Saturday, 23 February 2019

Double Weave and New Shoes!

I'm finally weaving.  It's been slow going though.   First, I had the worst time threading the single stripe which is on the bottom layer.   I ended up rethreading it 5 times.   Then, when I thought I was good to go, Phil, my sweet orange kitty helper, wouldn't be persuaded to leave the loom alone.   In the end, I re-threaded ALL the heddles and re-sleyed the whole thing.  I very quickly tied everything on so that no more kitty helping could interfere!

Then I waffled about warp colours.  Originally I was going to do the red, so as to have a solid red stripe.   After sampling, I then thought that the red was a little to bright, so was going to switch out for green.  However after checking out my supplies, I didn't have enough green, so I went back to the red.  Now, seeing how much red I've actually used, I probably did have enough green.   I don't really like playing yarn chicken with my projects though, so I'm happy enough with the colour choices.

Then, the 1st treadle in my pattern, started getting caught in the loops of the treadle beside it.  Since it was an unused treadle, I pulled out the pin holding the cords and set it on the ground the way we do with some beginner classes.   Next, the first shaft kept unhooking from the lam.   Then once in a while the second one would unhook.  Talk about a nuisance.   I had to crawl under the loom, re-attach the hook and then unweave what ever few rows I had done because there was invariably a skipped thread.    Finally the brake spring slipped off.   How does that even happen?  The result of that was having to wait for someone stronger than myself to hook it back up.     ARGH! 

So far I've been pretty thrilled that I can slip my hand between both layers and thus working like it's intended to work.   I've also been using a temple.   I'm actually enjoying it.   There is definitely a learning curve for selvedges, but even if the only benefit is that there is less abrasion on the outer threads I think it is worth it.

New shoes!  Runners are almost as good as new boots, almost but not quite.  Still, they are comfortable, although maybe a bit bright.   They were on sale but of course the blue ones were already sold out in my size.    They are very spring-like and are happy coloured shoes.

Soon I'll have a picture of my seedlings.  Japanese Indigo seeds have sprouted.  They were a bit unevenly timed as some seemed to start right away while other seeds took their sweet time.  I ended up soaking some seeds overnight which helped a lot.  I also planted 4 white cotton seeds.  I think I have some green ones around as well.  If I can find them, I will try to start them also.  The green cotton seeds are a few years old though so might not still be viable.   Still, things growing always makes me happy!

Monday, 18 February 2019

Tracks in our yard

The weather lately has been unpredictable and strange.   One day it will be bitterly cold and then two days later, we'll have rain and mild temps.   In between we've had freezing rain, more freezing rain, and a bit of snow.    Last night, it snowed.   Only about 10 cm or 4 inches, but enough to cover up the inch or more of ice all over the ground.   This morning, though it was bright and almost sunny, in that washed out winter sky sort of way that we get a lot around here.  

Outside our livingroom window, we could see tracks running from a large spruce tree in the front yard.   Because there were no tracks that we could see elsewhere around the tree, I went outside to investigate.   It's only -5 today, but with the bits of sunshine and lack of wind, it was a glorious day to go and play outside, well, if there weren't all that ice underneath the snow.   Anyway, after checking out the whole tree, the tracks did indeed only go one way.  However, only going outside and following the tracks did you see the whole story.   I'm guessing it was one of our squirrels.  He ran from an oak tree, across the garden to a pine tree.  Then from the pine to the spruce tree and then back again.

Here it looked like the little creature did a little dance and checked things out.   There is enough snow, that parts of the lower branches of the fir trees are covered with snow and not really accessible at the moment.

The tracks almost look like cat tracks, however, the tracks from our woodpile to the compost are cat tracks and they are substantially larger.    I know they are cat tracks, since I see him hanging out there a lot, and have watched him take that route to see what is for dinner. 

There were racoon tracks from the bottom step of the deck to the bird feeder as well but oddly enough, only one way so I have no idea where he went from there.   Since the bird feeder was pretty much untouched, I don't think he ate much.

There there were these tracks.   These are rodent trails.  They tunnel under the snow leaving lacy trails all over the yard.   Then, the crows come along and strut along the trails, leaving little lacy trenches in their wake.   When the snow is a little bit wet, you can see their footprints in the tracks.   Today though, there were just little indentations from their foot prints, making it look as though someone was stitching along the lines.

 At some point, there is a messy tangle of rodent trails and crow tracks, so I'm assuming that the crow found his breakfast.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Off and On the Loom

Done and done!  The sparkly scarves are off the loom.   They look pretty good if I do say so myself.   I'm happy with them.   I measured up the second similar warp I'd wound; the one that I'd thought I'd made a mistake on.   It turns out that I did indeed wind the whole warp incorrectly.   I had intended to tie it on to the warp still on the loom.   I didn't feel like rewinding it right then.  What a mess that would be - putting it back on the warping board, skeining it up and then winding a new warp.   So, instead, I set it aside, cut off the remaining warp and started putting the blanket/cloak warp on. 

That one is the green warp which I'd tried to dye brown, but only managed to get a splotchy darker green.  It's actually a nice colour green and I can live with the splotches.   The project is using double weave.  That means dressing the loom with 2 layers at once, and in this case, attaching them at one side.  I'm using the left side since that is where I get my best selvedges.   If I can find some fishing line, I'll run a heavily weighted floating selvedge on the left side, to help minimize the draw in where the two layers join.

I put in a single stripe along one side.   I did make the mistake of winding it with the skein of green, when I'd already wound and dyed that bit of green.  So I pulled out the undyed green and have added in the dyed bit.  I got it right since the added in green bit matched numbers exactly with the red.    It will be a bit of a pain to pull the undyed green out the rest of the way, but if I do it slowly and as I go, it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

I've never done double weave before for a whole project.  I've sampled a bit during a guild meeting.  I've read about it.  I've watched a couple of videos of which some were good and some were rather iffy and not horribly useful.   However I think I've got a reasonable idea of what I should be doing.  It's going to take forever to dress the loom and thread those heddles.  Gosh, I've been threading for what seems like half the day and have maybe 1/5 done.  Of course I'm checking my threading each inch or so, which takes a bit more time.  I'm hoping that saves time in the long run. 

New to me bands I've discovered -  The Dead South, Poor Man's Poison and The Haunted Windchimes.   Something new to listen to while I'm threading heddles.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019


The plague has run rampant through our family the past couple of weeks.   I imagine it's hit everyone in our area though as I was out looking for cold meds for a family member, and there was a crowd around the picked over packages on the shop shelf.  Luckily it seems to be on the end of it's tyranny and things are slowly getting back to normal.

Before the invasion of the plague virus upon our family, I wound two warps.   I was only going to wind one, but for some reason I thought I'd wound the first one incorrectly, so I wound a second one.    Now though, I'm not sure I was off so I'm going to have to count and measure everything in the first warp.   Neither here nor there though...  I tied on the second warp to part of the last tea towel project warp.   I wanted a plain twill and it was threaded 1,2,3,4 for a tabby so no issues there. 

It was easy to wind on.   I'm only doing 2 scarves with this yarn.  It's some large corporation blend of mainly man made fibres and a bit of glittery stuff.   The local store had a 40% off sale 2 days before Christmas. My aim was for yarn that I didn't have to order special, was easily available and something I'd not normally use.  Ideally, I was looking for something mohair like fluffy, but didn't find it.  Instead I got this varigated, slightly fuzzy blend.      I had picked up some black of a similar weight during a tent sale in the summer, for a crazy low price and thought it would work well for the weft.   

The black looked awful with the pale greys.   I wove about 15 rows and then stared at it for a day and a half.   I went back to the shop, picked up 2 skeins of same weight but more subdued colours, came home and unwove the black.    The black will look good with the other warp, which is bright colours but while this one looked okay with the strands being wound together, the contrast was too high for my liking.

The first scarf weft was a skein of varigated, muted blues running from white to a blue a bit deeper than the grey.    It was pretty amazing luck to have the white in the warp work well with the white in the weft, considering I hadn't noticed the white tucked inside the skein.   I wound the bobbins and then rewound them onto a second bobbin to try to keep the transitions from colour to colour smooth and in the same order of the skein.  Except for one bobbin, where there was a knot in the skein, with an abrupt colour change. Still it's so much nicer than the original black weft.    

 The second scarf is being woven with a solid grey which is quite similar to the grey on the warp.   But it has sequins!   The yarn is a little fussy to work with, and I was wearing a few sequins for the first little bit until I figured it out, but it's pretty fun.   The kitties are enjoying the project too, from playing with the dangling floating selvedge threads to "helping" me wind bobbins.   Yesterday one of them was going after the packing paper as it unwound on the back.   It created much excitment on my end as the loom weights bounced around while I tried to weave.  

The scarves aren't off the loom yet.   You'd think that something this narrow would be a faster weave, but  I'm sort of passing the shuttle back and forth, which seems to take the same time as throwing a shuttle for a larger project.   Still, it's not wool, while I'm rather surprised that I'm enjoying weaving with the man made fibres and cheap knitting yarn, the bonus is that the cats aren't actually interested in the woven fabric itself.  This means that no kitty has tried to sit or nap on it!   Yay!

Monday, 21 January 2019

Kettle dyeing warps -the start

I've been planning to do a project using double weave -  a weave structure where you weave 2 layers at once.   This can be to bring up secondary colours into a project which wouldn't normally be possible, or to make tubes, attaching at both sides or in my case, because I want a double wide fabric, without having to stitch it together, I'm going to be attaching it at one side.   It's going to be a wool blanket/cloak.

  I wanted it to be brown.  I have brown wool, but it's the wrong weight.  In the wool I had planned to use, I only have dark green, white and red.  I realize that if I did the warp in green and the weft in red, it would likely appear brown from a distance, but when I twisted the two yarns together, there was still to much contrast for me.  I didn't want a green and red flecked blanket!   So I decided to dye the green.    I looked at my large cone of wool yarn which weighed about a kilo and realized I'd have to skein it off before dyeing.   I figured I'd skip a step and dye warp chains.   This is a valid way to dye and often is used in painted warp techniques.
figure 8 tie on remaining warp length

As I was winding my warp, I realized that this was a good time to document some of the ways to do this, or at least the way I was doing it this time.  In order to let the dye circulate around the fibres, instead of choke ties, I use figure 8 ties.   They keep the warp in order but still let the dye reach all the fibres.  If you don't do this, you'll get tiny white spots... ask me how I know!

I do put a choke tie at each end of the warp.  I tie it really tightly.  This keeps the warp in order it two places, so I can shake it out and still have control.  I also tied the centre of the cross securely, although not so tight it's bunching together.  Just enough so it's flat.  There may be a bit of white there, but it's in the thrums or loom waste, so it's fine.   I could tie at least the two cross ties near the very end tightly too, but I sometimes find it squashes up the warp for a bit down the line.  Since I wasn't as generous with the loom waste as I usually am, I used figure 8 ties to be certain.  

The figure 8 ties down the rest of the warp are at least 1 per yard.  I'd rather have two many ties, than end up with a tangled warp.   Painting the warp and steaming it has little movement of the warp, so it's safer.  However I'm kettle dyeing this, so tangling is more of an  issue.   Better safe than spending hours untangling.   It's not like I have tons of extra yarn as I had only 1 cone of the green.

I had 5 warp chains.  Only 100 threads would fit on my warping board smoothly and I was fine with that as it would dye more easily in smaller bouts.  Two of the chains were for either side of a single warp strip to be on one end, so they were specific numbers to make up the width.    I stuck them in a pot of warm water to soak all morning.   When I decided to dye, I'm glad I took them out of the pot because this is what the water looks like!  YIKES - that is a lot of green.

I ended up changing my process slightly because of this dye running from the original skeins.  Instead of dyeing in a deep kettle, where I was going to have to do 2 carefully calculated batches to hopefully the same colour, I used the pan I use for low immersion dyeing and zig zagged them fairly close together.   I doubled up the vinegar but the same amount of salt and will add half the vinegar to start and the rest, half way through.  I have a few concerns that something will not work right. The brown dye seems to have absorbed but there is still green seeping into the water.   The yarn has no brown to it yet.   I will play around with adding some red to it as well, since red and green make brown.

Here are some squishy, dense, fat yarns that I'm spinning up for sample rug hooking tests.  The two from the left are nice and were nice to spin.  The third white one, was kind of icky.  It was a commercial roving that I didn't like at all.  It was easy to spin though.  I may save it for a beginner spinning class as it gives good results.  The last one is a nice yarn but oh, so much work.  It was the fleece I've been washing.  After that found that it was best to run it through a drum carder and then to comb it to get the VM out.  Most of what didn't come out in the combing, came out in the spinning.   A lot of work in comparison to the finished product.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Busy work for those long dark days of winter

Much spinning has been happening.   The white is some regular BFL.   I've now got a bit under 500g spun in a similar weight.   The pink is one of my fall dyeing experiments which is mainly pink and purple, with some decent bits of blues and mauves.   It's a superwash BFL.   Both spun up nicely and when I sit down to it, quite quickly.    The white is about worsted weight while the pink is really fine and should be somewhere in a light sock weight/lace weight.

I've gone on a bit of a wool washing binge.   I don't really like to wash fleece in the winter but this is a medium grade fleece of unknown origin and I have need of something less fine that all my pre-processed fibres.  It's really too coarse for wearing close to the skin.   I'm going to spin it up for rugs, so it's perfect for that.

This is the first wash water - ugh, it's really, really dirty.   It's only taken 2 washes though to get the fibre clean.  The first batch only took 2 rinses as well.  It's fairly low lanolin, which really helps.  The second batch though, I used too much soap, so it's going to need a couple of extra rinses.  It doesn't take that much extra actual physical time, but does take up a lot of waiting time.

 There is lots of VM in it so I'm thinking this will be run through combs for processing.    

Kevin has been inappropriately interested in my large trash bag of fibre and it's been a chore to keep him out of it.   
I took a rug hooking class the other day.   I finished the actual project, except for rolling the edges.   It was a lot of fun.  The black wool strips were cut a little bit on the bias, so they were very shreddy.  It made them fluff up a bit and combined with my lack of experience, made my sheep's ears disappear.  Still, I'm happy with how much fun it was and how quickly the learning curve was.  The class was pretty good and covered lots of information.  I think the only things missed were different ways to hold the hook, in which it was mentioned but never demonstrated, and how to actually tension the fabric in the hoop, which may or may not be an issue if you get it tight enough to start with.

  I'm going to spin up some yarn to use for rug hooking, as it seems like a good way to use up bits of yarn and fleeces which may have no other use.   But if you have scraps of real wool fabrics, I'd love to have them.  They don't have to be awfully large as there is lots of shading and dyeing of mixed lots to make up the unique colours.

Friday, 28 December 2018

End of Year update

We don't have a fabric store in town.   They moved away a few years ago.  Instead we now have a Len's Mill store which has a huge fabric department with mostly huge prices as well.  However, they have a fairly large clearance section, with reduced prices, which go on sale a couple of times a year.

They used to carry 19th c reproduction prints.    While I haven't seen them for ages in the new fabric section, there are several bolts left in the clearance fabrics.  So for this sale I got a dress length of the brown dots for an 1860's dress, a dress length of a non-period but very homespun looking yellow and blue check for an 1830's dress, and the blue, which is hopefully a match for a previous purchase which for some reason I didn't get quite enough yardage.

What is it about cats and puzzles?  Here is Kevin doing his snoopervisory best to "help" with our traditional Christmas puzzle.   At one point there were 3 cats checking it out, although the old kitty was right under the terrifying and terrorizing ceiling fan, which he spent his entire time staring at before he couldn't take it anymore and bolted.  We can't run a ceiling fan during daylight hours because he panics so much when he sees them.

We were amazed our tree was upright throughout the holiday period.  We did come home a couple of times to find it tilted precariously and a scattering of ornaments all over the floor, but it never actually got tipped over this year.  I still won't put any of the "good" or vintage ornaments up.  This year our tree was really fresh, but had large spaces in it.  I had to get some of those huge ornaments to fill the spaces.  It looked lovely though.   Just to add that apparently those ginormous ornaments are call Christmas Onions!

I've been playing with 19th c hat patterns.   I was loaned one for use, and the one pattern must have assumed everyone was a bobble head, it was so large.   I've been playing with resizing and a bit of reshaping since the brim angle seems a bit too deep on the original.   I'm almost ready to make a mock up.  Yay!