Thursday, June 12, 2014

Floating fiber

Blue false indigo leaning fro the rain.
It was snowing puffs of white cottony fluff.  Really.  I've taken to going on lunchtime walks for fitness and there's been some type of tree that has been shedding tufts of fluff that floats through the air like spin-able snowflakes! The stuff is gorgeous.  I've caught a few and it is fine and silky--but fiber is short and seeds plentiful.  I don't see myself collecting this for spinning anytime soon.  The seeds are the point of the floating fluff spreading the species reach with the wind. I need to learn the name of that tree!

And for me it is a sign that I am on the right course health wise, because not only am I getting a good walk but I'm also enjoying the sounds of birds and the sights of fiber shedding trees, flowers, plantings and more.

I have come to hate the gym and the endless pumping away on the treadmill it's view of a cracked black parking lot backed with the golden glow of the backside of a fast food joint. All this to the beat of the awful, blaring music in the gym.  It is so loud that the trainers all shout over it creating a chaos of noise. Using ear buds isn't helpful because to drown out the din I would risk ruining my hearing.

And really, do they have to play Rap and assorted weird stuff on their playlist?  They use Pandora and they could certainly filter out the offensive stuff it they wanted too--maybe the manager should take a look at their graying demographic and edit the playlist so we don't have to listen to morons and f-bombs? Their answer to any complain is, of course earbuds

Personally, I don't want to be deaf in five years.  Of course, this may explain the loud music.  Perhaps the management has had blasting earbuds for too long.  I'm sure the manager's fab Snoop Dog can give them a suggestion as to where they can put their earbuds.

And it's not just the noise, the machines break down, the cleaning is questionable and there isn't enough room to exercise if you aren't working with a trainer.  One thing training for 12 months has taught me is that I have all the equipment I need to stay toned and tough right at home.  I have weights, I have bands, I can do squats and sit ups in my family loom.  I don't have to work around trainers and their clients.  My loom is a handy place to steady myself or hold my feet for a sit up. Why bother with a gym? So we are done with the place.

When it gets too cold or wet, the Big B where I work has plenty of stairs for me to climb. But mainly, I want to walk outside.  I can do sit ups and squats at home.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A bit of knitting

This scarf is being knit from scarf yarn.
Beautiful weather and a digression into knitting have kept me away from blogging.  We've had steady flow of some really lovely weekends, so I have been out riding my bike or relaxing on the lawn chair and maybe a bit of gardening.  Since the looms are inside, I thought I'd try a bit of knitting.

Shown above is a scarf I'm knitting for a charity event my sit and stitch is planning.  It is made out of sock yarn and I'm using a simple mock brioche stitch.  I haven't knit for awhile and it took me a bit just to master this stitch.  Amazing how rusty I could get so quickly.

356 yards of two ply handspun.
The beautiful weather has also been perfect for sitting outside with a spinning wheel, so I managed to get some of that done too.  I enjoy spinning so this is a great thing to do outside.  The yarn is some superwash merino and bamboo I dyed myself using both wool and cellulose dyes.  I like the  way it came out.

 I suppose I need a loom I can bring outside to weave on--something a portable like one of those little Harrisvilles or maybe a Leclerc compact.  But I don't suppose that will be happening right away as I have plenty of things to keep me busy both inside and outside.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Days of warp and irons

Finally, the handtowels are finished--hemmed, washed and ironed and ready for use in our master bathroom. It felt like a long process, but really it wasn't.  I like the way the hems came out.  This time I decided to weave an inch before each towel design started.  I used a straight twill treadling (1,2,3,4) for an inch and separated it with a strand.  Of course, the threading did not produce a straight twill hem, but it worked. This is best shown below.

One inch wove with same thread as warp to use in hem.
I was using a slightly finer warp--a 4/2 cotton with a 3/2 weft.  This made the hem just a bit less bulky.  For the most part I had success neatly rolling it over for the hem.  I like this hem better than using the actual design as I did in some towels earlier. Plus it leaves a line of white to start off the design. I used a contrasting color to delineate the beginning and ending of each hem and finished the sides with blanket stitch before carefully cutting along the line to separate the towels.  I then folded the hems over and used hem stitch.

I am really happy with the way these turned out.

I've begun weaving a gold and green Tencel scarf on the Loomcraft.  I am liking the way this came out but interestingly, I've discovered the first and eight treadle have the same tie up!  I still haven't checked to see if I made a mistake or if the instructions called for it. I'm not sure I want to know!
Scarf with possible tie up error.
So far the scarf looks pretty good with nice looking diamonds.  This is a simple threading of a V and an inverted V and I'm treadling the same way 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,7,6,5,4,3,2, and then,8, 7,6,5,4,3,2,1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 .  I need to miss the "1" on the next round because the tie up for 1 and 8 are the same!  I suppose I should take a look and see what the tie up should have been, but since it looks nice and I'm in no mood for unweaving, I will just continue what I'm doing.

That's all for this week. Now to just make sure the DH hangs up that hook for my handtowels.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Weekend Weaving

Roll of towels fresh off the loom.

There is nothing like a nice weekend to catch up on my weaving!  I managed to finish the hand towels I was weaving on the Fanny just in time for the stitch n' bittch retreat last Saturday. I cut them all off the loom brought them with me in the roll you see above.  Now that was a relaxing time.  It was great fun to see everyone, and people I don't get to see because they go to the daytime meeting.

Work cramps my style. Time spent at the Big "B" gets in the way of all kinds of fun I could be having either at home or at some get together somewhere.  Well darn.  I do like to keep a countdown until retirement, regardless of how silly it may seem.  I do look forward to the opportunity to socialize with other stitchers.

The towels hemmed but not wet finished.
The towels are all hemmed and waiting for a chance to be wet finished, which is weaver talk for washed and ironed.  Though weavers don't iron things the way normal people do, we give them a hard press.  Which means leaning into the iron as you press. You need to do this on a firm surface as ironing boards have been reported to collapse during the "hard press" process.

I don't own an ironing board, and won't have one in the house. Ironing is for dry-cleaners. Hard pressing is for weavers and I use my workbench.

Handpsun cotton yarn.
I also finished the cotton I'd been spinning since the beginning of April.  There isn't much of it but I think it will make a nice weft for a placemat or something.  My latest spinning project is a merino/bamboo blend I dyed a few years ago for the bamboo class I taught at the spinning guild.  I dyed the wool red and then the rayon blue using the two different dye methods appropriate for each fiber.
Fiber I dyed a couple of years ago.
The fiber is enjoyable to spin. I am making fine singles to ply into a fine two ply.  This is going really well.
I also have a lot going on in the world of weaving and I'm going to try new weave structures, including rep and overshot.  But more about that next week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

TGIF weaving

I have a long weekend away from the Big B where I work because it is an institution of higher learning that celebrates certain religious holidays with long weekends so students and faculty can catch up on their work before (ugh) finals.  So I get to weave, weave, weave and maybe tool around in the yard a bit.  We should be able to plant in a month and things do need to get ready.

Canadian Snowlflake handtowels.
I've made some headway on the Canadian Snowflake handtowels, but I would really like to finish them this weekend.  My stitch n' bitch is having a retreat next Saturday and they would be the perfect project to finish while sitting around sipping herbal tea and talking.

I've just started the teal color. Can I zoom through four more towels this weekend?  My weaving progress is usually fairly  slow, so we will have to see.  I am still forever fringing that shawl I wove and still don't have a finished object to show.  Such is life.

Warp for BGH overshot throw.
Meanwhile, I have this warp to beam for a 1000+ end overshot throw.  The warp is the lovely bamboo cotton blend I purchased from Yarn Barn's mill ends.  Thankfully, they had a spare cone so I didn't have to improvise a stripe in the warp.  Overshot is a whole new weave structure for me and I am looking forward to seeing what sort of lovely designs I can make.
Giant cone of 8/2 pink.
Every since I finished those washcloths, the DH has been lobbying for more of them.  I have this 1.5 pound cone of 8/2 pink and now I am thinking of a whole new weave structure: waffle weave.  Right now it is a research/math project as I try to figure out the proper sett and width.  Waffle collapses when taken off the loom, according to the books I've been looking at, so I need to make the warp quite a bit wider than my expected finished project.  This will be done on the Loomcraft Lulu as I want to start with four shaft waffle and then move up to six and possibly 8 shaft. I have some massive cones of 8/2 cotton I picked up as mill ends, and should make great washcloths.  And don't worry, it won't all be pink! I have plenty of colors to try in the weft to spice them up a bit.

But there's still the golden scarf sitting on the Loomcraft waiting to be woven.  Thank goodness for long weekends!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weaving nirvana

Canadian Snowflake hand towels.
I've been having the best time weaving.  The Canadian Snowflake towels warped onto the Fanny have been exceptionally fun to weave.  Part of it is the 18" width, which believe me is much easier to weave than the 50 inch width of the throw I was weaving.  Plus the Fanny is a lovely loom to weave on, quiet, easy to treadle and ever so dependable.  The colors are fun too.  I have one more towel to weave in red and then I go on to another color.  Which shall I choose?  I have quite a few cones of the unmercerized 3/2 cotton for warp, and I have choices to make.  I'm thinking a rich deep teal may go next.

Beauty shot of the Canadian Snowflake throw.
This is my "beauty shot" (you know, the one to post on Ravelry) for the Canadian Snowflake throw.  I really love the way it turned out, and it lives draped over the rocking chair or some other piece of furniture.  I want to use it to artfully drape over my favorite chair for when company comes. Thanks to Laura Fry for this wonderful Canadian Snowflake draft!

 My next throw will be my first venture into overshot.  I will use a design by Bertha Gray Hayes, that wonderful woman who lived for weaving while earning her living at the phone company during the mid-part of the last century.  Her life's work was saved by weavers from her guild who had preserved her hundreds of samples, designs and notes and published a book for all of us to enjoy.  But more about that as I weave.

Weft colors for BGH overshot throw
Right now, I'm stuck on the warp!  I do love mill ends, and two of the colors you see above were purchased that way.  There is a danger in mill ends in that once you run out, you've run out. Not shown is a lovely natural colored bamboo/cotton that I'm using as warp.  Sadly, I ran out of it Thursday night.  Gladly, the Yarn Barn had one cone left.  While I was at it, I also purchased a badly needed fringe twister.  I am really looking forward to getting started on this throw! Just waiting for the cone to appear on my doorstep.

Golden Tencel for a scarf.
In the meantime, I have a warp of golden Tencel to put on the Loomcraft.  Shown above are my Leclerc Threading Helpers in a brand new configuration I figured out to so they work on this loom.  I am really enjoying threading this project because this golden Tencel is so gorgeous.  I am using the same threading as for my shawl, but this time my treadling will produce big interlaced diamonds.
Pretty cotton won in the Tour de Fleece 2013.
Spinning is a staple in my studio, and right now I'm working on this colorful cotton and I'm really enjoying it! I usually don't enjoy spinning cotton.  Maybe it's because I'm letting it be thick and a bit slubed? Could be.  I want to use it as a weft for some placemats.  I have some nice thick cotton/linen yarn I can dye to go with this.  It should be fun and colorful!

So that is what's going on at the Craftstead Studios! I hope you are all being productive too.  Happy spinning and weaving! Feel free to post about your project in the comments. I'd love to know about them!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tencel shawl

IMG_0153 by Craftsteader
IMG_0153, a photo by Craftsteader on Flickr.
This shawl was begun in February will be cut off the loom tomorrow. The project went quickly but it did have a few snags. I had a lot of breakage, possibly due to the dry air. I've purchased a humidifier and I hope my next project will fare better.
Tencel is very strong and hard to break, but apparently became brittle on the loom in the dryness. I will see how the next project fares.