Monday, January 30, 2006

In search of brown

I am away from my broadband connection and my many looms and equipment. I did bring my portable Shannock and have started warping it up for Mr. Clean #2 which I designed this morning.

I decided to use the warp as part of the design so I needed a nice brown warp. My first dye attempt had the red hit first so I ended up with a lovely magenta...nowhere close to brown. Used Createx liquid dye- the brown color. I avoided the black since I have found it pushes to green. Anyway, magenta was no good so I did it again...adding some marine blue, black and a pinch of yellow. I, obviously am not an exact dyer - I put a bit here and a bit there until I think I will get what I want. Well, didn't work this time...I got a lovely greyish purple. Nice color but not the brown I needed for Mr. Clean. So, being away from home and without my dye supplies I went to the grocery store and got some Rit Dark Brown. Mixed it up and low and beyold a lovely dark brown with a slight push to purple. Leave it to Rit to save the day!

Pictures will follow once I have a broadband connection...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

There's something on your shoulder

What is that on your crispy clean white Brooks Brothers shirt...

...we had a dry felting moment at our Guild today...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Contrast in Styles

Here are two pieces woven using two different techniques; tapestry and taquete. Interesting contrast in styles as well as interesting similarities.

Hard to believe the tapestry is smaller than the three bookmarks! The tapestry is just shy of 4" by 6" and depicts Mr. Clean in varying shades of grey embroidery floss on a vintage television set. This was a piece I started way back in the fall of last year, as a practice piece for the Small Format, Grand Ideas exhibit. I got so involved in my beetle yardage, he languished unfinished for many months. Well, that was for the real thing! I am happy with the beetle pattern on the right. My latest bookmarks, on the right are just over 7 inches long which I think is a good length for a non-paperback book. I still may tweak it a bit so it is marginally shorter. But I think I have the basic pattern almost set. After that, all I have to do is pick my colors and beetles and happily weave away.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Filatura Di Crosa

Ah, here is something to think about...I received this Italian yarn for my birthday. It's called Vittoria by Filatura Di Crosa; 60% cotone mercerizzato/baumwolle and 40% viscosa/viskose...sell - it's not wool - that's good because I am allergic to wool. There is about 1540 yards. Great color and a very nice feel. It's pretty thin...thinner than my 20/2 silk but thicker than sewing thread.

So, what should I do with? Might make a lovely edging or lapel for a handwoven jacket. I will check to see how the color goes with the various yardage I bought in Molokai. When I was there I bought 5 yards of a variety of different Hawaiian and Polynesian patterns in hopes of weaving some yardage using the Trudie Robert's California Rags technique. It might work quite well.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mistakes are Often Useful

Ah, mistakes are often useful. I wove about two inches of the lower beetle and discovered a mistake, an obvious one, about a half inch into the piece. The mistake was in that boring section...the solid blue part at the beginning...where it was hard to pay attention - I seem to fall into a zen state and forget what I am doing. I actually don't forget what I am doing, I actually think I am doing what I should be doing...but I'm not. So, in lieu of ripping it all out...I mulled it over for a day or so and decided to change the pattern. Now future bookmarks will have two different beetles with a diamond in the center. This pattern comes out with bookmarks five inches long without fringe. They seem to maintain good visual interest and there are no long solid sections to send me into boredom. I really like this much better than the previous set up. I have one more tweak to the basic pattern and hopefully I will then have everything set to go.

I did a count today...only 112 days until I need to send 20 bookmarks in. Plenty of time! I like to have all my patterns set up so I can just weave away and watch the beetles form as I pass the shuttles back and forth.

Ah, you might wonder how is the knitting going...well, nowhere quite yet. I did sign up for the Knitting Olympics at the Yarnharlot. I said I would knit my entire sampler between the opening ceremony of the Olympics and the close. Have no idea whether that is possible...oh well, it is always good for me to have a deadline.

For example, I have a tapestry, half finished, on my counterbalance loom which has been there for over a year. No deadline - no progress this year. My rigid heddle has been warped for a long thin tapestry of my mother. The yarn has been selected and the cartoon completed. No deadline - no progress this year. I have a lovely empty Shannock loom in my living room just waiting patiently for deadline - no progress. But my Small Format - Grand Idea tapestry is due for mailing in 68 days - finished almost 2/3rds of it this weekend and am considering doing another to see if I can do it better!

Deadlines are good... for me.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bookmarks: One for me, one for you...

I finished warping for the bookmark exchange project and wove my first beetle pattern of bookmarks. Take a for me...One for you and one for my friends. I always seem to select this beetle to weave first - it is one of my favorites. As you can see, I am doing three bookmarks at once; each is about 2 by 4.5 inches. Its the same beetle pattern in all three - they only vary by the color of the inside of the beetle. I will be expanding the pattern so it will be a bit longer and trying different color combinations and beetle patterns. Each set will be different.

The first one is always so trying with taquete since I am trying to get used to a new set up and still perfecting my pattern. Seems like each time I try something new. On the next beetle I will be focusing on getting better edges. To keep the fringe in place I am locking in the edges with one color of thread. It's the color that shows up inside of the beetle. Seems even my small shuttles were too big for the spaces between the bookmarks so I am simply using the spools as you would buy them at the store. I have done this before but not had such erratic edges. But it's only the first one. More to come!

This is my eight harness Purrington loom - all ready to weave. You can see my box of weft thread...there is another box too! This loom has the easiest levers to use - they move up and down effortlessly. Yes, those are six shuttles you see...this is a six shuttle project...a labor of love.

I forget who but someone asked about my experiment on winding on the warp. As you may recall, the last project I did with sewing thread warp I wound on two threads at a time onto the warping board in order to get 804 warp ends done in my lifetime. I consistently kept my finger between the two threads. I also kept the cones on the floor so they wound off the cone in a vertical direction. The warp was a tangled mess once on the loom and took days to fix. My 'knot guy' thought the tangles were caused by the position of the cones which allowed the threads to warp around themselves as they got wound on.

Since I had three bookmark warps to play with, I did three different things:
1. cone horizontal, two threads wound at a time
2. cone vertical, one thread wound at a time
3. cone horizontal, one thread wound at a time

The end result: using the two thread approach had the most tangles and once there was a tangle among two or three threads, it continued through out the warp. Hence there were far more tangles toward the end than at the beginning of the warping process. I am going to do a bit of research before I give up on the two thread approach. I must be doing something wrong with that finger....

Monday, January 16, 2006

Something New

Just got back from a trip to Sonoma to return Scooter, my sister's dog, home. She was vacationing with us while my sister was sailing in the Caribbean. Imagine, two adults and five dogs in a mini-van for seven hours.

Here is Scooter napping in the car. Dente is proudly watching from the back of the van. Pokie and Bunkie are staking out the middle seats and Pepper is trying in vain to climb into the front seat.

Another reason we needed the minivan was that I bought a Shannock tapestry loom which I needed to pick up in San Jose and the van was the only car it would fit in. Having returned home, my husband and I just finished putting it all together! See the photo - doesn't it look just great?

...And now I really have a is something else new to entice me away from that knitting sampler I have on queue.

Bookmark Progress

Well not much progress so those bookmarks...nor on my knitting either. Here is the progress on the warping...

I have measured out my warp - the polyester sewing thread. It's off the warping board with the cross protected between bamboo sticks and the thread sitting comfortably in an empty pretzel jar.

I finally decided to weave three bookmarks at a time and try three different methods of measuring out the warp to see what would work better than the absolute mess I had on the last piece I did. My engineer friend [and avid knot person] says that by letting the thread come off vertically from the cone it wrapped around the the other strings and caused all the tangles. He suggested I pull the thread off horizontally. So, I tested that.

Personally, I think it has something to do with the way I measure on two warps at a time. I keep my finger between the two threads and measure on the warp. This is suggested in many books as a way to keep out the tangles. I did this last time and still got tangles. Perhaps the way I am doing it creates vs. removes the tangles! So I am testing this hypothesis too.

So all I need now is the time and inspiration to warp the loom and test my hypotheses. Only 180 warp ends...should not take too long!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Starting those Bookmarks

I signed up for a handwoven bookmark exchange with bookmarks due before summer so I figure it's a good time to start that project.

I have an empty eight harness table loom impatiently waiting for something to do and a whole list of things I want to test from my recent Beetle Project - particularly in the warping process [I had tons of tangles the last time]. I also wanted to have samples of my beetle designs for my Design Book so I think I will do a combo project - - samples and bookmarks. I just need to decide whether I will weave two or three bookmarks at a time. I figure three will be marginally more time consuming that two but I end up with an extra bookmark for Christmas and birthday gifts. And wouldn't all my friends out there like a beetle for their books?

This is the polyester warp I am using. The bookmark exchange has 20 weavers in it so I figure I may as well make one for everybody. That means I can also get 20 sample designs for my Beetle Design Book. I have 60 different beetle designs so I would end up with samples for about one third of them. Not a bad start! If each book mark is about five inches long; adding some fringe and an extra yard for loom waste - looks like a 4-5 yard warp. Guess I had better get warping!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

It's a Purl Day!

This is why I want to make sweaters for my puppies. Fortunately, for my birthday I received this fabulous book Puppyknits by Jil Eaton with a variety of patterns and ideas for dressing your dogs in handknit fashions.

I had my first lesson on knitting yesterday. You can see my baby steps in the photo. I am using circular number 7 needles with some blue Simply Soft yarn. And today is the day to practice purl since it was the most difficult yesterday. Seems I am using the Continental method to knit with a Single Cast On. The Continental is apparently the quickest but sometimes yields looser fabric. The Single Cast On method is the simplest but not the neatest. Quick and simple - sounds good for a beginner like me. I will be practicing purl until I can get three or four rows that look uniform and nice.

But I can only practice so much knitting... so I'll need to get some weaving done today too! Near the top of my "Woven Wanna Do" list today are two items 1) warp my eight harness table loom for the 20 bookmarks I need to weave for the bookmark exchange or 2) work on my small tapestry for the Grand Ideas/Small Format Exhibit. The first will take longer but the due date is further away. The second is smaller with a sooner due date. I also have three other projects with flexible due dates on looms in the house which might entice me also...stay tuned.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I'm 50!

It happened...the twelve days of Christmas are over and I am a year older. And it's time to knit...I even received my first set of knitting needles at 5:30 this morning ... a lovely gift from my dear husband. He actually went to a knitting store ... Wild Fiber in Santa himself! What a sweetie! He had a great discussion with someone there about which needles to get ... he selected some Crystal Palace Bamboo Needles in a size 9 ... hmmm wonder what I can knit with a size 9 ... no idea!

He also got me two books ...Vogue Knitting - the Ultimate Knitting Book ... and Knitting Yarns and Spinning Tales. Both look good. The first for the basics and the chapter on different patterns - a stitch directory...similar to a weaving pattern book. The second book has a great tale by Amy Singer...someone like me who is allergic to wool...she has a great website ...
... it's got great pictures and all sorts of exciting stuff I might like to try... it's not even 7am and I am knitting in my mind!

[Is that mindless knitting? ... no... perhaps mindful knitting...not exactly... well at least virtual knitting! ]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I am just finishing off my sample of 'It's Raining Beetles'. It's a piece similar to the yardage but is eight inches by eight inches. It is used at the exhibit for touching purposes. No touching the yardage but anyone can touch the samples. I decided to use the orange hues of the rainbow since they showed well up against the blue sky. The sample will show three color changes...while in entire piece there are 60 hue changes in the rainbow. I also selected three beetles which would show well when viewed up close. A few more inches and it will be complete.
It will soon be time to knit. I have avoided knitting for all these years but I turn 50 this year...the age I said I would begin to knit. My weaving friends all knit - in order to avoid discussing why I do not knit I have always said 'I will not knit until I am 50'. That usually gets a giggle and stops all discussion of knitting on my part. Until now. Three days to my birthday.

I simply love to weave. I just finished some yardage I hope will be accepted for the Grand Yardage Exhibit at Convergence this year. 5+ yards of beetles failing through rainbows! It's done in taquete with miles and miles of embroidery thread. Once the weather is better, I will take a photo and post it here. I am consumed by weaving...both tapestry and taquete...I have two rooms filled with looms, yarn, thread and equipment....And several closets hiding related items.

Three days of weaving bliss - then it's time to knit!