Monday, 9 January 2017

New Warps, New Year

It’s the beginning of a new year, so it’s a good time for reflection on the past year, a look at what is in progress and plans for the new year.

In 2016 I managed to weave 12 scarves, here's one of the Geelong ones

18 tea towels,

6 meters of yardage for a jacket,

a warp for felted hats/pots,

a band for glasses cases,
just finished, 

and worked out how to use the double harness attachment on my loom.

I also worked on my sock knitting skills and completed 3½ pairs socks, and sent 4 scarves to the Geelong Scarf Festival and sold all of them.

Oh, did I mention that in my ‘spare time’, I worked full time?

What’s on the looms at the moment?
One of the new warps in the title has just gone on to the 4 shaft floor loom.  I need to replenish my tea towel stock for a market coming up at the beginning of March, more about that later.  I thought some tea towels in turned taqueté with a white background and a rainbow of stripes in what I like to call gelato colours would work.  It’s been very hot the last couple of days and it was hard work getting it threaded and sleyed with the help of a fan. 

Fortunately it has now cooled down and it’s amazing how much more quickly things get done when the weather is kinder.  The first tea towel is half done already.
I’m thinking of calling them the paintbox tea towels.

There are still 2 scarves to finish on the second double harness warp, and as soon as the weather is cool enough, I want to get back into the garage and finish the 2 red scarves on the loom. 

What’s coming up in 2017?
I’ve been going to the Hawthorn Craft Market for a while now, initially in the suburb of the same name, then a move to a new venue in Hawthorn and then to the adjacent suburb but still with the same name.  It’s fair to say the some of the customers are confused and some probably think it’s closed.  Every March there is a street festival in Hawthorn and in 2017 the Craft Market is returning to the suburb of its name.  We’re hoping some of our past customers will reconnect with us and new ones will find us.  We’re already praying for a dry, warm but not too hot day with a cool breeze if that’s what’s needed for a successful outdoor market and working on extra stock, hence the need for tea towels.

I’m enjoying using the double harness attachment on my Toika loom and I have some other ideas to try with the attachment.  The other job I really need to do is to fix a problem with a couple of the treadles.  My loom has a homemade system for tying up the treadles, a bit like the 20+ system.  One of the cords on treadle 1 has pulled out and the cords on treadle 4 have jammed, I suspect a fallen pin from a broken warp is the culprit.  I’m sure it can be fixed if I crawl under the loom for long enough.  At the moment I am restricted to 8 treadle drafts, with a straight treadling on 2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10.  It seems a bit odd but the mind does adapt.  Sooner or later I will see a draft that needs the whole 10 treadles and is so good that I will be forced to fix the problem.

The Geelong Scarf Festival is coming up in a few months with entries due at the end of April and after selling all the scarves I entered last year, I’m keen to enter again this year.  It would be great if I could start a bit earlier and not leave everything to the last minute.  Having said that I’d like to avoid the last minute rush, I guess it applies just as much to the Bendigo Sheep Show although that’s a couple of months later.

I have started planning for both events and will need to have a dyeing day in the near future and while I had the warping mill out for the tea towel warp, I wound the warps I need for some of the projects which need to be dyed first.

I think that should be enough to keep me entertained for the next few months, I’d better get back to the loom 


Monday, 28 November 2016

A little weaving and a little gardening

I wrote a while ago about the tea towel weft I wound while my brain was occupied with recovering from a cold and I have to confess that it has turned out to be rather boring weaving.  Using the double harness attachment and a bright red warp on the big loom on the other hand has proven to be much more interesting.  I have finished the first of the red scarves and have started the second. I’m very happy with the first red scarf here

and showing more detail here

However it’s the last market for the year next Sunday, so I have reluctantly returned to the tea towels.  I managed to do the first 3 with small squares

but I’ve moved on the other designs with longer blocks

and fewer colour changes

in an attempt to get them finished before the weekend.  They are looking quite good in a slightly boring but classic way and will no doubt improve with wet finishing.  I rather like the idea of tying ribbons around them but then I looked at the price of even a simple unbleached tape at my local shops. I decided that at those prices the tea towels will probably have to stay unadorned.  I can find some really good ribbons on the internet but I don’t think they would get here by the weekend.

Earlier this year I replanted the garden bed at the top of my drive and included some kangaroo paws, called that, because they look like, you guessed it, kangaroo paws.

They are an Australian native, but Victoria is still a long way from their home in Western Australia.  They were just in small tubes when I bought them and I’m surprised how well they have done,

my only worry is that they are very close to the foot path, I’m hoping some passer-by doesn’t decide that they need them more than I d

Monday, 17 October 2016

Something new – or maybe very old

When I bought my Toika loom in 2006 in the last year of my weaving certificate course, it was advertised as having a a draw loom attachment.  Sure enough it had 4 levers along the front of the castle and a couple of brackets on either side, just one lever and one bracket shown here.

There were no instructions and despite emailing Toika and looking at various books, magazines and websites I could not find any explanations or anything similar.
  All the draw looms were much more complicated and had provision for many more extra shafts.  I think I had been hoping to find someone who had a similar set up and that they would say that they had one the same and this was the way to make it work. 

A couple of years ago there was an article in VÄV (1/2013) about the reproduction of an old Gotland textile.  The author thought that it would have required 32 shafts but looms like that were not available when it was made.  She worked out that it had been made with a double harness loom with 4 ground shafts in front and 4 pattern shafts behind.  After re-reading the article a few times, I realised that this was the set up I had but didn’t get around to doing anything with it.  Then a weaving friend gave me a small bundle of what looked like tangled strings but on closer inspection turned out to be long eyed and long heddles – just what I needed to turn my loom into a double harness loom but still I didn’t feel ready to try it out. 

A few weeks ago there was discussion of double harness weaving on Facebook and just after that Weavolution started their annual Halloweave challenge where weavers are encouraged to do something different with their weaving during October.   It might be to weave every day, try a new technique or just to try something they have been putting off for far too long.  So I joined the Polo House – the Halloweave house just for weavers who, like Marco Polo, wanted to explore something new and I plunged in.  As I was not really sure how it would all turn out, I made a warp narrow enough to use just the heddles I had and used yarn that could be discarded without too much regret if it all turned into an unworkable tangle.

It turned out to be not nearly as difficult as I had expected.  The setting up was complicated especially for the first time but I expect it will become easier with time and the weaving itself was very straightforward with plenty of opportunity for spontaneous exploration.  I’d liken it to setting up a warp with a very complicated stripe pattern – once that’s done, the weaving is easy.  I’ve written about it in much more detail on Weavolution as louiseinoz here and here.

I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to explore double harness weaving further.  A proper draw loom isn’t even on the horizon at the moment but I know that with the set up I have, there are lots of other things I can do.  At the weekend I found a 4 shaft overshot pattern to use as a profile draft, made a couple of jigs to make more of the special heddles, made the heddles and wound a warp, burgundy 8/2 tencel, as I wanted to try something finer and wider, hence the need for more heddles.

The new warp is already wound on to the loom and half threaded - I wonder how it will turn out?

It must be Spring in Melbourne as I've started weaving in the garage again and for even more proof, here's my clematis in full bloom


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Engage brain before weaving

I’ve had a cold over the past few weeks, not life threatening, only had half a day off work but bad enough that when I got home from work there wasn’t much energy left to do anything creative.

I decided to put a tea towel warp on the 4 shaft loom, how hard could that be?  Found a draft I liked from, via Pinterest, #33677 from G H Oelsner’s A Handbook of Weaves. I have to confess that Pinterest is becoming a bit of an addiction.  I’ve heard of stash acquisition beyond life expectancy but I wonder what draft acquisition beyond life expectancy or draft acquisition beyond loom reality should be called.

The draft had a 20 end repeat – 3 contrast ends sleyed together and 17 straight twill background – but as it was mainly twill and I was using 8/2 unmercerised cotton, 24 ends per repeat and inch seemed like a better idea. I planned the warp for 21 repeats, for a width on the loom of 21 inches.  I promptly warped 21 repeats of, you guessed it, 20 ends.  I knew it would be too narrow so spaced it out to 20 epi which was the next big mistake.  

The weft packed in too much, the twill line was flat and it just wasn’t right.  Fortunately I had enough sense to stop until I was thinking more clearly. 
It was too late to add those extra 4 ends to each repeat so I added a couple of repeats to each side, weighted with bottles of water, and sleyed it to 24 epi.  What a difference.  The weft is packing in properly, it's easy to weave and the twill lines are at 45 degrees.  

When I should be doing other things about the house, I keep going back to do ‘just one more repeat’ and I’ve already got more than enough ideas for the 6 towels that should come from the warp.  The back of the loom is not a pretty sight but the good progress on the front more than compensates.  I guess that this really is a lesson to engage brain before weaving - or planning a project, or warping.

There was good news from the Geelong Scarf Festival this year.  The 4 scarves I entered all sold and I received the hoped for, no parcel and large cheque

rather than a large parcel and no cheque.

I did manage to complete another project.  A few years ago when I had cleaned the rust off an old reed and just wanted to make sure it wouldn't leave any dirt on the next project, I warped up the 4 shaft table loom with dark grey 8 ply knitting yarn and made some double weave tubes.  Even though they were named, somewhat pretentiously, Felted Vessel 1 - 4,

and had great dreadlocks around their tops,they didn't sell and ended up at work as very small winter hats for the window display.  They were on display recently when someone came in because she thought they would work well at her work where she has to cover her hair.  I confessed that they were really too small to be hats but we got talking and I agreed to make another run of them.  It wasn't a difficult project, the hardest things were finding wool that was machine washable and not felting them in the washing machine for too long.  My customer was happy 

and I now have some more felted vessels for the collection

Spring has arrived here and with it a burst of activity in the vegetable garden, I’m hoping to be self sufficient for salads,

and also in the garage cum studio where it’s finally warm enough to work without using the heater.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Comfort Weaving

After completing a major project, like my jacket for Bendigo, I often feel that it’s time for a little comfort weaving.

What's comfort weaving?  I think it's a bit like comfort food - the familiar foods of childhood, craved and/or eaten when life isn't going smoothly - only in weaving it's the simple plain weaves and straight twills from Weaving 101, often done when while watching TV, and when you want a break from more complex weaving

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve managed to make 4 plain weave scarves, 12 herringbone tea towels and a bread cloth
while binge watching Kitchen Cabinet. It's a local TV programme where Annabel Crabb, a political journalist and keen cook goes into politicians' homes, cake or dessert in hand.  The deal is that she brings the second course and the host cooks the main course.  She hopes that in a familiar environment, distracted by cooking - the politicians who are keen foodies like to show off their skills, those who are not,  just pray that no disasters happen - they will open up in ways not seen in formal interviews.  It works, they do open up and seem much more human, even ones who would not normally get my vote.  It all makes good TV for weaving.

The scarves were just simple plain weave using an alpaca weft for 2 and a boucle loopy mohair for the other 2.  I thought the mohair was the sort of yarn that should be brushed, remembered that I had a little brush just right for the job, and even managed to find it. 

A quick brush raised the pile to give a soft and fluffy surface, just the thing for the cold weather we’re having at the moment

The tea towels are from the warp of leftover yarn I wrote about here.  While width of the coloured stripes was dictated by the amount of yarn available, the grey and black stripes helped to bring it all together.  I used a herringbone draft and wefts in the same grey as in the warp,
and a greyish blue, hard to say which worked best, maybe depends on the kitchen colour scheme. It's always good to get to the end and see all the towels on the cloth beam.

I was reading something about kitchen design recently where the author suggested that tea towels are the ‘cushions of the kitchen’ – an inexpensive accent of colour to make the space look more interesting.  I guess there might be something in it

I went to the Hawthorn Craft Market on Sunday and some additions to the stock were needed. 
I managed to make a couple of sales and learned quite a lot about the new credit card reader in the process.  I thought my limited technical skills were the reason it wouldn’t work but found out later that while there was an updated version of Android on the phone it wasn’t compatible with the card reader as its app had not been updated.  It’s all a learning experience but I’m still trying to work out why I didn’t just enter the card details on to the screen as I do at work regularly when someone has a card which can’t be read


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Sheep Show 2016

Here I am, back after a lengthy break, no dramas, it's just that time of the year when everything has to be kept under wraps

I sent 4 scarves to the Geelong scarf festival, but won't know what is happening with them until later in the year unless I make a trip there.  I was very happy with these waves in a hand spun wool variegated yarn and fine wool weft in advancing twill.

and the third version of the snakeskin, this time in coral

No sooner were the scarves on their way to Geelong than it was time to start working on something for the Sheep Show in Bendigo.

I'd seen a Burda jacket with a simple shape so good potential for handwoven fabric, and decided that I wanted to make it in something bold - diversified plain weave seemed to be the best option and I really liked the circles which Iowaweaver wrote about here and in Handwoven.

I started with this wool in two colours and two thicknesses, although not the blue, it just jumped into the bag while I was thinking about other things

and later had to buy 4 more balls of the pink.

Then I warped

And wove - out in the garage where it only gets to about 16ºC, about 60ºF
And wove even though the fine pink was just a little soft for warp and kept breaking

For about 5 metres which was only just enough
And finished up with this 

and this

and this - the fabric at the bottom of the fabric was all that was left over

As usual I also started a second entry and as usual, life intervened and I decided to finish one properly

The sheep show was last weekend, I caught up with friends and looked at all the wonderful Woolcraft entries.  Here are a few which were paraded - sorry I can't identify the makers, but they all looked fantastic

And here's mine on a model, who is just a little taller than I am.  My jacket was awarded second place in the handwoven garment section even though there was a problem with some uneven threads on the collar.  It was a good lesson to start earlier and check both sides of the fabric as the problem was almost invisible on the side with grey spots but quite obvious on the side with pink spots.  I cut off just enough for the large collar pieces before I saw the problem and when I came to cut out the collars there wasn't enough fabric to avoid the problem.  I think it will be fixable once I work out exactly what the problem is, and is only really visible from within an arm's length.

I checked out the traders and managed to come home with just a small addition to the stash and also a new tape measure as mine all have nicks in them from overuse.

I've now retreated back into the warmth of the house and put a simple plain weave project on the 4 shaft loom, a few bright scarves for the next market, and told the loom in the garage that I'll be back in 6 weeks when the weather is warmer