Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tablet weaving news!

We've been pretty busy around here lately, and it mostly feels like putting out one fire after another (figuratively, thank God).  There hasn't been much time for weaving.  I did manage to finish off the Rosepath Plaid towels on the loom, and got them hemmed and washed.

I then started warping for a Goose-Eye Twill baby blanket, in Sugar & Cream worsted weight cotton. The draft & instructions are in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Handwoven magazine.

I haven't gotten very far.  The draft calls for 286 ends, and I think I ended up with 260-something from the cone I bought.  I'll make do with what I have.  I have about 100 ends threaded through the heddles so far.

I also cut the scarf off the Structo, rewound that warp (smoothing out the paper separator much more neatly), retied, and restarted weaving.  I'm much happier with that one now.

In trying to get back to my tablet weaving project (which is on the tablet loom in the living room), I decided I was unhappy with the 2-inch cards from Palmer Looms (nothing wrong with them, I just wanted something a little bigger) so I decided to cut off the beginning of that project and rethread on cards from Malarky Crafts.  This photo shows the size difference between the two cards.

And I started making some cards of my own, using materials I've been saving for that purpose!  The ones on the left are made from oatmeal box lids (I'm also considering lids from coffee canisters and raisins).  The ones on the right are from gift cards, store loyalty cards, etc.  The left ones are 2-1/2", and I used the Malarky Crafts cards as a template.  The ones on the right are about 2-1/4" and are the height of the plastic cards cut square.

I got my cards changed out and restarted the Santas band.  Unfortunately I also discovered that one part of my loom had come unglued.  I blame our cold winter, with its low humidity levels.  The glue just dried out, I'm sure.  So now it is glued and braced.  I may decide to drill a small hole and put a nail in there to keep it in place.

And the Santas are looking good!

In other tablet weaving updates, I ordered Kris Leet's tablet weaving theory video, "It's Not Magic, It's Mechanics" from Taproot Video.  It comes with online streaming for 30 days (until the DVD arrives, I assume).  I'm already learning a lot from this!  I saw that she also has an Introduction to Tablet Weaving video as well.  Even though I think I may finally be inching my way beyond the raw beginner phase, I may need to get that one as well.  There's always something new to learn!

Speaking of something new to learn, I signed up for two tablet weaving classes with John Mullarkey (of Malarky Crafts!) at Stitches United!  These will take place Thursday and Friday, March 22 & 23, in Hartford, CT.  I even get to stay overnight, two nights!  I am so excited.  We rarely go on vacation (last one was Colonial Williamsburg, 7 or 8 years ago now).  I got to go to Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2 years ago, and last year I went to Pennsylvania to go to the IOLI Convention - another unprecedented move, although I didn't get to take any classes.  I am grateful that we can afford the time and money so that I can attend these classes.

The first class is Thursday - Tablet Weaving: Ram's Horn and its Relatives.  I was just obsessing over a particular Ram's Horn pattern the other day!  

And this is the pattern I came across, and wanted to find a draft/instructions for.  Maybe after this class I'll be able to figure this one out.  

I took a screenshot of this band from this YouTube video.  

And the second class, on Friday, is Tablet Weaving: Two-sided Delights

I also signed up for Franklin Habit's lecture Thursday evening!  

I am so looking forward to this!  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


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!