Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time to Weave

With George having started his new job on Monday, we're adjusting to this new phase of our lives. He wasn't very enthusiastic about the new place, but how could he be? Our last jobs were as perfect as any job could possibly be. However, I'm delighted to see his enthusiasm building. He's learning so much, and sees the opportunity to learn much, much more. This is a very good thing!

And me?  Well, I'm learning lots, too, about weaving. I'm taking this time to learn and practice things I've wanted to learn forever. Now that I seem to be over the worst of the warping issues, dressing the loom is nowhere near the daunting task it has been in the past. It's kept me from weaving for years.

Weaving to Sell
So I decided to see if I could actually sell my work. Many people have encouraged me, including a woman at the St. Francis In The Wood Fair.  I think she's probably one of my guardian angels. I'm convinced my angels show up in human or animal form from time to time to take care of me and push me in directions I need to go.  They have some typical forms I'm coming to recognize, too.

After being inspired by a piece on Ravelry's Warped Weavers group, I decided to use some variegated Tencel I've had laying around forever. I used the variegated in the warp and black Tencel in the weft. I somewhat fearfully chose a twill pattern in Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book. I say fearfully because the drafts in the book are in the old style and I wasn't sure I could read them correctly. But it proved much easier than I had feared.  There were a couple of  false starts. I forgot the prime rule of design.  If you have a complicated yarn, and most variegated yarns are, you need a simple structure. Of course, I tried a complicated structure. And immediately unwove it and used a simpler tie-up and treadling. I promptly broke a warp thread - Tencel takes less abrasion than bamboo, I think.  But I patched the thread and had no further trouble with it.

The two scarves I warped on wove off quickly enough, especially considering I was also weaving the Peacock Shawl on the 8-harness loom. They looked good, even straight off the loom.  But wet-finishing provided the miracle it usually does.  And without further ado...

Twill Scarves
Here is one of the scarves!  With an amazing amount of fear and trepidation, I opened an Etsy shop where I listed them for sale.  We'll see what happens!  I need to spiff up my shop, but at least it's there.

I'm pleased with the interplay of the color against black.  If I had it to do over again, and had an unlimited amount of Tencel in the house, I think I'd choose a navy blue for the weft.  The black is a little harsh.  Here's the detail of the scarf.
Twill Scarf Detail

Overshot is Hot... But Slow
The Overshot Runner on the Loom
I'm gravitating to finer weaves and more traditional structures. I've wanted to try overshot for years.  I've been collecting overshot books forever, it seems.  But I've never actually tackled a project. Warped Weaver's winter Weave-Along this year was overshot.  Looking through the postings, I decided to squeak a last project in on that WAL. I chose a table runner project in one of Interweave's e-books - the same project that many others in the WAL chose. For a first project, I'm glad I did. I used a natural colored cotton in the warp and tabby weft and an indigo blue wool for the pattern weft. It looks almost black and white in the photos, but I was going for the traditional natural / indigo look.

Threading the loom required attention.  It's amazing how complex something can be in only four harnesses. But I used the small-group theory of threading - thread a small number of heddles, double check them, tie them off and forget them!  Thankfully, there were no mistakes. When I started weaving the tabby header I was almost dismayed to see how open the weave was.  But fortunately, I had the benefit of everyone else's experience telling me that the tabby needs to be open to accomodate the pattern weft. I planned the pattern weft in a single strand of the blue wool.  But when I sampled it, it seemed kind of thin.  I opted to double the wool... and promptly realized I didn't have enough.  I think that problem will get taken care of, though.

Overshot Detail
So beautiful... And so much what most of us think of as traditional American.  Overshot didn't originate here - like many things it was brought here by the colonists, but it was raised to a folk art here.  So many patterns were developed here and have names reflecting American history - much like quilt patterns and names.  Next up will probably be placemats in Lee's Surrender at Appomattox... if I can get my parents to stop cringing at the name!

The Peacock Shawl is Finished
And it's as beautiful as I thought it would be. I have several more color combinations in mind to do it next time.  I want to try the peacock color again but using an emerald green for the weft instead of moss green. I think the resulting color will be closer to true peacock.  And I want to do it in two tones of white - I think it would be beautiful for a bride.  And I'm going to try the unthinkable - running a glimmer thread along with some of the warp threads. I'll probably get tensioning nightmares, but that's what the weighted S-hooks are for.  And I have two shades of pink in SoySilk that would probably be gorgeous!  So many projects, so little time!
The Shawl

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Games and the Shawl

Ah, the 2011 San Antonio Highland Games have come and gone.  We had a wonderful time this year, but How Busy!!  I'm told that there were more people on Saturday alone than in all of last year, which was their previous attendance record, I think. If we get many more visitors, we may have to think about recruiting a fourth member of the team!  We like it so much that we've decided to try to do more Games and fairs.

The MacLean tartan probably wasn't the best idea I could have had.  It is undeniably eyecatching, though, and is so very pretty.  It made a statement.  I think red tartans are the best choice.  The sash came out reasonably well.  I know where two mistakes are, and I'm going to need to come up with a better way to deal with the color changes and working the ends back in.  But again, it's pretty and that's what counts!  This time, when I wet-finished it, I used the steam iron aggressively.  That's apparently what bamboo needs.  It has a sheen like silk and a similar hand.  Gorgeous stuff!

The MacLean Sash
 George and I are developing a really crazy idea - even for us.  We're thinking of building a loom that looks old but can be taken apart in sections.  The beater/reed and harness sections could be stored together so I could sley the reed and thread the heddles prior to an event.  Then we pack up the loom, most of which would fit on the top of the SUV, and take it to an event.  We reassemble the loom, beam the warp, tie off, weave the header and get going!  The very first visitors might see the end of the warping process, but they wouldn't have to sit through the tedious part of sleying and threading.  It might work.

So where to from here?  We'll be at the General Sam Houston Folk Festival in Huntsville at the end of the month.  This'll be fun!  I don't have to wear a tight bodice!  I'm going for the prarie look and an old-fashioned, probably overshot weave!  We have our fingers crossed that we'll get a couple of other fairs during the year.

Consulting on the Weave - My Favorite Photo from the Games

The Peacock Shawl

But there's no time to rest on the ol' laurels!  As soon as the MacLean tartan was off the 8-harness loom, I warped on a shawl I've been wanting to make for years.  It's royal blue in the warp and green in the weft to give an iridescent sort of peacock color.  There are blocks of the most intricate twill.  Truly gorgeous!  I need to analyze why the blocks happen.  It does use all 8 harnesses, six for the design and two for the tabby weave sections that separate the blocks.  I have Interweave's e-book on designing blocks.  I need to spend some quality time with it.  Meanwhile, I'm weaving on with the shawl. It's at a rather wide sett for the thread I'm using, so it's not only iridescent, it's sheer.  At least it is on the loom.  It may contract when I take it off and finish it.  However it turns out, it's beautiful!

The Peacock Shawl

They're Back!

Climbing American Beauty Roses
Remember the Great Rose Massacre from last year?  Well, the American Beauty roses survived.  One isn't doing quite as well - it was cut back more severely.  But the other is thriving and they're both doing their show again this year, God bless them!  Several of the roses didn't make it.  The winter was severe this year and they just couldn't deal.  However, some of the ones I thought were goners are coming back.  Now that's tough!  What do I have to complain of??