Thursday, November 30, 2006

All Crackled Out

My samples are done and ready to mail. So that ends this sample exchange for the Crackle Study Group of Complex Weavers. I look forward to getting that big fat envelope around the holidays with everyone's samples.

Before I stop crackl'in I should show a couple more pictures for those in the study group who won't be seeing the samples I kept with me!

On the left is one sample that is staying at my house. It is one of my favorites. It was done with two wefts and a tabby. The two cassette tape wefts are of a light and dark value. The tabby is a 20/2 perle cotton. The center of the pattern is accentuated by using only the tabby. I've studied so much value this year, the tonal qualities are probably what makes it a favorite.

Here is another one that I like a lot has open warp in the center with some cassette tape stamens. It reminds me of my Mother. Some mothers love perfume. Others love candy. My Mother loved negative space and open warps. Like mother like daughter...

And what's next? Time to create something special for the Visalia many possibilities...some crackl'in crackle anyone?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Colors of the Rainbow?

Colors of the rainbow - not quite! Here are six hues of cassette tape. They are woven with a single weft of cassette tape with no tabby. Those on the left are in their 'natural' state. Those on the right are lightly dusted with spray paint.

I had good and bad results with the spray paint. I didn't do any research into spray paint about which would theoretically work better on cassette tape. I just went to the garage and looked to see what colors were hanging around. I selected three.

The OSHA Yellow for home and industrial use and the Epoxy Chrome both worked well. They provided a light dusting of paint and resulted in very little sticking. The OSHA yellow however did cause the tape to curl lengthwise for some reason but it was still quite usable. The Anti-Rust Enamel in bright red was another story. It worked like a magnet and pulled all the tape together and all the strands tended to stick together. What a mess!

My favorite color is the yellow which pushed green. The chrome is also nice since it really lightens up the piece - particularly when there is a tabby weft included.

The light dusting of the tape creates a variegated look which obscures the pattern of the crackle unless a tabby is added or some sort of inlay. I tried a number of things to make the pattern pop. The one on the left used the OSHA yellow tape as an inlay on the pattern with the tabby running through out. I left some cassette tape popping out in the middle to convey flower stamens.

I've reached the end of my warp and have completed 18 samples. Now all I have to do is write up a description for the sample exchange and then the tough part begins: deciding which ones to keep and which ones to send away.

Monday, November 27, 2006


You might be I still knitting? Well...kinda.

That blue and white shadow scarf is still WIP after so many months. But I did start an 'easy to knit' scarf to work on during Thanksgiving. It had to be one of those mindless patterns that I could pick up and put down since there is always a lot of talking as well as activities at these family gatherings. It seemed a much healthier activity to do with ones hands than eating all day. We started Thanksgiving early, with a 5K run which wiped me out for the rest of the day. I brought the knitting but never took it out of that handy ziplock bag.

The yarn I use for my knitting is a cotton/modal blend from KnitPicks. It's plain yellow. I may dye it someother color when I am done.

My scarves seem to lengthen and narrow as I wear them...some may be at my ankles if I wear them too much more. Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but I am experimenting with this next scarf to see if I can get a more normal looking scarf. I have designed it to be 1. wider so it ends up more than three inches wide 2. with knitted stripes for greater stability vs. vertical ribs which just keep stretching and 3. way shorter so it stays above my knees. I haven't even finished one ball of yarn yet, so no picture yet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Somber Browns

Cassette tape comes in a variety of shades of brown...all are somewhat somber and none are particularly uplifting to weave from an emotional standpoint.

So, I tried something a bit different....I got some OSHA yellow spray paint and gave the darkest brown cassette tape I had a light dusting of yellow. The result is a lovely variegated green when woven against the blue warp. The variations in color mask the crackle pattern when woven as a single weft without a tabby as shown in the photo.

I'll need to try the pattern with a tabby to see how it looks. I am also going to try some other colors of spray paint that happen to be sitting in the garage.

This is giving me all sorts of new ideas...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


The instructions for our sample exchange say that samples are supposed to be finished somehow so the ends won't unravel. I just can't bear the thought of getting my sewing machine out and sewing through cassette tape each time I remove some samples.

So on the first couple I just knotted the ends. That is pictured on the left. This was a pain in the fingers as well as my patience. Plus, it used up a lot of warp since the ends had to be long enough to make the knots easily.

I always find finishing to be a is so anti-climatic. I much prefer a piece which minimizes off loom finishing...and if you cut it off and it's done - that's simply the best.

I decided to try what I do on tapestries for these samples. I switched from knotting to tying double half hitches around 4-5 warp threads while on the loom. Then when I cut the piece off the is done. And look how neat and tidy it is!

Speaking of finishing...check this out to see the tapestry I just finished and hung. I have been working on the finishing off and on for about three weeks. It's been off the loom for at least six weeks or more!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Beat

To state the obvious...the strength of the beat makes a big difference. With cassette tape as weft, the obvious becomes even more obvious.

You can see I lost about 30% beating firmly and consistently on the right vs. beating lightly and somewhat lackadaisically on the left.

The cassette tape as weft looks cleaner and better executed with a firmer beat. The lighter beat has a more organic and unfinished look. The firmer the beat - the less obvious the actual nature of the weft. With a loom allowing even a firmer beat I suspect the results would be even cleaner and the cassette tape would resemble thin yarn until you touch it.

Note to self: the firmer the beat...also the less crackling sound.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

To Tabby...or not

Here's an interesting photo...if you're into tabby.

This pattern doesn't really need a tabby since there are never floats longer than three threads but that doesn't mean I can't add one if I want. There aren't any tabby police out there ready to arrest me for misappropriation of tabby. At least I don't think so.

The first sample on the right has no tabby - I just wove exactly what was indicated in the pattern. I was thinking that that piece was a bit dark and could use a bit more of the blue coming out. Thus, I decided to try adding a tabby in light blue which would alternate with the pattern weft in cassette tape.

Next I wove the one on the far left. I used a tabby yarn which was the same as the warp - a 5/2 cotton. The middle sample used a 20/2 perle cotton as the tabby weft.

I like the middle one the best from the perspective of value contrast and size. The flower seems distinct enough without becoming too diffuse. To paraphrase the tale of the three was too was too small...and one was just right.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sample Two

Here is the second sample of crackle using the weft I want to use. This time I am using a pattern weft of cassette tape instead of perle cotton. When you touch the sample, it provides a nice crackling sound - a lovely double entrendre - crackling crackle.

When weaving, I am using the tape right from the cassette holder so there is no tangling or mess. The only downside is that my weaving space is not very large on this would be better on my Purrington. I need to advance quite often.

I am using a fairly light beat on this sample. This may be why the sample is still fairly soft to the feel. I had expected it to be stiffer - to almost stand up on its own. But this one actually has a fairly nice drape given that the weft is cassette tape.

The flower pattern doesn't stand out much even though there is a fairly good value contrast between the two colors. I will try adding a tabby in the blue and see how that lightens up the pattern. I have my UKI sample card out by the loom to see if I am not inspired to try a different warp color.

This is the nice thing about get to keep trying stuff until you get what you want...or if you don't know what you keep sampling until you create what you should have known you wanted in the first place.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sample One

Here is my first sample on the new loom. It's done in a 3/2 perle cotton for the pattern weft and no tabby. Usually crackle uses a tabby but the instructions don't indicate whether to use one or not. I will sample both ways and see what I like the best.

I have found one issue with the loom. There is not much weaving width. The sweet spot is extremely small. I have to advance the warp about every eight to ten picks. And you really can't see the entire piece so it is difficult to tell whether an error has been made following the pattern. It is pretty easy to see the error when its off the loom due to the symmetry of the design.

As for the design, I wanted a pattern that looked like a flower. This somewhat fits the bill. A bit more simple than I had in my challenge will be to perk it up by the end of these ten samples!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More on the loom

This loom is made of metal and is called a Dick Blick Artcraft Loom. I found a little bit of its history. It looks like they stopped selling them in the late 70's.

Mine has 8 harnesses but I only need four right now so I left the other four off the loom. This makes it quite light to carry around and it is small enough to fit on most any table anywhere.

And what a joy to warp this loom. You can easily pick it up and move it around. No back aches. Everything is easily accessible. I warped back to front with a 5/2 perle baby blue cotton and a 15 dpi reed in about an hour. I even unwound the entire warp and easily re-wound it up again.

The design was part of a crackle pattern I found on I wanted to weave something that had a shape in the middle which I could 'play' around with. The pattern I selected looks like a field of flowers. It should work just fine for the upcoming crackle sample exchange.

Time to weave a sample!

ps for those of you interested in knowing more about sake....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Crackle & Sake

Isn't this just the cutest little loom you ever did see?

It's an eight harness metal table loom with an 8.5 inch weaving width. And it has a 15 dent reed! I got it a year or so ago when I bought a weaver's Gilmore floor loom...this little one came with it along with lots of shuttles. It's been out on loan for awhile and now has made it home.

I am going to try it out on some crackle samples I need to whip up for the Crackle Study Group that I am in. It's part of Complex Weavers. The samples are due in early December. I need to make ten. I've got the pattern and yarn selected. More later...

As I measure out my 5/2 warp in the dining room...homemade sake is being bottled in the kitchen; a sake for the holidays.

Yes...quite an evening!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Finishing off the warp

I finished off that summer and winter in two values of blue and was incredibly disappointed with my selvedges; my edges usually look quite respectable. In addition, although the two blues look quite sophisticated and crisp; the result is not what I had in mind for the piece.

There was still some warp I am going to finish off the warp with some blue and lavender cottolin in the same pattern. The cottolin is thinner than the 3/2 perle cotton so the end result should be a bit less hefty and less shiny. I am also incorporating fringe on the sides to avoid the ragged selvedges that this pattern seems to create.

I am using the light blue 20/2 perle cotton tabby to lock the weft in place while the cottolin goes out to the supplementary warp to create the fringe. This is similar to what I did on the taquete bookmarks I wove.

So far - it's looking quite good.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Bead Leno Compulsion

I realized I was amiss for not discussing bead leno...I had a three day compulsive period where all I did was warp and weave bead leno.

It all started with a workshop by Robyn Spady called the Fab 4 - unleashing the power in your four harness loom. The workshop was fabulous...if you ever have the opportunity to take one of Robyn's seminars or workshops - you will not be disappointed. We had about 12 weavers in our workshop from novice all the way through advanced. Everyone got lots out of the workshop.

The workshop was in a round robin format and we got to weave ten different structures. One of the looms I brought had bead leno warped on it. It's a simple 1-2-3-4 sley job which needs to be done initially back to front. Before putting the yarn through the reed, one gathers the yarn in sets of four. Then you take 1 & 4 together through a craft bead and then take all four through one dent in the reed. The bead causes an automatic twist in the yarn when certain shafts are raised and creates a lacy effect.

For some reason I found the bead leno weave structure quite intriguing. It is supposed to be useful to use with novelty yarns since you don't have to use too much. It looks lacy without knitting or crocheting. I liked the result regardless of what yarn I used - the silk feels great, the perle cotton looks great and the novelty yarns are quite unique. A true test: I like them enough that I actually wear them! The only downside is that with all lacey creations - things get caught in little dog nails. And there are lots of those in our house. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to pull the scarf back in shape.

They were fast to create...I had a real production line going. Since the loom was already threaded, I was able to tie on warps real quick using the front to back method. I didn't even use a warping board. Simply put two C clamps the right distance apart and measured out the warp in three sections. No cross and no mess! I tried it with silk, perle cotton and linen warp. Quick and easy.

I was able to warp and weave a scarf in less than three hours. I completed eight scarves in three days and I like them all. Yes, I was compulsive. But I think bead leno is now out of my system....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dye Day

I was testing some dye colors yesterday and threw in a couple other items for fun. I bought those doggie tee shirts from Dharma Trading Company. This is the small - dyed in an alpine blue. I am thinking of adding some tie-dye.