Friday, November 21, 2014

On the Loom Again

I finished the scarves and didn't enjoy weaving them one bit - just plain weave and not at all interesting. I'm very low on stock for the craft fair this weekend and know that I need inventory to attract people to my booth.  I'm getting ready to throw them in the washer but at this stage they look like medical gauze to me.
The scarves have done well for me in the past and they certainly are pretty when all finished.  I took advantage of the dye pots and dyed four of the cowls my daughter has ordered.  She would like each one to be a different color.  Three more to go!
I haven't put a warp on since early October.  I originally used a draft that's been floating around 4-Shaft Weaving, broken twill with basket-weave selvedges.  I hadn't woven very far when I realized that I hated the basket weave, tore it out and rethreaded the edge threads for more broken twill.  I use the blinds to help me check for errors and there were many.  I love lashing on with Texsolv because you simply pop off the pin, fix the error and put the pin right back in place.  The piece I used wasn't quite wide enough so instead of cutting more Texsolv, I just added another short piece by pinning them together.  Worked great!
I have finally been able to start a project using the information from my recent workshop.  I chose broken twill because I liked it best of my samples.  I know that dark yarns like this deep purple are processed within an nth of their lives.  Changing the warp at the beginning caused some fraying which shows up in this fabric.
In addition the heddle eyes are abrading the yarn and that's also showing up in the cloth.  I thought I had made a treadling error and when I tried to correct it, discovered the only thing wrong was the lint and frayed yarn had piled up, producing a stripe across the cloth - very visible but I doubt I would have become aware of this problem had I sampled.
I'm fascinated by the color play.  Is it teal or is it purple??  I'm going to weave these two again, but this time I'll use the teal as the warp and try the Walls of Troy draft.  Broken twill really isn't that interesting or fun to weave.  Meanwhile, I've tied up two more harnesses on my big loom, added heddles to the harnesses and am getting ready to start on 6-shaft Huck Lace.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Some Catching Up to Do

I finished the dishtowels and got them in the mail last weekend, though I was racing around like a mad woman trying to get them shipped before I left for my book club.  I'm happy with them, especially with the tracking in this plain weave - not happy enough to weave this fiddly pattern again though.
I received an email on Sunday from a blog reader in Florida, asking me to clarify why I didn't like the Texsolv heddles on my Dorset.  She also has a Dorset and had been thinking about changing her heddles to the Texsolv.  I learned when I visited Gayle that there are two generations of Dorset studio looms.  The first, which mine is, was made from a light wood and is a very light and portable loom, also why I needed heavier heddles.  Gayle has the second generation Dorset and it's very heavy. I explained this in my email response and then offered her mine.  No one in my guild could put this size to use and I had planned to offer them in a blog post, but she beat me to the punch.  I dropped them in the mail Monday on my way to work.
I had been called to sub last week for a librarian who was in the middle of a family crisis and when she called me from California Sunday evening it sounded like she was also in the middle of a personal meltdown.  She didn't leave lesson plans and while trying to explain her schedule to me, she let me know that the library was a mess.  "The books are flat - flat on the shelves."  And indeed they were.
I have never seen anything like this and don't quite understand how this happened.  For one thing, her narrow shelving is probably original to the school library which is 50 years old this year.  I had my work cut out for me and managed to wrestle it into shape in between class visits.  Friday she had seven class visits as well as a lunchroom duty.  I have no idea how she has time to run a library.  When I turned the lights out and closed the door, I had managed to shelve all but one row on a shelving cart and the books were sorted and in order.  It was the best I could do.
My sole weaving project is pretty uninteresting and looks a lot like medical gauze.  I've woven these scarves several times in the past because they do well at craft fairs and I have one coming up this Saturday.  I need to finish weaving these four so I can dye and press them.
I'd like to finish the fourth of these cowls so I can dye them at the same time as the scarves.  My daughter asked me if I could knit seven of them as gifts for her belly dance troop.  Actually she asked me what I'd charge since she didn't want to spend more than $20-$25 and so that's what I'll charge her.  I bought this Merino at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show about ten years ago.  I only purchased a pound of wool and have never been able to find a project for the yarn.  I'm pretty happy to finally use it. The roving was a blend of butterscotch and natural so they're going to look great after I dye them.
Time to start a new project!  I'm finally going to be able to put the information I learned in my workshop to use.  These Tencel yarns are analogous on the color wheel and I'm hoping will produce an iridescent cloth.
Someone on 4-Shaft Weaving suggested that next time I wind a solid warp that I first wind a small cone and hold two threads together.  I don't have a cone winder so this is my adaptation - a large bobbin in a heavy shuttle.  It took forever to wind that bobbin, which is when I decided that this is week I will order the electric bobbin winder - before I experience a repetitive motion injury.  I am very much looking forward to working with color again.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Getting back to Normal

I took my winders to the guild's two-day workshop on iridescence, taught by Bobbie Irwin and you can ready my post on our guild blog here.  It was everything I had hoped for and I look forward to implementing the things I learned.  By the time I got around to weaving Wednesday morning, I discovered my winders were no where to be found.  I decided maybe it's time to think about buying an electric bobbin winder, so I called Gayle, a production weaver, for her insight.  She said she was one of the last to leave the workshop and noticed my winders and packed them up, meaning to email me that she had them.
I told her - I'll be right there, which is relative since she lives in south Reno.  Gayle showed me her AVL winder and explained what I need to look for.  She also demoed her 40-harness AVL loom.  I've never seen a computer driven loom before - fascinating!  So my winders are back in the workshop and I have some time to think about an electric bobbin winder.  They are very long so I may need to move things around to fit one in.
This is as far as I've gotten with my gamp.  I washed and wet finished it today but still need to attach the tassels of weft colors so I can decide which combinations I like the best.
I finally finished weaving these towels and also washed them today.  I have to clip all the threads at each stripe and hem them, wash them again and then wet finish - whew!  There are a lot of steps from thread to towel!!
Maddie is absolutely obsessed with my packing paper anyway, but today she was giddy with happiness that I was finally back in the studio and simply would not leave it alone.  She kept hiding a toy in the center of the roll and then diving in after it.  I would pull her out, scold her and tell her no, sometimes a couple of times, she would cry then finally sigh and lay her head down for a nap.  It was an endless cycle so when I finished for the day, I pulled the paper up on top of my loom.

October was a busy month and November has started out the same with the workshop this past weekend, then a sub job on Monday and on Tuesday I had my first ever acupuncture appointment. She explained that I would probably not notice results right away.  I understand that.  The good news is that my insurance pays at the same rate as for physical therapy.  They wouldn't pay for massage therapy but Raina is also a massage therapist and plans to introduce that into my treatment down the line.  I'm optimistic.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Home Again, Home Again

I was terribly disappointed that the new Costume Institute exhibit hadn't opened yet when we were at the Mat. It turns out opening day was Tuesday, the day before our flight so we went back for Death Becomes Her - the clothes of mourning.
Of course these garments were for the wealthy, and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the explanation mentioning that these garments introduced black into fashion. It's interesting that the weave structure was chosen to make the clothes more mournful, and no doubt the weavers were men.
This is my Dorset workshop loom wtih the Texsolv heddles I put on a year ago and hated. The inserted-eye heddles I had ordered before we left were waiting for me, so before I could starting warping for the workstop, I first had to replace the heddles which requires some disassembly of the loom. I think that's unique to this loom and it took more time than I had planned - isn't that always how it goes?
I ordered the heddles from Jim Wilson at Gowdey Reeds in Rhode Island. I'm impressed that he makes everything right here in the US. He included this sample of a reed which is so much nicer than the 8 dent reed that came with the loom. Before my next workshop, I'm going to get a 10 dent reed. I had to put three theads in each dent for this workshop warp which isn't as easy as sleying even numbers - or a single thread which is even better.
But the loom is ready, new heddles and 15" of 10/2 perl cotton, ready for the iridescence workshop with Bobbie Irrwin tomorrow. I've always said - I warp front to back, end of story. That's because my two Gilmore looms are so easy to dress that way. I had to eat my words as I fought to dress this loom. It absolutely demands to be warped from the back. Coupled with the sticky warp, it took twice as long as it should have and was pretty hard on my cranky neck.
After all the work, I wasn't taking any chances with my crazy cat and shrouded it in the living room where II could keep an eye on it. I'm not saying it's Maddie proof, but so far she has loved having a hidey place to go and hasn't batted at or chewed on anything. She'll be sad to see it go and I will be relieved. The next two days will be all about creating iridescence and learning about color.

Friday, October 24, 2014

New York City, The End

One of our favorite things was a tour through the Met with a group called Museum Hackers. Ian learned about them from a PBS program and booked a tour for us. They are private contractors with the Met's blessing and give small two-hour tours that focus on highlights of their choosing. The Met is the largest museum in the world and I ordinarily don't even go because it's overwhelming so I welcomed this.
We began the tour in Egypt where we were introduced to the Met's mascot, a blue hippo named William whom we learned all about. There were a dozen of us on this tour and they did a great job of quickly making us comfortable with each other. Our two guides, Michelle and Lia, like so many millennials in the city, are supporting themselves while chasing artistic goals like acting or performance art.
We stopped in the Hatshepsut room where we learned about the gender-bending female Pharaoh who also strapped on the ceremonial beard. Her right hand man Senenmut, possibly her love and maybe father of her child, had a burial chamber constructed right below hers. Who knew?!! There was a contest. We were challenged to pick something in the Met that we thought would be perfect to party with and then defend ourselves in ten seconds at the end of the tour. I decided I was going with the cross-dressing queen.
We had to keep it secret until the final reveal so I had no idea that Ian had also chosen Hatshepsut, this particular version, but for different reasons.
We concluded the tour in a central hall of statues and busts where they asked us to select one to have our Polaroid taken with. Ian mimiced our bust and silly Dougie and me were all smiley. Ian won the contest, we all got a laugh that we had chosen the same thing out of all the objects on display, and he was awarded an eraser of William. We've decided to put a screw eye in the top and hang it on our tree at Christmas.
The art in the subways is unbelievable so I kept taking photos and texting them to Matt. This is from a mosaic mural in Times Square that is at least 16' across. I took a photo of the entire mural and then took three shots so I could show him detail. There are performing artists everywhere, especially at this station since it's the biggest transfer point. A mime was working behind me and mimicked everything I was doing to the delight of the audience. Glad I could help :)
Every time we had walked by this, I'd think - you know, that really looks like a Liechtenstein. Finally I said something to Ian and we stopped to look more closely.
And sure enough, it was - hidden in the subway for public eyes, not locked away in a museum. I wasn't able to find a book on the subject, but I did find this website: If you have a few minutes, it's worth taking a look at.
I was really taken with this woman's purse at one of the stops and took a couple pictures - wish I had taken more. I think it must be from a very small pair of jeans because it has both pockets. I'm going to look at a thrift store for a small pair and see if I can make one for me.
We ate lunch in Harlem at the Red Rooster, the flagship restaurant of Marcus Samuelsson, Top Chef Master. It's was Dougie's last day and that was on his "must do" list. He had eaten there before and I had read the Sanuelsson's memoir, Yes Chef, so was just as eager. The food is fantastic and unique - fabulous. We had gotten off at the 125th Street stop and over lunch decided we wanted to see Washington Square, so we hopped back on (an express train this time) and zipped down to the 12th Street stop - 6 1/2 miles, nothing to it. I couldn't resist this dog walker. Nine dogs! A friend asked me how he picked up the poop. I don't know the answer.
I especially love this park because it's right by NYU and fulled of animated students. We saw one student with her choreography book on a bench, roughing out the moves. And as you can see, there's a huckster in this photo, doing something like three-card monty. One thing for sure is there is never a dull moment.
This kiddie park is on the west edge which I thought would be the perfect pick-up place for single parents. It made me think of Tom Perrotta's book, Little Children.
We were in Manhattan two weeks and didn't waste a minute of it. This was our final sunset and I had planned to take a parting shot the next morning but we had a brutal awakening. The hurricane-like weather in the North Carolina area was causing cancelled flights, and ours coming from DC, was one of them. They moved us to one leaving 45 minutes earlier. We scrambled. Ian had packed the night before, but I was planning to pack as I went, after my shower. I had just showered when he told me we had 15 minutes. I didn't pack. I threw things in my bags. Ian said he was sure I had broken the packing record. Gabi, the wonderful head concierge got us a town car and the driver got us across town in peak traffic, just in time. After fourteen wonderfully perfect days, a fantastic birthday celebration, one concert, three musicals - I can't complain.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New York City, Chapter three

We are trying to do things this trip that we haven't done before so went down to the Lower East Side for lunch at Katz's deli. We had planned to take the train to Rhinebeck today and meet Doug's aunt Rena but got rained out, so Rena took the train down and spent the day with us. We all ordered the pastrami on rye and agreed that was probaby what Sally ordered. We tried to get a tour of the Tenement Museum but they were booked until the afternoon when Dougie and Rena were going to see Hedweg and the Angry Inch.
Instead took the subway up to Roosevelt Island, home of the New York Lunatic Asylum until the abuses there were exposed by Nellie Bly when she went undercover there for ten days, reported it in the newspaper and also wrote a book, saying if you weren't crazy when you got there, you soon would be. Bye bye asylum. The building languished and was torn down in the 60s, but the dome was incorporated into one of the luxury condominiums that now fill the island. That's Manhattan across the East River.
The public art in the subways is spectacular. My son Matt is a tile setter and has recently turned his hand at mosaic tile art so I was taking pictures and texting them to him. This was from about a 12' mural at the 12th Street Station. I later found a webside of NYC public subway art and sent it to him so now I'm free to enjoy the art without taking photographs. Bigify to see the impressive details.
We also took the train under the East River to Brooklyn to visit the MTA Transit Museum. The marvels of public transportation here are inventive and mind boggling.
I thought this parking lot mind boggling and inventive too, though I don't understand how it works. I posted this picture to Facebook and our friend Diana, who is a LA city planner, commented that they're trying to incorporate these into their city.
We finished that day by taking the Staten Island ferry which is free. We went over, disembarked, turned right around and filed back on with all the jostling hoards and were quickly underway again - most efficient and really very interesting.
We went right by Lady Liberty as we expected.

We didn't expect an intermittent Coast Guard armed escort. Check out the guy in the prow with his hand on a 50 caliber machine gun. I've since learned that this is standard ever since 9/11, which seems a little like closing the barn door after the horse got out.
The view of the city on return was breath taking. We were fortunate that the rain had stopped. I can't blog again until I find some WiFi so I can upload the photos from my phone. We don't have WiFi in the apartment so I am using my phone as a hotspot. When is a cell phone not a cell phone? When it's a hot spot!