Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Latest Handwoven

Handwoven arrived while I was away.  I'd hoped it would come before I left but it was nice to pull it out of the mailbox yesterday.

The towels I'm currently doing are similar to the ones in Handwoven except that the warp is 2/16 unmercerized cotton while those pictured here are 2/20 mercerized cotton warp.  Both have 2/16 unmer. cotton for weft.

I am still settling back in after being away for a week.  The van needs to be unloaded and we don't have sound on the computer.  Doug will have to sort through the rat's nest of cables on the floor and pull out the ones that don't get used anymore so it will be easier to set the computer up after road trips.  (Yes, my computer went on the road trip too - my computer guru lives far, far away!)

After I have coffee I'll try to get the wireless system working, too.  Right now the iPad is a really expensive solitaire game as a friend commented.  :^)  And Mahjong.  Until I get the wireless going I can't download books, apps, etc.

I've also received permission to have a yarn/fibre sale at the guild room during the Spring Arts Fest on June 9 so I need to sort through the boxes of stuff to see what I want to lug up the loooong staircase to the room.  No point taking things no one will be interested in buying.  Talked some of the guild members into coming to do demos, too, so there will be some small looms in operation and at least one spinner.  Hmm - maybe I should bring my wheel, too?  It hasn't been out of the box for a few months and there is allll that fibre!  Tempting!  On the other hand, there is alllll that fringe twisting, too!  Decisions, decisions...

Monday, May 28, 2012

High River(!), Alberta

A view of the booth at the HWSDA conference in High River, AB

I must have been totally brain dead when I posted this picture originally because I called it High Level.  Whole other place!

However, I am home now, and hopefully will get a good sleep tonight.  There has been way too much stress for the past while, and too little good sleep!

Currently reading Die Buying by Laura Disilverio

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day One

Day is done and so am I! Booth set up went well in spite of not having the students we expected to assist in carrying in the boxes. We were essentially done by 10:30 and returned to the hotel where I was able to shower, change and grab a bite to eat for lunch. Traffic was steady most of the afternoon and it was great to see friends and have a chance to talk a bit. After dinner we vegged for a while until the juried exhibit opened and took a Walk through. Some really nice things, especially the handspun items. Now we are getting ready for bed and another early morning as the vendor hall opens at 8:00 am and my seminar starts at 9. I want to make sure there is a computer and projector for the Power Point presentation. I forgot my old tech backup for the topic. :( Currently reading Bitter Harvest by Sheila Connolly

Thursday, May 24, 2012

High River AB

We hit the highway by 8 am and rolled into town by dinner time. Unfortunately we could not unload tonight so it will be another looooong day tomorrow. Ah the glamorous life of a traveling teacher/vendor!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

An Educated Customer

Who better to be an appreciative customer for one weaver, than another?

This is my new jacket.  No I didn't weave it.  I saw some of Teena Tuenge's work when Barb took me on a  tour of Asheville, NC and to the Southern Highland Crafts Guild shop in March.  If I remembered Teena's business name I'd include a link here - when I find it I'll add to the comments.

I freely admit I've been avoiding all the handkerchief hems I've been seeing in the shops, but I loved Teena's fabric and one of her jackets was in my size - almost - so I tried it on.  And was sold - by the fabric, the cut of the jacket and her price.  :)

I chewed it over (could I really afford such a nice jacket?) during the flight back to Seattle, emailed Barb and asked if she had Teena's email address.  She did!  With a great deal of hesitation I emailed Teena, explained that I really liked the jacket I saw in the shop but that it didn't quite fit and would she consider making me a jacket with a slight adjustment?

She sent instructions for where to measure, my friend Betty did the honours and Teena sent some pictures of fabric she had on hand and could make up.  The cloth is a bit darker than that shown in this photo, and it looks about perfect for me with all the dark blues, blacks and teals that I wear.  :)

I'll actually get it when I go visit Betty in September.  In the meantime I hope I don't gain any more weight!  Incentive to stop eating like a you-know-what????

Currently reading Broken Music by Marjorie Eccles

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Next towel - this time 1:3-3:1 twill blocks with 1:3 twill hems.  Notice that the selvedge is curling slightly in the hem area - this is totally and completely normal in a 1:3 twill and will get pressed flat during wet finishing.

I have been talking to other teachers about how to reach students without the stress and expense of travelling (teacher and students!) and, in particular, about teaching on-line classes via Weavolution.

Those teachers who have done classes via Weavolution seem to be happy with the experience although there are still some issues - not everyone has a reliable high speed connection.  People living in remote areas who cannot access classes easily are generally those people who are on a slow speed connection as well.

Personally I only just got a truly high speed connection last year myself, so I can sympathize!

Locally there will be a Spring Arts Festival on June 16 so I decided to be in the guild room for the day and will offer a free seminar (about 1 hour) Introduction to Weaving.  We'll see if anyone shows up or if I just spend the day fringe twisting!  I've also asked permission to have my yarns and fibres there for sale, so perhaps I'll at least make a few sales for my time.  :)  If nothing else, maybe make a good dent in the fringe twisting pile.  As soon as I get home from Alberta I need to finish weaving the last two samples for A Good Yarn: Cotton, then begin production of scarves for the rapidly approaching fall sales.  I've spent all that money on booth fees, I'd better have something for sale when it comes time for the sales in October and November!

Today I will finish putting the labels on the cones that were wound off for resale and pack the boxes.  Doug is off on Tuesday and will re-pack the van again making room for the additional yarns.  Hopefully I can also get a few more towels woven.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bonus Time

another box of yarn being prepared for the HWSDA conference May 25-27

One of the bad things about getting older is that you can no longer ignore the fact that you are not immortal.  You sense all the dreams and wishes you may have had beginning to slip out of your grasp.  There is a certain amount of regret involved in this in-your-face realization.

On the other hand, one of the good things about getting older is that your perspective shifts and things that used to seem so important are less so.  You begin to really focus on the things that mean the most to you because, let's face are not immortal and if you truly want to get certain things accomplished before your body gives up entirely (yes, all those aches and pains are reminders that time is short) you'd better get a move on.

If my younger brother had not suddenly and rather dramatically died in 2008, I would have been gone a couple of years ago.  So I'm on what I call Bonus Time.  Every day I get up out of bed is a gift.  Sometimes I forget that, but I try very hard to stay in the now, stay grateful, stay focused on what is truly important to me.

As I near my 62nd birthday I have had to look closely at those things that I do consider important.  And some of them I have had to let go of and get over the fact that they are never going to happen and really, were they all that important?  In a year or two or a hundred, will they really matter?

This past month has been supremely stressful as my mother did not do well with her knee surgery, life got challenging financially, my health wobbled (allergies) and the constant underlying knowledge that I have not one but three chronic health issues that sap me of energy and remind me almost daily that time is short, precious and not to be recovered once it is gone.

May 9 was not only our wedding anniversary but the anniversary of my angioplasty which gave me the gift of a longer life.  I cannot afford to get distracted by other people's dramas, especially when they take away from my own life with little in return.

So once again I am reminded that 'when the oxygen masks drop, put yours on before trying to help others'.

What conclusions have I come to regarding what is important?

1.  Continuing to weave and exercise my creativity (and hope that others will be inspired to purchase my textiles which will enable that!)

2.  Share my love of weaving with those who are just as passionate about the craft as I am.

All else, as they say, depends.

Friday, May 18, 2012


this cloth is actually green but I washed it out so you can see the weave structure....

this is more the real colour....

I think that 'creativity' is sometimes just a combination of enough knowledge to understand how a craft works and incessant curiosity that impels one to keep asking 'what if' over and over again.

This warp started out partly as a response to the question - how can I minimize the dimensional loss when waffle weave hits the water during wet finishing?  And then I kept changing one more thing, and one more and one more.

I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with this cloth - really I won't know for sure until I get it wet finished.  But in the meantime I'm weaving - and I'm happy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Schedule 2013

Here's a better picture of the 'face' of the cloth.  This is sample #8 for A Good Yarn:  cotton.  Warp and weft are 2/16 cotton.

My schedule for 2013 is shaping up.  2012 is pretty much full now.

January 21-27 John C. Campbell Folk School - 5 day Weaving Boot Camp (where people can come to refine their skills) and two day Magic in the Water part II on the Sat/Sun

January 29/30  Atlanta - topic TBA

Feb. 1-3 Nashville, TN Friday night guild program; Sat/Sun workshop topic TBA

April 6/7 -  Langley, BC - Magic in the Water part I

July 11-14 - NEWS - seminars - The Efficient Weaver and Magic in the Water

Beginning in September the retail sales begin - I have yet to decide which ones I will do.

I'm still looking for other guilds to book either before or after NEWS in order to help defray the travel expenses.

Currently reading City of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

So here is the green warp with beige weft.  It's more than a little bland but wait!  This is actually the back of the cloth!  Remember me, the lazy weaver?  When there are many lifts with most of the shafts up, I will turn the draft and weave the cloth from the back side in order to lift the fewest number of shafts.

While this photo isn't great, it shows the actual face of the cloth.  It's dark because I took the photo underneath with the shadow of the cloth making things rather dark down there.  I didn't get enough woven tonight to reach the back of the loom where it wasn't in so much shadow.

I don't remember when I beamed this warp - I rather suspect it was before mom's surgery and it has taken this long to get the studio sorted out so that I could actually finish dressing the loom.  After dinner I got started weaving, making sure there were no oopsies, getting the auto cloth advance adjusted properly and so on.  I'm hoping that I will be able to get a little weaving done tomorrow, although once again it will be a day filled with appointments and errands.  So perhaps it will have to wait until Thursday - we are loading the van on Wed.  A week early, which I don't really like to do - driving around with all my inventory in the back of the van!  But that's the way my schedule and Doug's works so....

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Hand dyed BFL on the loom.

After wet finishing (but before pressing)

Remember this?

It now looks like this....

I think we can say that the BFL yarn fulls really well!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Loom Waste

I had quite a lot of loom waste on this warp, partly because a section of it was used to weave samples and whatever was left was woven off in towels.  Usually I try to calculate the optimum amount of loom waste - enough to weave as many items as desired without an excess of warp left over.

From time to time a thread comes up on a chat group about minimizing loom waste.  How much should be worked into the calculation?

Well, as usual, the correct answer to that question is...(wait for it) depends.

In some cases it depends on the loom itself.  In some cases it depends on how long the apron or tie cords are - whether or not they will allow the end of the warp to come close to the heddles.  It depends on how many shafts the looms has - the more shafts, generally the more loom waste.

Sometimes it depends on how much take up the warp requires - a warp faced cloth will take up more than a balanced cloth.  If the weaver hasn't allowed sufficient length for the warp take up they may not be able to weave as many items as intended and there will be a lot of loom waste - as in the warp above.

So how much yarn is actually there, anyway?  I weighed it and it is exactly 2 ounces.  At $16/pound (approximately) that means there is about $2 worth of yarn sitting there.

What I got out of the warp was sufficient samples to finish the run for A Good Yarn: Cotton plus 6 towels.  If I hadn't woven samples I could have gotten 8 towels out of the warp and the usual amount of loom waste.

One strategy that many new weavers don't think about when they calculate loom waste is that the longer the warp, the less loom waste as a percentage of finished cloth.  The above warp was 11 meters or approximately 9400 yards total.  The warp weighed about 1.5 pounds ($24.00)  With loom waste at $2,
the % of waste was 1/12th of the whole.  (Remember it would have been less if I'd been weaving all towels.)

If I had only wound a warp long enough for two towels plus loom waste, the % of waste would have been much greater.

So what prevents weavers from putting longer warps on the loom?  Sometimes they have difficulty with beaming a warp.  They have to deal with snarls and tangles, or they can't get consistent tension on all the threads.  Sometimes they plain get bored with doing more than one of anything.

In the first case, I'd recommend they look at their method of beaming.  In the second case, they could try a different weft colour, a different treadling, and different tie up (and different treadling).

But as a general rule of thumb, loom waste tends to be about 27" or 3/4's of a yard.

Teaching and Learning

I'm not generally a 'green' person - it's not usually a colour that particularly appeals to me.  However I do notice that I tend to have colour 'moods' where a specific colour will appeal to me.  Usually it is something in the blue or red family, but this year I have found myself drawn to pastels and this combination of blue/greens.

In spite of the constant running around town getting mom to various medical appointments I have found some time to weave and am nearly finished this warp.  With any luck it will come off the loom today.  And then I'll turn my attention to the warp on the AVL - another green warp!

In the midst of all the to-ing and fro-ing the past couple of weeks I noticed that Interweave had announced their 'contest' where people could vote for their favourite teacher.  There are many great weaving teachers.  If you want to thank yours, you might take a minute to cast a vote.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


By the time I got home from the afternoon errand run it was time for dinner so I ate, watched some tv and finished knitting the sample of the BFL yarn I dyed last week.  The intention is to full it significantly and made a large bag.  Not entirely sure what sort of handle treatment I'll do for it yet - since this is a sample that is one of the things that needs to be worked out making this prototype.

No time to do the fulling before guild meeting - which actually started 5 minutes ago - guess who is going to be late?  Stay tuned for the finished cloth.

By the way, today is our anniversary.  It's been 42 years - where has the time gone!?

Currently reading Mercury's Rise by Ann Parker

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Deja Vu

And here is the second warp, same as the first.

I don't know why I'm in a blue/green mood - green isn't usually one of my preferred colours to work with, and quite frankly, green doesn't generally sell all that well.  But blue/green it is.

The last warp came up short 45 samples but I was enjoying weaving on this warp so much I had already planned to do another one to make some towels for gifts/sales.  And I was pretty sure the warp wasn't quite long enough anyway as I'd made the samples a bit longer than planned in order to show the hem and have a good sized sample of the towel body.  So it was no surprise that I was going to have to do this warp all over again.

Will I be bored doing exactly the same thing once more?  No.  I don't get bored weaving.  I think it is because I am, by and large, a 'process' person.  I get into my zone and just enjoy the process as a working meditation.

Sometimes I use the time whilst weaving as an opportunity to think about future warps or projects or mull over the course of my life path and wonder about changing direction.  Or just settle into the rhythm of weaving with the music in the background carrying me along - the wind beneath my wings as it were.

Life has been rather more challenging than expected - or hoped - with my mother's back to back surgeries. She bounced back from the heart surgery so well, this one is proving more difficult - both in the actual physical recovery and in the emotional impact it is taking on her.  But I think she's turned the corner and we are hoping that by the time I leave for Alberta that she will be a lot more independent.  She's a very independent person, more used to being the helper, not the helped, and she is finding being dependent upon others very trying.

But I have made progress on the preparations for the conference the end of this month.  The skeins dyed last week are labelled although not priced, and packed up.  I'll have to remember to bring price stickers - and find my invoice so I can calculate the selling price!  The sample I'm knitting is looking good and hopefully the yarn will full the way I'm  hoping.  Won't know until it hits the water.

Like so many things about life - you never really know how you'll react until you encounter with the 'hot water'.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cheat Sheet

Allergy season appears to have arrived in spades and I woke up this morning muzzy headed and not able to think clearly or remember much of anything for any length of time.  This, on top of a rather stressful day yesterday meant that winding the next warp to finish the samples (and weave a few towels 'cause I really like this design!) was going to tax my brain power big time.

Fortunately I already had my 'cheat sheet' posted on the wall so, with numerous references to it, I've managed to wind the first half of the warp.

The warp is being wound with 3 colours - a dark teal blue, a mid-tone blue green and a lighter blue green of the same colour.  There is little to distinguish between the light and dark green as threads - the difference does show up in the cloth, however, and I'm pleased with the results.

By hanging the warping board with the cross making pegs at shoulder height, I can post the cheat sheet at eye level for easy reference - something I'm doing frequently today.

The stripe design is symmetrical.  I've marked the centre of the stripe by circling that number.  The warp is being wound in two chains with 2.5 repeats in each chain so one chain ends on that centre point - hence the circle around that number so I know to stop and tie the first chain off at that point.  Then I start the next chain following that circled number.

I'm really hoping that the promised rain comes next week to knock the pollen out of the air.....

Studio powered by Johnny Reid and The Eagles.

Currently reading Murder Under Cover by Kate Carlisle

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On The Other Hand

before samples, taped and ready to be cut apart using my electric rotary cutter

One of the joys of being self-employed doing something you love is that, well, you love what you're doing.   Most of the time.  ;)

On the other hand, when life tosses curve balls at you, there is no one to phone to book time off.  If you don't do it, most likely it won't get done.

Today was one of those days where I would have loved to have phoned someone to say I couldn't make it into work.  Instead I moped around a bit, then had a good talking to myself, explaining how there were deadlines coming up and they really could not be missed.

So down the stairs I went, finishing off the sample warp on the small loom, then cutting the before samples apart.  While that was happening, a small load of scarves went into the washer and drier and just before Doug got home from work, the after samples went into the washing machine, too.

Sunday I'm going to head to the annex to get some pressing done.

And sure enough, there wasn't quite enough cloth for the after samples, which I sort of suspected.  But I like this stripe design well enough that I'd decided to do another warp of it anyway.  So I'll finish the after samples (another 45) and the rest of the warp will be towels.

Just to make the day that little bit more annoying, I realized I'm running out of masking tape.  Since I'd just been to the store where I buy it, I could have stocked up while I was there, but no.  My mind was on other things.  Which means another trip on another day.  Curve balls.  Sometimes you just have to duck and head for the studio anyway.

Studio powered by Adele and Johnnie Reid

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Little of This, a Little of That

One of the things that I don't think is mentioned very often is that of build up on the cloth beam when a long-ish warp is woven.  This warp is 13 meters and at this point there are about 11 of them wound onto the beam.  The cloth has built up about an inch in thickness so far.

As the diameter of the beam changes, so does the tensioning of the warp change.  With that much cloth rolled onto the beam the tension seems to get a bit 'soggy', probably because the cloth itself is 'soft' and somewhat giving.  Plus the change in diameter means the ratio between the cloth built up and the brake has changed, too.  (This is not an issue with an AVL loom that has a separate cloth storage roller and sandpaper beam.  On these looms the tension is only held between the warp beam and the sandpaper breast beam - the build up of cloth on the storage roller has no effect on the tension of the warp.  I can store about 40 yards on my AVL.)

When I weave a warp this long with all of the cloth wound onto the beam I find that I have to work a bit harder to set the tension on the warp - it feels like I'm putting more tension on it, just in order to achieve the same tension.  If that makes sense.  In other words, I have to pull on the handle harder, the tension applied feels tighter, in comparison to earlier on in the weaving.

If I don't get the warp tight enough the weft pulls stronger on the selvedge and little 'lines' appear because the weft has drawn the selvedge threads inwards more than previously.  Mostly this unevenness evens out during the wet finishing, but if it doesn't completely go away I don't worry about it too much.  Most people don't notice (unless they are weavers) and it doesn't affect the way the cloth behaves.  So rather than tie myself into a knot worrying about a little inconsistency, I just correct and carry on.  And try to set my tension better the next time.

I also find that with a wider warp the sweet spot is smaller.  By that I mean the placement of the fell line is best in a smaller area, which means that the warp needs to be advanced more frequently.  If not, small inconsistencies can develop at the selvedge.  It really pays to advance more often rather than try to force just a few more picks into the cloth before stopping.

Claudia asked about my dyeing.  First let me explain that I don't try for level (even) effects.  Industry does that very well.  My dyeing is more 'impressionistic'.  For example, I feel that the above skeins sort of look like one of the hydrangea colours.  For this particular batch I started with a purple 'base' and immersed the skeins into the dye bath with the vinegar and let the skeins take up whatever dye they could, given the pot is stuffed pretty full.  Hence the paler, almost white areas.  Once the purple was set, I drizzled blue over the skeins in the pot, then dumped vinegar in on top of that.  That was again left to simmer and allow the dye to strike as and where it could.  

None of these skeins is the same as the rest but since they were all done in the same dye pot (all except the skeins to the far right) they can all be used in a warp together.  

For knitting, the skeins are 100 grams with approximately 490 yards.  The size is 'fingering' weight.  I did figure out what size that would be in NM but don't have my notes handy.  

The fibre is Blue Faced Leicester and is supposed to full really well.  I had a couple of skeins that were 'off' in terms of their yardage so one of them is being knitted up and will be tossed into the washing machine to full significantly for a bag.  I'll use some of the yarn to twist up a cord for it.  The goal is to have this done in time for the Alberta Conference in High River the end of this month.  Well, it's a goal!  If I don't have a deadline, I don't seem to have any incentive to get stuff done.  :^)

Currently reading Flowers for Her Grave by Judy Clemens - this is the 3rd in the series and I'm intrigued enough that I'm going to try to find the first two to get the back story.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Preparing Hems

 starting 2/16 cotton for hem part of towel

end of hem, beginning of next towel body

Thought I would show how I deal with preparing hems when they are different from the body of the cloth.

For tea towels, in this case 2/16 warp with cottolin weft for the towel body and 2/16 cotton for the hems, I weave about 2.5 inches for the hem in plain weave, creating a cut line between the towels by treadling two picks of twill.  The cottolin is just carried up the side of the hem as you can see in the bottom photo.  

In the upper photo you can see the end of the cottolin with that yarn simply set aside (I put the shuttle down to my left to keep the yarn out of the way of the weaving) and insert the 2/16 into the same shed as the last pick of cottolin.

At the end of the hem for the next towel, I break the 2/16 off and insert the end into the first twill pick for the cottolin.

By not breaking off the cottolin, I save a little time with each weft change, the yarns are overlapped so that everything is secure and the loop of cottolin can be either cut off flush with the cloth or left as a short tail and tucked into the hem when it is sewn.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Sometimes new weavers get concerned because the last pick they weave doesn't sit at the same distance as the picks below it.  They worry that they are doing something wrong, or that their beating is uneven. They beat a second, third and sometimes fourth time, getting frustrated because it's still not 'right'.  Sometimes they start weaving with a double beat rhythm, once on the open shed, once again on the closed shed just so that it looks right.

The fact is that the last pick will always sit a little 'proud' from the picks below it.  The next pick woven will press the pick into proper alignment.  There is no need to double beat on an 'ordinary' cloth like the above.

There are times when it may be necessary to double beat.  Weave structures like rep weave may require a second beat.  Weft faced rug weaves.  A fairly dense thick linen. 

But generally, for 'ordinary' weaving, the next pick will set the last pick into proper alignment.  You just have to have a little faith and remember that if you can't be perfect, be consistent.