Friday, April 23, 2010

First Rag Rug

Here it is, my first real rag rug completed and on the floor! Looking at it now, I like the warp stripes and colors, as well as the weft colors. It lays quite flat, selvedges are nicely even, and only a tiny bit of "smile."

It seems to meet the tests of a good rag rug ~~ you can't put your fingers through anywhere, and when rolled up and stood on the floor it stands. Another "test" I read in the book "Finnish American Rag Rugs" is hold the rolled up rug in your hand, palm up, at shoulder level, the rug should not droop, and happily, it doesn't.

The rug passed another test here, too, right after taking these photos, I walked over to the computer to download them, turned around, and there was a cat already laying on the rug. No, I'm not ready for a 50 pound Keeshond and five cats to enjoy this rug just yet, so yes, I picked it back up off the floor.

Another view of my first rag rug.

Details: 8/4 cotton rug warp, sett 12 epi. Good tension when weaving, beat hard, change sheds, beat hard again, and I used a temple. Weft strips are sheets purchased at thrift stores, cut into 1 1/2" strips and the strips were sewn together. When winding the ski shuttles, I wound the weft on folded in half and when placing the weft into the shed, made sure it was still folded.

Hems at each end are cutton rug warp, two threads per shed using a double-bobbin shuttle. I started by weaving an inch or so of string, then 3 1/2" hem, and reverse at the other end. I cut the rug from the loom, machine sewed each end 3" from the first "rag" row, rotary cut just outside the machine sewn line, then pin and sew the hem. The finished rug measures 28" wide, 55" long.

The warp has been tied on again. I'll use some of the same strips/colors so they are ready to use, but I'll need another three or four colors so must get those cut into strips and ends sewn which shouldn't take long. The second rug shouldn't take as long now that I've gotten a bit of experience.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Fleece Washing

Spring came very early to the WI Northwoods, and on April 2nd, a beautiful 75+ degree day, I decided it was perfect weather to get part of a fleece washed that I'd purchased a year or two before. Thankfully, it was still in good shape having been well-packed for shipping.

This particular fleece came from Andy McMurray, Humble Hills Farm. It has beautiful locks, nice crimp, and is probably Romney, a breed I particularly like to spin.

As we live in the WI Northwoods and have a well and septic system, I am careful about what goes down the drains. I know of people who wash their fleece in their washer and spin the water out, but last year I bought a new front-loading washer so soaking the fleece that way is no longer possible. Plus, I hesitate the put that much lanolin/grease down the pipes and into the septic tank.

My method of washing fleece is to fill old "de-commissioned" canners (no longer used for processing food) with hot water and soap, and use other canners for rinse water, rising twice. The washed fleece is then laid out on a couple drying racks that rest on sawhorses.

This time I had only washed enough fleece for one rack. Since it was so windy for a couple days, I set the second rack over the top to keep the fleece from blowing away, something the area critters love.

Beautiful fleece drying on racks on the lakeside porch. I'm looking forward to hand-carding this fleece. Though hand-carding takes longer than drum-carding, I feel the results are better, and worth the extra time.

Since this was only a portion of this fleece and the weather is supposed to warm up over the coming weekend, I'll be washing the next batch.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Missing Bits

You know how pairs of socks go into the wash and come out as singles? Socks go missing, never to be seen again? I occasionally have the same problem with little bits of things disappearing in my studio. A couple years ago, the top wood knob on my Glimakra swift disappeared. I turned that room inside out and never did find it.

This time it was the thread guide on my Lendrum double-treadle folding spinning wheel, mysteriously gone. I'd arrived at the gallery a few days ago, wheel in tow, sat down to spin, and something just wasn't working right. Now I have to tell you, I've done almost no spinning on this wheel in a couple years, and my other wheel has the usual hooks for thread guides. I was busy with kids and moms coming in to see the children's art exhibit so wouldn't have been able to spin much anyway.

Back at home, it finally dawned on me, the thread guide was missing. I didn't find it in the car or driveway, perhaps it fell off in the parking lot? What to do?

I looked online, you can buy various flyers and carrying bags for this wheel, but no one listed a thread guide. Aha! I bought the wheel at a WI Spin-In four years ago from Susan's Fiber Shop in Columbus, WI. I called and yes, she had ONE left which arrived a couple days later. I'm all set now, have wheel (and thread guide), can spin!

Oh, if anyone has seen my large pair of everyday scissors, the ones with the orange handles, will you let me know?