Sunday, 23 March 2008

Long weekend put to use

I got the loom warped and was able to start weaving. I've got a homemade temple hooked up to see what it would do. It really does make the selvedge edges less dense, although the draw in is the same. I've 15 inches woven already. It is sooo pretty, at least on the loom. For some reason I wove my sample and then didn't take it off the loom to wet finish and check out.. I've no idea why I didn't follow my normal weaving protocol, but I'll hope for the best. My biggest worry is that my SETT might be a tad too close. Weaving off my sample and being able to examine it close up and wet finish it would have told me all that I needed to know. At any rate, I love the texture and look of diamond twills. On the loom, this is one awesome fabric and I wish that perhaps I had more of this yarn to do a larger piece of fabric. This would make a lovely shirt.. for moi!

I've planted this year's crop of Madder, some rosemary, basil and tarragon. The cilantro, weld and woad will be planted in a couple of weeks as they don't seem to need the same start time as the others. Of course nothing is growing yet, but it's planted and I can check several times a day to see if anything sprouts. I've found that madder seeds seem to take at least 14-18 days to germinate. Rosemary is not only slow to germinate but slow to grow. I've never actually been able to get a rosemary seedling large enough to provide any flavour from my own seedlings but it is fun anyway. Lavender is another plant I haven't had a ton of luck germinating from seed myself. I've got one plant in my garden that I started from seed. I need a couple more this year but will just buy them. I'll buy my tomatoes as well. I do have some fancy lettuce seeds and rocket seeds for early planting, but since my garden beds are under at least a foot of snow, I'm not even thinking about it yet.

Monday, 17 March 2008

productive weekend

I got some plying done. Almost all the superwash merino is plied! Woo Hoo.. just a tiny bit left to go. I was a bit distracted by the loom, so it is waiting. The plied wool looks awesome though. It was fun to spin but by the end I was getting a bit of angst about the next project. 225 grams of wool is enough for knitting socks or something, but not enough to weave with. Of course, I may be running out of fibre anyway, at least enough for large projects - and in amounts worth dyeing with. Not quite panic time yet though..

On Sunday, I got started on warping the loom. The thread is 2/10 cotton - about 4000-4200 yards /lb. I'm going for a twill, so using a sett of 30. The width of the project requires 555 threads, plus a few extra are needed to make the pattern repeat complete. I figured it would take me several days to wind off the warp. Although it is only 5 yards long, it is still a huge number of threads.
Well, I got on a roll. The cone fit perfectly on my Lazy Kate. The winding on went perfectly. I was able to put up 100 threads at a time - I could have done more but figured 100 was a good length of time for phone and tea/bathroom breaks. I got the whole warp wound off and the reed threaded. Threading the reed went quickly. I had forgotten to load my mp3 player with Sine Mitchel podcast on weaving which, if I'd remembered, would have been a good thing to listen to while threading. Not bad for only a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon and evening.

Now that I have my pattern and all the math done to figure out how many heddles per shaft, I can get them threaded and I'll be good to go. That however, will take much longer. Still, I rather like dressing the loom so all is good. It is all playing with fibre.. mmmmm

Monday, 10 March 2008

SNOW and Fibre and frames

We had more snow this weekend. Lots and lots of snow. It was record breaking snow fall at that. It is only 11 days until spring and not likely that this lot will melt by then. Pffft I say to late winter snow falls. This is the view from my front yard. I'm standing two steps up, so looking down on the snow, so to speak.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, in a photo sized to overshadow the snow in comparison, I bring you a bobbin of blue superwash merino singles. They are waiting for me to finish the 2nd bobbin, to be plied into sock yarn. It is a little more blue in the photo than in real life, but it is a very pretty wrong blue, so I will leave it. I know, I didn't actually fill the bobbin. I was impatient and wanted to see how the plied yarn will turn out. The singles are thin and the Kromski bobbin is larger than the Ashford bobbin, so it takes longer to fill. As it was I spun for hours to get this much done.

At the end of the summer last year, at an SCA event, I watched a good gentle make a book. He was sewing the page signatures onto thin pieces of alum tawed leather, using a somewhat similar type of sewing frame. He very politely answered all of my questions and showed me details, including drawing little pictures on a scrap of paper. I got to listen several times as others wandered by and asked the same questions I had just asked, or different ones that I had been about to ask. I was quite intrigued. After getting several books for Christmas and a promise from hubby, yesterday, I received this handmade book sewing frame. Way nicer than I had asked for as I only wanted a simple one to play with. Thank you!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Stupid Rug /blanket project

A couple of weeks ago, I warped up the loom with some cotton yarn, somewhat heavier than I'd used before. The aim was to make a durable, washable baby blanket for a friend. The grist of this yarn is way to heavy for the project. I'd chosen non-girly colours so the blanket could be tossed on the ground without fear of dirt showing. It turns out that I have learned an awful lot from this project.
First - the yarn is too thick for a baby blanket. I knew that from the first sample rows I did..
Second - I dislike weaving with fat yarns - not sure why as this project should have flown by in speed. The thick yarns weave quickly, even though I'm using stick shuttles instead of a boat shuttle. It is taking me days to weave the darned thing off.
Third - My son likes function as well as aesthetics. I was going to cut the darned project off the loom and he suggested that the new function of the project - rug vs baby blanket was decent and that he valued function as well... of course that might have been a way to get a spiffy new bedside rug.

Forth - allow some extra warp if you can. I always have so far, even with handspun. It is good for samples which alleviate unexpected project pain in the first place. It allows for things like being able to adjust the size of this project, by not weaving off the sample, but continuing it so I could easily add extra length, without having to struggle with too short a warp at the end.

I wove off the sample, into the rug. I was going to cut it off after 8 inches but have forced myself to finish it. It is taking way too long for a small project like this.. It is only 27 inches wide. I was going to have a 40 inch lenghth, but since I wove on from my sample, it will have a finished length of 54 inches or so.. plus fringes at each end. Only 8 more inches to go.

It isn't ugly when I look at it rationally. It isn't even a failed project by any means, as it was a bit of an experiment in the first place. However it failed to meet MY initial expectations, which is probably the biggest let down.

Then the possibilities open... black shawl... black shetland warp, with either black or blue weft
shoulder bag - multiple options - tan warp - weft - any of blue, red, tan, mint green or pink
brown warp - lighter brown weft - purple warp - red weft.. ( all bag yarns would be cotton)

I've some wonderful linen singles, but I don't think I have enough for a full weft on the bag - just part of a cone

I'm spinning some superwash, blue merino right now. It is yummy soft. The roving has a bit of depth in the blues, but the spun yarn is pretty much just flat slate blue. Nice enough though, just not spectacular. Since superwash wool has had the scales either removed or resined, it is a slippery fibre to spin. I tried to convince my husband that warming cold feet in the winter was part of our wedding vows. His response was that I should get more wool socks.. so I'm spinning the superwash to make more wool socks. Knowing how long it takes me to knit a pair, please look for these sometime next winter! :)

Pet Peeve of the day - looking for specific weaving yarns and finding them at 20% - 50% less at U.S stores than in Canadian stores.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Black Shetland update

The black shetland is finally spun. I'm a little sorry I plied it, as I would have had so much more wool to weave with singles, but since it was for a shawl, this will be quite perfect. I have some woad dyed skeins left from a previous project that I can use for weft if I need to. Mmmmm... black and woad blue.. diamond twill. Could be awesome!
I hurt my hand last week and it is finally starting to feel like it is healing. I wasn't able to spin for a week! Talk about pain - from not spinning, not so much the hand.. At any rate, the wool is spun, the skeins are wound into centre pull balls and ready to be wound into a warp. The problem is.. that I didn't keep track of my measurements so, although I am not sure how much yarn I actually have.
I did some experiments with a McMoran balance... cool tool.. so I know it is about 1500 yards per lb. Most of the wool I was able to keep fairly consistent and I can weigh the whole batch to get a guestimate of yardage. However, I also counted yardage on the niddy noddy - and then didn't mark it on the skeins. I ALWAYS mark my skeins with estimated yardage so I've no idea why NONE of the skeins got marked this time. General distractions in life I guess.

Please notice.. no cat this time. He was lolling around in the skeins but once they were wound into balls, he no longer cared.