Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy, Happy

Well, here it is, the last blog post of the year.  Here's a link to Robyn Spady's very appropriate end of year blog post.  I can't top go enjoy.

Happy New Year to you!

Happy Birthday to me!

See you next year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

So I changed to the new blogger format and lost a couple of comments along the way. 
  • Sue...not to worry, the yarn was only around the candle for the photo shoot.  I don't leave candles burning at all unless I am right there...too dangerous with a kitty in the house.  
  • And thank you for the comment, Cyndy.
One of my daily clicks is Seth Godin's blog.  Can't help but think of the people on Capitol Hill when I read this one.

May your day be merry and bright.  We finally have sunshine in southeast Michigan....even a little birdsong to go with it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lit from within....

I've been a-plying myself to clearing off some storage bobbins (that's a pun I've wanted to use for a long time):

The fiber is baby camel down and silk, 2 ply, 150 yds. for 14 grams of fiber.
Spun on my Jenkins Turkish Delight spindle and plied on the wheel.  Plans are to use the fiber in a future warp of mixed handspun exotic fibers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The view down our drive at 8:00 AM today:
The 2011 December solstice takes place on Thursday, December 22 at 5:30 Universal Time. That’s Thursday, December 22 at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. 

 From here, the days get longer:

Doesn't that make your day a little brighter?
Happy solstice!
(Especially if you live in the northern hemisphere.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Success and failure....

I love this fabric!!  This sample is off the loom, washed, pressed and making me happy that there is more on the loom to be woven.  The warp is the yarn in the last photo of this post.  The warp yarn was spun worsted from 4 oz. of 75% BFL/25% silk top dyed by Black Bunny Fibers, purchased from The Spinning Loft.  The two ply yarn was about 26 wpi., so I decided on a sett of about 18 epi for a plain weave fabric.
The weft is a commercial 2 ply raw silk in a dark teal.  It was a mill end, so once it's gone there is no more.

It is the first time I've used handspun yarn in a warp, but it certainly won't be the last.  I took the unwashed bobbin of yarn to the warping board and wound all of it  into 4 different warp chains.  I shuffled the warp chains going onto the back beam so if there was variation in the yarns from the start to the end of the bobbin it wouldn't show as a progression across the warp.
The sample shrunk 10% in width and about 1% in length with wet finishing.  It would make a wonderful vest.

To refresh your memory, here are the warp chains:
I do love the way the color variations make a random vertical stripe in the cloth.  And the silk content gives it a little glow from within the fabric.  Color me happy.

And for the failure......
Remember the afghan in the last post?  Due to a failure to do the math at the outset of the project, I am starting over.  I checked the finished size by laying it all out at the half way point and the thing was HUGE.  Way too huge to be manageable as an afghan.  Since there is plenty of yarn here, I'm not ripping yet, just starting over.  Am not sure if this will be a Christmas present or birthday present for ds (his birthday is in it gives me some grace time.)

Parting I the only one that clicks when "Romney" shows up in my feed reader, expecting to find a sheep or some fleece, only to be disappointed to find a politician at the end of the click? 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And miles to go....

Here's Christmas gift I'm working on:
It's an afghan for ds's family room.  The pattern is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Garter Stitch Blanket (Ravelry link).  I have a lot more knitting to do in the black and gray.  Here's another view:
Because I'm using a worsted weight yarn, I increased the number of stitches to 48 for the garter strips.  Turns out that EZ named this appropriately.  It really will be more of a blanket than an afghan.  But I think it will look nice with his black leather furniture. And I'm hoping it will be cozy for reading, tv, and video gaming this winter.  

In addition to increasing the number of stitches, I've added an I-cord border.  That means I'll be doing miles of black I-cord once the two larger gray and black pieces are complete and the 4 pieces are sewn together.  Do you think I can make a Christmas deadline?

Also, the handspun warp is wound onto the back beam and ready for heddle threading:
So far, this handspun warp has gone more smoothly than I thought possible.  Just wound the warp straight from the plying bobbin.  Let's hope the threading, tie-on and weaving go as easily.  At this point I think it will just be woven in plain weave in order to show off the handspun.  Weft will be a 2 ply raw silk mill end in a peacock/teal sort of color.

Plenty of stuff for me to work on here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More spinning....

Freshly plied handspun, hand-dyed, pumpkin orange merino from the turkish spindle:
This is about .8 oz or 22 gr. of 2 ply yarn.  I haven't wet finished it yet.  There's about 210 yds. there and I'm spinning more on the spindle.
I'm thinking the the orange and the quiviut are looking pretty happy together.  For now they are stored side by side while the rest of the orange is being spun up.

It just started raining outside.  Of course it is, I just spent the last two days washing windows.  Just finished up and came in about an hour ago.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The thing I lke best...

about the day after Thanksgiving is that no one around here will ask, "What's for dinner?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Finish or start...whatever...

This is ~ 2 oz. of freshly washed handspun quiviut that I finished plying last night:
It's about 250 yds. of two ply spun with a woolen draft from the batt.  While I was spinning it, I flipped back and forth in my plans.  Maybe it would be knit into a nice lace scarf, then again maybe it would be weft in a handwoven scarf.  I still don't know.  If I knit it, I will probably dye it, perhaps a blue over-dye.  If I weave with it then it should probably stay natural and be the weft on a warp made of handspun natural colored BFL/Silk (which has yet to be spun.).  Here they are together:
Whoops..that picture clinched it.  Woven it will be.  Must spin the BFL/silk!

Also this fresh off the warping board:
This is also a BFL/silk blend spun from hand dyed top from Black Bunny Fibers.  It is also a two ply, spun worsted at about 26 wpi.  The warp was wound right off the bobbin without wet finishing.  I'm not sure what the weft will be yet, but you can see there's still quite a bit of yarn on the bobbin, so it might be that.  This will also be (what else?) a scarf.

And so the plight of the handspinner.  Finishing a spinning project does not mean you are finished.  It means the start of something else....knitting, weaving....or whatever else one does to transform yarn into fabric.
I have my work cut out for me.  Hmmph, that's a sewing term.  (There's some sewing waiting in the wings around here too.  That will be another post....some day.)  
A fiberist's work is never done.

Wishing all you readers a peace filled day on Thursday, whether you are in a place which celebrates Thanksgiving or not.  Namaste!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Painted Warps....

This is finally off the loom and finish work done:
The warp is bamboo, Aunt Lydia's Bamboo Crochet Thread.  Which by the way, takes fiber reactive dye very well.  The weft is a Web's 20/2's silk in Orient Blue (purchase on sale).  The sett was 18 epi.  The weave structure is two block 8 shaft false damask (or twill damask).

Here's the obligatory "on my back fence" shot:
On loom the width of the web was 14.25" and the length was 72" (excluding fringe).
Off loom width was 13 7/8" and 70" length.  Finished dimensions: 11 3/8" x 68".

There are 5 warp chains in the piece: 3 painted warps and 2 narrower chains vat dyed in apple green.  I wanted something that was plaid-like, but not so structured.  So I "unvented" this little design tool to give me a rhythmic sort of plaid look:

Knowing the value of using the fibonacci sequence in designing stripes, why not use that concept for weaving blocks?  So I took a dollar store 6 sided die and wrote an 8 on the 4 side and a 13 on the 6 side.  That way the six sided die had the first 6 fibonacci numbers on it: 1,2,3,5,8,13.  I decided on the size of the 1's unit based on a threading unit of the draft (16 threads = 16 picks), then I would roll the die and weave the number of units in block A.  The next roll of the die would be woven for that number of units in block B.  I'm really happy with the results.  
And it looks good with my new jacket:

What would I do differently?  Well, maybe I should have used some of the blue weft threads in the fringe to tone them down a little bit and help them coordinate with the fabric. 

Since the Sara Lamb workshop, I'm on a roll.  Here's the next painted warp and accompanying threads:
The painted warp is a silk/cotton mill end.  The accompanying yarns are rayon.  I'm going to tackle designing this in the reed and threading front to back.  So it may be awhile before you see this actually on the loom.  

Well that, and I have another deadline project to weave in the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Off Topic...

I read this headline:

Then I remembered the last time God spoke to Cain.....go take a look at Chapter 4 in Genesis.

Just sayin'.....

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

'Nother One Done

Here's the latest prayer shawl, hot off the needles:
Ravelry project details here.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Finishing lessons and retail therapy....

IMO a project isn't finished until I sit down and write myself a note about the lessons learned from the project.  I do it for just about everything that I do.  In cooking, I write and date notes in the cookbook or on the recipe.  In entertaining, I keep my menu and write notes about what worked and what didn't.  At this stage of life, I'd prefer not to keep making the same mistakes over and over.  Any chances at "do overs" should have successful outcomes. 
Perhaps you might be interested in a peek at my lessons learned from this latest weaving project:

  • I'm still not wild about warping front to back, but it does offer the distinct advantage of designing in the reed especially with painted warps.  When I do it again, there will definitely be a thread by thread cross in the warp chain and a choke tie firmly tied behind the cross.  I still like having the reed horizontal when sleying...maybe it's because of my progressive lenses?
  • I'm pretty happy with the beat on this project.  It's firm and even (the Mountain Loom is pretty incredible for that as a table loom.).  There was one spot where the beat was a little light in the middle of the web when I took it off the loom.  I can't find it now that the fabric is washed and pressed.
  • However, there still is a little bit of a ripple in the fabric when it's laid flat.  An ongoing problem of mine.  Waddup with that?  (any body have some suggestions?)
  • Selvedges:  aren't the best on this project.  The one that looked the best on the loom looks the worst in the finished fabric.  I think I'm going to try sleying the 4 end warps on each side a little closer on my next cotton fabric.  
  • Maybe a temple would help with the above two problems?  Maybe I'll put a temple on my Christmas wishlist.
  • Color:  I'm pretty happy with the color choices in this piece.  Sara was a help in picking out the pearl cotton contrast stripes and I like them.  
  • I do wish that the yellow hadn't come up in the dead center of the I guess that's something to pay attention to in future painted warps.

  • It's surprising to me how much the yellow and turquoise together read as green in the fabric.  It probably has something to do with the fact that I used a dark turquoise 10/2 cotton as weft in this warp dominant fabric.  It would have been interesting to see how another color weft might have pushed the colors through that section of the warp.  Must remind myself to pay attention to that and sample with it in the future.
  • The width of the fabric on the loom was 14".  Off the loom it was 13.13", and after washing the width is 12.33".  That's almost 12% shrinkage in width.
  • I didn't measure the length of the cloth while I was weaving.  The length of the of the cloth off the loom was 42", not counting fringe.  After washing it is 39.5".  That's only 6% loss in length.
Am I missing anything?
I would be remiss if I didn't admit to a little retail therapy after wrestling with this warp in the workshop:
A Japanese stitch pattern knitting book and a Houndesign support spindle.

The stitch patterns in this book are so unusual.  My fingers are twitching to just cast on and start sampling.  Lovely stuff.  And a little closer look at the spindle:
It's a little 24gr. sweetie made of purple heart and birch.  That's cashmere I've been spinning on it.  Doesn't it make your fingers just twitch to give it a spin?

There was a little more retail therapy at Beth's that weekend, but this is all I'm fessing up to right now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Thanks for all of your kind comments on my previous post.  We seem to be getting along well, now that the throwing of the shuttle is in progress.

Monday, October 24, 2011

There's always one....

If  you've attended many weaving workshops or if you're a workshop teacher, you know from experience that: "there's always one."  One person in the workshop who either: shows up late, doesn't have their loom ready, didn't follow the preparation instructions, didn't read or understand the course description and is not mentally prepared, or any combination of the above.  They are often a distraction and a challenge to the teacher and the rest of the workshop participants.  We can only take a deep breath and hope that there is some cosmic lesson in it for us as well as "the one" (and that we will all get the lesson before we are driven to mayhem, murder or lose our minds entirely).  The workshop must forge ahead.

Well, dear readers, this past weekend I had the privilege of attending a weaving workshop with Sara Lamb at the Spinning Loft  in  Howell, Mi. and I was "the one".

Saturday morning started out with one obstacle after another, from clothing that didn't work to a torn fingernail that needed attention, to more catbox chaos than I meet with most mornings, to construction delays on the road.  But I did arrive for the workshop just in time with everything that I needed.

Being a weaving workshop veteran (junkie?) of over 30 years, I have a cache of workshop supplies and a system for getting myself set-up when weaving away from home.  As I lugged this stuff into the workshop space, some of other workshop participants expressed interest and appreciation.  That was when I made my first mistake of the workshop...the one that challenged all the weaving fates.  I said, "This ain't my first rodeo." 

If I hadn't been so pleased with myself at that comment, I would have heard the snorts, pawing and banging against the stanchions of the bull warp chains that were waiting in the I mean on the table to my left.  
They look pretty innocuous lying there, don't they?  Well they had my number.  I may have been to rodeos before, but apparently I've only been doing the weaving equivalent of tie down roping, barrel racing, chuck wagon racing, and perhaps a clown act or two.  It seems my smug little comment signed me right up for the bull riding event.

Sara started out with talking about how she works and the kind of fabrics that she weaves for clothing.  We learned about fabric design for clothing including setts, drape, structure (and the advantages of simple weaves), and color arrangement.  Her talk gave us a glimpse of how she approaches the creation of the wonderful, colorful textiles and garments that she makes.

Then we set about designing our warps from the warp chains that were provided (thanks Chelsea and Beth!) and the coordinating cones of yarn.  Oh...and by the way, Sara designs in the reed which means warping from front to back.  I'm a back to front warper....I've warped front to back before and it ain't pretty.
The bull warp started warming up in the pen as I approached the dyed warp chains to make my selection.

I chose three warp chains because....well, you know, three is a good number in design and these seemed like kind of skinny chains.  I was thinking of a warp maybe 8 inches, 10 inches max., for a sampler.  I went over to the front of my loom, set up the lease sticks and.... whoops!! lost the cross in part of one of the chains.  The bull warp was loose and I was on his back for the ride!!

Through the day this warp threw me the challenges of skipped dents, tangled threads, lost threading crosses, and more tangled threads.  Not to mention the bucking, jumping, and twisting of color and design theory.  My classmates were merrily getting their looms warped, tied on and starting to weave while I was sitting there staring at a field of white texsolve heddles.  
At the end of Saturday, I had just finished sleying the reed and I hoped that the bull ride was over.  Not so...Sunday morning the bull had rested up and was ready for my ride through threading the heddles.  Again there were missed dents in the reed, miscounting, and a group of warp ends that had snaked their way back out of the reed. There were not enough heddles on some of the shafts and even a repair heddle had to be put in place.

All the while, Sara, was patient and supportive.  She answered questions with aplomb.  And gave some some suggestions and advice when I'm sure she couldn't stand to watch me wrestle with that warp...any more.  And sometimes I took the advice...sometimes later than sooner (because I have my share of bull headed-ness).

She talked us through designing and painting warps, set up a dye table, painted some warps and several of the more proficient students painted some to take home with them.  Since I was "the one" in this workshop and since we have a guild dye day coming up in January, I just stayed on the bull and finished threading the heddles.  Finally it was time to wind on the back beam.  Sara dealt with the tangles and snags in front of the reed, for which I am eternally grateful.  I cranked the warp beam and inserted the paper.  

By this time it was 4 PM and the workshop was over at 5 PM.  I was getting ready to lash on to the front apron rod, when the weaver beside me, Wayne, was (ahem) cutting off his warp:

Isn't it gorgeous?!  Wayne has been weaving since Christmas of 2010! Clearly the man was born to weave.

Denny was also ready to cut off her warp:
So pretty...and look it matches her shirt.

Mary Beth had resolved the color challenge her warp initially presented:
  Doesn't that look like sunshine peeking through a waterfall?

And me....
 I discovered that my lashing cord was too short for a 14" wide warp(Remember that 8 to 10" wide plan? ...the bull had its own plan.)  So I attended the weaving workshop and never threw the shuttle once.

Despite that it was a great workshop and I did learn a lot.  Thanks so much to Sara and Beth!  My apologies to you and all of the workshop participants for being "the one."  I hope I wasn't a disruption or an impediment to your progress in weaving.

While  I loaded my loom into the car I was able to see both the front (photo above) and the back of the loom:
As I gazed at those colors in the parking lot I heard a little whisper of a voice: "psst...hey, Valerie".  
Oh my gosh, the bull warp was talking to me!  
It said, "Just so you know, I do have a name:  It's L'Oreal 
You know....
Because 'I'm worth it'...."

Gotta go...the warp beckons.  But from here on I resolve to attend every workshop as though it were "my first rodeo."

Monday, October 17, 2011


This little guy forecasts that we will have a moderate winter:
Perhaps not as mild as the all brown wooly worm I came across a week or two ago.  And not quite as mild as Cyndy's forecaster.

And this year's harvest from the compost bin:
is a promise which encourages me to clean up these:
And this view: 
is a forecast that if I just sit down at the loom, the warp will be done in just a short 24 inches.

Well...the last two won't happen all by themselves.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Either or both of me....

Back here I posted a link to Phoebe Snow's song "Either or Both of Me".

Every morning I have two favorite places to click:

Catherine Kerr's Beyond the Fields We Know

I usually go straight from Cate to passive aggressive, unless Cate hasn't posted yet.  
That pretty much sums up the either or both of me.  And I won't ask the question of the's just who I am.
Weaving progresses....perhaps and FO to before the weekend is out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn in Michigan....

Leaf peeping:

And weaving:

Life is good!

Sunday, October 02, 2011


This week is the autumn church rummage sale.  I just finished the first pass through the closet and harvested a few items.  I tried a few other things on and with ambivalence, folded them and put them back on the shelf.  However it occurs to me that the only time I have worn most of those things in the past __ years was to try them on and take them off in favor of some other more favored garment. 

So here's the question, dear long do you hang onto such items before you are able to free them for someone else's use?

And in the spirit of the 60's (and no, none of those garments go all the way back to the 60's), I love Jerry Brown's message to the California State Senate here.  You can see the memo here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Theresa and Sara had it right.  The trip was designed around a variety of shared interests of 8 people (4 couples) and we packed more into 11 days than I would have thought possible.  In addition to the churches, cathedrals, museums, and cemeteries, we packed in textiles, golf, scuba diving, textiles, whiskey distilleries, archeology, more textiles, and food.

Since this is a textile blog, let's stick to the textiles:
We didn't do a lot of textile stuff while in Edinburgh.  I did see some of the personal textiles that belonged to Mary Queen of Scots in Holyrood Palace and there were some very old tapestries in the palace as well, but alas no pictures allowed.  Somehow cathedrals, food, cemeteries, and museums took over the rest of our time in Edinburgh.

There was some good natured heckling among us about our varying interests.  This was particularly so as we were taking the golfers to Carnoustie to drop them off while the rest of us were headed to Stirling Castle, especially to see the recreation of the Unicorn Tapestries.  When we pulled up to the brand new clubhouse at Carnoustie I  followed the rule "never pass up a chance to use the 'necessaries'" and  dashed into the women's locker room.  HA!  Directly facing the entry was this story board of the textiles used in the clubhouse.

Rule number two is never pass up the chance to be one up on your hecklers.
If you're interested, here's the text from the story board (as always, click to biggen):
And off to Stirling Castle and the tapestries:

These are some of the completed tapestries hanging in the Queen's Chambers in Stirling Castle. (Click on the link to learn more about the tapestries and the West Dean College connection.) The tapestry workshop was open, where a recently completed tapestry was displayed and two weavers were working on sample looms to get themselves ready to start a new one.  We were fortunate to be there for the weaver's talk at 1 PM.  From that talk, we learned that:
  • the wool weft yarn was spun from British Wensleydale wool to specification for the project.  
  • Pantone colors were used to select the dyes for the fiber and the dyes used were from Pro Chemical & Dye.  
  • the warp sett for the reproductions was decreased to 8 epi which is a more open sett than the original tapestries which hang in The Cloisters in New York.  
 The pieces are vibrant with amazing detail.

As we headed into the Highlands there were the ubiquitous sheep.  When we stopped in the village of Dornoch, I found these in a small independent book store for 3.99 each.  They are not Deb Robson's book, but they are the perfect size to travel.  And the Know More Sheep edition rates the breeds according the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. many much little time.

From the Highlands we took a ferry over to Orkney where we managed to squeeze some textiles in amongst the archeological sites, the scuba divers Scapa Flow adventure, and the Highland Park Distillery Tour (highly recommended!)
I was able to score some roving from North Ronaldsay sheep:
Wonderful Stuff!!

And we were able to visit the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery on South Ronaldsay on a Sunday afternoon.  Beautiful work was on display.  Click around at the link to see Leila's work.
Back down through the Highlands and to Glasgow via Inverness.  Dh and I had been in Glasgow years ago and I wasn't able to go to Paisley, so that was high on the list for this trip.
Photo's from the loom loft at The Paisley Museum.  They are kind of cramped right now as they await being moved to a more open studio space.  The good news is that weaving classes are being taught there every Friday.  The shawl display was fascinating, but sadly no photo's allowed.  However they do have a fascinating book published:
Nope...I didn't buy a shawl.  That's a scarf I purchased in Edinburgh.

And the rest of Glasgow was cathedrals, museums, more cemeteries (I've never spent so much vacation time in cemeteries in my life...and that wasn't on the interest list when we put this trip together!).  I guess coming across the stone of the author of Wee Willie Winkie was worth it.
 Of course I got my Rennie Mackintosh fix at the house as well as the tea room (see previous post)

And that is the textile version of the story.  
Must go...the looms beckon.