Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm ready for 2012

A weaver friend, Patty Huffer, came over for lunch today, knowing that I wanted to pick her brain about weaving. Specifically about some of the problems that I have been having...

Turns out, they have all been tension-related, whether from skipping a step when winding on (I knew I was supposed to pull on the warp, but I forgot...), or not using the correct warp separater on the Dorset(she brought me cardboard), or not keeping track of how I hold the shuttle differently on the right and left sides (makes the selveges different...).

There were lots of light-bulb moments, and lots of laughter!

When we pronounced my brain full, and hers empty, we had brunch - Dutch Apple Pancake - yummy!

So, now, when the orders from Halcyon and Henry's Attic come in, I'll be armed and dangerous...

Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm back, really

The trip to San Diego is chronicled here - and I forgot to take a picture of the finished towels. They got a lot of use after Thanksgiving dinner, I can tell you!!  Both Dad and Wilma loved them.

I finally thought of having my dad send me a picture (sometimes I'm a little slow...), so here they are:

The moire look is just an illusion, probably caused by some of the tracking (which I really like...). My sis, Mary, hemmed them for me before we left Reno.

I have Christmas present orders from all the immediate family...

Meanwhile, I've been farmsitting, and weaving scarves for a local Holiday Market on Saturday. Since I'm not at "home," I'm using the Dorset loom.  We're struggling to forge a working relationship... However, I've woven 5 scarves, which are now in the dryer.  When they're done, I'll press them, twist the fringe, and take pictures...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It was a day of learning opportunities...

At least it wasn’t “character building” – I have enough character, thank you very much!

When I blogged last, the warp had been wound and ready to sley through the reed, and thread. I did most of it last night, leaving about 2 inches to do this morning. After completing that, I started beaming the warp.

1st learning opportunity: When doing warp stripes, wind the warp in the stripes or wind each section individually – blending in the reed kind of sucks.
After tying extensions (more on those later…) to the warp beam, I tied the warp to them. Fortunately, I realized that I hadn’t put the warp over the back beam before I started winding on! It was easy to fix, as the extensions loop around a rod that is removable. First crisis averted.

2nd learning opportunity: I found several warps that I had passed under the heddle eye (I have Texsolv heddles), so I fixed those. Second crisis potentially averted.

3rd learning opportunity: I normally tie onto the apron rod, as I use that for part of the fringe for whatever I’m making. Dishtowels don’t have fringe. I was ready to start weaving, but the tension was completely wonky. I took it all apart, and lashed onto the apron rod instead. Much better, and 3rd crisis averted.

4th learning opportunity: When I started again with some roving to spread the warp, I realized that there were some funky warps not quite opening in the shed. Closer inspection showed that there were quite a few (4 or 5) warps that were crossed in the heddles. I fixed those, and then found a threading error about 1 inch in from the left selvage. Fixed that. Found another problem about 4 inches in from the left selvage – fixed that, I thought. Turned out the threading was still funky, but if we wanted perfection, we wouldn’t weave, would we?

5th learning opportunity: I had a couple of warp threads that broke when I was beaming the warp. As the tied spot came up, I fixed them like a regular broken warp. There were a couple of others that broke, so I got lots of practice fixing warp breaks.

6th learning opportunity: I got to the end, and one entire warp bundle came loose from the warp beam. Now, I’ve been known to put things together on the fly, and this was an opportunity to earn my middle name of Macgyver (according to LindaLou). I remember now – this loom needs extensions that are almost 1 yard long. So, I fixed it. While the warp was relaxed, I made longer ones, wound them around the beam so that there was more length, and tied the warp bundles, tensioning them as best as I could. This picture shows the problem and the fix:

I kept weaving, eeking out the last towel. Here’s how close I got to the heddles from the back:

And here’s the end – the white line is glue to hold the fell together when I cut it off tomorrow. Each towel is divided from the next with a contrasting weft. When I cut it off the loom tomorrow, I’ll zig-zag each end, and between each towel on each side of the contrasting weft. Then, the whole shootin’ match will go in the washer and dryer.  I’ll iron them after hemming.

The completed towels will be posted for your viewing pleasure early next week.

Also, I worked on developing my shuttle throwing technique. I weave very fast, but I know that I’m not a very efficient weaver.  I follow Laura Fry’s blog – she is an inspiration to me, and I learn something from almost every blog post she has. She posted a video some time ago on how she throws the shuttle. I did it!! It does have fewer movements to accomplish the job. I was pretty pleased with myself.

I’m looking forward to doing more on this loom – it’s a “Murphy” loom. Made by Charlie Murphy in Seattle, WA, probably in the 20’s or 30’s, it is a 4-shaft counterbalance. The cool thing is that the counterbalance mechanism is bike sprockets and bike chain with ball bearings. It’s very, very smooth, and with the Texsolv heddles, relatively quiet.

Boy, am I glad I had such great opportunities today.  You know the best part, though? I never threw up my hands in frustration, or said bad words (ok, maybe I said a few) – I just dealt with the problem and kept weaving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New project (with a deadline...)

For those of you who have ever done the Meyers - Briggs or Kiersey-Bates personality profiles, I'm an INFP. I do swear, the P stands for Procrastinator...

For Thanksgiving, I'll be traveling to San Diego, via Reno, to have dinner with my Dad, his girlfriend, and the combined families. I'm furnishing the bird (see story here). Because of financial issues, they won't marry, but they are going to have an intimate commitment ceremony with family members.

I decided that I would weave some dishtowels that they can have at each other's house - they will be the same, and symbolize the connection, on a very basic level, between them.  Kind of hokey, but it works for me!

Anyway, project notes:
  • Halcyon Yarn Homestead Cotton (8/2)
  • 22" in the reed, sleyed double in a 10 dent reed for 20 epi
  • Threaded straight draw (my loom is a 4 shaft, counter-balance)
  • Woven in plain weave
  • Stripes based on some I saw on the Halcyon website, but different colors
  • Each towel will be woven 32" long to allow for 15" shrinkage
  • Warp is 5 yds. long - I'm planning to get 5 towels (I want to keep one!!)
  • Haven't decided if they will be just woven with stripes (one contrasting stripe matching the warp stripe per towel) or just with the natural all the way through.
  • I'm going to try using a temple for the first time.
Did I mention that I leave for Reno on Tuesday??

Correy moved stuff around, and we now have a dining-loom.
The "Dining-loom"
Last night I wound the warp.  The warping reel is the appropriate tool for the job - fast, and easier on my back and shoulders.
The colors I'm using are:
And here's the warp, ready to be sleyed and threaded.

Next time, on and weaving!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Return to weaving and I LIKE it!!

There is a "Farm Day" held here in Prineville, in association with a cattle dog trial. When a group of us was talking about it, I had a thought - "I wonder if I could get the little loom back?" I called the woman to whom I had sold it. It turns out she has never woven on it, and was happy to sell it back to me! Another friend was going to Eugene, so she picked it up and brought it back.

It's a Dorset Loom - not made anymore, very similar to the Baby Wolf, but with direct tie-up. I had never woven on it in all the time I had it, either.
from  the back

from the front

Thursday, after getting a day off from loading hay, I bought a 3/4" dowel so that I could get my warping reel back in action (That's what all those dowels were, rolling around when I was packing that I chucked...). I have weird shoulders, a bad neck and warping boards are not my friend. I wound a 3 yd. warp of Superwash Merino/Bamboo that I had dyed, and had just enough... The weft is raw silk that I dyed black.

Friday, I warped the loom. I warp front to back - it fits me best. I got to the threading, and half-way through, realized that I had screwed up. I pulled it all out, and started over, tying the warp in the groups of the threading - success.  I should mention here that it has been at least 7 years since I last wove...

We packed up the truck, folding the loom (I think I really like this little guy), and getting the bench, tables, grid walls and totes of fiber and yarn in easily, leaving room for the nested dog crates for the turkeys - see the story of that here. Our set up included fleeces, yarn, roving, and the loom and Correy's spinning wheel.

Since this is a "Farm Day," Correy also brought her ram lambs, and the two friendliest camelids - Outlaw, the llama and Rusty, the alpaca.
Da Boyz



I am a very fast weaver. I was pretty sure that I would be able to finish it in the time at the farm day (10 am to 4 pm), and I did. So, when we got there, I set up our space, and rested.
in process - notice the sheen!

Then I wove for awhile, and took a break, and so on. I managed to stretch it out to 2:30, when I cut it off the loom.  I had a re-learning curve - my selvages aren't perfect but were getting better as I went along. I like using end-feed shuttles - I have a schacht, and 2 old fly shuttles in my arsenal. In fact, I don't have any other shuttles that I use.
Off the loom!

After washing, I'm disappointed. The sett was a little close, even though I used the sett formula. It's ok, but not as drapey as I had hoped. Actually, I think it's because it feels heavier than I anticipated.

I like weaving on this little loom though, a lot. I planned the warp so that I could tie onto the end and use it as a dummy. I'll re-sley (and thread) before the next one. I have another skein of the superwash merino/bamboo that I can use. Maybe it can be a runner, or something...

These are the ends by the fringe (to hold them stable while washing and drying) - I think they're pretty darn cool in their own right!

I'm already planning more projects - mainly color and weave, which is really fun to do. I'm thinking shawls, and/or dishtowels.

Next knitting project? A headband/ear warmer, with inserted I-cord edges, knit in the round from center back, shaped as I go, and then joined with either I-cord or the Salish Shoulder join with a tassel (of course!). I'll resley more loosely for the next one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


When I was in Portland last week, I went to the Portland Handweaver's Guild show in Multnomah, courtesy of LindaLou's tour guide service.

Their sign is woven - it's very, very cool.

There were lots of very, very well woven (and felted) pieces. I was amazed. The first one you saw (after the sign above) was this robe. Made of cotton, chenille and maybe silk, it looked like a wearable hug.
Back in 1998, I wove a really lovely piece of fabric - it's a mixed warp of cotton, cotton/linen, cotton/rayon and rayon with a silk weft, which looks mostly turquoise. After washing and drying, I have about 3 1/4 yards. I have yet to cut into it to make something.  I admire people who can!!

One of the pieces is cardwoven. Here is a whole shot and a detail - incredible:

Linda had a couple of pieces - here's one:
There were a number of scarves, in different, interesting colors, weaves, etc.:

This is a detail of a cocoon-type jacket. The ruching is actually wool in the weft, which, when wet finished, fulled. Very clever, and really effective use of different fibers!
Last night, we were sitting around talking about an up-coming Farm Day at a nearby dairy. The subject of weaving came up, and I thought of a small loom that I used to have.  When I had retrieved my loaned reed from the new owner awhile back, she said she hadn't woven on it.  So, I called her to see if she would be interested in selling it back to me - she was!!  So I'll be getting it back this week. It's a Dorset Loom, sort of a precursor to the Baby Wolf. It weaves 25-26" wide, and is 4 shaft direct tie-up.

I'm excited! I'm thinking I might put a couple of scarves on it for the farm day and see how it goes!

Now I just have to replace the dowels that inadvertently got pitched in the move so I can use my warping reel again...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It was a good day to dye...

Well, I’ve moved – I’m not done, but most of the stuff is now east of the cascades!

The first week I was here, I spent 4 full days dyeing yarn and fiber – 9 lbs. of yarn, 4, lbs of fiber, 3 colorways.

My process is fluid, and I set up the “Dye Studio” in the shade of Correy’s apple trees.

Since the temps were in the 90’s, having shade was very welcome. The first step in the process is to wind the yarn into 4 oz. +/- skeins. That took most of one day and a little of the next – with lots of help from Correy. Once wound, they are dumped unceremoniously into a tub of water with 3-4 glugs of vinegar to soak for awhile (at least 20 minutes).
Because there was silk fiber involved, I put it in first, and it soaked about 2 hours before I pulled it out (hoping it would get completely wetted – kind of successful…).

Then, the skeins are laid out, 3 at a time, on plastic wrap, the dye is applied. Since the yarn was superwash, it takes the dye really, really well – you have to work at getting it to blend together, as it strikes very quickly.

I use a turkey roaster for dyeing (I have 2). They came with little tray inserts for keeping several dishes warm. I took a 3/8” drill to them and now they’re steamers for dyeing. The yarn is rolled up into a “burrito”, and plop it in.  After steaming for 20 minutes, the package is removed, and left to cool before opening. After helping various animals birth their young, it’s hard not to see the result as something emerging from its amniotic sac… (sorry…). I then let the yarn cool completely, so that I can use the hose to rinse it.

Once rinsed, it’s hung to dry. Interestingly, even though the humidity is much less here, it took more than 2 days to get the roving to dry.

All of this dyeing frenzy was in preparation for the Shaniko Woolgathering. Shaniko, in its heyday, was the Wool capitol of the US. The Columbia sheep breed was developed here. It’s now barely above ghost town status, with only a few full-time residents. There is a desire on the part of some of the residents to bring recognition to the town.

This year was the 5th annual – I missed the last three for various reasons, so I was looking forward to going. I hauled the trailer up for us (Correy, her daughter, Brin, and me) to stay in. We also brought my large canopy, as the festival was one short. We got there, set up the canopy (it was very, very hot), and then set up the booth. I had found a number of Gridwall panels and accessories on Craigslist, which helped with the organization.

Did I mention it was hot? It was in the mid-90’s all weekend, which probably affected the turnout. Sales were very slow on Saturday, and only slightly better on Sunday.

Correy also demonstrated sheep shearing all weekend, 17 in all. The sheep weren't all that pleased to have their insulation removed...

However, Saturday evening, we had a spinner’s gathering by lantern light, and were entertained by a 5 month old corgi pup chasing moths – you had to have been there, but we were laughing a lot, and had a very good time!

Now to get ready for Oregon Flock and Fiber…

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A new venture...

In the midst of my crazy life, I decided to start another blog...

The title comes from a comment my daughter-in-law made a couple of years ago. I had crocheted a hat for her, complete with flowers (pansies, mostly), and my son wanted to know how you made the top of the hat get smaller. "It's voodoo," she said. It stuck with me, and now that's what I call my budding fiber business.

Mostly I dye things. If it's white (or gray, or tan), it doesn't stay that way very long in my house... I do spin, and knit, and have a wonderful 1920's-30's loom which has sat idle for way too long. The loom, as my friends will tell you, is a booger to move. It's rock maple, weaves 44-45" cloth, and is a 4-shaft counterbalance mechanism. What makes it so wonderful is that, instead of wooden rollers with rope controlling the shafts, it has bike sprockets, ball bearings, and bike chain - very, very smooth action. In addition, some thoughtful person changed out the steel heddles it probably came with for texsolv heddles and treadle tie-ups, making it very quiet to use. When I have woven on it, it was a delight. Once I get settled, I'll introduce you to the loom... with pictures!

Currently, or at least when I finish getting out of my house and over to Central Oregon, I'm getting ready for the Shaniko Wool Gathering. I'll have a booth there, and need to get lots of stuff dyed, labeled, wound, and not necessarily in that order. I need to get my inventory catalogued, sorted and labeled and packed.

So, welcome to the new blog about continuing adventures!