Thursday, 26 February 2009

5th shawl update

It took a while to actually decide on a pattern and then changed slightly while half way through winding the warp, when I realized that I needed use less green and more of another colour. I think now, I could have added a second stripe of yellow into the pattern, based on how much yarn I have left. However, weave a checky pattern is a pain in the patootie. I'm using 2 boat shuttles and a stick shuttle. They need to be switched every few shots; either after 4, 6 or 12 threads. It is time consuming to do so. While I could have knocked off one of the solid coloured weft shawls in only a few hours at the loom, this one is forcing me to slow down and enjoy the process. This isn't such a bad thing really.

While I do have a few more projects in the wings, nothing is tugging at me insisting it be done right away. Those that are trying to tug aren't actually weaving projects. There is a ton of spinning, a couple of garments to make from commercial fabric and some dyeing. I've got a bunch of lac that I just re-found in my dye storage bin and a pot of madder which has been sitting in my garage most of the winter. I'm almost afraid to check it. I'd covered it and set it in an out of the way spot when we had people coming over and forgot about it. The lac is a dye vat I've wanted to try for a while, but I need to do more research into how to extract all the red colours. It's supposed to be a very strong, stable red dye. What I have are the bits of lac right off the tree, which I have just found out are the dead femael bodies of the lac bugs, piled on one another after they've laid their eggs... uggh.

I even almost considered doing another logwood dye vat - which last time started off lurid purple - stayed lurid purple until it finally faded somewhat to a purply grey and then wouldn't exhuast at all. I had purple yarn, purple roving, purple fleece everywhere - it was quite the interesting experience verging on the horrendous.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

4 shawls done...

The final two shawls are done. Well, I thought they would be the last ones of this set. I'd worked out how much yarn I'd need and then bought a tiny bit extra to make sure I didn't run short. Turns out I have enough extra to make a 5th shawl. It will be some sort of checky pattern in order to use up the leftovers. Right now the poser is do I have enough for something like a plaid checky pattern or do I go for random stripes and checks?
Anyway, here is the last shawl from the project. It's the same commercially spun and dyed Romney wool. The weft is grey and the warp is dark red. Sett this time is 12 whereas the last basket weave shawl was done with a dual coloured warp and a set of 9 - being paired with a tabby project. I can't say which I like better for weave structure/sett. The blue one is fulled more and a tad heavier. The red one, with the closer sett, still drapes nicely although I didn't full it as much. I stuck it in the washer on the handwash cycle and meant to check it after a few minutes. However, I forgot and ended up not getting the shawls out until the end of the cycle. They were lovely, soft and drapey, which was nice as I hadn't liked the hand of them at all when they were first off the loom.
I was rather tired of twisting fringes last night. Thankgoodness for that little fringe twister gadget. It does save the fingertips, that's for certain.
Now to figure out what to do with 4 more shawls!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Shawl project update

Today I reminded myself why I always wear my hair either in a braid or clipped into a bun. I was under the loom this morning, tying up the treadles when wham, I realized that my hair was loose and I was in the process of tangling it into both the treadle loops and clips at the same time. I've managed to spin my hair into yarn I was spinning on a drop spindle and both of my wheels. I've also woven it into a project and caught it while sewing, both by machine and hand. At least it doesn't happen very often :)

So shawl 3 of the set of at 4 is on the loom. The first was the basket weave, then this one in tabby. The drape of the basket weave is nice, despite it being fulled. It is also fairly soft and heavier. The tabby weave one is lighter and a tad larger, because the weave structure doesn't pull in as much when it's off the loom. The red one is in a chevron or herringbone pattern. All of these are a simple straight threading. With a sudden increase in people wanting to view our house I decided that a simple patterning would be easiest to do.
Plus it meant I could get this red shawl on the go in time for a friend to visit for a weaving lesson. Today's lesson was the joys of hemstitching, what a floating selvedge is and when you might need it and wet finishing. I'm absolutely thrilled at what pretty scarves she and her husband have been making and how quickly and fearlessly they are progressing. It's great!

Last night I presented a program at my local Weaver's guild on An Overview of Anglo-Scandinavian Textiles. Earlier in the day while I was adding more last touches to my materials, I had one of those moments when you've been confident that you know lots about something and you suddenly realize that although what you know, you know well, it's only a few drops in the bucket. Of course I started getting very nervous so I packed everything away and went to the loom to relax.

Of course the program went well and the guild members were very enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy it. It was really fun and awesome to present what inspires me to a group that understands the terms and techniques. The only problem was that my warp weighted loom decided at that particular moment to tell the whole world that the wood had dried a bit and wasn't quite as sturdy as it should have been. I don't really need it to see action again until April, so I've a month and a bit to figure out how to fix it up.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Off the loom and out of the oven

Happy Groundhog's Day! The poor beast has seen his shadow so 6 more weeks of winter is forecast. However today is a lovely sunny day and I certainly can't complain about that.
Both the blue and grey wool shawls are off the loom. One of them is wet finished, the other not yet done as I haven't got the fringes twisted yet. The size off the loom was 24in x 82 inches. After wet finishing the final size is 20 in x 80 in.

My daughter is getting married in August and has decided that I will be making the wedding cake. This has turned into a wonderful learning together project. Last night we made our first cake covered in fondant - Once we get that down pat, we'll figure out how to do tiers and decorate. Then it's to find the right colours for popsicle pink and tropical lime green, which are her wedding colours. Right now, it's white fondant with barney purple stars. Luckily she has offered to take any undesired cake projects into work with her as donations to her staff room. That could be a lot of cake decoration experiments to try to dispose of.

Next projects in no particular order - 2 more wool shawls for the loom, a couple of costuming projects, dependant on finding the correct bin in storage or finding a good fabric sale, planning for 3 non- reenactment crowd classes on natural dyeing and medieval textiles and the spinning of some fleece for a cloak for hubby. There is also about 8 bags of raw fleece hiding in the van waiting to be cleaned, carded and spun. Poor hubby gets to commute an hour each way with it. I've not yet figured out where to surreptitiously hide that much fleece in the house and not leave the place smelling like a sheep barn. Somehow I don't think that would be a good lasting image for prospective house buyers. With regards to the 8 bags of fleece, a friend and sheep farmer, from whom I get most of my fleeces 'cause they are gorgeous and well cared for commented on all the fleece, that I wouldn't be getting any of hers. My husband just chuckled at that and said "right" ... not sure if that was good or bad... but I've got 2 lovely silvery coloured fleeces reserved for the spring.