Monday, December 29, 2008

On Being Resolute

As the year ends I’m feeling bogged down with unfinished and unused projects; I feel that before I can really move forward, I’d better shovel out what I have behind me! Today I took a look at my stash of unfinished weaving and have made some plans. I feel that if I put them down here, right out in the open, I may actually do them!

The first project that needs something is a colour and weave scarf in fine soft Merino wool, it’s in natural and peach about 70” long. What this scarf lacks is pizzazz, so I plan to do a beaded clasp or tassel or something to allow one side of the scarf to pass through on top of the other.
My next project is wool yardage that was woven in both plain weave and twill for the Guild of Canadian Weavers Basic test. The wool I used was 2 ply medium in natural, green, blue and magenta. I really do like these pieces, but have been stumped on what to do with the leftovers; now I’ve got it! The plan is to felt them and make them into nice big fat Christmas Stockings for my family. I think that they will look great with some fancy trims.
One of the projects from the GCW Senior test is an 8 shaft twill gamp. I chose 2/22 cottolin; the test requires contrasting warp and weft colours outlined by a different colour woven square. True to my love of blue, I chose navy, turquoise and hot pink. My first attempt worked perfectly, I did a Point Twill, Rosepath, M&W, Advancing Twill, Snowflake , Broken Twill, Dornik and Network. This piece looked wonderful on the right side, but the Network Twill caused some unacceptable floats on the reverse. I had to rethread and rearrange the sequence of blocks and replaced the Network with Straight Twill and promptly ran out of warp……so another lovely piece, but too short! Third time will be the charm and I tied on again, wove my sample and then tossed it in a box without ever inspecting it at all. I have never finished this piece and it is potentially a good test submission….Gotta get to that! The two other pieces will make nice tea towels for me.
My final problem child is this fine wool yardage. It is so soft and supple and has a wonderful sheen, but I really hate the orange stripe! I used 2/20 pure Scottish tartan wool in the Ancient line of blue, green and scarlet (read orange) and navy from a different supplier for the warp and navy for the weft. When I washed the yardage the navy completely puckered and waved! A commercial pressing fixed the problem, but it could not be used for my submission, now what? Guess a trip to Fabricland is in my future and maybe the catalogues will give me a garment idea.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Warm Wishes

These socks are what have been keeping me from my loom during the evenings for the past few weeks. My poor daughter gets the socks made from all the leftovers, but she mentioned that she'd like some with stripes - better be careful with wishes around here!

I'd like to send all of you very warm wishes for the holiday season. My family will be getting warm wishes and toes! Be well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Louet Jane Loom ~ Unpacking and Setup

Lily’s little sister Lavender Jane (pretty big handle for such a wee loom) arrived today, just in time for Christmas as my husband had hoped, it was his gift to me and I’m over the moon! He had ordered the loom while we were on our Island Adventure with Susan and Bruce in August. It was exciting to see the UPS van pull up at our freshly shovelled walkway, since we have mountains of new snow, timing was everything.
As usual Louet really does a wonderful job of packing their products; no travelling bumps on wee Jane as far as I can see.
There are several amazing things about this 8 shaft table loom and one of them is that the weight is only about 17 pounds and she folds down to only 5-1/2” in height. It has this nifty carrying handle to make moving it around a breeze, and Louets’ signature mounted raddle.
When everything was out of the box, it was time to assemble – unfortunately it only came with 200 heddles which aren’t enough for an 8 shaft loom, and the warp rods had been forgotten in Toronto and one of my shaft holders had split. Jane Stafford who helped Louet develop this lovely wee girl, emailed me even before I had received the loom to let me know about the heddles, so that wasn't such a surprise, Jane would order more heddles for those of us who purchased the very first shipment of looms and sell them at a reasonable price; she also ensured me that the rods and my replacement part would be sent right away. Since I'm not in a real rush to get going I'm happy to wait.
So Michael – who was like any boy with a mechano set, mounted shafts 5-6-7-8 on the loom and got Lavender Louet ready to go. The overhead beater is a real treat and the fact that the beater can be secured out of the way when not in use is a nice touch. I even love the Velcro that hold the reed in place - a very neat idea. I can’t wait to discover more about this loom.
Thought I’d show you another photo of my snow load on the balcony rail, now it looks like a loaf of bread. We have had extremely cold nights, plummeting to -35C so most of the water has been evaporated from the early snow leaving the new snow to pile onto a diminishing base.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Nicest Surprise

Today’s post brought me a wonderful surprise. A weaver in Kamloops, sent me a handmade Christmas card! Along with it came a sample of her cardstock and some helpful hints.
Joan, your lovely card arrived and has taken its’ place on my table with the handwoven cards that mean so much to me.
Thank you so very much, I will trot it out every holiday season and think of you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Twelve Shaft Undulating Twill Scarf

This morning we woke up to -19 C and scads of squeaky snow. There has been no wind to move the snow, so it sits proudly on my deck like icing on a cake.

I think the birds could have a bit of trouble getting through this….

My poor kale looks like forlorn frozen mini palm trees now – I was hoping to get one final meal off of them before they froze completely, but a bit too late now. I’m going to leave them until the spring and see if they survive.

I have just put project number three on lily. This time it’s a fun weave so I put on 2 tencel scarves in undulating twill. The colours are not truly represented on my photo, but they are scarlet, red, ochre, gold, lemongrass, and silver – then reversed. Pretty loud for a colour fraidy cat like me.

I pulled the warp without cutting any of the threads so when I put the warp on the back beam I’d missed a couple of loops that were out of order, rather than untie everything – a chopstick did the trick.
I’m using 2/8 royal purple tencel for the weft on this scarf and am switching treadling after 7”, then 4” until near the centre of the 78” scarf when there will be a run of 12”.
Since the warp moves from dark to light to dark repeatedly and the overall optical illusion is of three tubes side by side- interestingly I can feel a definite ridging on the loom, so there may be some actual physical tubes when they come off the loom.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Looks like I too have been tagged so I went to my sixth folders and came up with this photo. In 2006 my husband and I spent a month in Italy. For three weeks we rented a house in Greve in Chianti, Tuscany via the Agritourismo progam. One of the highlights of our trip was taking a cooking class in Badia Passignano on the Antinori Vinyard and Winery. We had a wonderful teacher Chef Matia Barciulli who is pictured below making pasta. The afternoon started with a vineyard and cellar tour and wine tastings, then on to the kitchen where we helped prepare our evening meal. The evening ended with our cooking class sitting at the Chef’s table eating the six course meal we had helped prepare. One of those wonderful moments in time!

Unfortunately all the blogs I know about have already been tagged, so I'll just post my photo and leave it to others who have a wider blogger knowledge to continue the game.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Cards

Everything about Christmas makes me happy; I love being with my family and making that special effort to acknowledge my friendships. I like to send and of course receive Christmas Cards by post. I have some very special weaving friends that I try to send handwoven cards if I can. The most difficult part of making the cards is getting appropriate card stock, so if you have any great sources you'd care to share, please send them my way…

These are the cards I sent for 2008. I wove them at the end of an 8 shaft twill gamp. The warp is navy cottolin and the weft is white cottolin with silver thread. The cardstock is the last of some I purchase through the Ponderosa Weavers way back in 2002!

Over the past few years I have received some lovely cards from my friends and I trot them out every Christmas, both for the weaving and the sentiments written inside. These are a few that make me feel warm and fuzzy!

In 2007 the GCW did a card exchange that I took part in, and the next two photos are of the Christmas Cards I received, along with their draw downs and record sheets, an amazing resource... I sent a Valentine’s Card into the exchange; don’t know what I was thinking!

I did threaten to share some of my favourite recipes with you, and so far have restrained myself; I am a complete foodie and could wax on about cooking constantly if I give in too frequently to the urge. I'm a creature who revels in tradition and have a tendency to save special things for only once a year; this easy dessert has ended our Christmas meal for the last decade.

Mountains of Chocolate Mousse

12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites stiffly beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup of almost boiling water

Put chocolate chips and very hot water into a blender and whiz until smooth and the chips are melted. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract and quickly re blend. Beat egg whites until very stiff and glossy. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix. Nothing else needed, but a topping of lightly sweetened whipped cream or mascarpone cream with a little Triple Sec and orange zest is wonderful!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Name Draft Runners Just About Finished

Yesterday I woke up to our first real snowfall which turned to ice rain in the afternoon. I have two of these little ornament trees bracketing my front door and I think the touch of snow looks lovely on them. Later on in the day I had to peel the ice coating off of the sage leaves I picked to season dinner, so the weather rapidly deteriorated!
I’m on the home run with the Overshot Name draft runners and have woven them with different wefts from the first 2/20 wool sample. The second sample was woven with 2/10 silk noil in a soft olive green colour which I doubled on the pirn. This photo doesn’t do the colours justice and I’m going to try and learn Photoshop better.

The final runner has a weft of 2/10 tussah silk, doubled, that was originally a dull dun colour. I over dyed it with crimson and came up with a lovely redwood colour. There are very subtle variations in the colour which make it interesting. There is a very nice play with sheen too as the warp has quite a bit of lustre and the silk has none. This is the only one of the three runners that is truly woven to square, so it will be my submission piece to the GCW.

Because this warp is of very sticky Egyptian cotton threads I’ve kept the lease sticks in place to ensure that there is some separation before the warp hits the heddles, to prevent bridging. Lily Louet has little eye hooks just over the back beam where it is suggested you tie up your lease sticks when weaving so that they don’t impede the shed.
I decided to leave them in front of the back beam and I still have what I consider a very ample shed, much larger than any I’ve achieved on my wee Minerva loom.

If you noticed the pillow on the ledge behind the loom, here is a better photo. This cushion was given to me by my friend Susan and celebrates our joint Spring Looms.

On of the things I forgot to mention on a previous post, is that when you are not weaving with all of the shafts on the loom, you should pin the extra shafts into the neutral position with the neat pick that Louet provides. It is so much easier than my previous countermarche loom, just thread the texsolv cord onto the pick and insert into the hole in the castle.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This and That

I have finally finished hand hemming and pressing my cottolin tea towels and luckily, three have been sold. It seems that I'm working at a snails pace and I blame the grey sky's around here for that! Each of the towels are different; some have stripes at one end, others at both. The colours and sequencing of the stripes are unique to each towel. My size aim for tea towels is 24” wide in the reed and I weave as close to 36” in length as possible, depending on pattern etc. I really try to make the towels very thick and substantial so set them at 24 epi and wove them tightly. These towels finished out at 22” wide and 32” long on average.

As I complete each project I try to ensure that I have enough for samples. I am so very lucky to have two amazing weaving friendships with Susan and Louise, and whenever possible send a draw down and sample to each of them. Now that my daughter is weaving I guess that I’ll have to make another sample so she can have a sample book too.

Speaking of my daughter, here is a photo of her very first weaving project! I know it is usual to start with cotton or wool and a simple tabby or twill, but I want her to love weaving as much as I do, so we chose to make a scarf with Italian Ribbon in Bronze – 56 ends, and weave an 8 Shaft undulating twill with Black Chenille. Ngaire (pronounced Nyree) finished the scarf with black glass beads and the care she took with them is apparent. This scarf has wonderful drape and is really a weaving of which to be proud (no dangling participles for me!)
Lastly I purchased this lovely little Pine Needle Basket at the Ponderosa Spinners and Weavers Sale in Kelowna and am totally impressed as this is my fellow guild member Brenda Howe’s first attempt at this type of weaving , so I thought I'd share with you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How to Warp a Louet Spring Loom

While on a vist to our friends Susan and Bruce on Vancouver Island this summer, my husband bought me a Louet Spring loom during a day trip to Jane Stafford Textiles on Salt Spring Island. My friend Susan spoke of our fantastic day on her blogspot called Thrums It's on her entry ‘It’s Like Winning The Lottery’ and I don’t think that I can improve upon her story. It's a fun read!

As I put the second warp on Lily Louet I thought that I’d take photos and share how I am dressing her. This method has given me, without a doubt, the best tensioned warps I have ever had. Thank you Jane Stafford for the CD Discover the World of Weaving Looms, by Louet!
I make my warp on a standard warping board, but since I’m a bit of a shortie I hang my warping board on the wire shelves in my studio. The boxes of yarn on the shelves made it very hard to see my warp threads and kept boggeling my eyes, but I fixed the problem with a few clothespins and a towel, not pretty, but it worked. I know I'm a bit retentive about keeping my yarn in clear plastic bins, but, that's the way I am! This warp is 4 yards long, 2/10 Egyptian cotton in pale cream.
I moved the warp to the loom and inserted the thin metal rod through the loops and then put the lease sticks though the cross, pretty standard stuff so far. The lease sticks are tied to the sides of the loom with a half hitch knot and then firmly tied to the back beam. The half hitch becomes important later on.
I then lashed the thin metal rod to the 3/8” metal rod that I added to the loom, at about 1” intervals. I take time here to ensure that the distance between both ends of the rod is exactly the same.
Now we come to the different stuff. The Louet Spring has a built in raddle on the castle of the loom, so the warp goes over the top of the loom for sectioning between the notches. To keep the warp threads not yet in use from falling into the cracks I use a piece of plain paper to lay them on.
Once the warp threads are raddled you need to secure it with a piece of twine to make sure that it doesn’t pop out of the raddle spaces. I thought about it, and never one to waste yarn, I thought that making a giant elastic band that I could use over and over again was the way to go. I found this thin round elastic in my sewing box and it worked pretty well.
The warp threads are beamed with a paper separator on the back beam, and the care I take to start the paper off evenly and straight is rewarded later on with an evenly beamed warp. After winding on a turn or two, I pull down very firmly on the paper and this tightens it on the beam, then off to the front of the loom and a very hard pull snugs it up even more, it's really quite amazing. Repeat, repeat, repeat…..
To keep the warp threads from tangling as you are beaming you run your fingers over the threads right at the raddle level, this and a bit of shaking is all that is needed to ensure it moves through the raddle. I never finger comb or fiddle too much with the warp threads as it usually causes more grief. Even though this was extremely sticky yarn, this method works.
As you can see, it beamed very evenly and so I only cut off an inch or two of loops, using the front of the shelf as a guide line.
Then on to threading the heddles; because the lease sticks were half hitched to the sides of the loom, you can move them up and down to be at the perfect height so you can easily pick the threads from the cross. This was one of the best things I learned, it was a real improvement on my previous style of threading. As you can see below it is sticky, sticky yarn and wants to clump! I have a print out of my threading taped to the loom shelf on the left and use a pin poked through the paper to keep my place in the threading sequence.
To tie to the front beam I take very small increments of warp and pull it under the bar then split it in two and under the warp bout and tie it in an overhand knot that you put through the loop a second time. Putting it through the loop a second time makes it a moveable knot. After going from right to left across the warp, I tighten the tension on the warp until some of the groups are quite firm. Now I have some groups slightly tighter than others; to even them out I lay my hand over the tightest bouts and rock back and forth on them to make them all the same tension, the knots will loosen just enough to achieve it. This really works!
Now the final step, I start at the right side and pull up each bout as tight as I can and give it another overhand knot. Working from right to left without stopping you give the bouts a final knot. You will probably find that the right side is slightly looser by this time, but leave it alone and walk away from the loom for about 20 minutes and you will be rewarded by an evenly tensioned warp as the bouts most recently tied relax.
This warp will be a submission piece for the Guild of Canadian Weavers Senior test. It is an original Overshot namedraft bordered on four sides, minimum size must be 12" x 18" and I only have about 6" done so far. Not really my favourite thing to weave, but.... I’m using 4 strands of 2/20 wool for the pattern thread and the same 2/10 Egyptian cotton for the tabby. I set it at 24 epi and am aiming for 24 ppi. Although the photo looks black and white it is actually blue/olive and cream. I think that I'll change the pattern weft to be silk for the next one. I put on enough warp for 4 runners, thinking that I'd gift one to each of my children because the namedraft is our family name.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lucky Me!

My husband Michael finished the prototype of my travelling loom bench. This prototype is made from unfinished pine; the final product will be made from hardwood and will be finished to match Lily Louet. This is a working model; and work it does! The bench is 41” long and has a seat that moves on bearings for 35”. The seat is set at a 15 degree angle and overlaps the front of the bench with a rounded edge to help me to sit forward and straight.

The angle on the seat stops that annoying tendency to have your legs go numb after hours at the loom. The seat movement allows me to sit directly over my farthest treadles, which due to my lack of height were a tremendous stretch for me. The bench will have a fairly deep storage box for all those little tools and will have handles on the front to allow me to scoot the bench forward after I’m seated. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until the weather warms up before I’ll get the final product as my husband Michael does all his woodwork in the carport and it’s too darn cold to work out there now (first few snowflakes today!) The prototype may not look pretty but she will do the trick until Spring….

I have decided to change my masthead and have chosen a photo of a scarf I wove for my daughter using Italian ribbon and Orlec. I wove the scarf in straight twill on 4 Shafts, but because of the bumps in the ribbon I achieved a lovely undulating effect.