric turned into more of an adventure than I expected. 

Up until this fabric, all of the wool I had worked with fulled.  Some more than others, but they could all be made to full.

And so when I bought this lovely blue/green worsted yarn, it was with the intent of fulling it to make a warm winter coat.

This particular worsted wool did not full.  Period.

I tried everything.  I used hot water, the most vigorous of the washing cycles on my machine and ran the fabric through the complete wash/rinse cycle not once but several times. 

With the result of.....window screening.

Then I remembered that a friend had said that they threw running shoes into the washer if they really wanted to beat a woolen cloth up and get it to full.  I didn't have any running shoes I wanted to sacrifice so I started thinking of something else I could do.

I had a lot of the tubes from yarn purchased from Maurice Brassard that were rough so I tossed the wet fabric into the dryer along with about 18 of these tubes and let her rip.  Poor Doug nearly had a fit at the noise! 

But the tubes managed to beat the cloth up enough that loose fibres came to the surface of the cloth and it became quite fuzzy.  The cloth was then put back into the washing machine with hot water and allowed to agitate again until the surface fuzz fulled together enough to give the cloth stability.

I didn't want a fuzzy coat so once it was dry I got a large sweater shaver and shaved the surface, leaving the nap on the 'inside' to help provide some insulation.

The coat was sewn by Darlene who recommended a lining fabric called kasha.  Kasha has a rayon surface with a fuzzy back.  This fabric would also help provide insulation against the cold.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Garment

This is another of the garments done for the monograph for GCW.  I was exploring how to make fabric for warm clothing - jackets and coats.  Darlene sewed most of them.

The above jacket was used as my primary winter jacket for about 7 years.  The base fabric was, again, Harris Tweed, with a very softly twisted singles wool as the lighter accent thread.  The web was fulled heavily. 

Originally I'd intended to brush the cloth but decided after fulling that the accent thread had bloomed sufficiently that brushing wasn't necessary.  In the end I think that was a good call because the accent thread did tend to pill and if it had been brushed, would likely have pilled even worse.  In the end the reason I got rid of the jacket was because the accent thread had pilled and 'shed' enough that it was looking worn even though the Harris Tweed was still in great shape.  :) 

Since I rarely wear a commercially made winter coat more than 7 years, I figured I'd gotten good value out of it and it was time to retire it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Another Bumpy Fabric

This jacket is another fabric with 'bumps'.

The base fabric is Harris Tweed wool.  Harris Tweed is not Harrisville.  Two completely different yarns.

Harris Tweed is a singles, tightly twisted yarn which makes a sturdy cloth.  To this base I added stripes of 2/20 mercerized cotton.  There are two wefts - the Harris Tweed, and a 2/20 mercerized cotton which created separate 'ribbons' on the surface of the Harris Tweed that are a true double weave. 

The cotton woven into the Harris Tweed interferred with the fulling and I had to work very hard to get the cloth to full as much as I wanted to make this fabric work for a jacket.

My friend Darlene (who sewed this and many other garments for me) made the jacket reversible.  It has a hood and large shawl collar.  The model received this jacket as payment for the modelling job.

Fabric that goes Bump

I started playing around with creating textiles with texture in the mid-1980's.  This coat was the result of a technique sometimes called cloque'.  It's a stitched double weave with one layer that fulls, one layer that doesn't.  In this case the top layer is 2/8 cotton, the inside layer is a wool/cotton blend.  The top or face layer is plain weave, the inside/lining layer is a 4:4 twill (as I recall).  The stitchers are hidden.

The cloth was designed with an early version of Fiberworks and was woven sometime in the late '80's, early '90's as part of the monograph for the GCW Master Weaver tests.

Since then I've dabbled with differential shrinkage and highly twisted yarns but always within the framework of my goal as a weaver - to make cloth that will perform it's function as well as I can make it.

This particular cloth has some flexibility but not a lot of drape so a jacket design was chosen to meet this quality of cloth.  I thought you would be able to see the lining if you clicked on the photo but it doesn't really show.  If anyone is interested I can take a photo showing the back side of the cloth.
The jacket is quite cosy with the flannel like feel of the lining and fairly warm due to the pockets of trapped air between the two layers.

I've got the high twist cotton and wool/lycra coned off.  And with the news of my mother suddenly getting an apartment as of November 1, it is becoming imperative that I get rid of some of my yarns.  The three yarns that will help make bumpy fabric are listed on my Art Fire Store

Yes, I have yarns stored in my mother's basement - and they will need to go.....somewhere else.... :}

Monday, October 3, 2011

This 'n That

This is the corner where my electric bobbin winder is set up.  For the mat weft I'm using 4 strands of cotton - 2 strands of 2/8 natural, one boucle and one thick and thin.  Any 'bubbles' that develop from winding the four strands at once hide within the cloth and just look like more boucle loops.

One of the things you can sometimes get away with is using the tag ends of the tubes as a yarn package in the shuttle.  The 2/8 cotton is being used as one strand in the plain weave hems.  The tubes supplied by Maurice Brassard just fit into the Leclerc shuttles.  They can't be too full, but it saves winding bobbins.

One of the things you can do with blogspot is see your viewing statistics.  One of the categories they track is referring URL's.

Over the weekend there was a tremendous spike in traffic to this blog so I checked referring sites.  There were several very odd sites apparently referring to my blog.  I have no idea why these sites would be referring to my blog but it left me with an odd feeling.  Who was doing this, and why would they?

There are a number of reasons why I blog, all of them personal.  But one of the reasons is that I enjoy sharing my joy of weaving with other like-minded souls.  While I can see that I have lots of page views, your comments are the only way I know that people are appreciating my posts.

One of the reasons I enjoy travelling to teach is because at every workshop or guild meeting at least one person will come up to me and comment that they read my blog.  That feedback and the support given me during the past 6 months makes the time I spend writing the posts more than worth while.

So don't hesitate to make a comment!

Currently reading A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weft Tails

ready to throw shuttle with fresh bobbin

On wider warps I anchor the weft tail with my ring/pinky finger(s) so that the tail of the weft doesn't scoot into the shed, which means reaching in and fishing it out again.  The shuttle is held by my middle finger and thumb, with the index finger poised to push the shuttle through the shed.

single 2/8 cotton inserted into new shed with mat body weft overlapping

Generally I try to make my joins in the first inch or two nearest the selvedge.  The fresh weft tail is laid in as close to the base of the V of the shed as possible so that the angle of the warp threads will help to trap the new tail at the selvedge.

Currently reading part four of The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold.  I've been told that her other books have textile references, too, so I'll look for more at the library.