Saturday, 22 February 2020

I've some Ramie top on the wheel right now, in a lovely colour called earth.  It's a really nice brown and because it is ramie, it has a bit of a sheen.   This top has been really nice to spin, although when I stopped last night, my non-drafting fingers (the ones holding the fibre) were black with either dirt or excess dye.  Still, the yarn should be quite nice when done and any dye or dirt will get washed out when I wet finish it.


I'm still plodding away on the inkle loom with the pick-up pattern.   I did the math and I still have 2 weeks to go before I finish, if and only if, I manage to do my 3 inches a day.   I'm guessing that there will be a few days it won't happen, so it will likely be closer to 3 weeks.  

I had a single skein of a white tweed yarn which was exceptionally ugly.  It was bright white with some dots of colour and it looked totally wrong.  I dyed it a grey which in reality is a bit darker than this photo.  I started making mittens with it.  The first mitten was almost done but every time I looked at it, I saw fingerless mitts instead.   I ended up ripping back the first mitt and changing it up.  There are a bit shorter than I normally make fingerless mitts.  I usually like them to come up past my knuckles, to keep my fingers warm.  However I've found that when they are that long, they don't lend themselves to activities like spinning or playing the banjo.  So these shorter ones allow for those sorts of activities easily. 

I need to set up a Pysanky work station, so I can start on Easter Eggs this year.   My daughter was in the city, so she stopped by the shop and picked up a few dyes that I needed.  There was a new brand out, the same price as the basic dyes so I got her to get a few so I can sample them for differences.   I'm wondering though if they are just the traditional dyes, repackaged.   Different colour names, all with a Canadian cultural theme, but with the similar price point and a similar colour selection, it could be the same dyes, in a different envelope.







Sunday, 16 February 2020

Pick-up Ikle - Tedious but impressive

 The banjolele strap is all fixed up, reassembled and re-attached to the uke.    I ended up shortening it after washing it up because it really was too long in the first place.  It seemed sensible, since I'd already had it taken apart.   I decided that I could live with the small amount of width shrinkage from the washing as once assembled, it didn't slip in the hardware. It works fine, and there are no ill effects from Kevin's mistreatment of the strap.   I know you're supposed to hold a regular uke in your arms while you play, but the hooks on the head of the banjo-uke press into my arm making it uncomfortable, plus it's a little heavier.  The strap makes a huge difference in comfort.

 We had a weavers guild challenge to bring a greeting card or Christmas card to a meeting and then decide on a project using some of the colours in the card.  The Christmas card I had was black, red and white.  I didn't have any black thread in the cupboard, and wasn't going to order anything in the near future, so I decided to spin instead of weave.  These are some of the rolags that I've carded from black, red and white merino.   It's spinning up into a rather nice, subtle, tweedy yarn.

I warped up the inkle loom to play with pick-up.   I'm using 2/8 cotton for the ground threads and 4/8 for the pattern threads.   Right now I'm managing about 3 to 3 1/2 inches an hour.  My loom weaves a band about 108 in long, so it's going to take a while if I decide to finish the entire band.    It's not difficult though, but definitely fussy.  It requires much counting, so it's not like a plain weave band where you can chat, or watch a video or something, while weaving.  This band requires concentration and about 35-40 hours.  

We have a guild with a bunch of super-enthusiastic beginners this year.  I know if I use it for show and tell, someone will say I should sell stuff like this.   But really, if it takes 35 hours, how much would I have to sell it for to make it worth my while?  and Who in their right mind would pay that much?  LOL!!!

In other news, the blanket I was working on is stitched up,
hemmed, wet finished and how in use.   It is cozy to cuddle up under and when there is a nice day outside, I'll drag it out and hang it on the line so I can photograph it.  Right now though, there are 3 cats curled up on it, which is the best seal of approval.  However it also means I can't access it to take a photo, without getting those same 3 cats ticked off at me.  I figure while they're sleeping, they aren't getting into any mischief and that's a win in my opinion.

  This is Phil looking out the window at something moving about outside.  He enjoys looking out, but he doesn't really want to actually go outside anymore.   He seems to be happy in his warm, safe environment, with lots of food, water and cuddles. 

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Inkle straps and finishing up the grey wool

 I received a banjolele or banjo-uke for a fun Christmas pressie.    I know a lot of people don't use a strap for a regular uke, but I was finding the bracket hooks kept pushing uncomfortably on my arm.   So I had a strip of inkle woven strap that I'd made for a mandolin strap, but never finished.  I turned it into a very effective banjolele strap.  However, Kevin, naughty cat that he is, decided to muck it up a bit and I had to wash it.  It came out fine, besides needing a good pressing.  However, it shrunk up a bit and the strap is just a tad too small width wise now.

While I was deciding whether to re-weave it or not, I remembered that I still had to make the strap for the Hedeby bag that I'd made last fall.  I had used a makeshift strap from a piece of tablet weaving, which was white and green, totally the wrong colours and way to thin.  It looked ugly and was uncomfortable to wear.   I realized that if I didn't just make the darned strap now, time would get away from me and it might never get finished.

I used 4/8 cotton because I had it on hand.  Since this strap would likely touch my neck, I didn't want to use wool.  The wool that I'd spun up, which would be comfortable to wear on tender skin areas, wasn't nearly strong enough for a strap, nor for inkle weaving.   The wool that I have, which was suitable, is to rough for me to want to wear in an area which might rub.     I wanted to use a tan, like the bag I'd woven, but
I didn't have any in the right weight and I really wanted to use what I had on hand.   Instead I used a natural cotton and a dark, denim blue.   I warped up the inkleloom yesterday and finished just after supper today, with a strip of tape just under 3 yards long - 105 inches in total.    I could have gotten a few more inches woven, but a warp thread broke and really, it wasn't worth fixing it for another 2 inches of tape length.  I attached the tape to the wooden bag handles, by threading it through the appropriate holes and tying an overhand knot.

It looks a tad short, but it isn't.  The handles rest nicely on my hip and when it's open, I can reach in and touch the bottom of the bag.  I absolutely hate it when I make my bag strap too long and I can't reach in without lifting it up.   The best is that it is very comfortable to wear too.


The grey superwash, spun and plied.  It's a lovely worsted weight.  The colour is a rich, charcoal colour, which will be very useful.  I've no idea what I'll use it for though, so it's into the storage bin with it.  








Sunday, 26 January 2020

Woolly activities

I've finished the hooking part of the basket weave rug.   I'm quite happy with it so far.   I still need to steam it so it's flat.   Then I will baste a cord wrapped in the backing, around the edge of the rug.  The final steps are to whip stitch wool yarn around the edge to cover the cording and backing, to give a firm finish, which will frame the rug.  

I don't have the yarn yet, which will likely be black.   I was thinking about spinning it.  It won't take a lot, maybe about 150 yards.  But it will have to be dyed.  The fibre that I have which is suitable, is still raw fleece, so it will need to be washed.   By the time I've washed the fleece, let it dry, worked out the calculations to spin it to the necessary twist and grist, and then spin, ply and dye it, spending the $7.45 for the single skein of yarn that I'd need, seems to be an easier solution.  

I'm happy with the rug though.   Now to find a local dealer for Briggs and Little yarn, Regal weight.  

This is the end of the blanket project which is on the loom.  I wove this blanket it 2 halves.  Because I only have 4 shafts and my loom is only 36 in wide, I can't do a twill double weave project.   So if I want to do a twill blanket, I weave it in two long strips and stitch them together.    It's not really sewing it together, it's more like running an extra warp thread down the middle, picking up the little loops along the selvedge, where you reverse the weft.   It's easy and takes only a long thread of warp and a tapestry or darning needle.

Joining the two halves
The seam line from joining using this technique is almost invisible.
You just pick up one loop on the selvedge of one piece, and then the next one on the selvedge on the second piece.  The reason I like joining two woven pieces this way is because the seam is nearly invisible.

My finger is on the seam.  Despite the bit of extra bulk at the selvedges, it's still really hard to see.

I thought that I wove the blanket halves to 95in, knowing there would be a lot of shrinkage when it first came off the loom.  Obviously I wove the first half to only 92 inches because the second half it a few inches longer than the first.    It's an easy fix though.  I'm joining the two halves together first.  Then I will pull a weft thread where I want a cutting line to even up the two blanket pieces.   I'll then stitch along the blanket side of the little gap to secure the threads before cutting the extra off.  

I hem my blankets these days, rather than twisting fringes.   If I were to sell blankets, I'd likely twist the fringes as people seem to like the look.  However, I want my blankets functional and I find the twisted fringes get in the way.  They tickle chins and noses, get caught up in fingers, and other things and of course are the perfect cat toys.   Hems are far more utilitarian as far as I'm concerned and I'm willing to give up a pretty finish in order to not wake up with a fringe bit caught up where I don't want it.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Holiday Projects.

Over the holidays, I did a bunch of spinning.  The small orangey skein is some pumpkin coloured fibre I spun a while back.   There wasn't a lot of it as I was just playing with colours, so the skein is small.  The white is Merino, very fine and very soft.  It was the end of some sliver that was leftover from another project.  Most of this was spun with a long draw.  I really should have carded it first, as the sliver and fibre was old and a bit compacted in places.   The resulting yarn is a bit uneven in places, but still soft, springy and will make awesome mitts or a hat.
I've started into a bag of grey superwash merino.   I'm guessing there was about 100 g or so, but I didn't weigh it first.  This is the second bobbin and I'll be ready to ply it soon.  It's rather nice because the colour is a bit variegated and interesting to both spin and look at.

The guild is looking for ideas for an upcoming class.   We have had suggestions of pin weaving jewellery, cute woven buttons and stick weaving.  Here is my contribution to ideas, which is a coiled basket.   If it were in the late summer or early autumn, I'd have used either ditch lily leaves to make cording or tried to find a bale of Timothy hay, which would also work well.  However, they are wet project materials and ours needs to be dry, so I used para-cord for this one.  I had this small 1/4 in size on hand for this sample.  I tried most of the feed stores and hardware stores locally but I couldn't find larger  hemp or even jute rope around anywhere.   I have a larger poly braided cord to do another sample at some point.  This little basket took about 3 1/2 hours to finish.

I've dressed the loom with a wool warp in a simple herringbone twill.   It will become a blanket.   Because it's a twill and I only have 4 shafts to work with, I'm doing the blanket in halves and will join it in the middle.   The red stripe was a second choice.  My first was a lighter blue, but it turned the other colours were just a tad thicker in grist.  It felt odd as I was winding the warp and it was easier to just switch out the colour that try to figure out if it would work as is, or did I need a different sett.  This is a couch blanket for cooler evenings and for the kitties to sleep on.


Saturday, 21 December 2019

Merry Christmoose!






I was so not on the ball when it came to Christmas cards this year.   I finished these 2 days ago.    I only printed up 5 of them, because obviously I didn't have time to mail them out.  So please excuse my tardiness and enjoy my silly card and the honest sentiments sent with it.

Happy Christmas to all. 
  Best wishes for a  New Year full of Joy and Sunshine.  


Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Hedeby Bag

Every time I've tried to update my blog, something has happened to distract me.   There was even a power flicker, shutting down the computer just as I went to start writing.   So right now, I'm just ignoring everything else and just sitting down and doing it.

I'd love to say I woke up early to get this photo, but really it was 7 am and still dark out, but the moon was incredible.   Because I could see the sun starting to rise behind me, I didn't have time to grab the tripod which would have made the photo so much better. The view lasted only a few minutes but it was pretty and intense while it did.


I stumbled upon some information on Haithabu or Hedeby bags, and got drawn into finding about more.  I decided to weave some fabric and turn it into a bag, based on some of the information.   I realized that I wasn't going to be able to weave reproduction  fabric for the bag, in the timeline I had in mind, so I went with all wool, in a sett much coarser than the extant fabrics, but in a checked pattern which was my interpretation of a description of an extant textile find.

I decided to only put one project on the loom.  That wastes fibre in loom waste, but is much faster to wind, thread and weave.   Since I really only was doing a single project, I felt it didn't matter.    It took only 1 day to wind the warp, and dress the loom.  I was ready to weave but getting dark out, I decided to wait until the morning to weave.

The bag has wooden handles, which I didn't get a photo of before I assembled the final project.   Normally I would have tried to make them myself but as I'd given myself only 5 days to get the bag completely done, I asked my husband to cut the handles out.

 His first thought was that we'd do it on the weekend, only I had wanted to use the bag on the Saturday, so as I started on a Monday, that evening we ran out to get some 1/4 in wide wood.  I drew the pattern, traced it onto the wood and he drilled out the holes on the Monday and then cut it out on Tuesday.  I sanded it, stained and oiled it during the rest of the week.  I used tung oil to finish it.   I'm sure there is some varnish someplace around here, but I use the oil on one of my wheels, so I knew where it was. It seemed easier that way.

Weaving should have taken no time at all, despite the checks, but Phil kept "assisting"me.  That meant lots of tea breaks while he kept watch over the garden.   As soon as he was bored, I could get back to weaving.


I lined the bag with some hand woven cotton.  It was a tea towel which for some reason, was funky on one end and never got hemmed.  I put in a totally non-period zippered pocket to hide things like my keys.  

I sanded the handles and had them ready to stain on Wednesday.   On Thursday, I coated them with tung oil.  I didn't have time to put a second coat on though since I was assembling the bag on Friday.

I had been hoping to sew the bag and lining on the Thursday, but it was an off the chart hectic day, where I was hardly home and crazy busy.  Sewing instead happened on Friday.  

I wasn't sure how to attach the bag to the wooden handles, so I used the leather and rivets I'd used for banjo and guitar straps.  I cut some thin ones for the centre slot, but the bag seemed to be sturdy enough without those particular bits, so I left them off.  All I needed to finish it off was a strap.  I need to make a new one, but this was a piece of tablet woven trim I found in my trim bag.  It's too narrow and the wrong colours, but if I was going to use it on the Saturday, then I needed a strap.

Saturday I was sick so ended up staying home.  Go figure.

  Still, I'm happy with the bag and I will get to use it.  I have time to make a proper strap, as long as I don't put it off too long.  I have to admit that I so loved doing this project.  It was a lot of fun.  It didn't take forever to make and I'm thrilled with the results.  It brought back lots of memories and urges to do more.