Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Slow Cloth--Terry cloth Pile

The November/December 2010 issue of Handwoven Magazine focused on "Slow Cloth" and included a piece by Rita Buchanan on weaving terry cloth. I got bit by the "I wanna try it" bug and decided to give it a go.

To the left is a piece of a sampler that is in progress. The ground warp (light blue) is 10/2 cotton, as is the pile warp (purple). The weft is a 100% cotton sewing thread that I had on hand. My "dowels" that I am using to raise the pile into loops are really bamboo skewers from my kitchen.

It took a bit of sampling to figure out how to get the pile dense enough to feel like a towel. My first few attempts looked like a forest with too few trees!

My husband helped me design and make a second back beam for my Baby Wolf. I wasn't willing to spend a lot of money on the nice second back beams that Schacht makes for this loom just to try terry cloth pile. I run into this fairly regularly...I want to try things, but I'm not sure that I will do them often, so it's hard to spend a lot of money on the equipment to try the technique. This back beam is held on with c-clamps, making it very temporary, and only cost $10 for wood. There is no brake on the beam and I'm using a live weight tension on it. I'm really pleased how it is working!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Plethora of Projects

My blog posts have dwindled due to the nature of much of my projects lately. There was a pair of pants for my son (a Christmas present), a set of Barbie clothes for my daughter (a Christmas present), a wall hanging made of t-shirts and machine quilted for my husband (a Christmas present), and a pair of socks for me (a Stocking stuffer)....There seems to be a theme here!

I'll start with the socks because I have a photo of them. This is yarn that I dyed in the workshop with Rita Petteys back in May. It is a 100% merino wool, lace weight yarn. I'm not used to knitting with lace weight yarns, and these socks had almost 100 stitches per round! Needles to say, it has taken a long time to get these done! The socks were knit with two different patterns from Sensational Knitted Socks by Schurch. I knit the lace pattern first. After I got it done, I paused my sock knitting to work on my mittens for Alia (that eventually got frogged and sewn out of non-itchy polyeseter fleece) and I got a lesson in color/pattern combinations. So, by the time I came back to knit sock #2, I tried a different pattern (the basket-weave pattern in the top left sock in the photo). I liked the effect of the basket-weave pattern better than the lace. I thought that it showed the colors of the yarn better. But, when they are on my feet and I am looking at them from about 5' away, they both look just fine. Go figure! ;)

Here's the wall hanging for my husband. A friend of mine makes quilts from t-shirts and she is often sewing on the binding during storytime at the library. I love her sense of design and the way her use of scraps and pieces in between the big blocks of t-shirt art unifies her quilts. (Check out the 4th picture down on the link) Needless to say, I wanted to try my hand at this. I rescued two t-shirts from the rag bag, figured out how to prepare my machine for free motion quilting (actually, I knew how to make my machine ready...It's just that this time when I tried to make the feed dog covers go on, they actually did! Hooray!), and did some quilting. It was fun and I'm looking forward to doing more!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wabash Weavers' Guild Meeting

Today's Wabash Weavers meeting included a "weaving/fiber garage sale". I sold many cones of acrylic yarn and purchased two wooden boat shuttles.

The long, dark wood shuttle I purchased because--well, because it was long. Those are approximately 6" bobbins with it. My red LeClerc shuttle that uses 4" bobbins is at the bottom of the photo for size comparison. I think the long shuttle will be great for multi-bobbin weaving as well as for projects that will use a lot of weft!

The middle shuttle I purchased because it is pretty. (Isn't that terrible! :) It looks like it will take the same 4" bobbins my LeClerc shuttles use, but the two colors of wood were just too pretty to pass!

Our guild has been doing a towel exchange for the last couple of years. These are the two I drew this year! Aren't they beautiful!?

The white M's and W's is stunning. I do not know how to use this beautiful piece. If I use it like my regular handwoven towels it's bound to get dirty, but it's too beautiful to just put away. I don't know what to do, but I love it!

The blue towel is huck lace and I know this one will get regular use! It's just right to join the ranks of my other towels from the last few years!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Walking Weaving

My fabric seems to be walking to the right on my front apron beam.

See that stack of selvages showing in the top photo? It's not draw-in...the fabric seems to be winding on to the beam in a spiral.

The right edge of the fabric is loose enough that I can stick the tip of my finger under the selvage that shows.


What would make fabric wind onto the front apron beam irregularly like this?

--This is on a Baby Wolf loom. I did notice that the right side of the loom was loose (lifting screw not tight) and tightened it early in the weaving.

--The fabric is weaving beautifully and I'm almost finished (100/140 inches woven). Is my tension about to go all crazy because I discovered this?

--I am using my make-shift "paper-clips-on-weighted-strings" temples on this piece (Woolgatherer's weighted temple plans). They are evenly weighted, but the strings are different lengths. Am I inadvertently pulling the fabric to one side with my temples?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Warping Woes

I was taught to warp from front to back, but have found that it is easier to thread the heddles on my Schacht Baby Wolf if I sit at the front of the loom.

So, I am trying to figure out how to warp from back to front. In theory, it is pretty straight forward. In practice, I haven't gotten it right yet!

This warp was one of the worst ones that I have done. I wanted to maintain the warp cross, so I put the other end (just a loop) of the warp chain on a rod and lashed it to the back beam. I spread the warp in my raddle, and wound it onto the back beam. When I got to the end of the warp (with the cross) I discovered that I had a mess! The cross was still there, but the thread order as wound on the back beam did not match the thread order of the cross!

I think I'm still missing something! I need to go back and read two or three different references on how to warp from back to front before I do this again. I think the problem is that I "think" I know what I'm doing....and so I'm not doing something right! I'll get it sorted out eventually!

The warp is weaving beautifully--there is something wonderful about plain cloth! This is a 15" wide plain weave piece to complement a brown & white piece I wove earlier this year.

Frogged Mittens

I used to knit regularly and I thought that I remembered how to knit mittens. The mitten on the right looks ok from the backside, but it was too narrow across the hand and the thumb opening was huge!!

I admitted defeat with the mittens and got out a knitting book, made some calculations and started again--this time with a pattern and a decorative stitch. That's the mitten on the left. I like the decorative stitch, I really do, but it doesn't show the colors of the yarn very well.

Both of these mittens got ripped out or frogged and I started again. I got the body of the new mitten (knit with a pattern, but no decorative stitch) done and had my daughter try it on for size.

The first words out of her mouth were, "Mom, it's itchy".


At which point I gave up knitting these mittens for her, and found some scraps of polar fleece and made this bright pair of non-itchy mittens:

Hooray for non-itchy fabrics!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hanspun yarn

My loom has been very empty of late, but my spinning wheel has been very full!

There are four balls of yarn in the photo, but the little one on top is a part of the ball on the far right.

On the far left is a chain plied (3-ply) bit of Coopworth. The green in the middle is a 2-ply Romney. The top and far right is more Romney 2-plied.

What am I planning for these? Most likely some weaving. The 3-ply with all its colors is probably going to be an accent yarn. The green may need to wait for a companion yarn before I can decide what to do with it. The top & right yarns will probably be a scarf or something nice and cozy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A bit of Sewing

Cool weather has come. My eldest daughter has been growing and requested a new fleece jacket. I hemmed and hawed, and finally gave in. It's taken a week or two to get the fabric, get a pattern (I tried making one, but it didn't quite work out), and get it finished....

But it is done now, and got worn to school today!


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Paper Bag Basket

Feast of the Hunter's Moon was this weekend in Lafayette, Indiana. I worked at the Wabash Weaver's guild's booth Saturday morning, and then shopped/browsed on my way back to my vehicle. I've been hoping to find some sort of basket to use to haul my things to and from the Feast. One of my friends laughed the year I carried things in plastic bags while still in 1730's dress!

There are arm baskets, and yarn baskets... I was drawn to the backpack baskets. When I got home (without a basket) I needed to do something to ease the desire for a basket! Out came the old Handwoven's and I started working on this little gem.

Elaine Webbeking wrote about weaving baskets from grocery bags in the March/April 1994 issue of Handwoven. Her baskets are beautiful!

I used lunch sacks instead of grocery bags and cut my strips 3.5 cm (instead of the recommended 3.5") due to the smaller size of the bags.

I had to unweave the basket once....but it went back together quickly and my top edge was much better because of the extra care the second time around! It's a small basket and won't help carry my things to the Feast, but it feels good to have woven it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Handspun Scarves & Fab Four projects

After the "Fab Four" workshop with Robyn Spady I couldn't wait to try some of the 4-shaft weaves with my yarns. The first was this integrated plain weave with two acrylic yarns. They are very orange, but they were very cool to weave and the fabric is a fascinating blend of colors and textures. How would I use this? Well, probably in very small bits--how about a 2-3" diamond on the cover of a book?

This scarf is still damp in this photo and you just can't see it's fuzziness! The yellow base yarn is an acrylic/mohair blend. The orange and black accent yarn is a wool that was knit into a "blank", dyed, and unraveled. The weave structure of the accent stripe is "cannele" and it used only a tiny bit of yarn!

These are two handspun scarves. The warp is a single sized with gelatin. The pink weft is a two-ply yarn that has been waiting very patiently for a project. The purple scarf has a mystery weft. It's a mystery because I didn't write it down. The warp alternates between a light purple/pink and a dark purple/pink yarn. I was hoping for a color-and-weave (shadow weave) effect. Unfortunately the yarns were too similar and my warping technique too irregular to keep everything straight. I gave up my plans for color-and-weave and just wove some twills.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

FabFour with Robyn Spady

Robyn Spady was in Indiana this weekend giving lectures at two weaving guilds and teaching her "Fab Four" workshop.

She was a good speaker and a great workshop instructor! I loved how organized and considerate she was and how excited she was to share her weaving tips with us!

The Fab Four workshop focuses on four shaft weave structures--twelve of them! We wove corduroy, diversified plain weave, ribs (in multiple directions), overshot patterned double weave...and lots more! By the end of the two day workshop, the samples you see in my photo were cut apart, inserted in our workshop notebooks!

I am excited to try some of these structures with my own yarns! :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Headbands Ahoy!

I've been playing with some narrow warps. The first set was a mixed warp with three blues and a multicolored yarn (all about 10/2 cotton grist). I wove with three or four different wefts and turned them into headbands.

I tried a 100% wool warp made of some of my handspun. The yarn was thick and sparkly (thanks to some angelina fiber in the batt), but the band was stiff and scratchy. I ended up turning half of it into a belt and being very glad when it was off the loom!

The third warp is 8/2 cotton--this time a solid color--and again I've used different wefts to change the way things look. This little piece has a linen single as the weft and will be a bookmark. I spun this linen a while ago and am thrilled to see it used! (The pin is my way of measuring progress at the loom. I weave a bit, then measure and put the pin in at the end of the measure. Then I'll weave more and measure from the pin. I keep the running total of woven inches on a scrap at the side of the loom.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I came into the kitchen recently to find what looked like four cones of twine on my counter! The grain of the wood at a distance sure fooled me! This is one of four chair risers that my husband turned for me on the lathe. They are made of two 2x4's that have been cut into a cylinder and an indention made on the top surface for the leg of the chair.

I discovered that my weaving chair was too low (even with a pillow on it!) and my shoulders and elbows were complaining. Getting the chair at the right height makes it easier to weave!

This is what I've been working on. It's a 16/2 cotton/poly brown with a mystery bobble yarn as the white stripes. It's a fun fabric and I'm weaving it to be put away as yardage (I have no idea what it will become!). It has been lots of fun to imagine what I could make with this...and to think of coordinating fabrics that I would like to weave next!

And here's a blast from the past. My twill scarf has been hanging on a closet door for weeks while I tried to decide what to do with the fringe. Right now I am playing with adding beads--a first for me--mostly to add some black to the very orange warp threads.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Handspun projects

This cardboard loom was warped to test a color & weave (shadow weave) pattern that I was hoping to use with these two handspun yarns. Unfortunately, I either messed up the pattern--very possible...I pulled the weft out at least three times on this little piece!--or the pattern is just hard to see at this scale. The yarns are spun from a dyeing series from a while back: two rovings dyed in similar colors and patterns, one with dilute dyes, the other with concentrated dyes. For now, these yarns have been returned to the yarn box. I've requested a book via interlibrary loan to learn more about color & weave patterns.

This piece makes me smile! It's plain weave with handdyed, handspun singles used as both warp and weft. I still remember spinning this single. The colors formed such beautiful stripes that I didn't know what to do with them!

The original plan had been to ply the single with itself. I could imagine all my pretty colored stripes turning into mud. I couldn't handle that possibility, so I began looking into more options. I considered chain-plying, but I'm not overly fond of the technique and didn't really want a three ply (or quasi-three ply) yarn. For a while I hunted around trying to find an appropriate yarn to ply with these pretty stripes...and then I just gave up and put the bobbin on my shelf.

As I put the two green yarns away (awaiting further enlightenment on shadow weave) I spied the bobbin of green & purple. I grabbed it off the shelf, ran upstairs and made a new batch of gelatin sizing (1/2 oz gelatin: 2 C. water), skeined that pretty bobbin of singles, and sized the yarn! While the sizing dried, I made my calculations, trying to maximize the existing yardage of singles. Soon the warp was wound, the scarf (?) was woven, and it was wet finished. It's sooooo pretty! It's Romney wool and is a bit scratchy, so it may not really end up as a scarf....but I love the color and the fake plaid effect as the various stripes crossed each other! I may have to do this again!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Handspun Wool Singles (warp & weft)

I did it! I finally did it! I bit the bullet, sized my warp yarns with gelatin and wove with handspun wool singles. This is not the first time I've done this, but I'm still new at using my handspun singles as warp. Without sizing, they fall apart after a yard or so of weaving. Sizing the warps requires planning and an extra day to dip them and let them dry. --Oh the challenges of life! :)

I'm pleased with the way this turned out. The singles were ~14 wpi and I sett them at 10 epi in a 6 dent reed. Three yarns were used: variegated blue, variegated red, and pink/light blue/cream stripe.

I have wet finished this piece already and like it's hand, but I'm considering fulling it some. I read recently that you can wet a piece, wrap it in towels, secure the towels, and throw it in the drier--and the end result is a fulled piece. (Gudrun Polak has an article in the Jan/Feb 2010 Handwoven that uses this method of fulling.) Has anyone out there done this successfully? I have to decide if I'm willing to sacrifice this piece to test the method!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Advanced Twill/Point Twill Scarf

This is an advancing twill/point twill scarf in a wool/silk yarn. It's my first project with this yarn and my first advancing twill project.

Both the front and back of the scarf are visible in this photo. I really like the front. I'm not sure yet about the back! --Granted, this is the unfinished piece. Perhaps I'll like the back better after it's wet finished.

This photo shows why I haven't wet finished the scarf yet. I have to decide to fringe or not to fringe! The ends are hemstitched, so I have considered a short (1-2") cut fringe, but I am partial to twisted fringes and have yet to decide which to do. What do you think?

And, lastly, here is a photo of my double error and fixing method. I ran into problems on my Baby Wolf with the extra treadle ties getting caught in the lamms. After much frustration, I finally sat down on the floor and pulled out all the unused ties. I will have more work when I change tie-ups (I'll have to move the ties around) but at least this way the shafts aren't sticking!

There were two errors in this piece: A row above the scissor case (looks like an almost solid black line) and a row right at the point of the scissor case that is under repair and only one long float is visible. To correct this, I cut the float, pulled out the original weft pick and needle wove a replacement into the piece. The challenge was I kept loosing my place! I eventually wove a high contrast, slippery yarn into a good row to serve as my guide. Much better! Needle weaving corrections like this are time consuming, but the scarf looks much better without the errors!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Full Loom Width Test

The fabric from my full width of the loom test is done! This was a plain weave piece, woven primarily to weave something at the full width of the Baby Wolf.

I filled every dent with yarn for this piece--the warp was 10/2 cotton, unmercerized, sett at 12 epi. The weft was a thick/thin mystery yarn (I think it's a cotton/rayon blend).

I had woven a test scarf with these yarns and liked the texture created from the pooling of the thick pots in the warp. I also liked how it looked with some fabric that I had pulled from my, now I have more textured fabric, and maybe I'll make some clothes from all this! :)

The next challenge (and the real reason why the fabric I just finished weaving is still sitting on my loom) is cleaning my sewing space! We had a water problem in the basement a couple of weeks ago--a new one: the exterior drain by the back door got clogged, and the water poured in over the door sill. Things got cleaned up reasonably fast. It took some time for my husband to get the drain unclogged, but he succeeded, and we got the carpet and pad dried out in a couple of days. The challenge was getting my craft room back together. With the exception of my sewing table (perhaps because it was an open table it accumulated stuff!) things are back together. Now I need my sewing machine!

Here's one of the possibilities for the next project: overshot on 8 shafts. These threadings are from Strickler's "8-Shaft Pattern" book, but the tie-up and treadling are mine.

I must admit that I have so many structures that interest me right now that there is a good chance that this will never get woven. I want to do EVERYTHING and I just don't have the time to do it all. So, now I have to decide what to put on the loom. Maybe I'll just leave it empty for a day or two.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Weighted Selvege --Loom Modification

I have yet to invest in a temple for my weaving. For a long time I didn't think they were necessary, but I've learned a little since then! The last few times I've wanted a temple, I have made use of weights clamped to the selvege. With my old looms I would just hand the string (connecting the clamp and weights) over the edge of the support bar at the side of the loom. The Baby Wolf doesn't have a high enough support bar, so I added a zip tie to each side to support the string for the weights. :)

After I figured out that this would work, I read a different solution on-line: run a strong cord from the front beam to the back beam and let the string hang over the cord. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dyeing with Freinds

My friend Ellen came by to spend an afternoon dyeing with me. (Doesn't that just sound....strange...getting together to die/dye.) But we did! It was Ellen's first dyeing experience, and it was fun to have her here.

This pink boucle yarn was our test piece. We were unsure of the fiber content and wanted to see how well the different parts of the yarn would take the dye. Both the thick/thin and the binder yarns took dye beautifully!

Here's my handpainted skein. It's a wool/silk blend that started off as white. I'm not sure how I will use it, but I like the colors (dusty rose & olive drab).

And here's a shot of the dye pot after we had pulled out Ellen's skeins. Mums the word on the color that we chose to dye...but the yarns looked gorgeous coming out of the dye pot!

These were acid dyes on wool/silk and wool/?? and mohair.

:) I love dyeing!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BitterSweet--Nilus sold

I should be jumping up and 4 shaft Nilus Leclerc loom has sold! I must admit that I really liked that loom and I will miss it. If I had been using it more (it hasn't been warped in months!!) I would not have considered selling it.

It sounds like the loom will be going to a good home. It will again be a "first loom".... May you have many happy weaving days, Jeane!

The sweet part of this sale, was warping the loom one last time. I had an extra warp (would you believe I wound twice as much as needed for a project?) and threaded it in an advancing twill.

Wow!! Advancing twills are beautiful! I can't wait to do more!!

My upstairs workspace is much smaller now...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Acid Dyes on Wool

Oh, I'm a happy camper! I have two stacks of beautiful rovings! This was my first opportunity to dye after taking a class with Rita Petteys (see my previous post on the class).

These are wool rovings-one coopworth and one Romney. The dyes are acid dyes from Pro Chemical.

The rovings were soaked in warm water and vinegar for 30 minutes, then the water was spun out (hooray for my salad spinner!) and the wool was laid on plastic wrap on my table.

The dyes were all in squirt bottles and I squirted them in bands across the wool.

After putting a top layer of plastic wrap on the wool, I used my hands to smoosh (technical term!) the dye into the wool.

The wool/plastic sandwiches were rolled into bundles and steamed for 30 minutes.


I think they are super pretty!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Handspun Wool Singles as Warp

More headway on overcoming my "fear" of handpspun in weaving. I'm beginning to think that it's not so much a fear or quirk as it is a lack of data. I'm not confident how it will behave, so I hesitate to use it.

This continuation of my quest uses a handdyed, handspun wool single as the warp. It was a small skein, but I was able to get 121 ends out of it for a two yard warp.

I know two yards is almost nothing for a warp, but this is a's just a test. And, it turns out, it was a good test.

One warp thread broke early in the weaving (oh, details: 8h, straight twill threading, woven as plain weave throughout). Later on, two or three threads started to pull apart and I could feel that the piece wasn't stable anymore.

So, I got a one yard sample woven. My weft yarns obscured the warp colors. It's so sad :(
That will be the focus of yet another set of samples! I want to learn to get warp stripes in my weaving!!

I didn't use any sizing on this warp. I have sized wool singles before, and I would rather not mess with soaking the yarns in the sizing solution, letting them dry, picking them apart, etc. While I was reading one of Paula Simmons' books ( "Spinning and weaving with Wool" or "Spinning for Softness and Speed") I noticed the comment that while Paula preferred to spin and weave with singles (using a sizing on her singles warps), her husband liked his two-ply warp yarns...and so he spun his own warps!

I may be spinning two-ply warps!


Oh! The photo at the top of the post needs a word of explanation! I usually warp front to back, but I was concern about the integrity of this single yarn as a warp and didn't want to expose it to any unnecessary stress, so I rigged a raddle (the thing with twisty ties on it!) and tried warping back to front. It was easier on my back and shoulders to warp the Baby Wolf this way. It may be time to make a "real" raddle.