Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stash Crisis Averted!

A new "freeform" woven shibori scarf.

After a bit of time away from the loom, it's back to another "freeform" or "random" woven shibori scarf.  This is nearing the end of the warp in the previous post (advancing twill threading, freeform tie-up).  As I did not keep notes on treadling and number of rows of plain weave in scarf #4, this one will be somewhat similar but not identical.  Of course, the gathering, tying, and indigo dye all play parts in the outcome, too.

My new stash of 16/2 Bockens cotton!

Earlier this week I was starting to consider the next warp, whether to stay with this threading and tie-up, make it the same width or perhaps a couple inches wider, length of warp (probably 14 yards or so), or change to a new weave structure.  I looked and found I had 2.5 tubes of this cotton left.  I needed to order more thread right away, 2.5 tubes would not be enough to make another warp and weave it off. 

I called Glimakra USA to discover they were all out of 16/2 bleached.  Crisis!  I ordered 12 tubes of unbleached, then I sent an email to VavStuga inquiring if they had any 16/2 bleached on hand.  A reply told me they had 16 tubes of 16/2 bleached left, did I want them?  Yes!  Both packages are here now, and just for fun I did a little calculating,... if my math is correct, there are approximately 87,264 yards here!  That should be enough to keep me busy for awhile.  Oh yes, I also have several cones of bleached and unbleached 20/2 cotton waiting, too.

The next post should have another indigo dyed scarf, possibly a sample or two, depending on how much warp is left, and the new warp should be made and on the loom.  I'm also just starting on making wool socks again.  Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to, but after getting four or five orders, and a small autumn show coming up (and cold winter weather will be here before long), I decided to have some socks done, too, in addition to the

Meanwhile, the WI north woods wildlife continues to keep me entertained and busy.

Young porcupine in my yard.

The porcupine family continues to visit, and on this day it was the young one, now growing up.  Here she is peering at me between the back of the empty salt lick and a red pine.  (They are trying to chew their way through the wood.)  Such a sweet face!

Little porcupine's dangerous side!

As I was trying to take the photos, she kept her back to me, quills raised and gave a little jump and flick of the tail to keep me away.  It worked!

Eagle in tree, beaver trap on its foot tangled on a branch.

Yes, this is the same eagle as in the last post, a bit better photo (taken by someone on the scene, thank you!).  Traps can catch unintended victims.

Mark Naniot, Wild Instincts rehabber, eagle with head covered, and me.

As I wrote, the eagle came down, went into the lake, was caught by Mark, and in this photo, I am folding a wing (it was busy flapping and wanting to escape) so I can get around and hold it's legs while Mark removed the trap.  This is the only photo of me, in twelve years or so, during a rescue, as I'm usually alone.  Notice the welder's gloves, which only offer partial protection from beak and talons.  Update:  this eagle is alive, doing well so far, foot wrapped, but they are uncertain about whether or not the toe that was in the trap will need to be amputated. 

I think I may have written back in May or June about an eagle rescue, an eagle that did NOT want to be caught.  It had an injury, was starved, and had severe lead poisoning.  It also had a lot of attitude!  I am happy to report, he was released this past Wednesday afternoon, photos are below.  Happily, I was invited to be present for his release back into the wild!

Mark has transferred the eagle to the young woman doing the release.  He still looks grumpy!

Motion shot, at the beginning of "the toss,"  1-2-3-GO!

He made straight for an "eagle tree," dark pine in center.

Wouldn't you know, he made straight for a tree that already had an eagle pair, nest, and very possibly young.  You should have heard the squawking that went on for a long time!

Now, decisions to make on that next warp and calculations to do.  I have a smaller warping mill here to try out, on loan from a friend, and I need to return it to her.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Weaving and Eagle Evenings

Aug. 16, 2013, four scarves to indigo dye on a beautiful day.

Four new woven shibori scarves were woven this past week for a small five artist/artisan show.  Using 16/2 Swedish cotton, 30 epi, advancing twill threading, freeform tie-up, each scarf was treadled differently.  Friday was a beautiful mostly sunny day, warm and a bit humid.  I set up on a table on the lakeside porch, and opened the dyepots to see how they were after weeks of very little use.  The original vat looked great, green though there were blue specks.  The vat with the lightest shade did not look good at all, and the smaller vat with a medium shade looked hopeful. 

Four scarves, gathered and tied, soaking in water before dying.

I placed the four gathered and tied scarves in water and gave them time for the water to penetrate the folds.  Meanwhile, I got online to see what I would need to do to revive the vats.  Thiox was needed, so mixing a bit at a time, I added some to each.  Only the lightest vat didn't seem to change no matter how much I added or how long I waited. 

Left, scarves hanging on rack to begin drying; right, fabric test pieces.

 tried fabric in each vat, to check how well it would dye as well as shade.  The original vat worked well, not as dark a color as the first time, but that was fine as I didn't want that dark of a color.  Another vat gave a light shade by a bit uneven color, the medium vat was working better than the light.  Some fabric pieces were dipped a second time to give a bit darker shade.  Once I felt confident the dying would work, the scarves were dyed, a couple of them put in the dyebath a second time very briefly.  They were each rinsed in two large buckets of water, then left to dry on the porch, but because of the humidity weren't drying.  Needing them finished the next day, I moved the rack to an upstairs bedroom, turned a box fan on and closed the door. 

Beginning to remove pattern threads from the lightest color scarf.

Needing the scarves for Saturday, I started removing pattern threads as soon as they were partly dry.  I began with the lightest scarf, leaving the others to continue drying.  Removing the threads involves clipping the knots along one edge, sometimes a challenge when tightly knotted as you do not want to clip a warp or weft thread in the process.  My fear was having used 16/2 cotton, I might either cut a thread with scissors, or break a thread when pulling the pattern threads from the other side.  By the time I got to the last scarf, I discovered the threads pull out easier when dry (or nearly dry). 

On one scarf, I had mistakenly used a shuttle with seine twine which I had used on previous cottolin scarves.  For the next three I used a beige rug warp which though strong, was also a bit more difficult to tie tightly and hold a tight knot.  After clipping all the knots on one edge, I  turned the scarf around and began smoothing out the gathers to my left while holding the pattern thread with my right hand, approximately half the gathers, then go back to the top and start pulling the threads out, gently. 

First, a crinkly look.

After the pattern threads are removed, the fabric is crinkly, really quite a nice effect, but they still needed pressing a couple of times, and twisting of fringe.

Were the first two rinses out on the porch enough?  NO!  There is indigo inside those folds that does not rinse out until the pieces are able to be opened.  So, downstairs to a sink where they were washed with mild soap, then rinsed repeatedly until the water was clear.  Then back up the drying rack and box fan to dry them again, prior to finishing.  They were pressed while still a bit damp, allowed to dry more, fringes twisted, and a final pressing.

New scarves on Saturday, three of the four new scarves went to new homes!

I'm very pleased with the new finer threads scarves.  Did I mention this is very time-consuming?  For me, they are well worth it, and just need to take that into account in the future.

My favorite of the four!

Indigo dyed a medium+ shade, this was my favorite, and is one-of-a-kind since I treadled it randomly, and used random numbers of rows of tabby between the pattern rows, anywhere from 6-14 rows (tabby).  It was also the first scarf sold on Saturday.

It was a beautiful and fun day, I had a great time chatting with people, and was quite tired at the end of the day.  Deciding it was best to go home and rest, that is what I did, for about an hour, and then the phone rang,...

It was Wild Instincts, could I go out on an eagle rescue?  No one else was available and I was closer than the rehabber.  The eagle's foot was in a beaver trap and it was on the ground under a tree.  If I couldn't open the trap, just put the eagle with trap into my container and get it to the facility.  I agreed to go, moved the table from the back of my car and put my eagle bin and supply bag back in, and called to get specific directions.

I was given the specific location, and told someone would meet me at the gate.  However, the eagle was now 35+ feet in the air, the chain on the trap caught on a tree branch and the eagle hanging upside down.  Now, I'll do a lot to try to catch an eagle or other critter, but climbing trees is not something I'm willing to do.  I immediately called the rehabber and said he would have to come and that I was on my way.  This is what I saw when I arrived...

Bald eagle, hanging upside down, trap on its foot caught in a tree branch.

There were three or four men there, one up on a 24' ladder trimming branches away so they could get a rope over and around the branch so it could be cut and the eagle lowered.  A fire chief also arrived to help provide advice and equipment.  The sun was setting and we were losing light.  The eagle was alert and watching, but also flapping whenever a branch was cut and dropping.  I said please don't just drop the eagle because if it can fly, it will try to get away and with the trap still on will get tangled somewhere else and die because no one will know where it is. 

A bit blurry, but you can see he trap on its left leg, and chain going up that is tangled on a branch.

Mark arrived, provided another a small saw to use (instead of the long pruner).  I don't know if the branch broke or or if it was cut and the rope didn't hold it, but suddenly the eagle was dropping to the ground and it immediately headed for the lake which was a few feet away down a slope.  Mark Naniot was instantly down the slope and into the water with sheet and heavy gloves and came up with the eagle in his arms, its head covered.  I followed him to the road and heard "where's Jan?"  "I'm coming," as I pulled on my heavy gloves on so I could hold the eagles legs while Mark opened the trap.  He then took its legs, turned it over and placed it in the eagle bin, while I slowly slid the cover on so it couldn't try to escape again.

I called this morning, Mark said the eagle is alive, though maggots were in the wound and they'll know in a week or two if the toe that was caught in the trap will need to be amputated.  There were also lacerations on the wings from flapping against the tree branches, but none were serious.  Praying now the eagle will survive and be able to be released back into the wild.

Wild Instincts is a wildlife rehab facility about 4.5 miles outside of Rhinelander, WI.  Mark Naniot is a licensed wildlife rehabber, and he and his wife own and run the facility, with the assistance from late spring to fall by a number of interns who are learning and gaining experience with this work.  They have quite a number of transport drivers (willing to transport critters already contained), and rescue drivers, like myself, who will not only transport, but sometimes need to catch the wildlife before transporting.  I think this was the third evening this summer I was sent out for an eagle.

Wild Instincts has a high success rate and is a blessing to the WI Northwoods.  Check out their website,; their blog,; and their Facebook page, they often post photos and video.  They are supported entirely by memberships and donations.

Today I gave myself a day to rest, some computer time, time to read, a nap, lots of rest.  Tomorrow, I need to call and order more 16/2 Swedish cotton warp, there is a warp to finish weaving off, and it's time to begin making socks again, and an evening guild meeting.  And you never know when the phone will ring, you look at it and see the words "Wild Instincts!"  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scarves are Coming!

Swedish cotton warp.

I started a new warp yesterday, 16/2 Swedish cotton, 30 epi, 3 threads per dent in a 10 dent reed, and weaving not quite 30 ppi.  The threading is an advancing twill on 8 shafts, with a "freeform" tie-up.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the results after dyeing.  This is a new group of woven shibori scarves I hope to have done and at a sale this coming Saturday. 

Scarf #1.

Scarf #1 was treadled the same as the threading,... 1-2-3-4-5; 2-3-4-5-6; 3-4-5-6-7; 4-5-6-7-8, and so on.  To help me keep track I put a little tie thread on after each two groups, and had a notecard I was checking them off on.  I leave small loops on each side to make it easy to hold onto for gathering and tying.  Those threads are then trimmed to approxi-mately 1.5" before dyeing.  As I was taking this scarf off the loom, I immediately noticed what a fine hand and drape the cotton has.

Gathered, tied, ready for the indigo dyepot.

I like to start in the center, pulling on a couple loops at a time to begin the gathering, working my way to the end, then the other half.  Then I go back and start clipping a few loops at a time, gather again, and tie a tight square knot.  When one side is done, I repeat the process on the other side, making sure the gathers are as tight as I can get them, then knotted.  With this warp, I'm having to be careful because of the finer warp threads.  (During an edit, Blogger has added spaces between lines that it will not let me remove.)

When I started weaving I wasn't thinking about the harshness of seine twine on the fine warp so as you can see, that is what I used on this first scarf.  No threads broken yet, and it is ready to be soaked, water squeezed out, and immersion into the dyepot.  Now the question is, will I be able to remove those pattern threads without breaking any of the warp threads,... we will see.

Scarf #2.

I was thinking about the issue of what to use for the pattern threads this morning, needing something strong, that won't break during the gathering/knotting, but not abrasive on the warp threads.  Recalling reading rug warp as an option, also suggested to me by tapestry weaver Janet Austin, I found a bag with partial tubes of rug warp, filled a bobbin, and started weaving Scarf #2.  The treadling on this one is simpler, 1-3-5-7; 2-4-6-8.  Repeat.  I'm again adding my little counting thread on the side and have a notecard in the basket hanging on my loom bench.  And I never walk away without completing a repeat.

The warp was somewhere around 10-12 yards or so, so I'd better get back to my loom, finish this scarf, and hopefully get another scarf half woven yet tonight.  Later, I'll do the gather-tie work on Scarf #2, preferring that to leaving them to do all at once.

I plan to be dipping these into indigo dyepots Wednesday afternoon followed by a lot of rinsing, washing, more rinsing and hanging to dry.  Then fringes need to be twisted.

It's a busy week, having been procrastinating, but I'm enjoying it all immensely.  The WI Northwoods has been having early autumn weather since late July.  It is cool, sunny, a few clouds here and there, breezy, and with windows open, really perfect weaving weather!

Check back this weekend to see how the scarves turn out!