Tuesday, August 21, 2012

At Last.....

The baby blanket is complete:
I wanted it to be larger than my 32" weaving width would allow, so I spent a lot of time thinking about how to achieve that.  At first I wasn't wild about the idea of seams, certainly not a seam down the middle.  And the idea of matching two panels was daunting.  Various types of edging were considered and discarded.  Finally I decided to take a sort of quilting approach and make the blanket bordered.  Finished dimensions are 51" x 36".

The solution:  I wove two panels and juxtaposed the patterns.  That way the wave pattern could be borders on both ends and both sides and the fish could swim in the center and on the corners.  Yay!!...no pattern matching required.  Above you see the two panels fresh off the loom.

Next was deciding how to seam the piece in a way that works for a baby blanket.  Hand stitching cotton just didn't seem like a durable option.  One of the early samples reminded me of denim so I started thinking about a double stitched flat fell seam....but how to deal with all of those fabric layers?

Because I had a lot of sample fabric woven, I had the luxury of spending time at the serger and sewing machine to try seaming options.  Here's what I ended up with:
The selvedge on the center panel is left open.  The side panels were serged.  Then I used a double needle on the sewing machine with top stitching thread in the needles to sew the two panels overlapped.  Here's what the back looks like:
It's not beautiful, but it is stable and soft, and the appearance in the face of the fabric is in keeping with the style of the fabric.  If you notice on the top photo, I played around with the sewing machines stitching options to create a monogram and birthdate.  Again, I was happy to have sampling fabric to work out the stitching.  However, I was too lazy to make a run to the fabric store for machine embroidery thread and just used regular sewing thread for the embroidering. 

One tip I learned while weaving the blanket:
Next to the two shuttle weaving, the thing that was slowing me down the most was taking care of the ends of the pattern thread when switching bobbins.  I like to bury one of the loose ends in the weaving, then carry the other end along the selvedge to cover it.  Wrapping the shuttle around that loose end was a pain and fiddling with it just made things sloppy. 

My solution:  I taped the new end to the edge thread toward the reed using a tiny piece (1/4" square at most) of painters tape.  Once I had woven an inch or so, I removed the tape and continued weaving.  In finishing, the only thing those ends required was a close trim.  The reed was an 8 dent reed and the selvedge thread was dented alone, so the trick may not work with a smaller reed and closer set.  But on this project it was the perfect solution.

That's it! 
Now I need to:
  • pack it up
  • send it off to the new baby
  • vacuum the lint out of the serger and sewing machine
  • vacuum all the threads off the floor in the loom and sewing rooms
  • wind a new warp for the next project!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A Bevy of Books....

Still weaving on the baby blanket, still knitting on the mystery item, and no pictures because it is a dark and stormy morning, with rain coming down.  I'm not complaining, we need it.  But I want to tell you about some books that have recently entered my world.

First of all is A Crackle Weave Companion.  I learned about this book through an off-handed mention on one of the weaving lists.  I have Susan Wilson's recent book, Weave Classic Crackle and More and took her workshop that parallels the book last year and I highly recommend both.  However, Lucy  Brusic has taken a somewhat different approach to crackle weave.  For the past 40 years she has been working on exploring crackle through the works of Mary Snyder, Marguerite Davison, and Mary Atwater.  This book sticks with 4 shaft crackle and elucidates the work of these three weaving giants with beautiful color photography and clear conversational writing.  I highly recommend both books, but if you are new to weaving, love color interaction, and are sticking with 4 shaft weaves, take a look at Lucy's book. 

The second book to cross the threshold recently is The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.  If you are already familiar with her book,  The Handweavers Pattern Directory, you are familiar with the thorough treatment which Anne gives her subjects.  I own most of the out of print classics on inkle weaving and Anne has managed a fresh approach to both the inkle loom and the weaving.  Not interested in weaving on an inkle loom?  Think of this book as warp faced pattern weaves that you could do on any loom with two shafts (rigid heddle perhaps?)  There are so many ideas included that I want to try.

The most recent addition arrived yesterday, so I'm just getting into it.  The title is Weaving Textiles That Shape Themselves by Ann Richards (not the former Texas governor!)  The book is a design book that suggests uses for high twist yarns and weave structures that maximize the design potential when using these yarns.  I first saw this book when a guild member ordered it through Amazon UK, and I dismissed it because I have Anne Field's Collapse Weave book.  Then at a later meeting someone else brought in a copy and I took a closer look.  Like the inkle weave and crackle weave books above, Ann Richards manages to come at the topic from a different perspective than Anne Field.  Both of them have interesting things to say and offer different types of inspiration.  This is one of those books that will be in high demand for years to come.  The design and technical information is classic.  I'm looking forward to spending many hours with this book.

And the last book is a non-weaving book:  another piece of fiction from Scotland  The White Lie by Andrea Gillies.  I've linked you to The Guardian review, because I don't think I can improve upon it and this post is too long.  That said, if you've read this far....Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Making stuff...

Sorry, no post - no pictures.  I've been busy making a few things that are not yet camera ready.

Notice that I did not say "crafting" things.....maybe it's because I just read this New Yorker article and thought you might like it too.

And here's something else that may interest some of you.

Discuss among yourselves.  I'll be back a bit later.