Thursday, 16 October 2008

I've been digging in the garden. I've moved a few plants to a friends place to hold for the winter, just in case we do actually sell the house. In reality, they'll do really well there as the spot gets lots of sunshine, is sheltered from the wind, gets lots of snow cover and is very fertile loam, being a 35 year old pig manure pile. It is well composted. The bloodwort, a dyer's greenweed are currently there. As well, I scattered a bunch of woad seeds for spring harvest. I'm going to move my madder bed there soon as well. Mainly though, I'm just pulling all the weeds and cutting back stalks for the winter and to make the garden space look tidy.

I feel like I've hardly accomplished anything over the past week, although the house is ready to list, or at least ready to call in a realtor and see what they think. It's been the most stressful house selling/ moving I've ever done and we're not even there yet, probably because we didn't initiate it and were woefully unprepared for this.

With the blue diamond twill sitting and aging until I get the energy, time and space to do something with it, I dressed the loom with what I thought would be a fast and easy project. Who'd of thunk that a simple pair of wickelbander (wicklebander?) would take so much effort? First I'd planned this project and bought the yarn in June. Then I let it sit until I knew I needed a fast project. I started researching it and that part has been totally fascinating - there are a number of properties which seem to come to light in the few number of fragments and pieces found. They're pretty much all 2/2 twill in a vertical broken herringbone pattern. Dyes used are orchil, woad, madder and some yellow and brown. They are mainly solid colours but a few have different coloured warps and wefts. The patterns can be inconsistent, switching directions at seemingly random numbers. One fabric bit has 3 selvedges, so perhaps evidence of the warp weighted loom as textiles woven on a warp weighted loom will indeed have 3 selvedges.
I had first threaded the pattern in the heddles, making a lovely horizontal herringbone. I had to un-weave, rethread and go to it again. Now I've a lovely vertical herringbone. It's a broken pattern, developed simply by skipping a shaft when switching directions. The rusty orange red, which I'd purchased at night and shoved in my cupboard, turned out to be the absolutely perfect deep madder red.
I've learned so much with this project and it's only just started. Edges - very different when you don't have the momentum of a boat shuttle. Beating - learning how to gently beat 'cause this project really needed a lighter hand. Counting for patterns - yea, right! hehehe I can see why the patterns could be somewhat irregular. Warp tension - it makes a huge difference in the fabric density and the edges as well. It sure was quick to dress the loom though - only a couple of hours, another added for the re-threading.
The Dyer's Knotweed has finally bloomed - when it's too late in the season for pollinators and we're having frosts - go figure that one.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Diamond Twill - done!

Yesterday I thought I only had about 1/2 yard left to weave on the diamond twill. No problem I thought. I started in the morning and ended up finishing by mid-afternoon. Obviously, I had a lot more than 1/2 yard left on the loom. When I took it off the loom, it was horrible. A twill like that should drape and be soft. This one was hard, stiff and crunchy! It practically stood up on end - yes, almost 9 yards of it standing by itself was pretty scary.
However, what comes off the loom isn't necessarily the finished product. I wasn't panicking quite yet. First you need to wet finish the fabric. That may mean soaking gently or in this case, popping it in the washer on the handwash cycle with a good glop of laundry soap and letting her go for 15 minutes. I took the fabric out of the washer and the smell of wet wool was wonderful. I'm guessing my wool/silk blend, didn't have alot of silk by the looks of the fulling process. The fabric though is wonderful. It is soft and drapey. It is really what I had hoped for with this project. There is about 8.5 yards of it right now. I took it from the washer to the ironing board and ironed it mainly dry. Funny thing that ironing the wool yardage will really finish the process.
This is all good since I had a bit of a scare when my ancient loom literally fell apart while weaving. Seems a couple of internal screws fell out. I found one and hubby the other so we had a quick repair session which very nicely put the loom back to square. This was after the screw holding the treadles fell off as well. It was an adventure to say the least but the outcome is good. Now the only problem is what to do with all this yummy yardage?

The next project is chevron twill wicklebander for hubby. I don't know that it will be any faster a project, except for dressing the loom as I'll have to use a small shuttle for this one. I hope I didn't pack them all! The yarn will be 12/2 merino in a commercially dyed madder rusy orange colour. 7 yards of 3 inch wide chevron twill coming up!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Distractions, distractions.. tsk, tsk

I should be finishing things up around the house. But I got cold, had to turn on the heat and got distracted while warming up. A huge cup of tea and a couple of projects which are more interesting than packing and cleaning will do that to me. Between things I should have been doing more of this week, I dressed the loom with a project I'd started before I wove the madder red wool. I'd wound off the warp and was about ready to dress the loom when I set it aside for the madder. Luckily, I thought about it before I bundled the chained warp into a plastic bag. I remembered to put in the worksheet I make up for each project I do, so I had all the necessary details at my fingertips.

It only took 3 days of sporadic playing at the loom to get it ready to weave and despite the broken diamond twill - from a Coppergate sample, being a tad fussy to treadle - two breaks with the same foot treadling in succession. Sorry it won't mean anything to non-weavers, but it does mean that it's fussier to weave than a solid walking pattern.
My first test sample was with the same weft and warp threads. Unfortuantely the marled thread for both warp and weft showed no pattern at all and I couldn't even find the 2 crossed threads that I knew I had. After changing to a darker thread, the pattern showed beautifully. While not common, different warp and weft coloured fabrics were found in early period and hey, why go to the trouble of a fancy weave structure if you can't see it? I should have over 8 yards of this fabric -a wool/silk blend.

I also present a lovely skein of tussah silk, dyed in the exhaust pot of madder from the red dress. I dyed it in roving form and the roving dried in what looked to be a matted, clumpy mess. However, when I put it to the wheel, it just opened up and loosened immediately. It was a dream to spin. I think all that flax must have worn off any rough bits on my hands. It plied up beautifully and now I'm trying to figure out what to do with this skein of 2 ply silk.