Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Yarn Shelves

Slowly but surely, we're transforming a cluttered basement room into a nice crafts room that is fun to work in. After installing some cabinets, I had a 24" space between the cabinets and the doors that wasn't being used, so I added some yarn shelves. I couldn't find shelves that were an exact fit so I went to Ikea and bought shelves that were 30" wide. I took everything all apart, cut the shelf wood to the right size, then put it all back together again. I just got them together and filled up this morning. This is only about 1/2 of my yarn stash but it freed up space that is better used for something else and got this yarn into a much better organized place.

To the left is my Dorothy table loom that I'm warping with some alpaca to make a scarf during a weaving demo that I'm doing at an alpaca farm in N.Y. next Saturday. I'm also nearly ready to start weaving on the rayon scarves that I've got on one of the big looms. I've got enough warp on to sample before I start the scarves, so I should be able to post a picture of the sample when it's finished.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sorry for the Pause

Sorry I haven't been posting. It's been a bad week - a car accident and water damage in the basement. All seems to be under control again (nobody hurt and nothing valuable damaged) and I'll try to get back to posting about weaving tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Towel #13 - Deflected Double Weave

This one is different! It is an 8-shaft deflected double weave and I've shown the front and back of the fabric. I haven't studied this one enough to be able to say a lot about it except that this structure has long warp and weft floats surrounding blocks of plain weave. When washed the floats allow the threads under them to collapse and get "deflected" from their normal positions and they create curved lines.

I'm not sure it makes a good towel fabric because of the floats but I've seen a killer scarf made with this structure. The Jan/Feb 2001 issue of Handwoven magazine has an article about this structure and the cover shows a scarf done with it. At The Mannings, they have another scarf on display that is similar and every time I see it I want to make one.

In my towel, all the yarn is 8/2 cotton (sett at 20 epi) and the threads don't deflect in quite the same way as they do in the scarf which has the cells outlined in 18/2 black wool with the cells woven in Tencel®. When the scarf is washed, it is washed in hot water with agitation and then rinsed in cold water so the wool actually felts and it really makes the cells pop out. Someday I'll make one and I'll post it here.

I'm done with this set of towels, but I have another set that was done with a variety of lace weave structures and if my pictures are good enough, I'll start another series of posts based on them. Right now, I'm putting two scarves on the 4-shaft loom. I'm using a white rayon warp and two different variegated rayon yarns for the weft. These are going to be gifts and are "due" by October 21st. I'm using a vertical skip twill from Marguerite Davison's book as the structure. I'm putting extra warp on so I can sample - I think it will look nice but I need to see how it turns out on the loom.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Towel #12 - 4-Shaft Tricot

This 4-shaft tricot has a somewhat similar look and feel to the crepe weave but it has ridges and troughs in the fabric instead of the random pattern of crepe. They don't show up as well in the picture as they do in the fabric. It's another nice fabric.

This one is in 8/2 cotton sett at 16 epi with green warp and tan weft. It is threaded as a straight draw - just 1,2,3,4 repeated and the tie-up is plain weave with a third treadling of (1,2) added. So, it's (1,2), (1,3), (2,4) and the treadling just repeats the three in sequence. The ribs are formed because the threads on shafts 1 and 2 form small warp floats that are offset by one pick so the effect is that you get two threads with warp floats (a ridge), two without (the valleys), then two more with (another ridge), etc.

Here again, if you've been reading my earlier posts, is another structure that you can weave with a straight draw on a 4-shaft loom. This is great to know for times when you either feel like putting a really long warp on the loom or when you have some warp left over after a project. You can just change the tie-up and you can go from plain weave to basket weave to twill to point twill to tricot, etc.

There are other tricot variations, all of which produce ribbed fabric.

I finished the project on the Dorothy today. Once I figured out the trick about the long shuttle I don't mind weaving on the table loom nearly as much as I did before. I still find it pretty easy to lose track of where I am in the treadling sequence. I don't seem to be able to get into the same kind of rhythm that I do on a floor loom where most patterns settle into a nice routine after a short time. With the floor loom, you only have to remember which treadle to push but on the table loom you have to simulate the tie-up with your finger for each pick. You also have to put the shuttle down when it is on the right side of the loom so you can use that hand to change the shed. This may be one advantage of having the levers on the front of the loom as in some newer table looms - you don't have to put the shuttle down.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dorothy Loom

I'll get back to towels in my next post. Here is the Dorothy table loom that I recently refinished. The four-shaft section to the right of the loom has not been refinished and gives you some idea what the whole thing looked like before I started - covered in paint. It now looks nice and weaves nicely, too. This post shows it when it was apart.

I finally figured out the secret of weaving on a table loom -- weave with a long shuttle! I had thought that you should use a small thin shuttle to get through the small sheds of most table looms but I kept picking up threads from the bottom (unraised shafts) when I threw the shuttle. It drove me nuts. Today, the light bulb went off and I tried a huge shuttle - the one in the picture is 14" long - and I just sort of pass it from one hand to the other. Voila! No more mistakenly picked up threads! I'm sure this would work just as well with a stick shuttle but I like the long boat shuttle because it's easier to weave with. Maybe everyone else in the world knows this, but it sure took a while for me to discover it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Towel #11 - 6-shaft crepe weave

This is another nice one - a six-shaft crepe weave. The interesting thing about crepe weave is that it is threaded as a straight draw: just 1-2-3-4-5-6 repeated. The magic is in the tie-up. This is another structure that lends itself to long warps - imagine all the things you can do with that threading and just by changing the tie-up and treadling, you could weave 25 different towels.

Sharon Alderman, in Mastering Weave Structures, has a great section on crepe weaves. This is another one that needs more than four shafts to work well. It's fun to design new crepe structures (they're probably not really new but they're fun anyway). There is a technique called "dicing" that is used here. You start with a 3x3 tie-up section and then reflect it as if looking in a mirror but also use the opposite harnesses - tie up those that were not tied up in the original.

It's too hard to explain without pictures but if you look up "dicing" you should find an explanation that would be better than I can give here. In any case, by starting with different 3x3 sections for the lower left corner of the tie-up, you end up with a different 6x6 tie-up which may or may not work as another crepe structure. I hope this isn't more than you wanted to know.

Anyhow, the idea behind crepe is to have small warp and weft floats but also to have a pattern that isn't regular so you get texture without a noticeable pattern. The picture here uses two colors but you can also get nice fabric with just one color and let the texture stand out more. As with many of these towels, this one is 8/2 cotton at 20 epi. To get good crepe, you need a very consistent beat, so you may want to weave one whole towel before taking a break. Also, if you use a yarn that is more tightly spun, the crepe texture will stand out more. It's a little like lace - the threads under the floats collapse to make the texture.

I also should have noted on my last post that the threading for honeycomb is the same as for Monk's Belt.

I got my warp on the Dorothy today and started weaving. I'll post pictures after I've woven a bit more. I'm happy to say that the loom is working well. On the other hand, it's a table loom and I just don't like table looms. It's one of those things, though, I feel that I need one for workshops and weaving demos, but I surely don't plan on doing a lot of weaving on it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Towel #10 - Honeycomb

Today's towel is a 4-shaft honeycomb. It's an interesting weave structure but I think its use is pretty limited because it is a "one-sided" structure - it has nice cells on one side and on the other side (see photo) it has ugly floats. In my towel, I used it as a border stripe, which creates its own problems because the honeycomb shrinks a lot and the plainweave towel did not, so the honeycomb border draws in from the selvage and looks pretty bad.

This might be a good structure if it were woven as an "all-over" honeycomb and then lined on the back side to make placemats. Mary Black, in The Key to Weaving, says it can be used for household linens, upholstery, pillow covers, small mats, purses and bags. She also says its use is somewhat limited because of the floats.

In any case, this towel was done with 8/2 cotton sett at 16 epi. The "thin" weft was also 8/2 cotton. The outlines of the cells are done with two picks of heavier yarn - in this case a soft 4/2 cotton. The wavy lines are unusual in woven structures and to get them you need to use a big arc in the heavy weft so that there is plenty of yarn to take up and wrap. If you don't do this, or if you use too hard of a yarn, you won't get the nice cells. The cells are done with six picks of the fine weft with two thick weft picks on each side.

I think it has a lot of eye appeal as long as you're looking at the right side.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Towel #9 - 8-shaft (three color) M's & O's

If two colors are good, are three colors better? This is an 8-shaft M's & O's with three blocks, each with a different color. I used the same three colors for the warp and weft. You can use different colors but you definitely want to sample first if you do because you can get some weird effects.

The way this was treadled, I put the floats in the blocks of solid color. Notice that the floats are in the blocks with pink warp and pink weft, etc. With a different treadling, you could move the floats to blocks where you have mixed colors if you like.

With this structure, it's hard to get really nice selvages if you use three weft colors. In this towel, I carried both unused weft colors up the selvages. When doing this, I think there will always be times when the two unused wefts will be on opposite sides of the fabric and times when they will be on the same side. Maybe there's a way to avoid this but I haven't tried to work it out. In any case, if that happens the places where both unused wefts are on the same side will be slightly pushed out from the blocks where they are on opposite sides, so you get wavy selvages. Mine weren't too bad, but this is not the structure to use if you like great selvages.

I haven't done anything more on my Dorothy, although I do plan to do something tomorrow. I just don't know where the time goes. I'm retired, so I'm supposed to be sitting around with my feet up staring into space. Boy is that wrong! I think I have less time now than when I was working - but I have no intentions of going back ;-) The problem is that when you're retired, everything you do is something you like (except the chore list that your working spouse leaves for you) and it's really easy to get overloaded. I try to make weaving and writing priorities but this week I've been painting trim on the house among other things and weaving has slipped a little.

This is the last of the M's & O's -- the next post will be honeycomb.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Towel #8 - Two color M's & O's

Boy, time flies! I didn't realize it had been so many days since my last post. On Wednesday, I attended my guild meeting (The Central Pennsylvania Handweaver's Guild) which meet at The Mannings. I must like this guild because I drive two hours each way to attend once each month. Of course, having an excuse to shop at The Mannings is also a good reason to go. I usually kill three birds with one stone on guild days - the guild, The Mannings, and antiquing on the way home. It makes a fun day.

The past few days, I've been busy with my Dorothy loom. A while back I posted pictures of it when I had it apart to clean up. It is now back together again (at least with four shafts) with a nice fresh coat of lacquer and silicone spray on the moving parts and I'm putting on a small warp to make two washcloths just to test the loom to see how it works. I have the reed sleyed and today plan to thread the heddles. I'll probably beam on and start weaving tomorrow. I may post some pictures a little later.

The picture above is a two-color M's and O's from the towel class. I didn't care much for this on the loom but after washing I like it better. It is a 4-shaft draft with alternate 8-thread blocks of dark and light colors. The treadling also alternated light and dark every 8 picks. It is woven in 8/2 cotton at 16 epi. When weaving, I carried the unused weft up the selvage instead of cutting at each color change.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Towel #7 - M's & O's

OK, enough waffle weave.

Today's towel is just a normal M's & O's pattern on 4 shafts using two colors of 8/2 cotton sett at 16 epi - more open than the previous towels. The warp is natural and I used a green yarn for the weft.

This towel shrunk about 20% after washing. This was another one of my favorites - it makes a beautiful cloth. It is thinner than the waffle weave fabrics, so it makes a lighter towel.

The next two days will have M's & O's variations.

I made a scarf with M's & O's a while ago, from cotton and Tencel® using multiple colors and it turned out wonderfully - I made one as a gift and my wife had to keep the second one. Here is a picture of a section of the scarf.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Towel #6 - 8-shaft waffle weave

Today's towel is a variation of an 8-shaft waffle weave. It is threaded just like towel #5 but the tie-up and treadling are different. In this one, there are two blocks - one block is threaded and tied-up just like a 4-shaft waffle weave and the other block weaves tabby. One repeat of the treadling weaves side-by-side blocks of waffle and plain weave followed by the reversal of the blocks, so you get a checkerboard pattern, but with texture instead of color. With alternate treadling, you could make long stripes of waffle next to tabby if you wanted.

This sample has been washed. It shrank about 18% - not nearly as much as all-over waffle weave but somewhat more than plain weave would shrink. It was done with 8/2 cotton sett at 20 epi. It was woven with one color in the warp and a second color for the weft.

I know I skipped towel #4 - it was just a 4-shaft waffle weave but it used a darker thread at the "turning points" - shafts 1 and 4 in the warp and picks 1 and 5 in the treadling, so the waffle cells had dark borders and a dark dot in the middle. It was an interesting color effect but otherwise it was the same as towel #3.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Towel #5 - 8-Shaft Textured Waffle Weave

This was my favorite weave structure of the 13 we did in class. It is called an 8-shaft textured waffle weave. I can't find this draft in any of the standard references that I have, although it might be called something else in those books. It is threaded with two point twills pointing at each other: it has a 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 section followed by an 8-7-6-5-6-7-8 section. It has a similar, but not identical treadling and a fairly complex tie-up. It makes a beautiful cloth with the small criss-crossing ridges. It doesn't exactly "waffle" like a normal waffle weave because the cell borders overlap but it makes a gorgeous fabric. I think it would look great in a scarf and I think I'm going to have one on the loom in the very near future. This, like most of the towels in this grouping, was woven with 8/2 cotton sett at 20 epi.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Towel #3 - Waffle Weave

Today's towel is a 4-shaft waffle weave. The top photo is unwashed and the bottom photo is washed. What a difference! Under tension on the loom the waffle cells don't show up very well but as soon as the tension is released, you get these nice regular waffle cells. Then, when the fabric is washed it really shrinks and you get these more irregular cells. On this towel, the width on the loom was 15 inches and after washing it was 11 inches, or shrinkage of about 25%. When calculating your warp, if you want 11 inches you have to weave 15, so you have to add a whopping 35% to the desired width! It's a nice soft, absorbent towel, though.

This 4-shaft waffle weave is threaded as a point twill (1-2-3-4-3-2-1). The tie-up, though, uses five treadles and is done in such a way that it produces long warp and weft floats that form the outlines of the square cells. The treadling is like a point twill but with five treadles (1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1). This towel was done in 8/2 cotton sett at 20 epi - a little looser than you would use for a point twill. The nice thing about this structure is that you can put on a long warp threaded as a point twill and weave some things with point twill then, by changing the tie-up (and possibly setting a little looser) you can then weave some waffle weave on the same warp.

Supposedly, waffle weave also makes a good blanket. I wove the hem area on this with 16/2 cotton, otherwise the tabby hem would have been wider than the waffle weave towel and would have looked ugly. There are three other variations of waffle weave that we did in class - and I'll talk about them in future posts.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Refinishing a Loom

There will be more towels tomorrow but today I've started refinishing an 8-shaft Le Clerc Dorothy table loom. I got this loom at an auction for about 20% of the retail price because it was very dirty and had paint spilled all over it. This is what one of the 4-shaft harness sections looks like after I took it apart, cleaned it and removed the paint from the wood. I now need to put a coat of finish on the wood, put silicone spray on the heddle bars and lifters and then hope I can get it back together again. I thought about replacing the heddles while it's apart but they seem OK if a bit grungy. I think I'll leave these on and weave with them for a trial project and if they don't work well I'll replace the ones on the other 4-shaft harness section that I still need to take apart and clean up.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Towel #1 - Satin

Here is the errant towel #1 - a 5-shaft satin weave. This was woven in 10/2 cotton at 40 epi. Notice the checkerboard on one side and stripes on the other.

Satin weaves are derivatives of twills. The threading on this is a straight draw (1-2-3-4-5) and the treadling is the same (1-2-3-4-5). With a twill tie-up you would get diagonal twill lines but the tie-up for satin scrambles the structure so the diagonals get blurred (although you can still see hints of them in the fabric). Because of the way the twill is scrambled, you need at least 5 shafts to weave a true satin. This one was tied (1-3-5-2-4) and, technically, wove sateen (weft floats) on the top surface and satin (warp floats) on the reverse. It's easier to weave sateen on the top surface because you can do it by lifting only one shaft. If you wanted to weave satin on the top layer you'd have to lift four shafts. Whenever you weave one, the other appears on the reverse side.

The checkerboard shows up on the sateen side because it is weft dominant. The reverse only has hints of the weft color, so it produces warpway stripes instead. If this were sett at 50 epi you would see solid colors - the weft wouldn't show through at all.

My previous post could have been called false damask instead of false satin. Damask is a fabric that has satin and sateen on the same face. To do that you need at least two blocks with at least 5 shafts each, or 10 shafts. That piece was woven with 8 shafts and it scrambles a 4-shaft twill that simulates satin but isn't a true satin weave.

There is a lot more to say about these weave structures, but you'll have to get out your books. Sharon Alderman's Mastering Weave Structures is a good source.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Towel 2 - False Satin

OK, I know this is the first towel I'm posting but it's warp #2 in my workbook. It's hard to herd 13 towels and #1 escaped during the transfer from the washer to the dryer and is now on a drying rack downstairs. All 13 are zig-zag-ed and washed and 12 are dry.

This one is called False Satin and is woven on 8 shafts. (See my next post for details of satin weaves). It's a pretty classy pattern done in 16/2 cotton and sett at 40 epi. It has two blocks - one is weft-dominant and the other is warp-dominant. It makes a fairly stiff towel and would make a nice napkin. It would be great as a hand towel in the bathroom - it would have that "don't touch me" look and everyone would come out of the bathroom with wet hands.

Here it is before washing:

and after washing:

There wasn't a dramatic change when it was washed. The fabric tightened up a bit and only shrunk about 10%.

Another towel tomorrow. Now I have to find the energy to hem these things - not my favorite activity.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thirteen Towels

Sung to the tune of Sixteen Candles ...

I just got back from a four day class by Tom Knisely at The Mannings where we learned 13 different textured weave structures and wove them all into towels. Some of the structures won't really make good towels but others will make excellent towels, and we wove them on from four to eight shafts. We did variations of waffle weave, satin, tricot, crepe, M's & O's and Honeycomb. I especially liked one called 8-shaft textured waffle weave and can't wait to try to weave a nice scarf in tencel or rayon using this structure.

Over the next week or two, I'll post pictures of individual towels. Right now, I need to zig-zag the edges and wash them and then stack them for hemming. Many of these towels will look quite different when they are washed.

These classes are a lot of fun but also hard work so I'm taking a day of R&R today. In the class, we are either listening to a lecture or weaving for 10-11 hours a day and this old body gets pretty beat up by the end of the week. This week we had the added excitement of following the status of Tom's 10-pound dog, who was bitten by a copperhead snake on Monday morning and had to get antivenin and spend three days at the vet. Everyone had a happy reunion on Wednesday night.

More to follow on the towels.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Scarf Done - Towels Next

I should have noted that I would not be blogging for a while. Last week was "insulator week" (more later) and next week I'll be at The Mannings taking a class on textured weave structures.

I did finish the scarf, though, and , except for a bump or two on the selvages where I didn't do such a good job of weaving in the broken threads, it looks pretty good. It is very heavy, though, and very, very scratchy. I couldn't wear it. Maybe it should be a table runner ;-)

While I'm in class next week, I'll try to sneak in some advice about weaving with alpaca.

Just for continuity with my last post: I did mail off my Austin article to a magazine and I abandoned reading The Transit of Venus. Parts of it were beautifully written but long sections were just too opaque for me. She has a hard time writing anything in a straightforward way and it's just too hard to figure out what she's trying to say.

So, the insulators. I collect old glass insulators, like the ones that used to be used on the telegraph and telephone lines. Because of my knowledge of insulators, I got involved with the Smithsonian Institute here in Washington, D.C. I helped catalog their collection of about 1200 insulators (and you thought I was crazy at the beginning of this paragraph, didn't you). Some of the nicer ones are shown here, in a web site that I'm trying to find time to enhance. I've been a "behind the scenes" volunteer at the Smithonian for over six years. Last week, we had some researchers in town who wanted to research some of the insulator-related trade catalogs in the Smithsonian's collection, and I got to work with them, so I was gone most of the week.

I should be back posting after the 25th.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Story Almost Ready

No weaving today but I made the next-to-final pass through my Austin travel article. Over the weekend I will take one more pass through it and on Monday it will be out the door, trying to find someone to love it and publish it. After it is out the door, I'll go on to my Hetch Hetchy article. If you don't know it, Hetch Hetchy is a valley in Yosemite National Park that was dammed to create a reservoir to supply water to San Francisco. It is an icon for environmentalists and is credited with helping create the environmental movement in the early 20th century. John Muir lost his battle to stop the dam from being built but created so much public awareness that about three years later the National Park Service was created. This article is going to take some time to finish and it will be a fairly long piece.

I've just started reading The Transit of Venus, by Shirley Hazzard, for my book club. So far, I like the very beginning of the book (the lead) because it grabs you and makes you want to keep reading. Much of the writing is almost poetic. When it works, it works well, but I think it may be overdone. We'll see how I feel after a hundred pages or so.

Also on the schedule for this weekend is to make all the repairs and tie in loose ends on the alpaca scarf and then wash it to see if I can salvage this monster. Of course, the dog also has to go for walks - he has cabin fever after four days of 100+ degree heat with high humidity. The weekend is supposed to be marginally better, so early morning walks are probably in order.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Alpaca Scarf Off Loom

I'm not sure whether to classify this as "done" or "abandoned." I got to about 56" in length and I felt like I was engineering the scarf rather than weaving it. The selvage threads kept breaking, another interior thread broke and the tension problems were just awful. When I cut it off the loom, neither selvage was on, so I may have to find a way to stick something on those edges to bind the edge and to give me something for the fringe at the corners. That should be fun!

Anyway, here's the whole scarf - off the loom but not finished (fringed and washed). I do have some repair work to do before I do the fringe. I've only really abandoned one project in my weaving career but this one came close. Unless a miracle happens when I wash it, I think this will be a "not for sale" item because it has too may repairs even though they may not be obvious to a non-weaver.

The blogger seems to have shrunk my picture, so see a larger one here.

Charleen asked where my nephew's alpaca farm is. It is near Ithaca, NY.

I'm not sure what will go on the loom next. I normally don't like to have two empty looms in the studio. We just got new windows in the house (nice double-pane, argon-filled windows) just in time for the 100-degree weather and now I'm thinking I need new curtains in the master bathroom. That may be the next project - something nice and easy like Huck or Bronson lace in cotton.

On to the repairs and finishing!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tension Problems

Tension problems? What tension problems? The cones are weighting my floating selvages - the ones that keep breaking - so they're not indicative of any problems, but the two wrenches, the clamp and the multiple wooden slats are correcting for warp that has worked itself loose. If you read my earlier post where I said that this was one of the easiest warps I ever put on the loom, you'll believe in the "reversion to the mean" theory. Since going on the loom, this project has been nothing but problems. I'll be glad when it's off and it WILL be off tomorrow. I'm at the 48-inch mark now and plan to weave about 60 inches but it may be a little shorter - it depends how many more times the selvages break and how many more boards I have to add to keep the fell line straight.

I have more warp on the loom that I will use for sampling but I will cut this off and retie to reestablish even tension.

Writer's Idea Backlog

I did some more weaving last night and hope to have this scarf off the loom tomorrow. I sure am getting a lot of practice darning in the ends of the replacement selvage thread when the original (or its replacement, or its replacement, ...) breaks.

I don't understand writers who don't have good ideas about what to write. I have so many ideas that instead of writer's block I have writer's backlog. I have to admit that I've gone a long time, until recently, without writing. Recently, though, I decided that weaving and writing (in that order) were the most important things to me and that I had to do one or the other, if not both, every day before going to chores, projects, excursions, etc.

So now, I have two stories I'm actively working on. One is about our recent trip to Austin and the other is left over from last year's vacation in Yosemite. On our Austin/San Antonio trip, I came back with at least two more ideas for articles - one of which requires a trip back to San Antonio, but I think I can manage that. I loved San Antonio and would be happy to go back but will probably wait until the weather cools down a bit. I keep a list of article ideas and it now has 64 things on it. If I were writing full time I couldn't keep up with all the ideas I generate.

Now, down to work to finish some of the ones I have in progress so I can at least get something off my list.

More weaving tomorrow.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Alpaca Scarf II

Well, this is turning out to be some project! This scarf is sucking up so much yarn I've had to improvise to make sure it will be long enough to be a scarf. However, the improvisation has led to some interesting discoveries - like the four different patterns of black on gray shown in the photo. I started with two skeins of gray and two of blue and it didn't take long to figure out that I needed more than that to make a scarf. I had some black and purple yarn, so I started using some of those to extend the blue and gray.

This scarf has also been a real pain with broken selvages. I'm about half way through, with about 30 inches woven, and I must have had six broken selvages. With this weft-dominant fabric, I found that weaving in the ends of the new selvage thread was ugly but darning them in like you would with a wool rug works better.

This is also a very heavy scarf. I'm guessing your average fashion model would be doubled over while wearing it. We'll see ...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Alpaca Project

Well, ..., this has been interesting. My original warp at 10 ends per inch produced a weft-dominant fabric that seemed too thick for a scarf so the first eight inches turned into a sample. I resleyed at 12 epi and tried again. After washing, the original 10 epi fabric was nice and soft and seemed to have a good drape, although thick. I think it will make a good scarf. The 12 epi was too stiff. So, I'm getting a lot of practice sleying and tying on. I'm now back to 10 epi and weaving away.

maus's comment talked about alpaca snapping - boy, was she right! I got about five inches into the scarf and within a few picks both selvages broke. With the pattern I'm using it's not easy to weave in the replacement thread without having it show, but I did what I could. I'm now trying to weave closer to the reed so there isn't so much abrasion on the selvage, and I'm trying a little less tension on the warp plus trying as best I can not to pull the yarn against the sevlage. This last part is hard because the yarn is sticky and if I don't pull some the selvages get loose and loopy.

This scarf is going to use tons of yarn for the weft and I don't have enough of any one color, so I'm weaving stripes of different colors and I'm blending them between stripes by using two shuttles and alternating picks. I like the effect. Maybe I'll have a photo with tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I've been invited to give a weaving demo at my nephew's alpaca farm in October. I've never used alpaca before, so he sent me some from his animals and I just put a five-yard warp on the loom using that yarn. It is a heavy yarn - about 1200 yards per pound - and I'm sleying it at 10 ends per inch for a twill. I plan to use a three-thread herringbone pattern from Marguerite Davison's book (p. 24) and I'll make two scarves with two different treadlings and maybe two different weft yarns. I have several colors of alpaca yarn that I bought and will use for the weft in both scarves. I was surprised how easily this warp went on the loom - it was one of the easiest I've ever done - not even a hint of a tangle or snag during the entire process. Maybe I'll have to pay later ;-)

The photo today is a closeup of an advancing twill scarf that I designed and made earlier this year using rayon yarn. I entered the scarf in a show at The Mannings and it won third prize in the fashion accessory category. A photo of the whole scarf wouldn't show it off very well, so I just posted a close-up of the pattern from the middle of the scarf.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dog Days of Summer

Andy had a play day today with his best friend Molly. Molly has a pool but no one can convince her that she is a water dog. Molly also has a new little sister, Savannah, who kept interrupting Andy's and Molly's games. Savannah, a 10-week old Brittany Spaniel is a great swimmer and we see a lot of potential there. Molly finally did go in the pool with some help from the people she owns and even seemed to enjoy it but she wouldn't admit it. Andy couldn't be talked into going in the water, not even for a strawberry - a new taste treat he discovered today. Nevertheless, it was a fun day by the pool for everybody.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Back To Weaving - Iris Towel

I thought I'd get back to weaving today. Here is one of my more recent creations - a turned summer & winter iris towel. It's from the latest edition of Handwoven magazine although I changed the colors and the yarn size. I wove it with 8/2 unmercerized cotton for the yellow warp and the weft and 5/2 perle cotton for the green warp. You can see why it's called summer and winter - one side has yellow flowers on a green background and the other side is the reverse - green flowers on a yellow background. This combination of yarn sizes makes a really nice, fairly heavy kitchen towel. I wove one for a friend of mine and since I rarely go to the trouble of warping the loom to weave one thing, I put enough warp on the loom for two towels - one for my friend and one for us. That's Andy in the upper right corner of the photo - he helped weave the towel so he wanted to be in the picture, too.

For a larger photo, click here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Inconvenient Truth

See this movie!

Find An Inconvenient Truth in a theater near you and go see it. My new motto is: "Ignore Global Warming - Help Make Greenland Green." A front-page article in the Wall Street Journal last week talked about how some people in Greenland are happy that they are getting more agricultural land as the glaciers melt. I hope the Wall Street Journal follows up on this story because if the glaciers melt they may be looking for new offices on dry land. You can't see this film and not want to do something about the problem.

Go to the Inconvenient Truth Web Site and see what you can do.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Maybe I'm Back

Wow! It's been so long since I blogged I forgot how to log on to my blog and post a new item. I have been trying hard to make weaving and writing the two important priorities in my life but I'm not sure I'm winning that battle. I am getting a little better - at least now I am weaving and writing, just not as much as I'd like. It almost seems that I got more done when I was working 50+ hours a week than now when I'm retired.

I recently finished the novel, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It is the best novel I've read in a long time and highly recommend it. It triggered one of the liveliest discussions my book club ever had, although not all the topics we discussed had direct relevance to the book.

For weaving, I'm working on a prototype for a wall hanging art piece that I'd like to make. For writing, I'm working on two pieces that came out of my recent trip to Austin and San Antonio - one a humorous piece about our trip and the other about a neat find for San Antonio visitors.