Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Next Steps in Weaving TOC and Project photo

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rep Weave Table Runner and Placemats: Kelly Marshall's Waterdance

Kelly Marshall published a book of rep weave for the home. It's a beautiful book, full of inspiration of color and design. My daughter chose Waterdance for a table runner and placemats. This was meant to be their 5 year wedding anniversary gift in May, then a housewarming gift in August... She finally got them on Christmas day. I can excuse myself for some of the delay due to my broken foot and ankle, but that only accounts for 12 weeks of a 7 month delay.

This is one of the warp chain, Kelly's book in the background.


Those warp chains were not the favorite thing I have ever threaded... I used a combination of UKI and Valley 5/2 cottons. The UKI is twisted a bit tighter than the Valley, and they really wanted to stick to each other more than any other cotton warp I've worked with.

I wound 6 yards, and this is 48 ends per inch, so this was a VERY dense warp. I had to make 3 separate chains. Once I got it sorted out and onto the back beam, my weaving neighbor looked at it and urged me to re-beam. I had not done a good job with managing the dense warp and it was falling off the sides a bit. She warned that this would be a tension nightmare. She was right, so re-beam I did, using a ton of sticks and tying a string back and forth across the warp, snugging it up. This technique is covered in Kelly's book.

The rest went quickly. Each block has 12 threads each of 2 colorways (some colors were blended) and they are threaded on pairs. Each heddle carries 2 threads. Threading errors are so easy to identify straight away. Same with bringing the pairs through the reed. I used a 12 dent reed, so there were 2 of each in every dent. This is threaded on 10 shafts, so there are 5 independent color swapping blocks.

 Then the weaving! This goes SO fast! The weft is 3 strands of Sugar and Cream for the thick and 10/2 cotton for the thin, and you can see how FAT each pick is.

I used my cotton duck "cloth beam sticks" and it worked GREAT. This has pockets for warping sticks sewn in and winds onto the cloth beam with the cloth, covering the knots, allowing a really smooth winding on of the cloth. This was another suggestion from Kelly.

There's a little distortion showing on the beige/green striping. After looking at this picture, I took a look behind the loom. I had a bundle caught up on the lease sticks (which I left in during weaving, and once I released that it was fine.

Here's the entire length off the loom. The sticks are separating the placemats. Isn't she BEAUTIFUL?!?

 And here's a finished placemat. I had intended to get a picture of the entire set, but my daughter ran off with it before I got that done. I can't blame her. It was 7 months late, after all!

Anyway, I am so pleased with this, I will be weaving more from Kelly's book. I'll stick with 8 shaft designs, though. The Spring is really not heavy enough for this kind of weaving. Poor think shook and shuddered through the entire process. The Baby Wolf is far better suited for this kind of punishment :)


Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 2017 Update :)

More than a year has gone by and what a difference a year makes, right?

Family still remains a focus, but much less so as everyone's health is a stable as expected considering where they are in life. My FIL had colon cancer surgery in November, and the months leading up to and after that were pretty exhausting for everyone, and we are very glad he is through with that!

... I just gotta say, though, colonoscopies save lives. Neither one of my In-Laws had one, both have had colon cancer surgery. A little discomfort now saves a lot of pain later. Regardless of what your practitioner says (they say they were told they didn't need them), push for one, at least by age 60. Or find a new doctor. Until less invasive options are available, this is it, folks.

So! Weaving and sewing! There has been a little of both!

First off, I wove 6 yards of "water" for our ANWG Convention guild booth. It was made out of some crazy synthetic made in 1965, a blue and green and gray concoction of thick, ropey, synthetic fibers. The wonderful ladies of the Whidbey Weavers Guild collected all manner of things from members, put them together into a cohesive scene, and took Best in Show!

Component of Whidbey "Water"

I also wove a little Swedish lace valance for our bathroom window out of bamboo. No picture, but it's nice! As part of the same study of Swedish lace, I also made placemats out of some cotton I bought in a closeout. No pictures of those either, but I may do a separate post on that later (LATER, she says...)

My big project this past year was weaving fabric for a jacket to be made in a class with Daryl Lancaster. Seriously, if you have never taken a class with her, DO IT. She is fun, relaxed, funny and an expert at what she does.

I wove 6 yards x 33" of a broken twill out of 10/2 tencel sett at 30 EPI. Let's start there.
  • Number one: tencel on it's own is just too slick and drapey to make decent jacket fabric. If I was set on this, I should have combined a tencel warp with Zephyr, or some other "grippy" fiber, to give it some stability.
  • Number two: weave with an even BEAT for crying out loud! I had 6 yards of this fabric and I was lucky to find enough areas that didn't have striping due to packing too hard or too loose. This is my major area of failure when it comes to this kind of weaving and I really have to make this a focus of my learning.
Here's a shot of the fabric on the loom:

And here are some shots of the finished product:

The lining is fondly refered to as "The Surprise Inside" :)

I'm also part of a group that focused on deflected double weave, so I wove a few samples for that. I adapted an Elisabeth Hill blanket into a rayon and tencel scar
f in slate, gray, pink and violet.

There's an error here, with 2 repeats of 12 that should not be there. This is on the loom.

This is off the loom and washed, but not pressed.

I hemmed this and the repeat drives me NUTS, but my daughter doesn't care, so this will be here.

I removed those bundles, changed the left border and made another scarf. There is, OF COURSE, a treadling error, but I can live with it. That one will be mine :)

Next up is a rep table runner from Kelly Marshall's book. I have it beamed on for 2 weeks, but I'm not too sure it went on well. I think that's why I'm avoiding threading. YIKES.

That's it for now! I hope to have the runner done by the end of August and look forward to sharing it here!


New Year - 2017 Edition

Good Morning 2017!

I think of a new year as a point of renewal. No longer for making resolutions, joining gyms, changing my diet, changing the way I think, introducing some new form of discipline, but rather a marker in time that reads "Do Over Starting Line".

How is that different than the typical "New Me" strategy that so many people employ? It is not reinvention. Instead, I get to start out with a fresh me. I get to forgive myself for the things that did not go so well in 2016. There is this fresh, new, pristine year and I get to do better, be better than I was in the last.

I have a lot of goals this year.

Be Kind
Stand Up, Speak Up, Act Up
Practice Creativity
Nurture my marriage

Ah, you say! These are too broad, don't have action plans and aren't measurable! Not so.

I know when I am kind. I know how I feel and how my heart benefits from behaving this way. I know how to be kind. I know this is how I *want* to feel.

I know social injustice when I see it. Looking up and challenging it a duty. Becoming active in my communities is a responsibility. Protecting our vulnerable populations is an obligation I am ready to take on.

Creativity is not just sewing, weaving, writing. It's also the practice of introducing creative thought into problem solving of all kinds. This will be a year where I challenge rules and old thought processes and approach my days with an open mind.

I have been blessed with a partnership that complements us both. This has been such a hard 4 years, as we navigate complex family problems, retirement, illnesses, and commitments that have cut down on our time together. At times I feel us pulling apart under the burden, but every time I feel the cord ready to snap, we pull back to neutral, closer still. Our well being, as a couple, defines much of our personal well being, and effort put into appreciation, intimacy, grace and humor strengthens us in all we do.

***I wrote this in January and never published. I'm going to now. I still feel the same way, and have been moving forward in all these areas. So here goes! Onward through 2017!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

With Many a Winding Turn...

I love the song "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by the Hollies. It says so much about living a generous and spiritual life, one filled with gratitude and a sense of community, of sharing. It's the life I aspire to live.

Aspire to live... The road is long, right? I really wish I embodied the uplifting aspect of this song because I'm feeling a little peckish about "my brother" right now. I have a lot of them. Family members with serious health issues relating to their advanced age (including combinations of colon cancer, strokes, dementia onset, hearing loss, vision loss, heart disease). None of them are able to drive anymore but want to continue living "independently", and that involves a lot of support. There's also a younger family member battling a serious disease. While I split duties with another relative for two of these elders, I'm primary for the rest.

The time required to help all these people adds up, but worse than that is the emotional toll. None of us wants to lose our independence or be ill. People deal with it differently. Some are angry, some are gracious, some are demanding. There is denial, depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other emotions. Two are in somewhat unsafe living conditions and they won't budge. One is hospitalized with no good return to home plan yet. One is so lonely, as his living friends all deal with their own health and family issues. I spend a full day with him once a week and am basically his only reliable visitor.

I am emotionally exhausted.

A dear friend reminds me that you have to put the oxygen on yourself first. My weaving and recovery groups are that lifeline.

In addition to the wonderful women in the Guild, I take classes and am in three study groups: Lace Weaves, Rep Weaves and Style Fusion.

I've taken two classes this year.

The first was Kelly Marshall's rep weave. I made this BEAUTIFUL table runner:

It matches my china and I really LOVE it and the weave structure. I just bought a TON more of yarn to make a runner for my daughter and placemats for a pal's wedding gift.

Here's what that same runner would look like if I used Kelly's color palate. This is really a versatile weave structure with only 4 shafts. The colors make all the difference.

I also too a 5 day Garment Construction Intensive class from Daryl Lancaster (click on the link if you want to read more about the class we had with her). She is a wonderful teacher and an excellent human being :) I made this jacket:

Sleeves not hemmed, no buttons and goofy smile... the fit is terrific when I'm actually standing up straight and all of the drag lines on the sleeves were gone once I finished everything off. I was the first person to test her shawl collar in a class. Her instructions were excellent. It's a great addition to her offerings.

The inside is AWESOME. I did a Hong Kong finish on all the seams in a washed out paisley poly print (I used the wrong side... the RS was kinda tacky). Not only did I make the jacket, but she helped me solve some fitting issues I've had for a long time. I am, apparently, long-waisted. I would know this if I could see my waist LOL!

For our lace study group, I made samples of a turned figure Swedish lace and placemats. No pictures today, but here's the draft of the samples:

I am having a TON of FUN with the style fusion group. I had been spending a lot of time working on a muslin for a blouse. I was informed I should probably unless I was bent on looking pregnant. Only your friends tell you that kind of truth.

As for the recovery group! Wow! We started the new group in January and while it's only around 14 of us, it is so very uplifting. I am always reminded of "each one teach one" at these meetings. We lift each other and as we move through the program as individuals, we pass on what we've learned to new people who join.

So life hasn't been all frustration and woe. There's been a good deal of light and fun mixed in and that's what I have to focus on.

It is as good as we make it, right?


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016: Quest for Joy

Retired or not, life is full of obligations. It's important not to let them define your life. There have to be those "other" things that fuel your engine. Otherwise, your life becomes about the duty and the joy gets pushed away from the center.

The biggest obligations in my life are supporting the day to day living requirements of my in-laws, spending time with my elderly uncle (which is actually fun most of the time) and continuing to clean out his storage units (not fun, but OH WELL).

I don't make Resolutions. I find that to be a self defeating term in my realm. I find when I don't have the kinds of goal below in-place and IN ACTION, the obligations overwhelm me and joy takes a back seat. So these are goals, some with plans. (Yeah, a project manager never really retires :)

  • Weaving
    • First up is a class Kelly Marshal and Rep Weaving. This is a new structure for me. There will be a post covering the class and project mid February. 
    • Weave lace samples for Samplers - Due March
    • Weave curtain for main bathroom window - Due June
    • Weave placemats for my daughter and niece - No due date
    • Weave yardage for April class - Due April
    • Develop plan for double weave grant application - Due April
  • Sewing
    • 5 day construction intensive class with Daryl Lancaster in April will kick this off. Since I'm an experienced sewist, I am "petitioning" Daryl to let me skip the standard jacket and move on to fitting existing patterns in my stash. I'll be bringing yardage for a vest.
    • Develop wardrobe plan after Daryl's class
  • Personal Growth
    • Get back into journaling, focusing on creativity, step work and spirituality, and gratitude
    • Support development of "No Matter What" Family Group
    • Plan a trip with the Husband. 
Seems like a small list. Once I hang the whiteboard, this will be what I look at every day. That helps me focus. 

Now I'm off to wind the warp for the Kelly Marshal class. I've been putting it off while I read everything I can get my hands on about Rep Weave. I finally feel like I understand her warping instructions well enough now so no more procrastination!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Whidbey Weavers Guild Uncommon Threads Sale - Over and Done!

Last Thursday morning, I loaded my car and took the ferry to Whidbey Island to start the 3 day adventure that is Uncommon Threads, our annual sale of hand crafted items. As in years past, we held the sale at Greenbank Farms in the barn.

Finished items have to have at least 50% "interlacement" or applied surface design and be of high quality to pass our Standards Board. We also accept raw materials that have been altered, like prepared roving. Vendors have to be a Guild member to sell. Other than that, the playing field is wide open!

So what do we make and sell at this wonderful event? The majority of the items are handwoven, knitted, crocheted, felted, commercial cloth that has dyed, overdyed, shiboried.  There is handspun yarn, roving for spinner and felters. We had scarves, hats,  handwarmers, rugs, towels, table runners, tree ornaments, finished garments, ruanas, shawls, placemats, napkins, felted sheep and gnomes, jewelry, woven yardage, greeting cards, temari balls and more. There were over 3000 items brought in for the sale, and the variety was staggering!

I was the Inventory Chair for this year's sale. I had no idea how much work it entailed but very much loved it so I will be next year's Chair as well. While it was a lot of work, it also afforded me an early peek at what people would be bringing in beforehand, and that was fun.

Thursday morning was check-in. All of the vendors brought in their inventory and our team checked them in and passed them on to Set Up and Display. That team worked tirelessly for the next several hours to create the sales floor.

The doors opened at 10 am Friday, and by close at 7 pm, we were bushed! We reopened on Saturday at 10am and the last customer left the building at 3:10pm. Our team had a station in the barn loft and were tasked with updating vendor's inventory as their items sold. This was totally dependent on our terrific cashiering team removing inventory tags and routing to us for processing. There are bound to be misses in a manual system, but yesterday morning, the Cashier Chair and I resolved the last of the mismatches, sent our files off to the Treasurer, and checks can now be sent out to our vendors. The books are CLOSED!

I sold all of my blue and white pinwheel towels, but not the boucle scarf :(

However, I got feedback from one of our master weavers regarding my fringe. I'm going to rework that and give the scarf to my daughter. She really liked it.

Now to start planning for next year! Since the pinwheel towels sell so well, I am thinking of sticking with that, changing up the colors, maybe using borders, and trying the trick I read about that carries color changes through the interior of the towel. That still hurts my brain, but I have 11 months to figure it out and weave some lovely things to sell.

Happy Wednesday!