Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Black Tea Towels - Eight Shaft Broken Twill

A very strange thing happened, Mum and I wove the same item, tea towels, using the same pattern!  Mum’s were white and can be seen here.  Mine were 2/8 cotton in black, purple, blue, red and yellow.  Sorry for the blurry photo.
The pattern is a simple broken twill that only used 4 treadles, the weaving was quick but really effective.
I did a plaid border at one end of each towel in red or yellow.
To make the hemming of the tea towels easier I add a single pick of sewing thread at 1 ½ inches at the beginning and end of the tea towel.  The sewing thread has about a 2 inch tail at each end, this comes in handy later.  After the tea towel is washed and dried, it is time for hemming.  The first fold is pressed into the tea towel at the line proved by the sewing thread, the fold is straight and it is easy to see.  The sewing thread is then no longer needed at can be pulled out.
I also ran out of warp for the last tea towel, I needed about 6 more inches.  To extend the warp I tried to add a shorter warp beam that could fit past the last four shafts.  I found a piece of wooden dowel that was a little rough so I wrapped it in a piece of tissue paper.  It was a little thick but I thought it could work.
When I added the tension to the warp there was a SNAP!  I had used 2/8 cotton to tie on the warp and under the tension they had snapped.  I then tied on with some cord that worked much better.  Again sorry for the blurry picture.
The finished tea towels have a really graphic punch!  Here are the three yellow plaid tea towels.  For Sale.
Here are the two red plaid tea towels.  For Sale.
Final picture is of a Anna’s Hummingbird that is over wintering here on Vancouver Island, we actually have three hummingbirds coming to the feeder this year!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Annual Loom Maintenance ~ Louet Spring Loom

January is a time when I feel very optimistic.  The days are getting longer and for some strange reason I think it’s Spring even though I’m reminded that it’s really the beginning of Winter.  I have this driving need to clean and organize things, so loom maintenance leaps to mind.

My Louet Spring loom is my primary loom, so Lily Louet gets lots of use and frankly I should do my cleanup more often.
I like to start from the bottom up, so lifting the loom onto a table in my studio was my first step.
 Wow, when it’s at eye level you sure could see the black marks on the treadles from the bottom of my slippers.  A bit of Vim took it right off!
I have noticed that the tie up cords to the treadles were getting quite loopy as they have stretched over the years.
This caused enough slack so that the long tie ups from the upper lamms would occasionally catch on an adjoining treadle making my weaving come to an abrupt halt.  Pretty scary looking while it is in the relaxed position.
To fix this problem I removed all of the tie up cords and lined them up with the end that attached to the treadle facing in the same direction to see if they had stretched out unevenly; they looked the same length, so I marked the opposite end with black felt on the second button hole.
 I will put them back onto the lamms reversing them end for end and button them to the treadle screws one hole tighter.
Now that the cords have been replaced, you can really see the difference.
My next job was to pull out the breast beam and to check that it was still balanced.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was not just a little out of whack!  On the Louet Spring the apron cloth is replaced by three doubled over texsolve cords which are snitch knotted onto a metal rod.  The rod is 36 inches long and there are 3 sets of cords, so there will be 4 spaces between the cords; 36 divided by 4 gives 9, so there should be 9 inches of rod at each end and 9 inches between the cords. When I measured mine they were off by several inches.  I think this was caused by my nudging the knots to one side or the other when I was tying on my warps. I think this would make the cloth beam pull the newly woven fabric onto the beam unevenly. A fairly quick fix to mark these spots and re-centre the cords; this is one thing I’m going to make sure I check more frequently.
I went around with a screwdriver and wrench and tightened all the screws and bolts I could reach while it was up on the table and again, I was gobsmacked at how loose some of them were.
After putting the loom back on the floor, I did the same process of straightening out the apron cloth on the back beam.  It was about 1/2 inch off, as you can see in this photo of it lined up against the back beam.  Frankly, I’m amazed that my weaving has been as even as it has been considering that it was pulling off the back beam and pulling onto the front beam with that much discrepancy.

I took a level and had a look at all the lamms and shafts to ensure that they were level and thankfully, they were still in balance, so I didn’t need to do any fixing on them, just a quick dust off.
Now that the loom has been tightened within an inch of its life, it’s time to put on a new warp and I have chosen to do another Crackle Weave project for the Guild Study Group.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What is on the Looms at the Start of the New Year

On Mum’s loom is a 2/8 cotton tea towel warp.  It is a striped warp in shades of green, purple and blue.  The pattern is Crackle and the weft is green, she has used some other colours but I’ll let her tell you more later.

On my loom is a 2/30 cotton shawl warp.  It is almost 900 threads in the warp and a lovely cream colour.  The pattern is also Crackle and the weft is black 2/20 Tencel, I’ll be telling you more later.

These are both projects for our Study Group with the Qualicum Weavers, hopefully they will be done before the next meeting on the 19th!
The final picture is of my knitting angel that I made in May sitting on top of my pink Christmas tree.  Adorable!

Monday, December 19, 2016

8 Shaft Broken Twill Tea Towels

A couple of times a year I like to put on what I like to call a ‘comfort warp’.  This is a warp that I know will pose no surprises and will be a relaxing weave and a chance to work on my loom posture and to ensure I’m using a good throwing technique.  If my mind isn’t on the pattern I can really concentrate on sitting up straight, throwing the shuttle correctly and depressing the treadles fully.

Twill is my comfort pattern weave and an 8 Shaft Broken Twill pattern fits the bill of comfort perfectly.  Striped warp tea towels are always a good project for me, it uses up small amounts of coloured cotton and because I usually choose to do only 6 towels at a time, its a quick project and perfect for the Etsy Shop.
These are the results of pulling 10 white 2/8 cotton ends then 4 ends of either pink, red violet, turquoise or peach sequentially.  They are a lovely fresh looking towel.
I like to add more interest to the towels by weaving a weft striped border starting at about 4.5 inches from the beginning of the towel.  This allows me to have 1.5 inches for a turned under hem and then a couple of inches before the stripes begin.  With these towels I chose to weave the weft stripes in turquoise and then using the same sequence in red violet on the following tea towel.  I thought that the pink and peach were too pale to show up well.
The goal was to have 3 pairs of tea towels that matched, each one containing 1 turquoise striped towel and its red violet partner.

I mentioned at the beginning that tea towels hold no surprises for me, but this time I got a pretty good one on my last towel.  I ran out of warp!  I have pre-measured strings that I use for my projects and this time I grabbed the wrong one......so the Sesame Street song ‘ One of these things is not like the others’, really rings true.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Getting Cracking with Crackle Weave

This year the Exploring More Study Group within the Qualicum Weavers Guild is taking a look at Crackle Weave.  As a group we thought that it had lots of potential for all of us; with one caveat, we decided to look at ‘Unconventional Crackle’.  
Our first task was to understand traditional Crackle Weave, so that we had a good jumping off point.  There are a few ground rules for Crackle weave ~  no more than a 3 thread float, the plain sequence must always be maintained, when changing blocks an incidental must be inserted, never more than 4 threads before the twill changes direction.
This is an 8 shaft Crackle threading that I developed; the tie up is the one suggested for 8 shafts in May E Snyder’s book “The Crackle Weave”  and the treadling is plain twill. It is treadled with tabby threads as this is the traditional style.  The green lines show the placement of the ‘incidentals’ which connect one unit to the next.
This is the same draft with the tabby removed from the treadling, you can see the pattern much more clearly now that it is no longer a traditional treadling. 
This is the same threading and tie up; I have changed the treadling to a M&W style of treadling.  Now it’s starting to looking more exciting.
This is the same draft but it is ‘woven as drawn in’, or the treadling is the same as the threading.  Finally it really shows how lovely Crackle Weave can be.  If I was going to weave it I'd remove the twill borders  as I think they detract from the pattern.

The next step is to weave a project and I have decided to weave tea towels using stripes of colour to delineate the blocks.  I am all about using up small cones left in the stash cupboard!  The colours are plum, lime, turquoise, bright green and cerulean green.  I will use navy for the weft.
Now let the weaving begin!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dye Day from June ~ The Forgotten Post

I have totally not kept up with the blog and with this post I actually forgot to publish it ~ oops!  We have a yearly dye day where we dye silk scarf warps and this year we pulled some warps using Tencel too.
We each pulled three white silk warps with 200 threads in each .  Then we used yellow Tencel to make three more warps.  We used yellow Tencel because for some reason we had bought two large cones of yellow a couple of years ago and it and the Coral we duplicated are not colours we use often, why did we buy them?!

For the Tencel we pulled three different styles of warps.  The first style is 200 threads divided into five groups of 40 threads, then two of the bunches are flipped so that the crosses are at the other end for painting. The second style is 96 threads divided into two groups of 48 threads.  The third style is just 96 threads, not sure if we want it for a scarf or a shawl at this point.
It is always surprising how hydroscopic the silk is, it takes forever for it to get completely wet!  In the picture you can see that we use weft twinning to keep the warp tidy and flat enough to paint.  The flashes of green are painter’s masking tape that we use to label the warps, about half of them fell off though!
We use Procion MX dyes and the technique can be found here.  We like to use sponge brushes to add the dyes.  We used the same technique for the Tencel warps.
Here is a picture of the warps batching.  We wrap the scarves in plastic wrap and then place them in plastic bags with like colours just in case there is any leakage.  We also did some silk scarf blanks.  It was a very long day of dyeing.
The next day we rinsed everything.  It always looks a little messy!
Here is a scarf freshly rinsed scrunched into a ball.  But just a couple of tugs and it is all straight again, like magic.
The scarves are all hung out to dry out of the sun.  Don’t they look exciting!
And here they are all finished.  We were both amazed at how well the yellow Tencel took the dye.  I’m going to describe the colours of each warp and who it belongs to because we will inevitably lose the tag and won’t remember who’s is who’s!
Here are Mum’s three silk warps.  The top is Gold, Plum, Moss and Rust/Brown.  The middle is Deep Navy Blue, Black and Silver.  And the bottom one is Purple, Turquoise, Green and Navy Blue.
Here is Mum’s two Tencel warps.  The top is Orange, Red, Brown, Rust and the original Yellow. There are some streaks of green from the brown dye breaking.  This warp is 200 threads and has been flip flopped.  The bottom warp is both 96 thread Tencel warps, it was getting late in the evening so we combined them.  The colours are Navy, Ink Blue, Bright Green, Orange, Red and original Yellow. There are lots of secondary colours like Brown, Purple and Greens.
Here are my three silk warps.  The top is Ink Blue and Leaf Green.  The middle is Gold, Rust and Bronze Brown.  And the bottom one is Plum and Moss.
Here are my two Tencel warps.  The top is Orange, Brown, Gold (Sunflower Yellow) and original Yellow.  There are some streaks of green from the brown dye breaking.  This warp is 200 threads and has been flip flopped.  The bottom warp is both 96 thread warps.  The colours are Purple, Teal, Green and the original Yellow.  There are secondary colours of blues and greens.
Final Garden Shot is the Black Mission Fig.  It was such a cold summer that the figs are really late. We only got two weeks of above 25C at the end of August then it was back to the cool weather, it was a truly sucky short summer.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Tale of Two Scarves

I was doing a photo shoot for some new scarves in the Etsy shop when I noticed something about two of the scarves.  The scarves are Mum’s Drall scarf and my polka dot scarf.
The scarves are both made from a hand dyed silk warp.  They are the same silk and both warps started at the same length of 100 inches. But in the below picture you can see that they are different lengths.  The purple drall is 67 inches, and the blue polka dots is 71 ¾ inches.  Sorry about the quality of the pictures they were taken at the end of the day and are a little dark.
The main reason for the difference in length was that the drall scarf has a large pattern repeat so Mum had to finish at a certain spot so that the ends of the scarf matched.

The scarves are also two different widths.  They are the same silk and both warps are 200 threads, well they should be but Mum wound a couple of extra threads to make 208!  The purple drall has a finished width of 7 inches and the blue polka dots is 5 ¼ inches wide.
They are both set to 28 epi so the addition of 8 threads would only be about a ¼ of an inch.  But Mum used a 14 dent reed and sleyed two per dent.  I used a 12 dent reed and sleyed 2 2 3.  So there would be a slight difference but I think that the biggest factor in the different widths is that we used two different wefts.  Mum used a 2/8 Tencel and I used a 2/20 bamboo.

Now that I think about it the difference in the grist of the weft would also impact the length because of how much warp would be taken up with going around the weft.

We also managed to have different length of fringe!  Purple drall has a 6 inch fringe and the blue polka dots has a 8 inch fringe.
It is amazing the difference the weft choice has made in these two scarves!  Also the weave structure would have made a difference on the scarves.  The purple drall scarf is 3/1 twill structure.  The polka dot scarf is a network twill.  Just goes to show that every little choice makes a difference.

Final Garden Shot is the jumble of dahlias that are in the front garden.  They are a cheerful and colourful addition!