Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Change of Pace

Yesterday, I took the day off,... no weaving, no cranking, a fair amount of sleep as I was still quite tired from the weekend. Last night, with no toes to close, I picked up knitting needles and handspun yarn, and decided to knit a cushion cover. With only a 1 1/2" sketch as a guide, it was entirely freeform designing, albeit very simple. I just wondered if I could do it and come up with something even remotely acceptable.

The yarn is a thick 'n thin slubby handspun I spun perhaps a couple years ago, shades of gray with small areas going from cream to dark brown. The skeins range from light grey, to medium, and a couple a bit darker. I had originally planned to knit mittens, the kind where you knit pieces of fleece in for additional warmth. But, the idea for a cushion top would not be pushed away. I'm using the medium tones, and plan to combine the light and dark in another cushion, although I expect the difference to be rather subtle. I have about 2" or so left to knit later this evening, and need to think about the back. Another freeform knitting design? Or just plain stockinette? We'll see.

The reed I requested Sunday evening arrived in the mail today, and I'll be opening it up in just a bit and getting the new 15 dent reed sleyed and the warp tied on. Then upstairs to finish knitting the pillow top. Oh yes, there will be a 3 pair sock wash yet this evening, too. Must get them drying on the wood rack. How quickly they will dry I don't know, as it is only 60 degrees here (outside) at the moment with breeze and rain showers. Where is our July weather?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Art Tour Postscript

The Summer Northwoods Art Tour is over, and I am resting today and making notes of ideas for the Fall Tour. I've also been thinking back to so many wonderful conversations I had with visitors to my weaving studio.

There were people who had never seen looms or a Swedish drawloom before, and no one had ever seen a sock machine until they day they visited here. Three weavers, visiting at different times, came to visit the studio and had questions about their looms and were looking for advice. One woman who stopped by does bobbin lace, tatting, and conducts orchestras at Broadway plays in NYC! It was great visiting with each of them, and I'm already looking forward to the fall tour.

The first thing visitors notice when walking through the door is the unique log home we live in, built by Joe Hovel. Stripped tree trunks hold the upstairs, upstairs; branches support shelves, and everything, EVERYTHING is wood, all ceilings, walls, and floors. Many also noticed the rosemaled plates in my studio, that I painted close to 25 years ago.

I had basically left everything where it usually is, countermarche loom in front of the window, now set up for weaving rag rugs. When I finish this post, I'll be back working on that first rug. Luke, 12 years old, gave this loom a try and put in three or four rows of sheeting strip. He has borrowed two of my Harrisville frame (lap) looms to give weaving a try this summer.

When I make socks, I always set up between the two looms, as in the photo above, so lights can be plugged in nearby, and a loom bench is handy for cones of yarns. Everyone enjoyed seeing and hearing about the looms, and were fascinated with the sock machine. Several sock knitters (who knit with circular or DPN) went out the door muttering, "I have to get one of those sock machines."

The drawloom was almost ready to weave on, but I could only find 8 and 10 dent reeds that were not being used on other looms, so rather than re-sley and tie on again, I decided to leave the loom as is and order a 15 dent reed. Sara von Tresckow of Woolgatherers wrote last night the reed was packaged, addressed and ready to go this AM, I should have it Wednesday.

The Gallinger rug loom was placed in a corner, and the shelving unit full of sock yarns was pulled out to brighten things up with some color. The main purpose of this bit of rearranging was to give people more room to walk and move around in, and it worked well.

On Friday, all but two pairs of socks sold, and Saturday AM those last two went out the door. Four towels were purchased, too. Now I know to have a lot more socks made and ready, and I'll have more weaving on hand, too, in the fall.

"Art on Main" in Three Lakes, Aug. 9th is next, then "Art in the Yard" in Land O' Lakes, Sept. 19th, then the Fall Northwoods Art Tour, Oct. 2-4. These plus the gallery and online shop will keep me busy for awhile. Approximately 35+ of my brochures were taken by visitors, business cards, too, so there may be a few phone or email orders coming in. I don't have an exact count, but would estimate I had 65+ people here over the three days, which I'm told is very good for my first year on the tour.

In three days or so my weaving studio will again have "business" weaving as well as "personal" weaving (drawloom), both where I can learn, explore, try new ideas and techniques, and always do the best work I can. I'm looking forward to new adventures in weaving.

Keesha came home this morning and seems a bit tired from three days being boarded out. Keesha, like Kylie, came to us through a Keeshond rescue group when the family who owned her had a two year old daughter who was allergic and they had to find a new home for her. We are so happy she is now here with us. Happy, friendly, and a great watch dog, she barks a warning when anyone comes comes into the driveway or walks into our home. Today, Keesha occasionally gets up, walks around and whimpers, perhaps worried and wondering where Kylie is. There is no way to help her understand what happened, only love her even more.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Goodbye Kylie

Nearly five years ago, we took in a dog someone had thrown away along a highway in western WI. Part Husky, part Shepherd, she came to us via a rescue group, and we named her Kylie. The vet figured she was 7-9 years old, and had a bad leg (ACL). Not long after coming to us, racing around the yard, she tore her other rear ACL and had surgery and had been fine since. She had a great mother instinct, taking good care of kittens we took in, licking them, cuddling up with them.

Older now, she had gotten very deaf, only hear very loud sharp noises, and recently had developed the canine version of dementia. She still knew us, her family, but wandered around, standing in corners, getting tangled up under looms constantly, either restless or sleeping. She was getting meds for both her bad leg and the dementia. About a month ago, she was let out at night, wandered from the yard and was out overnight, lost in the dark. We found her at 7:30 AM the next morning, caught in some dead lower pine tree branches, unable to get out, not far from our home on the county land next to us.

I had boarded both dogs at our local vet's office for the weekend, because of people/cars coming and going for the Art Tour, and keeping everyone safe. My daughter Sarah, who works at the vet's office, called at 10 AM to tell me Kylie couldn't get to her feet, couldn't stand when helped up, and wasn't eating, and Dr. wanted to know if it was okay to put her down. It's the second day of the art tour and I need to be here all day, so I'm feeling very sad. I have known this day was coming for some time now, but feel very bad I'll never see her again, can't go in to give her a hug, tell her goodbye, and how happy we were to have her with us these past five years. She was a real sweetheart. I'm so sorry I have to do this Kylie, Goodbye, we love you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Northwoods Art Tour, Day 1

Today was my first Art Tour day, lots of fun, great conversations with visitors, and good questions about what I do. One woman, though, said it all,... "This woman has thousands of dollars worth of looms, and we're all fascinated by the sock machine!" Totally True!

I had about 20+ people here throughout the day, more than I expected, given this is my first year, and sales were better than I hoped they would be, so feeling good about both. A number of pairs of socks sold, along with four towels. Tonight, I'm wishing I had had a lot more socks done to sell, but I wanted so badly to get the drawloom going that I gave that priority.

For myself, a good part of my reason for doing the art tour was to provide an opportunity for people to see the looms, spinning wheels, and sock machine, and ask questions/get answers. Sales of my work are just a happy bonus.

I did get three socks cranked today while demonstrating and talking with people, along with demonstrating weaving and explaining the drawloom. There would have been a fourth sock, but one of the yarns caught, snagged and broke while finishing up the toe, darn!

I have Art on Main coming up on Aug. 9th, Art in the Yard on Sept. 19th, and the fall art tour Oct. 2-4, so sock-cranking will be a high priority in the coming weeks. With the coming cold winter weather coming, there will probably be even more interest in wool socks.

Today, between visitors, I started my first rag rug. The stripe warp has been sitting on the CM loom patiently waiting, so I'm now looking forward to my first rag rugs. The drawloom is nearly ready to go, the reed is half sleyed, though I'm considering waiting and ordering a 15 dent reed on Monday which would be here probably by Thursday.

The lighting isn't great on this, given this is a dim log home/studio, with an Ott floor lamp for light. These rugs will certainly go faster than some of the weaving I've done lately, at least the weaving part, not forgetting there is weft prep, too. I do like the effect of the "ticking" stripe in the sheeting as it is woven in, with thin random green stripes coming to the surface.

So, I'm looking forward to Days 2 & 3 of the Art Tour and meeting more people with an interest in, or curiosity about fibers, looms, and sock machines.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Drawloom Progress Continues

While working on the drawloom, two days ago the lamms were added, as were the treadles, and all Texsolv cords, and 8 shaft satin tie-up was done, and...

the heavy counterweights were hung which help the ground shafts go back in place.

Last night, I finished threading the ground shafts (long-eye heddles), with Noah feeding me the threads from the maillons. It goes much faster with someone helping!

So this is where I am right now, about to lash the tie-on rod to the apron, and then sley the reed. After that, I'll start tieing on groups of threads, hoping to get that job done yet tonight. Tweaking will likely wait until morning.

The countermarche is ready to weave on, the spinning wheel is ready as is the sock machine. Weaving and socks will be set out in the morning. The brochure racks are filled, for the Art Tour, Artistree, Pigeon Road Pottery, Circle of Life Studio, Arty Fridays, and of course, Shuttle Works Studio, including a new sock brochure created today in my "spare time." Now, back to more cleaning, then the drawloom!

Northwoods Art Tour Begins Tomorrow

The Northwoods Art Tour begins tomorrow and lasts three days, Friday thru Sunday, July 24-26, 9 AM to 5 PM. I am looking forward to visiting with people on the tour and sharing my love of fiber arts, and demo'ing weaving, spinning, and sock cranking.

Although my studio/home is not hard to find, we are 1 1/4 miles off the highway. Art Tour banners will help people find their way, and today we added something new, a wood sign made in town by Doug Scheffen of Chisler Sign Carvers, River Run Gallery, in Eagle River, WI. It's set up at the top of the driveway, and will be up from now on, mid-May thru mid-October.

Time to get a warp tied on, take care of some more cleaning, and pull a few weeds. What do they always say?... when you've been putting off cleaning, invite some people over? Well, I did!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Drawcords Tied to Pattern Heddles

Today, the drawcord warp ends, those needed for this warp, were tied to the pattern heddles. You may recall the (overhead) drawcord warp was made the weaving width of the loom, and those cords not needed for this weaving will be pulled up and out of the way.

In front of the weaver, there is a wood bar with several "hooks." This is to hook individual or groups of drawcord warps which are pulled, according to the charted design, raising those groups of threads up above the rest of the warp, weaving proceeds, then they are released and lowered again. I'm looking forward to showing these things with actual weaving, but for now, trying to give a simple explanation with words of what you are seeing in the photos.

I also cut Texsolv cord in the two lengths needed for the treadles, in this case, 16 cords (8 long and 8 short) and singed the ends to make them easier to pass through holes in the lamms and treadles. Unlike a regular countermarche loom, the drawloom will have only two ties on each treadle, one to raise, one to lower, the other shafts stay in a neutral position.

This evening, I ran into Fiona and son Luke at a store tonight. She had looked at this blog again today and said she now has a whole new appreciation for handwoven textiles, and the preparation needed to make them. They are coming to the studio Friday morning, on the art tour and I am looking forward to their visit.

I was hoping to get more done tonight, but I'm going to get a good night's rest so I can start early and do a lot more on the drawloom tomorrow. In the morning, we're putting the center cords back down through the shafts, adding the lamms and treadles, and tieing up the treadles for the 8 shaft satin weave. Then I'll thread the ground shafts (long-eye heddles). I'm getting a step or two closer every day.

Pattern Heddles are Done!

It is 3 AM, early Monday morning, and I just finished threading the pattern heddles on the drawloom, refusing to go to bed until they were done.

Today, after I get a few hours of sleep, I need to tie the drawcord warp ends to the tops of the pattern heddles, add the lamms and treadles (and Texsolv cords), tie up the treadles, and hopefully thread the ground shafts in an 8 shaft satin, or at least get started. The counterweights also need to be added to the loom. After all that is done, it will be time to tweak things to make sure warp is running where it is supposed to, and get a decent shed. I expect all this will take the better part of two days or more, depending on interruptions.

I have so much weaving and sock cranking to be done, and need balance back in my life, but I can't seem to stop working on this drawloom.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Threading Pattern Heddles

This is how the threading process appears from inside the drawloom. I sit on a chair just in back of the ground shafts, and thread pattern heddles in order off the lease sticks. I'm working from the center out to the left, then will go back and work from center to the right. The pattern heddles are on four wood rods, and when threaded are arranged in a straight twill, 1-2-3-4.

Tonight, I decided to thread all 8 threads of each unit into each maillon instead of splitting them into half units, at least for now. I can always re-thread later if I want. It is rather slow going. My goal is to have all the pattern heddles threaded by tomorrow night so I can begin threading the ground shafts which have the long-eye heddles on them.

The chair shown in the photo is how I climb into the back of the loom, not an easy task at the moment, with lease sticks, two warp sticks supporting them, etc. in the way.

Above is a close-up of the threaded maillons, 8 threads in each.

Doesn't this warp look like a think of beauty? Just hoping it weaves as good as it looks now! .

Friday, July 17, 2009

Drawloom ~ Beaming the Warp

In my previous post I wrote about making a fine warp on a warping mill. Yesterday, the warp was beamed. It took four hours or more because of an unexpected "problem," but after receiving some advice from other drawloom weavers, it was resolved and things went fairly smoothly.

Details: The warp was 20/2 mercerized cotton, 64 ends per inch, 16" wide, and 18 yards long for a total of 1,024 threads, and 18,432 yards. The warp was made on a warping mill, and made in 4" sections of 256 threads each. I warp back to front.

I should explain, the reason you will see five warp chains in this photo is one day I started making a section, with not enough time to finish. With cats who love nothing better than to play in yarn/thread (or chew through it), I couldn't leave it on the mill, so finished two inches, tied it all off, and removed it, which meant making another two inch section another day. The two on the right are equivalent to the others.

The warp was placed on the back wood rod, each one inch section put in its place in the raddle and held down with rubber bands. Beveled lease sticks were placed into the cross and the ends of the lease sticks tied to each other to prevent one (or both) from ever dropping out and losing the cross. On the CM loom I sometimes use the lease stick holders, but on this particular drawloom there is no upper structure over the long back extension to tie them to. When removing choke ties, for example, and no tension was on the warp, two longer warp sticks from the wider CM loom were used as supports under the lease sticks, then removed when tension was again on the warp and we were ready to continue winding on.

When everything was prepared, with my son holding and applying tension on the warp bouts, I started to turn the warp beam but the warp would not move, would not flow over and under the lease sticks! I've had an occasional sticky warp before, but never like this. When I learned to make a warp, long ago, I was told "you do not handle or mess with the threads!" I could see no other choice.

So off to the computer to email the Double Harness Study Group and ask if anyone had experienced this and did they have any suggestions. Sara von Tresckow wrote saying this happens with fine warps, but it would loosen up and improve as more warp was wound on, and to try wiggling the lease sticks (which I had tried). To start, this would have to be done in small increments.

There was nothing left to do but take each inch section and pull up and push down to move the cross one to two inches, across the width of the warp, do it again and again, then wind on, and repeat, which we did, and let the lease sticks do their job of evening out tension. Kati Reeder Meek suggesting rocking the lease sticks up on edge to help separate threads, which also helped at times. Later, wiggling the lease sticks back and forth at an angle (like a flattened X) was finally allowing the cross to move, and I could move the cross forward about 18" at a time.

The two photos above, taken early on in the beaming process, show this lovely, fine, 20/2 cotton warp, purchased not long ago from drawloom weaver Nastche Milan. In just a bit, I'll start threading the maillons on the pattern heddles, so more photos in a day or two. When that is done, the drawcord warp ends will be tied to the pattern heddles, then thread the ground shaft heddles will be threaded, then the reed. Also to be done, at appropriate times will be add more parts to the loom, the lamms, treadles, and counterweights, and tieing up the treadles. Then, we'll see what other adjustments are needed for this to work/weave and give an acceptable (though narrower) shed.

Damask shuttles are low-profile due to the narrower shed on drawlooms. The two shuttles on the left were recently purchased from Catherine in Brooklyn (Hi!), and the three on the right were purchased from Sara von Tresckow (Woolgatherers Ltd) at the WI Sheep & Wool Festivals. I'm looking forward to stopping at her booth again this year. Meanwhile, the damask shuttles are waiting.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Warping Behind Schedule

I started this warping process with a fine 20/2 cotton thread about three days ago. Things were going well and I made the first of the two warps which will only be about 5" wide, sett is 36 epi. Two nights ago I decided it will be beamed onto the Glimakra table loom.

Above, is one-fourth of the drawloom warp, counting thread on, and just before adding cross and choke ties. I'm making it in four 4" sections, 64 epi, and 18 yards in length. The overall width will be 16" for a total of 1,024 threads, placed on the warping mill one thread at a time. I've already decided I'll be experimenting with making these warps perhaps 4 threads at a time using a fixed warping paddle.

This mill is 3 yards around, so to make the warp in two sections, I would have had to shorten the length of the warp. Since my drawloom has the long extension on it, and I did not want to re-warp and re-thread right away, I decided 18 yards would be good. Trying to squeeze more threads onto the mill would, in my opinion, be risking tangling of threads or worse.

So, why am I not done? I've been distracted! A couple weeks ago I'd started to set up an online shop on 1000 Markets, and submitted it for approval on July 4th. Three days later an email arrived requesting I retake photos of the towels in natural light. So I spent two days taking photos of both the towels and socks (might as well do them over, too), somewhere over 100 photos. After deleting most of the pictures and keeping those I thought were okay, I resubmitted for approval again a couple days ago.

Last night, around 10:45 PM, an email arrived saying my shop was Live! Now, I'm busy learning my way around 1000 Markets, reading in the Forums, browsing through Markets to determine where I might fit, and so on. Today I requested being part of two markets, and heard back from one almost immediately. I still need to set that up, and perhaps post a first blog entry there, hopefully tomorrow.

So in-between all this online time, I have been working on my fine warps. Half the drawloom warp is done, and I'll be back at the warping mill again tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to threading, though I'm thinking when that is done I'll definitely need new glasses.

It's cool again tonight, around 50 degrees out, but the Whippoorwill has been singing away since just after dark. He sings me to sleep every night, just under my bedroom window.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fine Warps, in Progress

A full day at home today gave me time to work on these fine warps. Though both are being made with 20/2 cotton, I'm starting with the 36 epi warp, 5" or so wide and only 4-5 yards long.

Here is perhaps the first inch of warp on the warping mill. Time to add my counting thread.

I have rug weaving friends who marvel at my weaving towels with 22/2 cottolin. The cottolin feels downright coarse compared to this cone of 20/2 cotton.

Running the cotton through my fingers, it's almost like there is nothing there. This is my introduction to finer threads, and this isn't as fine as some of the linen and silk samples I've seen, not to mention a couple samples I've seen that have sewing thread for warp and weft.

Here are a few of the colors of 20/2 cotton I have available for weft. I'm really looking forward to this weaving, following the treadling variations given in the book, and then seeing what I can come up with.

Now, back to my warping mill.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fine Warps

There are two looms in the studio, warped, and two needing warps, it's time to take care of this situation. Last night, I chose a weave structure from the Davidson book, yes, a "recipe," as I'm in the mood to weave up something a bit smaller. I decided on sachets so wanted a pattern that could be varied with both treadling and color to give some variety. The back sides of the sachets will also be handwoven, most likely in plain weave. Inside will be small muslin "pillows" of dried lavender flowers.

I chose "Caroline Halvorsen's No. 30" on p. 44, liking the stripe design which I think will give a bit of a contemporary feel to them. I'll be doing three repeats, using 20/2 cotton, 36 epi for this twill, so finished sachets will measure approximately 3 3/4" square. This warp will be going on a 22" Harrisville (direct tie-up) loom.

After my last misadventure with a certain warping board, which shall go unnamed here, these warps will be made on a warping mill. This warp will be a total of 168 ends on four shafts, and I'm thinking I'd better count heddles before I start.

The second warp is for the drawloom, 20/2 cotton, 60 epi, 4 ends/dent in a 15 dent reed (I'll need to order ASAP), or 5 ends/dent in a 12 dent reed. The warp will be 16" wide for a total of 960 threads.

The weave structure for the drawloom will be 8 shaft satin, the warp will be threaded in straight draw 1-8 on the ground shafts, and pattern heddles will be threaded as half units, meaning each will be threaded with 4 threads, instead of 8, giving greater patterning flexibility.

Photos will be coming as I get further along. At the moment, I am paging through three large notebooks of past newsletters of both the Damask and Double Harness Study Groups of Complex Weavers, checking through some drafts/records to make sure I'm thinking this through correctly. Research.

I was going to start this tonight, but have decided to wait for daylight. I'll bring the cone holder down, place a cone of 20/2 cotton on it, set the Ott floor lamp next to the warping mill , and start winding. I think "Last Chance Harvey" will be on, a good movie, and something to listen to while I pay attention to my crosses.

Earlier today, I went down the road and sat on a neighbor's pier to enjoy a beautfiful, sunny afternoon in the northwoods. While sitting there, quietly, paging through the WI Sheep & Wool Festival book that arrived in the mail, I was able to quietly observe two mama ducks with their babies, three Mergansers, one loon, and several painted turtles, sunning themselves on a log my neighbor has anchored offshore for just that purpose. There was also a hawk flying over the lake, smaller birds trying to chase it away, and while that was going on, one mama duck herded her ducklings under the next pier over, and just up out of the water, out of sight. It was so enjoyable, being able to observe all these quiet daily activities of my wildlife neighbors.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"...It starts in the studio."

"If you don't believe in what you are doing, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you? It starts in the studio." ~Sue Smith, OR

In the studio,.. an idea comes, but how to create it? What raw materials and tools are needed? Colors? Which techniques are needed? There is research to be done. What if's... Then, will anyone like it? Does it matter? This is what I need to do.