Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Towel Time

I decided to weave some holiday inspired towels.  I have made festive trees from time to time and didn't have any more left.  Instead of the same old-same old trees I have been weaving, I thought I would try something different.  I turned to "A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns" edited by Carol Strickler to find some inspiration for Rosepath trees. 

There are a fair number of different designs for figures woven with a basic 8-shaft rosepath threading.  I found a nice tall tree that looked interesting but it was woven with 11 treadles.  As I contemplated skeleton tie-ups or pick up techniques (it might not be too bad since the trees are only woven as a band on one side of the towel), and started worrying a bit.  Then I realized I did have a loom with more than 10 treadles.  My AVL Studio loom was sitting in the corner with an infinite number of "treadles" - empty with nothing on it at all.

As I got to work, I thought about the fact that so far, I have been winding the warp - back to front - but because of the placement of the raddle, the yarn would hang off the back of the loom instead of coming through the shafts from the front.  I decided that that wouldn't work and figured out a way to bring the warp from the front of the loom through the treadles, around the first back beam and onto the warp beam.

This worked really well, which was good because the 10/2 unmercerized cotton I was using for the warp was very sticky.  It took much longer to wind on than the perle cotton I have been using does.

I tried the tree pattern I found and I decided it looked too tall, so left off some of the upper "branches".   I also realized "just in time" that I needed to flip the pattern so that the trunks would weave first - not the tree tops - so that they weren't upside down.  Fortunately Fiberworks PCW has an easy way to flip the design.

I tried the trees two ways and thought about other motifs that might be fun.  I found a pattern that was kind of star-like and tried that.  One with variegated yarn for the stars and one with solid stars. 

I still have warp enough for about 6 towels and I'm still thinking of what I can do with the designs. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Towels for Shelley

I had promised my friend and neighbor Shelley a pair of towels for her birthday - last May.  They could have any colors she wanted.  She picked cream, light blue, yellow, a reddish tan and red.  Using all of the same tricks I have before, I created a striping pattern that used slightly wider stripes (no skinnier than 5 threads) than previous sets of towels. 

They turned out nicely and she picked the two she wanted leaving me a few...


Sunday, October 7, 2012

For Young and Not So Young

In the midst of a sea of towels, I decided to diverge and weave a couple of blankets.  A sort of local yarn store went out of business and I found a lot of the cotton I like for blanket warp on deep discount.  The holidays are also approaching and I wanted to have some lap robes for either the Holiday Cheer program or as "shawl" gifts for people who might need some comfort. 

This warp was unusual for me in that it was all the same grist.  Usually I mix yarns of different weights and they even out across the piece.  I also only used a few color:  blue variegated, yellow and white or natural. 
Baby Blanket on the loom

I wove two blankets - one for a baby and the other for an adult.  The weave structure is plain weave.  The wefts were a baby acrylic yarn with pink and blue flecks and another soft acrylic in a medium blue.

Here is the finished baby blanket.  I really love the effect that the variegated yarn made.  The detail is below.

 Lap robe

 Lap robe detail

Monday, September 10, 2012

Experimenting with an Old Class Project

In 2008, I took a warp painting class with Betsy Blumenthal, of "Hands on Dying" fame.  The 8/2 cotton "warp" has been hanging around since.  I decided that I wanted to use it for something, so decided to make a scarf warp. 

I wasn't sure what to use for weft.  One other enterprising student had not only brought her warp for painting, but also weft yarn.  I hadn't thought of that, so that wasn't an option.  The warp colors were on the purple side - magenta and blue with some yellow/green as well.  Using one of the "rules of thumb" I had learned from JoAnn I looked around for what I might have that was a kind of "gray" in a medium shade based on the colors. 

Scarf in progress.  Warp colors are not quite true
I wasn't really looking for gray, but a color that had the hues of the warp paint.  If you think of the color wheel as a triangle, with Red, Blue and Yellow at the apexes (or apices, if you prefer), the sides of the triangle are the combinations of the two apexes.  For example, on the Yellow / Blue side, there would be varying colors from yellow to green to blue.  The center of this color triangle would be composed of various combinations of all three colors - red, blue and yellow.  These colors would look like grays, browns and mauves.

I did have some purple 8/2 cotton (the same type of yarn as the warp) that could have worked.  I also had some cotton that I had dyes many years ago that looked like a little better shade.  It had a smoother texture and was of a slightly smaller grist that the warp. 

The weave structure is a point twill on 4-shafts.  The points are not regular, (i.e., some are 4 up/4 down and others are 8 up and maybe 4 down).  I think this gives it a more interesting look.

The scarf turned out OK.  I probably should have spent more time separating the warp threads, but they were fairly sticky and I kind of like the sections of color.  The purple weft also worked well, becoming a background to the warp rather than overwhelming it.

All in all, I would say this was successful.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Looking for New Homes for Towels

Now that I have woven a LOT of towels, it was time to find homes for some of them.  Last Sunday I participated in a local craft fair.  I shared a booth with a weaver friend. 

It turned out to be a good day, although no baby blankets got sold.  The day was hot and the old stone building where it was held got really warm - so people's minds were not on warm textiles.  Only one scarf sold.

But it was a good opportunity to hear what people were looking for.  Surprisingly two people asked about table runners.  I am sure that if I had tables runners, they wouldn't have been right for these people.  I can just imaging the inventory that would have to be tied up to create a selection of runners.

There was a good reaction to all of the colors, even from people who didn't buy any.  Some were surprised that the towels were handwoven.  I took it as a complement - although they might be wondering why anyone would spend the time.

It was a fun day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yuba Inspired

Living in the Sierra Foothills, we are surrounded by a lot of natural beauty.  Some of it is very subtle - like the tiny tiny wild flowers we have on our serpentine property every year.  But some of it is very hard to miss, like the Yuba River that runs through the area.  It's not just the spectacle of large boulders and dramatic vistas, the colors of the water, the rocks and trees area really quite unique. 

This year at the County Fair, there is a category in the "Wool" division for finished items that are County Inspired.  So using the Yuba as my inspiration, I wove towels with these colors, in the same way I have been making the Calendar towels.

The threading was an irratic point twill (eg., 8-pt, 3-pt, 24-pt, etc.) to mimic the sometime irratic behavior of the river. Each towel was woven with the 1-1-1-1-2-3 tie-up and either as a straight treadling, a straight point, tromp as writ or as rosepath treadling. The last was 1 ->8, 1, 8 -> 1.
Here is some detail of the different treadling sequences. 
8-Point Treadling
Tromp as Writ
Straight Treadling

The detail is rather small, but you might get an idea of how they look, especially in the ones with the darker weft.  The one I am submitting to the Fair has a silver weft, woven as threaded.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Playing with Scarves

I am scheduled to participate at a craft fair in a few weeks and I'm working to get more things finished.  The latest scarf is dried and ready to have the fringe twisted. 

The warp is a variegated (fall colors) cotton silk blend and the weft is a solid red-orange acrylic/cotton blend.

The structure is a 2/2 point twill that is a little irregular.  I thought it would make it a little more interesting.  This yarn was a little heavier than I've been using.  I sett it at 8 epi.

I have some more sock weight variegated yarn that will be headed to the loom in the next few days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June Towels for June

I finally got back to the loom and the next set of towels.  The June picture is of a sunset and when translated into towels, pretty dramatic.  I picked out some slightly different colors originally but was able to order a few more colors that fit better. 
I threaded these to an 8-point twill with my standard 1-1-1-1-2-3 twill tie up.  I did get a bit bored and wove some of these as rosepath and some with an "M" treadling - 1-> 8 - 7 -> 5 - 6-> 8 - 7 -> 1.  The others were woven as "tromp as writ" with an 8-point treadling.

I really like how they turned out.  I wish I had woven two of the purple ones, but I was nervous that they would look too purple.  But they look great. 
The next project is a divergence.  The County Fair now has a category for County inspired pieces.  I'm already winding the warp for those towels...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Finishing One Project and Starting on Another

I finished the bead leno shawl in time to donate it this coming Thursday.  I created a twisted fringe using my handy-dandy hair twister.  I also used some clear beads at intervals to add some sparkle.

There are some things that I didn't think looked as good as they could have on this piece, but overall, I am pretty happy with the result.  I will use this design technique again.

While finishing the shawl, I started winding the June towel warp.  I am liking the colors even more as they combine in the warp threads. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Amazing Bead Leno

The shawl isn't quite finished, but it is off the loom and washed.  I still need to finish the fringe and press it a bit. 

This did turn out to be easier in a lot of respects than I thought it would.  Threading the straws was very straightforward and it works - a bit miraculous. 

Straw "Beads"
Using a stick to ensure clean sheds
Leno still on the loom

I got a bit tripped up with tension problems (which isn't something new) but that didn't seem to cause any problem.  There were places where I think the weft should have been beaten in a bit more.  There are also a couple of places where the warp threads are spaced more apart.  It is less lacy than I had thought it would be. 

This is something I would try again. 

Maybe with less soft yarn.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Something New

I am embarking on a bead leno project.  This is a technique that allows you to use the loom to perform a design that normally is considered "hand manipulated".  By putting groups of warp threads through a "bead" (actually a short length of drinking straw), you can use the loom to recreate this technique just by treadling.  Once set up this is a much faster way to achieve this design.

This is going to be a summer shawl.  I've wanted to try this technique, but the opportunity just presented itself to try this.  I joined a knitting group.  The purpose of the group is to get together to knit and to create shawls and lap blankets for people who are facing a life challenge - personal illness, family member's illness or death.  I knit a little, but would much rather weave.  Since the weather is turning warmer, a nice lacy shawl would be better than something warm and woolly.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blanket From the Stash

I have been holding on to some cotton/nylon yarn that I bought ages ago.  I tried to swap/sell it at a local event, but there were no takers.  A member of my weaving discussion group said it would work well for baby blankets.  

So I took a break from towels and thought I would weave up a couple. I miscalculated and thought I wouldn't have enough yarn for more than one blanket.

  Wrong (Oh well.)  I have enough for at least 1 or 2 more.  But I'm kind of glad I only made one. 

I used a Bernat "Softee" acrylic for the weft which was super soft.  Fortunately since the warp wasn't very soft.  It feels OK, but not great.  The warp yarn was very stretchy and a little hard to warp.
But it's almost finished, so now I can find a good home for the rest of the yarn.  :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's April, so the April Towels are Finished

Finished the "April" towels this afternoon.  They are in the washer, but I wanted to give you a peek.  They are probably the ones that are furthest away from my normal color choices.

  The weft colors I used were pink, dark green, light green (willow), dark brown and beige.  The lighter colors are a bit hard to distinquish in the photos, but they do look different in person.

The towels were threaded in a symetric pattern of a 4-shaft point; 6-shaft point; 8-shaft point; 6-shaft point; 4-shaft point.  The tie up was the 1-1-1-1-2-3 twill I have been using.  (I still can't face getting under the loom to re-tie.)  I used a straight treadling 1-8; regular point treadling 1-> 8 then 7-> 2; an extended point treadling 1->8, 1->8, 7->1, 8->1; and a tromp as writ with 4-, 6-, and 8-treadle point treadling.  The last two are more interesting, but I have to pay attention.

Not sure what month is next...

Monday, March 12, 2012

July Towels Finished

I finished the July towels and have them hemmed - almost.  I managed to sell three of the towels as they came off the loom.  The two yellow ones I wove aren't here.  Unfortunately I don't think the colors come thorough very well with these pictures.  (Probably shouldn't have photographed them against the wood.)  The one closest to to the top of the picture is with brown weft, next one down is gold, next is blue, and the last one is cactus - grayish green.

I am pretty happy with how they turned out.

Detail of the gold warped towel.

Detail of the cactus warped towel (The cactus looks gray on my screen.  It is more green in person.)

Detail of the blue warped towel.

Detail of the brown warped towel. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

April Towels

I am starting to wind the warp for the April inspired towels.   My original group of colors included a fairly bright green.  I replaced it with one called Willow.  That green is still fairly light in value, but more gray.

I like the colors sitting together on the counter, but when I started winding them, I am having my doubts.  I hope it's just that they aren't my colors, but we'll have to see...

Here's a section of the warp as it's being wound.