Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chasing Dreams

Do you ever fall behind, feel like you will never be caught up again, feel OVERWHELMED? That's what I'm experiencing lately. The northwoods winter, which is usually neverending, suddenly IS ending. Between rain and snow showers, suddenly all I have done seems so small compared to what is left to do. The Task List grows daily until I don't know where to start!

What I am feeling is the excitement of what I committed to this summer, and fear that I won't be able to meet my self-imposed goals. I need to change my focus to what I am able to do each day, and what I will accomplish in the coming weeks.

What I need is an updated list of every last thing needing to be done (and projected completion dates) and then make a realistic list to work from each day. I do have a list and update it periodically, but with the coming time crunch, I'm going to need to make this a daily habit. Checking off each item as it is done brings satisfaction and gives me concrete evidence that I am, indeed, making progress.

It isn't the weaving, I love sitting at the loom and watching the inches of fabric gliding under the breast beam and protective board, periodically measuring the piece to see how much is left to go, thinking ahead to the next piece, or project. Right now, it's knowing a loom needs more work, warps, followed by threading. It's those last 300 heddles waiting to be finished, finally reaching the goal of 4,000 (divided between two looms), and knowing 1,000 to 2,000 pattern heddles still need to be made. It's the cones of sock yarns calling to me to sit down at the sock machine and crank for a few hours each day.

The spinning wheels are calling to me, as are bags of fleece waiting to be felted, like the Coopworth above. Why is it when we have goals to accomlish, work to be done, deadlines to be met, those siren calls of distraction call loudest? They are going to have to wait just a bit longer. I will resist, and take care of what needs to be done first.

Maybe my age has something to do with it? Oh, do we really have to go there? I'm slowing down physically, I know that, but in my head, I'm still relatively young, and still think I can do anything I set my mind to. And for the most part I can, I just keep forgetting it all takes longer! My love of fibers and textiles also keeps me from remembering that anything, anything involving fibers takes longer than I think it will. You would think I would have learned by now?

People always ask, "how long did it take to make that?" Sometimes I know. Twenty-five minutes per sock on the sock machine, each, then perhaps 20 minutes each to close toes. If they are asking about a piece of weaving, well, I tend not to keep track of those hours. I am slowly learning to be more efficient in what I do, but as I do one-of-a-kind pieces, from the same warp, not long production runs of the same exact piece, over and over, I fall somewhere in-between.

Tomorrow I will begin again, with a current priority list next to my open calendar, and see how much can be done, and done well. Chasing my dreams.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

One Step Closer

I am smiling in WI today! A woodworker arranged to drop by today to look at my Glimakra CM loom and the opphamta attachment that I need trimmed down to fit my loom. My loom is 48" and the opphamta attachment is for a 54" loom. Yes, I bought it knowing full well it would need to be made to fit. I had been looking for one for a long time, this was the first one that crossed my path and I bought it.

I expect the pattern shafts and long metal rods will need trimming, too, but that won't happen until these first pieces fit. Everything in good time, one step at a time. I've waited four years for this, and will likely wait longer, I have weaving to finish up and an order to take care of before I can even think of assembling the rest of it. It's just very nice knowing I'm a little closer to making it a reality.

As of last night, I have 1,400 more long-eye heddles made, and 300 more cut and ready to be tied; these are for the opphamta attachment ground shafts. 300 more to reach 2,000. Then I will begin on the pattern heddles.

Now, the Damask Weavers Newsletter arrived in my Inbox so I need to read that. Then I need to re-sley my reed (we had to remove the beater to try the top part of the opphata attachment on the loom) and lash the warp back on. I may wait a couple days as I don't want to have to cut a partly woven piece off when he returns and wants to see if the pieces will fit. There is sock-cranking to do, a drawcord warp to be made, a rug loom waiting for me, one or two other looms that need warps, a spinning wheel that has been sadly neglected, and I'm itching to do some felting. So, stay with my priorities? Or take a day to play?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yesterday and today I was again working on the Complex Weavers Double Harness Study Group newsletter, and it is at last finished, though too late to be mailed out today. They will be at the post office in the morning, along with two pairs of socks.

The weaving on another towel was finished while pages were printing on the inkjet printer today. It was a good time for a bit of multi-tasking. The towel was washed, dried, pressed, and tonight was hemmed and photographed. There is still warp on the loom so I'll go to sleep thinking about another variation to try.

The Lake Country Weavers met this past Monday at Manitowish River Studio (and home) of weaver Mary Burns. Mary weaves custom rugs on a 10' Cranbrook set up for shaft switching, and on a 12' AVL compu-dobby. A 7' x 11' rug had been started for a client, and when that one is nearly done she will be warping the larger loom for a 10' x 12' rug for the same client. All are her original designs, many inspired by the Arts and Crafts look.

Mary also has a TC-1 Jacquard loom, some of her woven pieces come from photos. Amazing! That loom is warped with 20/2 cotton, and each thread is individually controlled. Monday night we saw a slide show from a recent workshop she attended of jacquard weavers. She has an amazing studio, and is a wonderful, sharing weaver.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Studio Reorganization in Progress

My weaving studio (formerly our living room) is being reorganized. Today, after moving the piano over to the hallway, we moved the two Glimakra looms which now face the west wall (and windows). I am not entirely happy with that, thinking of summer sun, both in my eyes and on the warp. However, it will make warping back to front easier. We added the vintage Gallinger rug loom in front of the big window where the CM was sitting, and the 22" 8 shaft Harrisville near my desk and bookshelves. The two shelf units are now where I originally envisioned them, in a corner out of sunlight.

Tomorrow we will add another table to the laundry room, which is within sight of the studio space, and then it will also be my cutting/sewing/pressing area. Once the piano is sold (I hope!) the dry sink can be moved back to its spot, and a third table or the warping mill and cone/spool rack(s) will be out there, too.

Next is cleaning up my desk area, in the studio, and moving a two drawer file cabinet next to the desk to hold the color printer. My weaving reference library also needs reorganizing, after months of pulling books off the shelves. VAV, PWC & Weavers, and Complex Weavers Journals are in the studio, and I'm hoping there will be room for more weaving periodicals. However, I'm getting quite a collection of notebooks full of weaving materials, so will see what takes priority.

I'm quite pleased tonight with the loom arrangement, but lighting continues to be an issue. Log homes are dim inside even on bright days. I'll continue to use my Ott floor lamp for now, but hope to add track lighting when I am able to.

Now, I need to try the room out and see if it works better than it was. The photo above gives an idea, and hope to have another couple pics in the next day or so.

Why have I not been weaving the last one to two days? A bit of carpal tunnel came back to haunt me again, and I'm giving hands and wrists a bit of a rest. Of course moving all this isn't much of a rest, but it's not the repetitive motions in weaving and cranking either, and this way something needing to be done was still accomplished. Now, I need to find a cord for my lamp...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Playing at the Loom

Yesterday another towel was begun, this time adding some blue into the mix as I was really feeling the need for a bit of color. Red will likely come along next. Though this was threaded as a ten shaft twill, none of the towels have been planned out ahead of time. Each one is started with a different weft or an idea, then sit down and start to play. Other weaving I have done, and the socks in particular, are planned out to the row and stitch, so this has been a little much needed fun.

While I finish up this warp, I am now choosing colors for the next warp, probably along the lines of hunter green/cranberry (or wine)/copper/navy (or med.) blue/gold. The loom will likely be left set up for plain weave and ten shaft twill. Coordinating rug warp colors will also be pulled from my stash for a few rugs. While weaving towels and table runners, I'll be cutting and sewing weft strips (hunter/cranberry/navy/gold) from sheets I've been collecting. It will be nice to work with color again.

This weekend there will be some shifting around done in the weaving studio. I'm looking forward to things finally being settled in a workable layout. It's not a huge area, but is accessible, pleasant, has a fireplace, more windows/light, and in winter, close to the woodrange for adding wood to the fire. The only storage room is two large shelf units, but that helps keep me focused on present work. The laundry room is on the main floor and will become a sewing, cutting, pressing area before long, adding to convenience. This is working out well.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Towels and Beginnings of Opphampta Attachment

Today I was able to hem and finish two more towels, a straight draw twill, both warp and weft are cottolin, and a plain weave using a white cotton thick & thin weft. Both look nice tonight on an antique cupboard with the birdhouses, painted years ago by my mother, Ruth Helgestad.

Tonight son Noah was assembling the basic framework of the opphampta attachment. When I purchased it from another weaver, I knew it was for a 54" loom, and my loom is 48" but thought some of it would be generic to fit any Glimakra Standard loom, and the two main support pieces for the top could be made. In order to show a woodworker what I need, I wanted the top structure assembled as he will most likely not be familiar with looms. I know when I need something from the hardware store and I mention the word "loom," their eyes glaze over.

I want to go over my calculations for the drawcord warp again, as the example in "Damask and Opphampta" is for a 60" wide loom. Then I'll be able to finally get that drawcord warp made, in anticipation of the reeds arriving.

Meanwhile, I weave and crank, and continue looking for some spinning and felting time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Experiences With a Temple (So Far)

Still weaving away here in the northwoods, now working on a cottolin twill plaid towel. I had never used a Glimakra temple until this warp and, at the moment, have mixed feelings about them. They do keep the warp threads out the same distance as threads in the reed. I am still experiencing draw-in when the temple is removed, but it is nice not to be so concerned with draw-in as when weaving without a temple.

On the last towel, I believe I had readjusted the width of the temple and had it pulling the fabric just a bit wider than the threads in the reed, so have put it back where I had originally set it for this width of warp.

The sharp points on these temples do leave holes in the weaving, though most disappear as weaving continues.

On one towel I found the far right selvedge thread torn through, and on the last towel, a weft thread was torn through (above).

A little earlier today I set up the homemade temple as found on The Woolgatherers website. With the weight I had on it, the weaving width was not being kept out quite as far as the warp threads in the reed, but I am using cottolin, not wool. Wool would stretch and give more than the cottolin, and that could be what is making a difference. I will be looking at the homemade temple again, but partway through a towel is probably not the time to change.
I know there is much more to be learned about using a temple, and who knows, may reach the day when I wonder how I ever wove without one. Another learning experience,...

The two colors for the drawcord warp have arrived, and I'll be ordering the two reeds needed for the drawloom, having spoken with three or four sources. Meanwhile, additional long-eye heddles have been tied for the opphampta attachment, I am now up to 1,200, and soon will begin the pattern heddles.

Residents of the Northwoods continue to hope for spring, but we know there will likely be a few snowstorms ahead yet. Still, I am looking forward to setting my washtubs out on the lakeside porch and washing raw fleece, sitting out there and spinning, and having all the windows open while weaving. It will be so nice to hear birdsong again, watching for fawns, and keeping an eye out for the odd black bear. There is hope, I spotted two bald eagles sitting in a tree yesterday.