Sunday, January 25, 2015

Silk on a stormy day

Scarf-fine merino wool woven on a silk weft.
 Nothing quite beats a lazy Sunday. It's snowing and windy outside so that's a great excuse not to venture outdoors. And so I get to weave on my first and quite lovely silk warp. I'm using some merino I picked up from my Stitch N' Bitche's destash table and the weave is Rambling Rose from Marguerite Porter Davison. To a weaver that's a "W" and a half to form a lovely little pattern. The weaving is going great and silk is lovely to use. I just need to "snug" the warp into place--no beating necessary. I've also learned how to "read" the pattern as I go, so I'm not making treadling errors.  This is a new step in my evolution as a weaver. I'm really happy with this latest winter scarf!

Silk sliver by the kilo.
I found a place where I can buy silk by the kilo--Georgia Yarn Company. I'm showing the kilo of silk sliver I just purchase for dyeing and blending with wool.  I previously purchased a kilo of natural mulberry silk 22/2 skeins.  These are lovely, but I need to dye them.  I still need to work on my dyeing technique because silk can be a little tricky. I've learned that I should soak the silk in the dye adjutants before adding the dye and heat.  I need to heat it to below 185 degrees F and let it simmer for 60 minutes. This will take a bit of scientific method to use up some of my acid fast dyes, but I'm up for the challenge. I'm just waiting for the warmer weather as my dye studio is in the garage!

Giving the sturdy Ashford Scholar a whirl.
I've been spinning a merino/bamboo blend on the Scholar, a sturdy little wheel I purchased years ago with the idea of taking it with me camping. I haven't done that yet but it is a trooper for traveling to guild meetings and more.  I was able to fit it with the high speed whirl for the Kiwi, and being a "vigorous" treadler, I have no trouble getting a nice thin yarn. I'm expecting this to be about 14 wraps per inch, depending of course how much the yarn "poofs" once it goes through finishing.

It's been a nice day to get things done. I'm also making food ahead--a big pot of spaghetti sauce, meatballs and some low-fat spinach lasagna. So of course, I have a glass of red wine at my side, with Rigoletto playing in the background. I don't attempt cooking Italian without the correct mood being set. I need to dig deep into my roots to get the right flavorings.

All in all, it's a wonderful, snug day at the Craftstead.  Stuff is getting done and relaxation is happening. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Warping barbell

Warping barbell adds tension while beaming.
Seems like I'm finding lots of new uses for my exercise equipment these days. Shown above is what I've dubbed a Warping Barbell. This consists of my leg weights suspended at the ends of an inch thick dowel. I was trying to thing of some way to tension my warp when I hit on this idea. It's along the same lines as the warping trapeze Laura Fry talks about but without the need to attach something to the ceiling or build a big frame. The 10 pound weights keep the device in place and it does help provide a nice even tension.

I'm very happy wit this and plan to use it regularly.  I also enjoy re-purposing exercise equipment for weaving. Leg weights are also great for weighting a beater when doing something like rugs. And don't use this like a barbell as the weights fall off.  The warp, by the way, is yak. I was going to make a yak down scarf over winter break but it turned out to be a too delicate warp. I save the ruined warp for needlepoint.

26 oz of Wild Iris super bulky rug yarn.
 My plan to spin a pound of fiber a month is well on it's way with 26 oz of rug yarn completed. The Coopworth counts as "deep stash" as my friend Beth gave me the roving when she was destashing. I've dyed it Wild Iris. It helps a lot that I'm spinning super bulky rug yarn. Later this year, I intend to get a lot of rug weaving done and move stash from my closet to the floors. So far, so good!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weaving meets Yoga

Yoga blocks come in handy in the studio.
I've taken up Svaroopa Yoga, a gentle practice that helps loosen up tight spots in the hips and lower back from too much sitting and tension.  I take classes but also follow a home practice, called the Magic 4. This eases my lower back and aligns my chakras (energy centers) and leaves my body and mind relaxed and freed to pursuit my many interests. I feel the practice, by opening and aligning my chakras, improves the flow of creativity and squeezes out left over stress from the week.

Overshot block design with handspun alpaca warp and silk& kid mohair weft.

Yoga blocks were the perfect prop for leveling the shafts on the Loomcraft. I've decided to use a 4 shaft tie up on it for its next several projects and having my yoga items in the studio proved exceptionally handy.  As you know, I hate crawling under the loom to do tie up, but a careful selection of yoga blankets and a blanket roll made for comfy work under the loom! I was really happy because I got the tie up set up in no time while being comfortable. Good thing I keep my yoga gear in this "half-studio."  I have one-half of the family room where we keep our TV and bookshelves so it is also a place to relax and maybe move along with an exercise DVD.

Leclerc Fanny warped with overshot block scarf.
Happily, I finished a scarf I began just two weeks ago over Christmas break. It has a hand spun alpaca warp and a commercially prepared warp of silk, kid mohair and glitter. The resulting scarf is luxuriously soft and just in time for some sub-zero temperatures. I'm kind of proud that this is also the fastest project I've done so far on the loom! It was on and off inside of two weeks.

Now to wind some more warps, and get to work on the big throw project....