Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Blue Shawl and garden update

I wove and wove. With the help of some friends on Saturday, who helped me wind balls from skeins, too large for my swift, I was able to finish the shawl. I measured carefully and added the extra few inches that I thought would be needed for the sproing take-up factor. You know, when the stretched yarn goes back into shape and suddenly your item is smaller than measured.
It didn't sproing back, at least not yet as it isn't wet finished. The wet finished sample became softer and had more drape but didn't change it's size appreciably. However, maybe long shawls were all the rage in 950 AD?

Still it's pretty, it's soft and I like it very much. The cat so far has liked it as well. The longest part of the project seemed to be twisting the fringes. Next time I'll put more threads into each fringe as I had only done 4 this time and have lovely, fine fringes which took me half of yesterday and a good part of my morning to finish. Did I mention that twisting fringes is the only part of weaving that I find at all tedious? Okay, tedious bordering on the not quite loathing.. but still, they are needed to keep unhemmed wool warp threads off the loom, under control.

Garden update
The Dyer's Knotweed is looking okay so far. I transplanted two Dyer's Greenweed plants but they look a little sad today. Keep your fingers crossed for those as it took me forever to germinate the seeds and they're 3 years along already. I found some Bloodwort or Rumex Sanguineus, which is supposed to have red dye properties in the roots and they've been planted. The Icelandic poppies which don't seem to survive the winter have now been supplimented with plants from another supplier in hopes of having them seed and survive next year. I've space left for a few as of yet unknown plants and the garden space for the beans is nearly ready to be planted.

What to do for the next project? Hmmmmmm.. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Indigo natural dyes and gardening dyeplants

Last night I finished dressing the loom with the black shetland warp. Ohhh, what a nice fibre to play with! When hubby asked jokingly why it wasn't done yet, I couldn't see why I should hurry. However, even taking my time and enjoying it all, I had to finish. I even wove the header last night!
Today, I took the remainder of the woad blue handspun and started sampling. First the contrast was rather too much for my liking. Second, I totally love the way the fabric feels, at least while it is on the loom. Third, I didn't like the diamond twill pattern I'd chosen and liked much better the 2/2 point twill chevron - so may go with that.
Anyway, not wanting to weave a project I wouldn't love to wear, I dug out my dye supplies and started an indigo vat - not woad, but there was a ton of fibre and I realized I only had one ounce of woad pigment left.
This is the results so far - and I so love the colour difference. I still need to do a proper rinse and let the yarn dry. It's only 7C out today, so not likely it will dry today but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can start weaving off this shawl tomorrow. I hate when I want to wrap myself in a project that isn't even off the loom yet!
On the other side of things, my garden is almost ready to plant. A friend called today to offer me some Costmary that she was digging up! So one more thing to find a place for. The woad is mainly planted but I'm waiting for a bit more warmth before I plant the madder and Dyer's Knotweed. Finally I've got some weld this year as well. This spring I noticed that there were little divots in each spot that a weld plant was, as if some very hungry beastie had just plucked the whole plant from the soil. I had 4 come up, presumably from some seed I'd scattered last year and one of those didn't make it. However, I'd planted the last of my weld seed this spring inside and nothing started at all - until 4 days ago. So now I've an extra few weld plants that will hopefully establish. I'm tired of digging, but only one more raised bed to go and my youngest son has been digging up part of the overgrown weedfest the previous owners called an English Country Garden, so I've new space for goodies this year. Hmmmm I wonder what to plant?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Weaving and more Weaving

Sometime ago, I picked up two cones of pale pink cotton at a thrift store for $1 a cone. I figured it might come in handy for sampling or when a pink urge hit me. A while ago, I decided to warp up the loom with the pink, to weave off some 1/2 twills. It too me a bit of time to warp up the darned thing as the colour was just not exciting me but I did it. I wove a sample of 1/2 twill - okay but I'd put on 5 yards and couldn't see doing 5 yards of straight 1/2 twill as it was too tight a weave to make great tea towels. I did a 1/2 rippenkoper - interesting ribbed effect but I'd paired it with a taupe weft so I could see the structure and it was rather sad and dull in the end.
I cut off the samples and re-threaded the whole thing to do a 1/2 point twill. It took me forever and a day to do this and by the time I was finished I was more than a tad frustrated. The results were better and I wove off the rest of the warp. I have to admit, that by the end of this cotton sampling warp, I really disliked it and was happy to see it gone - enough said.

Then I dug out the shetland I'd finished spinning in March and finally warped the loom. I do have to wonder though, why I stored the yarn in 3 different places. I found one ball in one spot, by accident. Another in a second spot that I obviously had meant for something else and then had to hunt down the bag with the rest, hidden in a safe place! I actually wonder if one of the balls was meant to be mitten yarn as it is obviously a tad fatter than the rest. No problem, I used it anyway as I had just enough to warp the project at hand.
This is much nicer than the pink. It is soft and yummy. I love playing with wool fibres and enjoy dressing the loom with fibre like this, all 473 ends of it! I'm using a point twill threading from Northern European Textiles Until 1000 AD, Lise Bender Jorgensen. I don't have enough black for the weft, so it will be blue handdyed - woad, handspun shetland. I may redye it darker as I've enough pigment left as the blue is rather soft. It will depend on weather - affects drying time and how quickly I get the loom dressed.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Rapier Armour

Remember the photo I posted back in February, of the lovely paper pattern pieces I'd drafted for my husband's new fencing armour? I've finally found time to work on the project. I started it on Monday and spent most of my free time this week on it. It turned out not to badly, all things considered. I thought the fabric was an awesome choice in terms of looks but it turned out that the satin stripes were very prone to fraying. That meant a few seams that were lumpier than I'd have liked.
The shirt however turned out really nicely. I'd tried a method that my friend developed and it turned out an easy to make shirt but that was too small. ( my son is happy though as he got a totally awesome fencing shirt, although he doesn't participate much anymore) I ended up going back to my latest shirt pattern I'd done myself and it turned out perfect, in size, shape and design.
The doublet has 3 layers and was punch tested so it's SCA legal. The tabs turned out well, but they only have 2 layers, woven interfacing and piping which made the seams turn crisply. The 19 button holes need some fray checking and the 19 buttons are brown plastic that look like woven leather. I hesitate to put really nice buttons on a garment which will be tossed in a washer and dryer, poked, prodded and otherwise mal-treated.
The fit is okay, considering I used a totally different pattern drafting method. Although I'm not fond of the collar shape, that is easily changed. The armscyes fit a treat which is good considering it was drafted to have sleeves. The sleeves aren't done and won't be for a while. I wanted the outfit done before this Saturday and so the sleeves will be lace on at a later date.

Oddly enough, the cat really wanted nothing at all to do with the project, other than inspecting the pattern pieces back in Feb. Now to clean up the mess. When I work in my sewing room, I have bags taped to the edges of work surfaces to catch the threads and snippets. However, I was in the diningroom and I ended up using the floor.. egads.. what a mess!

Monday, 5 May 2008

weaving and spinning tools

Last year, I was at a meeting in Fergus when Tamara showed me the wooden sword that her husband had whittled while they were camping. It was stunning to say the least and what totally enthused me as well, is that my first vision was of a weaving sword for a warp weighted loom. I commented on it and suddenly, from the back of her car, Tamara produced a "sword" blank for me. It was a long, skinny, fairly flat piece of wood. I've never carved anything before and even had to buy a knife. Slowly, I hacked away at my piece of wood. I ended up cutting it in two where a knot was as I realized it would be too long to use for weaving at the full size. What I ended up with isn't fancy, but the weight of each is light enough to use and they are fairly well balanced for use as weaving swords.

Now if I only had a warp weighted loom to try them with. Unfortunately, though I was going to get my loom re-vamped to be more user friendly, the photos of the brake system I wanted are on a corrupt disk and can't be accessed. So I'm guessing that my loom will be a good while longer before it's retro fit, since accessing the photos seemed to be the necessary ingredient to this project.

On Saturday we wandered off to Knight's lumber, a real lumber store in Guelph. None of the big box building supplies, but a warehouse of real wood. The place smelled incredible and they had varieties of wood that I'd never seen before. I found a really nice piece of maple which I wanted to turn into a niddy noddy. I got the design drafted and then hubby took the project over - please note, I didn't ask him or expect it, I was going to attempt this on my own - however, he decided to make and I knew that I'd get a really nice niddy noddy 'cause he is so precise, careful and always does a good job on these things. The three pieces just need to be attached. I think it is awesome and beautiful. Joint projects can be very fun. I got the design and the finishing aspects which are the parts I really love best.