December 30, 2016

This Old Table Loom

It's been no secret that I've been looking for a reasonably priced 8 shaft loom and a reasonable priced table loom.  I've whined to all my friends, asking them to keep an eye out for me.  I missed one, which was my own fault because I waited too long to decide.  But sometimes, fate steps in and Lady Luck deals you a good hand.

The day before yesterday, I got a phone call from a friend, who said she'd just picked up this donated table loom and did I want to house it.  It was currently in the back of her car.   Of course I said yes.  She dropped off this baby!  It is made by Metiers Clement Inc, out of Saint Justin, Que.  Interestingly, it seems like the company is still in business, although from what I could tell, they stopped selling looms in the 1980's.

It's big and it's heavy!  It has a weaving width of 24 inches and is solid wood.  It has 4 shafts, strong and secure levers for the brake release, front and back beams.   I played with a Dorothy once, which had a flying brake lever.  If you didn't move the brake lever in exactly the correct way, it flew off, across the room!  It is a jack loom.  It has sturdy metal lams and everything.  The levers to move these are under the loom.   It also has a sectional beam, like an honest to goodness real one, with a 1 inch spacing.  I've never tried sectional warping before and it almost seems like it might be overkill on a table loom, except for the sturdiness of this little loom.

The loom needs a bit of TLC as well.  For one thing, it's filthy.  I mean really, dirty.  It had a thick layer of dust and a layer of brownish grime, lots of build up of dirt and oil from handling the beater and spots of something brown and drippy, which I'm hoping was a benign substance.   The front apron needs to be replaced and all the lamms need the decades old greased cleaned off, and replaced.   However once that is done, it looks like it could be a fun little loom.     I did find a photo of one of these looms on a little table stand, with the shaft raising mechanisms attached to treadles.  
I've already spent a couple of hours cleaning the loom up, with at least a couple more to go.   Then I'll figure out how to dress the loom and give it a whirl.

December 28, 2016

Kevin Update

Especially for Christiana -

 I've been thinking that Kevin has been a well behaved boy these days.   Generally, he's got a routine, which he follows to the T.  He's not been naughty, or badly behaved for a while.  In fact, he's almost been boringly good.

But as I've discovered, it was all a sham.   He was just pretending to be a good kitty, and lulling us into some sort of peaceful oblivion, thinking that all was well.  
It's definitely a good thing he looks so cute, sweet, nope, interesting and funny while he sleeps!   Shortly after my heartfelt Christmas Eve post, I had abandoned the baking, finished up the last rug hem and was just putting a gift tag on the final gift.   All of a sudden I heard a resounding crash and a flash of fur dashed by my legs to find some hiding spot.  I ran toward the noise, (in the living room) to see the husband and son standing around a toppled Christmas Tree, surrounded by smashed ornaments.

I grabbed every towel in the house and as they uprighted the tree, I started mopping up about a gallon of water, trying to get as much as it as possible before it soaked into the carpet and gifts.   I was able to get most of the gifts out of the way in time, but a few got wet.  We salvaged everything but one gift bag, which held a couple of books.   So my Christmas Eve was ultimately spent, blow drying books (my own present from the husband), which had gotten a bit wet.  My sweetie had to screw the tree holder directly into the floor, in order to keep the now, bedraggled tree upright.

When we finally were able to sit down and figure out what happened, we realized that earlier that afternoon, when Kevin was sniffing the tree and a few low hanging baubles, he was actually preparing for mayhem.   It was he, who my son saw try to climb the tree a few minutes earlier, despite an admonishment and moving him out of the way, it was Kevin who raced by us all, after felling the tree with his adventures.

 A trip to the big box department store replaced a bunch of broken baubles at half price, but when I took down our now sad, rumpled  tree, I realized that most of the ornaments which had broken, were the old ones, baubles and bits from when my kids were young.   Thankfully, I never got around to putting the really vintage ornaments on the tree this year, or that would have been much more sad.   By the time I was able to get the camera out,  the guys had picked up and vacuumed up a rather large pile of broken bits and pieces.  These were all they had left out for me to document the cat-tastrophe.

December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Greetings

I got some of the decorating done this year.   I made this wreath for the front door, using some dollar store bits and a length of fake fir tree garland, which has been in  a box for years and years.   I decided to give it a second life, rather than toss it.   I found an old metal hanger and wired the greenery to the hanger with little pieces of craft wire, and wire from a decorative trim.  It's held up to the winds, snows, rains, ice and now the thaws of this December.

I wanted to make a wooden box to use as a centrepiece, so I could fill it with seasonal decorations.  I wish I'd taken photos of the building progression.  Apparently you cannot just cut the wood, glue the sides together and bang in a few nails, in order to make a decorative and not very functional box.  Nope, I needed biscuit joints, routered inlayed bottom, lots of clamps and way more time than I'd allotted.  It finally got some decorative nails about 5 minutes ago, but it won't be sanded, stained or finished.  But it is a box that will withstand the ravages of time.  This thing might never fall apart. 

I've been baking goodies all day.  I still have a couple more things to make for tonight, spinach dip, a fruit laden gluten free cake, and the veggie, cheese, cracker trays for this evening.   I made the cranberry sauce with orange juice and remembered why I don't usually do it that way.. yuk.   Live and learn.   However the gluten free /dairy free nanimo bars came out spectacularly.  I guess sometimes it's a bit of a give and take.
The mittens and scarves are all bundled up and in a basket so the kids can chose what they want. I kept one of the scarves out for me.  I'd been eyeing it for a while.  The scarf I've been using is all handspun, nature dyed Shetland, but it's a bit scratchy, so the wool/silk scarf is so soft in comparison.  The rugs are all done too, although I didn't finish one of them.  I kept putting off binding the ends until I realized I was really out of time.   I guess if I forgo the last cake, I might get to it.    

I'd better go finish up.  Happy Christmas everyone.    May your holiday season be full of peace, joy and sunshine.   I hope the New Year is full of happiness and finished projects for you all.

December 22, 2016

Finishing more things up

 The white Pima cotton is plied.  I'm thrilled with this yarn.  It was fun to spin.   There are 284 yards in this skein, which weighs 44 g.    I'm finishing up the last of the lighter brown cotton right now.

 The last pair of guy mittens are done, just in time for Christmas.  These will be warm and functional, if not pretty or trendy.  I rather like these however.  They'll never show the dirt and if one gets lost, then it isn't like I spent hours on colour work or a fancy pattern

The last scarf is finally off the loom.   I had a bit of fun with this one.  Every once in a while I did a little inlay of varigated blue.  It kept the weaving a bit interesting.  The scarf before this is plain grey.

December 16, 2016

More Spinning

For some reason I had this great idea, to switch up my spinning and spin up this green ramie.  A couple of problems with that though - 1st, there is half a pound of it, which is a lot of roving to go through.  2nd- it's been bitterly cold out and that means our old cottage is much cooler inside.  I like to spin ramie wet, which means a little pot of water to dip my fingers into every few minutes.  It makes a lovely, smooth, glossy thread, but means in this weather, my fingers get chapped. 3rd - it is not my favourite fibre to spin.

So I've taken it off the wheel.  I'll wind this bit of spun thead onto a bobbin and set it aside for the spring or summer, when wet spinning will be easier on me.

I switched back to spinning cotton.  This is white Pima cotton, so a bit longer staple than the coloured sliver.  I'm surprised that this stuff hasn't spun itself  already, because it really is the easiest cotton I've spun to date.  I am sure that it just glides through my fingers, drafting itself into lovely yarn.   Even with being distracted at times, it just seems to want to spin nicely.

The last pair of Christmas mittens for the kids.   I still want to make or remake a pair for me.  I've tried on every pair of girl sized mittens I've made and they are all too big on me.  I believe that I am pretty much over making mittens for the season though.

As an aside, I've been itching to toss something in a dye pot, but have been holding back.  The new sink was supposed to be installed 2 weekends ago.  The sink cabinet needed some specific modifying because the sink is from Ikea, which meant a bunch of other small adjustments.  Then the weekend weather was icky, so we didn't get the wood for finishing the framing around the kitchen window, which needs to be done before the sink cupboard gets installed.   So, I've been hesitant to dye up the laundry tub, in case all my nice, new wash basins, need to be used for dishes. :(

Our guild offers a beginner weaving class, which is an introduction to not only weaving, but colour manipulation.  We use pre-warped 4 harness looms to make tea-towels.   This is our last class' pretty towels.   The next class is at the end of January.  This spring we'll be doing a follow up class, which will include winding a warp, and dressing a loom.   This class seems to attract fun and interesting people, who all make cool towels. 

December 12, 2016

More Cotton yarn, plus Design class

 I've finished up the naturally green cotton.  Both skeins have been simmered.  The instructions and method we used in the Master Spinner classes, had us wind the skeins of a piece of PVC pipe with holes drilled in it, and boil that whole thing.  I did a comparison and didn't really notice much of a difference between using the pipe and just tossing the skein in the pot.  Once it's cooled, rinsed and you've snapped it between your hands, it all evens out in the end.  As much as I thought the second skein was more difficult and uneven to spin, the two skeins look pretty much the same.  The bottom one is the second skein; the one I thought would be lumpier and bumpier.  It's not.

I've started on some more naturally brown cotton.  The bump of sliver is easy-spin cotton that I picked up when I was in Olds.  The sliver is buttery to spin and has a bit of crimp left in it during processing, which I think is why it spins so nicely.  The bump of sliver is the new brown, which isn't labeled except as cotton.  The skein beside it, is the skein simmered in water for about an hour-ish or so.   The last skein is the cinnamon brown cotton sliver I picked up at Gemini Fibres.  Some lovely differences in colour.

I think I'm going to switch to white for a while.

Why does this matter? I'm taking a design course through our guild.  When I signed up for it, I was pretty sure it was going to have some decent content but since we are meeting only 4 times in a year, before the final projects are due, I wasn't sure what to expect.  When we all signed up, it was with the expectations that we will complete all the homework.

There are 8 of us in the class.   Our first class was not a whole weekend, but just 3 hours on a Saturday morning.   We finished early - which was probably a good thing, because we covered so much information about drafting.  This didn't cover draw downs - we should know that by now, but how to set up a design, read it for threading and lift patterns, and then how to change that to a tie up.  We also covered sett and had a whole whack load of homework.

We have sett samples to make, 6 for each type of yarn - 3 in tabby and 3 in twill.  It was suggested that I use my handspun for some of these, because I can actually replicate yarns that I spin.   I quickly thought that I didn't want to waste my handspun but it really was my mouth spitting out words that didn't explain what I meant.  The coloured cotton is harder for me to come by, so I didn't want to use it.   White cotton is easier to find, so if I start spinning now, I might be able to get it done in time for the  next class in March.  I will also see what else I have on hand.   The samples should start at about 12 inches wide, but I think if I'm using handspun cotton, they will be a little narrower.  That is a fair bit of cotton to spin, though if I use a dummy warp, it might be a bit easier.

Then we have pattern gamps to create - 2 of them - eek.....
And we're to start thinking about our final project, using a book to keep ideas in.  I think this freaked out more of our class than anything else.

Now to start looking for equipment to use -

  I'm looking for an 8 harness or more  loom than needs a new home - and a table loom,

though it turns out the guild will rent me one for a reasonable price, so that is where I'll probably start.  We'll need it to drag to classes and for some of our homework, as apparently it is much easier to just flip switches on a lift plan than to tie up treadles.

But - I wonder if a direct tie -up would work to do the gamp on a floor loom?
Now to get the stupid scarves that I don't like off the loom, and get started.

December 07, 2016

Small project progress

The first twill and basketweave scarf is off the loom.  The fringes were twisted, and I tossed it in the washing machine to wet finish.  After it came out, I gave it a good hard press to make it nice and flat and it brought back the shine from the silk.
I really disliked the pattern or the colour or both.  The scarf is soft and drapes nicely, but it is boring.   I knew this when I cut it off, having decided to re-thread in a pattern that I think I will enjoy more.

 I am almost finished spinning the second bobbin of the sage green cotton.  The funny thing is that no one believes that the icky beige colour is actually green.   So I tossed the first skein in a pot of water and simmered it for about an hour.    What an amazing colour change.   It seems that it really is sage green! 

I tossed a few more handfuls of alpaca fibre into the wash basin yesterday.   It is dry enough to put away, but it feels so nice that I'm leaving it out for a bit so that I can run my hands through it everytime I walk past it.

Other than that, I've been working on my cloak project.  There is nothing to show though because I made a mistake and had to undo it all - so I'm right back where I was.   I hate when that happens.

December 05, 2016

Kevin update, crafty stuff and beer

I used some of the remaining lathe from the kitchen walls to make rustic stars.  I had to look far and wide to find a little bag of rafia in the shops.  It seems it isn't in decor favour right now.    If the snow melts, like they say it will, I may dig up a few more pieces of lathe from the scrap pile and make some stars to keep undecorated.

I was tired of this warp before I'd even started weaving.  I did all the math, checked it twice, wound the warp, dressed the loom and had too many threads.  I counted the threads and there were the right amount on the first half of the heddles, so I checked the second half several times and couldn't find the error - so removed the offending threads, thinking I'd miscounted while I wound.   Except that in all the math errors I could have made, it was the simplest one that was wrong... there weren't half the threads on the first half of the threading.   And I missed that stupid error.   When I realized it, I fixed it - added the missing 4 threads, but because they were in one spot, near the edge, I couldn't get the tension right with them hanging off the back.  Argh, I wound off the warp, retied the choke ties so that Kevin could do no harm and then tied the new threads on the back beam and rewound the whole darned thing.  It added an extra day to the process :( and was a pain.  However, it worked and the weaving is going smoothly.

I came in the other day, to find Kevin had pulled down the cloak project and made himself a warm, soft, little bed.  He doesn't look horribly comfortable, but considering the amount of time he was snuggled up there, I think he must have been comfy.  Either that or he was just being obstinate and hogging the fabric so that I couldn't work on the cloak :)

Last year my sweetie received one of those Mr. Brew kits for a gift.   With the kitchen project, he kept putting off trying it out.  Finally I read the directions and a short time later, I had the first batch sitting in the only area warm enough for fermentation -  hello new living room ornament.   It was really easy and online reviews suggest that you get relatively drinkable if uninspiring beer.   Since I don't really drink and don't like beer at all, I'll never know if it is any good or not - but there are 2 more tins of that concentrate, so there will be at least another couple of batches in the future. 

I have a large, clear glass jug.  If I get an airlock for it, can I brew a second batch in that or does the container have to be dark?  I will have to do some research.

  I'd been hoping to have this ready for the holidays, but totally misunderstood the timing.  2-3 weeks for fermentation, 1-2 weeks for carbonation and 1-4 weeks for aging, does not fit into the 3 weeks left before Christmas.  Whoops.