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.