Saturday, April 18, 2015

Time Out

We had a 9:00 appointment Tuesday morning with our vet for both dogs.  Sammy had her stitches out and the incision has healed nicely, though her growing hair seems to bother her.  It was raining when I woke up and by 7:00 the temperature had dropped to 28 and it was snowing hard.  We left early to allow plenty of time since rain under snow means ice.  Unfortunately, someone on our windy road rolled their car on one of the turns and had to be careflighted out.  By the afternoon, it was once again warm and there was no evidence that it had snowed.  Such is the nature of a high desert storm.
Buster had a biopsy on Tuesday and the results still aren't back.  He only had one stitch but it's on his elbow and he managed to tear it out yesterday.  His licking seems to have slowed down today and we think it's showing signs of healing.  We put a warp on it but he tore it right off so I guess this is the way he wants it.
Meanwhile, Melissa sent me another "care" package.  Originally, the person who cleaned out her stash brought Melissa ten black trash bags.  She took the stuff she wanted and when I was down there in February, we sorted through it and I chose the things I wanted.  She sent some in an earlier box and this is the last of it.  We filled three black trash bags with the leftovers and she took them to her guild.

I think some of the yarn might end up in my knitting.
There is also quite a bit of roving in this batch.  When t he weather gets warmer, one of the things I enjoy is spinning in the morning on the deck, before the wind comes up.  This will be fun.

My last nine-yard warp is finished - ten towels on one warp.
I am still fascinated by the variety turned taquete allows but I'm taking a hiatus on towels.  I have a good head start for the fall craft fairs.  I've decided instead to sample on both my looms.  I've picked out drafts from Davison for Maudie Mae and from Strickler for Arthur.  There are just too many things in weaving that are still confusing to me.

But it wont be soon.  We have company this weekend.  Our friend Petey will be here for a few days, arriving about lunch time and then we will go to daughter Christina's for her birthday barbecue.  I got a call on Friday to sub all next week at Van Gorder, which is one of the new schools and will have a nice new library.  It's also very far from our house.  I'll come back to weaving with a fresh perspective, raring to go.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Not What I Expected

 I don't know how much credibility there is to astrology but sometimes I think my Libra sign trips me up.  I always seem to fight a need for balance and order.  These one inch square blocks are distressingly boring to look at and to weave.
 The colors have nothing to do with a high desert sunrise, which was my goal, and look very much like Valentines candy hearts.
 The  two yellows dilute all the colors.
 The yellow washes everything out, while, the pink turns my bright orange into salmon.
 Even my nice bright yellow becomes pastel.  I keep trying to vary the pattern.
 These are my favorite so far.  After the first two boring towels, I gave myself permission to do something different with each towel.

The last towel I started today is just plain stripes - yipes stripes.  I thought this was the 8th out of ten towels but there sure is a lot of warp left on the warp beam.  I'm calling a moratorium on long warps for a while.  I'm tired of being productive and just want to play around and try new things this month.
 I have wanted to weave with handspun yarn for a really long time and this morning I decided the time is now.  I have bins of spun yarn plus this mattress-cover bag, which I originally considered overflow.
After winding warp, I still have this much yarn left and now I'm thinking that a rug might be called for.
This is how I left Arthur when I broke off weaving for today.  I know it looks like a mess but that's because everything is as far removed from Maddie as I could possibly make it.  The interesting thing is that all of  this yarn is from one sheep, our wether Ollie.  That rich chocolate brown is yarn from an early fleece but he's ten now and has grayed out considerably.

Tomorrow is the Tuesday Book Club where we'll be talking about Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  It should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Color in April

I finished the towels and the documentation, which I emailed on Monday.  Ian went to town today so he dropped these off at the UPS store for me.  I worried myself silly over the gold towel that came out longer before I got the beat right.  They're gone and it's out of my hands now.  Huge relief!
I decided it was time to move on and picked eight more colors.
I'm going for the colors of a high desert sunrise.
You might have guessed why the warp chains are in a cloth bag, but in case you didn't - here's the reason.  
She pulled the chains out of the bag and replaced them with herself.  It could have been worse.

My Yamaha piano stool (above) works great with my Dorset workshop loom but it's too low, even with that thick book in the lower left of the photo.  Our guild had a Weave-In this past Saturday with five warped floor looms.  It was a fantistic program and you can read about it here.  I was able to try a Schacht weaving bench and ordered one from Bountiful yesterday.  I just learned about that business on Saturday, and since they're located in Colorado, shipping is less for me.  In this case it was free.  I had called Yarn Barn of Kansas first, but for this particular item, the shipping would have been $30.  The catch is that it's shipping from Schacht - in two weeks.  I can wait two weeks for $30 - that's two cones of yarn!

I have money left in my not-saving-for-a-loom account for one more piece of equipment and after winding this 9-yard warp, I've decided that will be a warping mill.  And that will take care of my savings.  Because really - I don't need a 4th loom.  Right?

I had time this morning to thread half of it.  This time the color pairs are an inch wide and I'm planning to weave one-inch squares, but I'm also going to experiment with two shuttles, maybe three.
 I've created a space for Maddie's bed in my wee tiny studio and sometimes I think it's working.
I was really disappointed in how the black weft overwhelmed my variegated silk warp. I think I'm just going to stick to plain weave in the future for specialty warps.  I tried it on anyway just to see how it looked in the mirror and couldn't have been more surprised.  The silk is light and warm and not the least bit scratchy.  Finally - something comfortable to keep my neck warm these cold days!

Friday, April 03, 2015

What a Week!

When I started to weave Tuesday morning, I realized that while I had meticulously followed my notes, they were wrong.  I didn't have three strips and three blocks, I had five blocks and one strip - most unsatisfactory.    It meant that I had to unweave and rethread four inches of the center two blocks to reverse the order of the pairs, from gold/purple to purple/gold and vice versa.  I made myself complete the fix and then took a two-mile walk!

You can see the difference.  It's what makes the mission-style look in my opinion.
It wasn't until I was nearly ready to wind onto the cloth beam that I saw this glitch.  I didn't realize the strap had pulled free on my old loom and it would be impossible to wind onto the cloth beam until it  was back where it belonged.  More time lost and my fantasy of weaving all four towels on Wednesday was popped.
One wonderfully clever and time-saving hint came from Laura Barger as a comment.  She told me to create a string sling, hang it from the warp beam and set my roll of packing paper into it.  As I advance the warp and the paper comes off the beam, instead of going to the floor, it rolls itself up.  Maddie is confused and my paper is saved!
Yesterday morning Ian took Sammie into the vet to have the cancerous growth removed from her back and I drove in for another acupuncture appointment.  It was an anxious day for both of us.  That's not a strip of tape but the area where she is shaved.  Her incision is more than a foot long, but our vet wanted to make sure she got all the margins.  It was a rough night for all, especially in the beginning when Sammie was still coming out of anesthesia and disoriented.  We've put a t-shirt on her so she can't lick and she's doing a ton better today.  The vet said Sammie is the sweetest dog that she has ever treated and I believe it.


Alexia and I spent about an hour and a half this morning getting her new loom set up and learning how to use it.  She seems to really like it but we had arranged to have lunch with Mommy on campus and this is as far as she got.  My concern is that even though this is the smaller of the Harrisville lap looms, it's pretty big for her little lap.
We ate at the new steam punk restaurant on campus so Alexia and I hammed it up with steam-punk Wolfie, who is the Wolfpack mascot.  Daddy took a break and met us there which was a nice treat since everyone is so busy, it's hard to get together.

After lunch, I took a walk around campus with Christina and Alexia, at Alexia's  request.  She went here from infant daycare through kindergarten, and during that time we had a lot of lunches and walks together. That white-pillared building is where I got my degree.  Alexia was astonished.  You have a bachelor's degree - you never told me that!  :)
 My camera had slipped to a different mode and I'm disappointed that these two pictures of one of my favorite areas of campus as fuzzy.  My graduation ceremony was held on this grassy quad and when I worked on campus, this was my favorite place to eat lunch.  
I worked in Getchell Library which was torn down a couple years ago and will be replaced with this one - the Pennington Student Achievement Center.  They built a beautiful new library a number of years ago.  I have always thought this was a pretty campus and it still is, only it's huge and still growing.  Christina says they've had 500 more applicants for housing than they did last year.  I can't think of a better environment to work in, unless it would be a library :)

Alexia talked the whole time - she was really excited about our "date."  As we drove home she said she wanted to work some more on her tapestry and thinks she can have it finished by the end of spring break which is one more week.  Then she said, maybe I will do better when I'm not talking :)  I'm exhausted and gratified - what a week!!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting Excited

We had a much different group at our guild weaving outreach this year, and if you're interested, you can read about it here.  Last year was predominantly older women but this year the response was from families with young children.  This boy's dad (in the blue shirt) is at the loom in the background.  Of course, we did have very stiff competition from the most beautiful Saturday we've had yet this year.
Alexia and I wove a little tapestry on one of the cardboard looms last week so she could assist at that table, which draws a lot of interest from kids.  Virva had helped her rewarp her old cardboard loom and so she started on another project in between helping.  DD Chris sent me a picture of the project she finished after she got home.  She has rya knots down pat!

She worked hard and stayed focused the whole time, helping managing yarn ends and then removing projects from the looms and getting them tied off. By the time her mommy came to pick her up, she was utterly exhausted.  I was proud of my little ten-year-old helper.
The next day she sent me  this picture.  She had warped her loom on her own and started another project, this time incorporating a technique we saw on one of the YouTube videos we watched together.  It seems that one of those we reached out to was my very own granddaughter.

I wanted to get her a loom of her own and I kept thinking in terms of a rigid heddle loom,when it struck me that what she likes is the free-form creativity of the tapestry style of weaving.  I found this on Amazon, ordered it and it will be here tomorrow.  Alexia is on spring break so I'll take it to her on Friday and we'll get her started on something with a little more versatility.  I'm going to have to learn right along with her if I'm going to give her any help.
And while I'm on the subject of workshops, I learned something the hard way.  Is there any other way??!  I lash my warp onto the front apron rod which works fine for my floor looms because they're under tension.  It does not work fine for a folding loom because once the tension is lost, the lashed-on cord slides all over the place.  I'm going to have a mess here on my hands, getting this ready for the student to use next month in our learn-to-weave class.  I won't do this again!
I'm under the gun to get these towels finished so I can submit them to the Handwoven contest.  Yes, my towels were accepted but they were from a four yard sampler where no two towels are the same, even the same size for that matter.  I would never have submitted them had Sarah Jackson not invited me. I wound most of the warp yesterday, dressed the loom this morning and have begun to weave them as the towel I liked the best according to my notes.  There are only four towels so I hope to pull them off the loom tomorrow afternoon.  I need to get them washed and ready to hem since I'll have to stitch the hems by hand.
These are the cones I'm using on this set.  It takes me a while to pick my colors and then I leave them sit around like this for a couple of days while I play around with the pairing, because this draft is worked in pairs of colors.
 I was absolutely giddy this morning when I warped up and got to see how successful the colors are together,

I'm playing around with the idea of some "serape"colors.  I'm on the fence because I know a bright yellow is required and I only have butter yellow.  Buying a single cone of yarn plus shipping is nothing to sneeze at.  I'll leave these here and look at them over the next week.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Break a Leg!

This wildly variegated silk is one of the eight or so skeins I bought from the Yarn Barn mill ends club several months ago.  After being so excited about ordering the cones, I realized that I have no idea what to do with them, with any of them.  I decided to take a break from towels and experiment. To go with the silk I chose this purple 8/2 Tencel as weft.


I used the formula from Peggy Osterkamp's book to calculate yards per pound, and at 1850 yards per pound, calculated that the maximum twill would be 22 ends per inch, so I set the scarf at 18 epi.  It's a 2 1/2 yard warp, 6" wide.
I just not pleased with the results.  For one thing, I realize that I prefer a wider scarf.  I have a whole cone of this stuff, so wound another warp, this time 3 yards long and 8" wide.
I decided to go with a neutral weft and realized that I was losing the colorful warp so tried black. And it was time to unweave.  Black it is.
Everyone has a way they like to leave room for fringe and get a nice firm and even line for hemstitching.  I just watched Tom Knisely's DVD again and he has his way.  This is mine.
And once the hem stitching is done, I pull out the blind slats and the area for fringe is preserved.  Now I'm cooking with gas.

The information that Yarn Barn supplied with their samples said that this yarn is great for weaving, knitting or crocheting, so I knitted up a quick swatch.  It was transformed when I washed it to a lovely drapey fabric so I decided to cast on a sweater and knit the rest of the cone.  Now I'm looking at the other cones I bought from the mill ends club as possible knitting yarns. Maybe my knitting dry spell is ending.
I'm having a hard time with Maddie's attraction to my packing paper.  It's her favorite place in the studio.  She loves to lay in it and she loves to shred it with her claws.  And when I have a weighted thread, I live in dread that she'll tear it off, though so far she just gently bats at it and watches it swing.
By the time I had finished weaving this morning, this is what she had turned my paper into.  It's going to be a matter of me training me to put the paper on top of the loom when I'm not working.
I have my Dorset studio loom warped and ready for the outreach tomorrow.  I bungied it to the dolly upstairs and brought it down that way and have left it lashed to the loom so I can just wheel it out of the car when we get there tomorrow.  The car is loaded and I'll pick up granddaughter Alexia about 10:15 so we'll have time to stop for sub sandwiches on our way.  I hope the outreach is successful in attracting people who are interested in learning to weave - break a leg!

And great news this afternoon.  I got an email from Handwoven magazine informing me that one of my submissions, the mission-style towels, has been accepted as a semi-finalist to their contest.  The next step is to put them in the mail.  Break a leg!!