Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Progress

Yesterday I received three new reeds for my Structo loom, from Gowdey Reed Co.  I am delighted with the quality of these reeds, and the service received from the owner, Jim Wilson!


Here is a photo of one of the reeds, in the spare beater for my Structo (the other beater is currently in use on one of my current weaving projects).  It fits perfectly!


They arrived in perfect condition, despite UPS's attempts to do God-knows-what with the box.


I also received a new handle for my Structo last week, ordered from an Ebay seller.  I had one handle, and was using it on the back beam.  I came across this on Ebay, and am delighted.  It fits and works perfectly!


I have been making progress on both of my weaving projects.  On the Structo, my challenge has been using levers instead of treadles to operate the harnesses - a very slow process at first, but I'm getting a little faster.  I've also had to learn to be gentle with the warp.  I am learning to beat gently (or, as some say, to place the weft rather than beat the weft).  There is an obvious difference in the scarf fabric where I decided to try something new.


I've made significant progress since then.  I also had a problem with the cardboard I was using to leave space for fringes.  The cardboard collapsed unevenly around the narrow breast beam, resulting in uneven tension in the warp.  I unwound the cloth beam and rewound it without the cardboard, and I'm much happier with the tension and progress now.  I'll plan to make the first scarf (and possibly both scarves now, as there should be enough warp for two) without fringes.


On the Macomber, I have now finished the third Rosepath Plaid towel, and am working on towel #4.  I am not sure how many I will have, as I am making them shorter than the original draft intended.


No sign yet of my Baby Wolf loom.  It's not due until about Feb. 2, but I can hope it shows up early!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Just a little startitis

I have not had much weaving time for the last few days, and I needed some portable projects, so I started some knitting.

First it was Connie Delaney's Wrap Around Shawl pattern.  This is not yet listed on Ravelry under her name as a designer, nor does it come up with a search on the name.  It is apparently available now as a download, however.  The pattern is similar visually to Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pie R Square shawl, I think, but I have not made EZ's pattern so I don't know if they are similar in execution.  I am making the Wrap Around Shawl using a "knit front & back" increase, and I am not doing the lace rows.  This yarn (KFI Albina) is so fuzzy that any lace rows wouldn't show anyway.


This shawl project has stood me in good stead during a long car-buying session.  I really hate the car-buying process; most dealerships make it such an ordeal.  We did, however, recently trade one of our Ford C-Max cars (we had two; love them!  Hybrid car, awesome gas mileage, and incredible headroom.  They can fit both my 6'7" hubby and my 6'5" son, with me driving, along with the grandson in a carseat.) for a Ford Transit Connect van.  They seem to be fairly scarce as passenger vans, although they're fairly ubiquitous as cargo vans.  We waited a long time (close to 6 months) for one with the right options - mainly a split rear door instead of a liftgate.  (My extra-tall guys would not fit under a liftgate.  Now I'll have room for my bicycle for trips and group rides, for spinning wheels and looms, even hay runs or animal transport if needed.


I also decided it was a very good idea to have knitting at hand when I go drop off and pick up the grandson at school.  Most of the time I just surf on my phone, but I think I'd rather be doing something that at least feels more productive.  I had come across an abandoned project in my craft room, and decided to get back to work on that.

I had three skeins of LB Collection Angora Merino (in the color Parchment - it's a little more tan than the picture shows).  It started as a mistake rib scarf on 35 stitches or so.  I pulled it out, and started over with 51 stitches and larger needles.  I wasn't happy with that so I hunted through my pattern collection on Ravelry and decided to try the Besotted Scarf - pretty cables, a fairly easy pattern, and free!  I'm only a couple of pattern repeats into it, and it looks like it's working out well in this yarn.


Either one would work for a "spend the day at hubby's work" pattern as well.  The cabled scarf requires a little more attention than the just-keep-knitting shawl (4 increases every other row at this point) but not by much.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Weaving and studio progress

My last post was on Jan 3, and it's STILL blisteringly cold outside.  The good news is, it's supposed to start warming up tomorrow.

I've had two new additions to my weaving space (aka the basement, or cellar, depending on where you're from).  The first is a small rolling cart (with locking wheels) to hold my bobbins, shuttles, current project yarn, etc near whatever loom I'm working on at the moment.  I picked this up today and I'm pretty happy with it.  It holds and organizes more than my previous shuttle holder (a bar stool) although I would not be as comfortable setting my coffee cup on top.


The second new thing is a double-ended electric bobbin winder.  I ordered this on Ebay on Jan. 3, and it arrived yesterday!  I am delighted.  At this point I set it up with bobbin and thread, and press the pedal (regular sewing machine pedal) with my hand to give me more control while winding.  This thing is fast!  I am very happy with the winder, and delighted with the craftsmanship and customer service of the Ebay seller.


We've had a busy couple of days, but I spent some time yesterday and today with my Structo table loom.  Yesterday I got the warp threaded through the heddles and beamed on to the back beam.  Today I got the reed threaded and tied on to the front, and started weaving.


This is the project called "Scarf of Lucky Colors" from Next Steps in Weaving by Pattie Graver, and I'm doing it in two colors of Jaggerspun Zephyr and a dark blue yarn (possibly acrylic) of similar size.  Using the table loom is a little different than the floor loom (the shed is much smaller, for starters!) but it's not bad so far.  I haven't done a table loom project in a very long time, and I'm sure this little Structo (the reed is dated 1937) is happy to be of some use again.


I am liking this pattern, too!


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

More weaving

As we deal with the coldest start to the new year in decades, I am working on my looms.  I finished winding the warp for my Masters towels in blue, and realized I was not going to have enough yarn to weave the towels (7-1/2 yard warp), so I am waiting on weft yarn (Brassard 8/2 cotton) from Lofty Fiber.  It should be here today, but I'm not ready to warp up the Masters towels yet, so a day or two won't matter much.

I am continuing with the Rosepath Plaid towels on the Macomber.  Yesterday I finished towel #2, of 4 (I think).  I may end up with 5 towels, as I am now making these shorter than the original pattern.


I chained off the Masters towel warp, and wound a warp for a "Scarf of Lucky Colors" from my new book, Next Steps in Weaving. This one is Jaggerspun Zephyr (laceweight wool/silk) in a medium and very light gray, and a navy yarn about the same size, of unknown materials.  I suspect it may be acrylic, but I think it will work just fine in this scarf.



I'm planning to warp this on my vintage (1937, I think) 4 harness Structo loom.  I recently ordered some new reeds for this loom from Gowdey Reed, and I'm waiting for them to arrive; it probably won't be for another week or two, but in the meantime I will get the loom warped up.  It has had a recent cleaning and I gave it a nice coat of almond oil.




I should be able to get the heddles threaded, and wind on to the back beam, while I wait for the reeds.

I also plan to order a new Schacht 8 harness Baby Wolf loom soon.  I want something portable, so that I can hopefully use it for demonstrations.  The Baby Wolf can weave up to 26" wide, and that sounds like a great size for the towels I like to make.  I really want the option of 8 harnesses (my Macomber has 10, although I have only done two sets of towels on it so far).  There are so many awesome 8-harness patterns!  I'm keeping the Macomber, because it is heavy-duty enough for rugs, and because it can weave up to 40" wide - a great size for baby blankets.

Last but not least, I have been enjoying my Cotton Clouds towel kits enough that I signed up for another round!  The kits I have done so far have been great.  The instructions are all available in easily obtainable downloads; my previous kits all came from two Interweave booklets.  And they all include plenty of yarn to finish the projects.  I have been very happy with the quality of the Aurora Earth 8/2 cotton as well.  This time I signed up for the Choose Your Own Kit club, for the whole year (one kit per month).


I picked all towel kits, in some awesome patterns and colors, including one repeat from my last set of kits - the Roller Bird Bumbaret towels, which are probably my favorite weaving project ever - although the Keep It Simple towels I wove probably 10 years ago are a close second.  Looking forward to doing that kit from the 2014 club soon!  In fact, that one (Keep It Simple), being a single-color, easy-to-follow weave, would probably be a good one to warp up for demonstrations.  I still have some of those towels around!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas is done

We made it through Christmas, but barely.  We knew a Christmas snowstorm was on the way, so we delivered gifts before the holiday.  I finished a few things, and some things will be finished later.  Several of hubby's work friends received corn bag heating pads, and some got towels as well.  My dad got a guitar strap woven on my inkle loom.  I gave away all of my Bumbaret towels (love those colors!) as well as the blue Linked Birdseye towels.  I had not finished a hat I was knitting for my mother, so I finished off two of the Rosepath Plaid towels for her.  I used a "cut off the warp and retie" method found online (via Peggy Osterkamp's blog), and it worked well.  I also found that the Rosepath Plaid towels were very long, so I adjusted future iterations of the pattern based on that.  Instead of doing four pattern repeats, followed by a set of red stripes, I'll be doing three pattern repeats and without the last set of red stripes.


I made this fox hat for a friend's toddler, and it came out cute.


I tried to finish this Fading Strands hat for my mother, but didn't finish in time.  I finished it yesterday while knitting at hubby's work, but found it a huge disappointment - too small, and too short.  I'm going to remake it, with needles one size larger, the larger set of numbers, and one extra pattern repeat.


Now I am winding a warp for the Masters towels, in blues, and working on the rest of the Rosepath Plaid warp.



Today I received some heavy texsolv cord I ordered from Halcyon Yarn, and changed out some nylon rope on my front warp rods for texsolv cord.  The rope that was used had huge knots, that left bumps I didn't like when winding on.  This will be much smoother.


I also received a new book today, thanks to a Christmas Amazon gift card from my dad!  I look forward to learning new things in the near future!


Friday, December 15, 2017

Next project underway!

The Linked Birdseye towels have been finished.  That involves cutting them off the loom, then I stitch at the ends of each towel, cut them apart, and hem.  I use the sewing machine for hemming.  Then they go for a trip through the washer and dryer before I call them done.


I immediately started the next project.  Christmas is coming up fast!  On Dec 10 I started winding the warp (431 ends) and finished the next day.  Then I had to calculate how many heddles I needed on each harness (this is a 4-harness pattern).  I counted the heddles on each harness and made sure to start from the middle.  That leaves approximately an equal number of unused heddles on each side of the frame when I start.






Then I started threading the heddles, keeping track of which threads and which colors go on which shaft.  There is a rhythm to it that develops as you work.

I added the plain warp beam to my loom.  I don't have the configuration of plain and sectional warp beams (and their respective brake mechanisms) entirely figured out yet, but I have both warp beams on the loom and the plain warp beam has its friction brake attached and functioning.

I finished threading the heddles yesterday and started winding the warp onto the back beam.  I am using Tyvek house wrap as a warp separator.  I have the end of a roll (still a lot of wrap on there!) that I got several years ago from Freecycle.

Then I put the beater and reed in place and started threading the reed.  While doing this, I double-checked the pattern that was threaded through the heddles.  I caught two mistakes and had to create two repair (temporary) heddles from size 10 tatting thread.


Then the warp is tied to the front beam, and tensioned, so that weaving can begin.  At this point I found that I had two threads that crossed incorrectly in the heddles.  I had to untie that set of threads from the front, correct that in the heddles, and re-tie to the front.  Then I was ready to finally start weaving!



This is another one of my previously stashed kits from Cotton Clouds.  Much like the Linked Birdseye towels, the treadling and yarn color pattern for these looks more difficult on paper than it turns out to be upon execution.  This kit is supposed to make six towels, and I'm hoping to have them finished by next Wednesday.  I'd like to share these as Christmas gifts for some of hubby's co-workers.


My next project will be the Masters towels from Lunatic Fringe.



I have a Gray Matter kit to do these with, but hubby wants a set in blues, so I'll do those first.   He let me order some yarn for that project.  I got some 8/2 Maysville cotton in half-pound tubes from Great Northern Weaving in some great blues for that.  I will start winding the warp for that project while working on the Rosepath Plaid.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Almost finished!

I was able to spend a good stretch of time weaving today, and managed to finish towel #3, and started towel #4.


I should have enough time tomorrow to finish off this warp and, if I'm lucky, to pull out my sewing machine and get them cut apart and hemmed.  This will make two sets of towels - 4 pairs in all - for Christmas gifts.

I started warping up for the next project as well.


This is another Cotton Clouds kit, Rosepath Plaid.  This kit makes six towels.  I hope I can get these done quickly.


Yesterday I got a pattern from Lunatic Fringe (free gift!) to use with the Gray Matter yarns I bought from them probably a year ago.  This is called Master's towels, and I love this pattern!  Hoping to warp up for this one soon.


I showed it to hubby and he said he wanted to see what it would look like in blues.  Today he let me order some blues and some purples to try this pattern in a couple of different colorways, so I have a few half-pound tubes of 8/2 cotton coming from Great Northern Weaving.  Very excited for these to arrive!  Must weave faster!

I also finished a scarf I have been working on during my "knit at hubby's work" days.  This one is made from Juniper Moon Farm "Fourteen", in dark purple.  It is a delicious merino/cashmere wool, knit in a simple mistake rib.  Finished it in time for our first snowstorm of the season.