Friday, 13 January 2017

Cotton and Ward Loom

On the spinning wheel is more cotton.   All of it is naturally coloured, commercially prepared sliver.   I'm not sure how much sliver I have left, but I'm pretty sure that I'm spinning up the last bit of the sliver.  That means the rest of the cotton needs to be carded and rolled into punis before I can spin it.   This means I may take a bit of a break from the cotton, because I'm not sure I want to spend a lot of time carding right now.

The new loom is an overhead jack loom made by Ward.   It needed a little bit of work to get it up and running.  I was lucky in that a N.A. rep from Glimakra gave me the pertinent information I needed to understand how this loom worked, otherwise, I would have struggled for a bit before I figured it all out.  (Glimakra has pretty awesome looms!)

The Ward is a really sturdy loom but it uses texsolve heddles, although I have the bit of equipment for making string heddles, which were likely the original ones.  I'm not sure how I like the texsolve yet, but they are quiet, for sure.  There is absolutely nothing on this loom which makes noise.  It is super quiet. It is also made for people just a tad taller than I am.  I'm not sure how to deal with this yet.   I'm thinking maybe a rocking loom bench would help, mainly because I've found myself rocking forward on my current loom bench - tall loom, short legs - not really the best combination.

This is my test bit to see if I had my tension working.  This wove off so quickly and so nicely.  The yarn is wool from the rug company which went out of business.  It makes fairly soft blankets.   A gal at our guild suggested a sett of 8.   I found it a bit loose, so when I made blankets a couple of years ago, I used a sett of 9 and it was perfect.   However, I only have a 6 dent reed and for some reason, the sett chart I checked, gave me a threading for 8 epi, in the 9 epi column.  Instead, I went for 10, which in hindsight was too much.  It is a very sturdy sample.   

I've only sett up 4 of the 8 shafts right now.  I thought  it might be easier to get 4 up and running first and then just adjust the tension of the last 4 shafts to match.

I had the warp wound for the gamp project for the design class.   I wound it for the Fanny loom, which I dress from front to back.  Unfortunately the Ward has to be dress from back to front, which created no end of issues in dressing the loom.  Argh, if I could have afforded the extra string, I would have trashed the first warp and rewound it.  However, instead I just pushed through all the stupid stuff and got the thing on the loom.  There is a threading error, which I have checked and checked.   From what I can tell, it's actually threaded correctly and there are no crossed threads.  I've been totally stymied trying to figure it out.  Eventually I said to hell with it and started weaving.   I'm not thrilled enough with this project to spend anymore time crawling under the loom figuring out which thread is doing something stupid.  There is supposed to be a red band between each section, but I've misplaced or used up the last little bit of red, so I'm using the end of bobbins that I had  leftover from other projects. Unfortunately, the light brown doesn't have enough contrast to actually be very visible. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A busy start to the New Year

I've been spinning more cotton.  I've tried to do at least a few yards every day, although some days are definitely more productive than others.  The brown is the last bit of coloured cotton - I have some samples yet to spin, but this was the last 100 g bag.   It's boiled up and is more of that lovely soft brown.   I'm super happy with this yarn.  The white above it is a bit inconsistent in a few places, mainly due to lack of attention: hockey games, Dirk Gently, more hockey and the latest Star Trek movie, which was in my stocking.

This was the coveted present from my husband this year.  It's a vintage bobbin winder, which works like a dream!   It is fast and smooth.   I almost think it is faster than the borrowed drill I was using.  It escaped the water damage from the fallen tree thankfully.   I chose it - there was a new Leclerc bobbin winder there, but this one seemed faster and was definitely quieter. (Prettier too, but apparently that is no reason to purchase items like bobbin winders and cars)

New Year's Day had us out and about to pick up this.   I had to time it so that we'd be back in time for the World Junior's Hockey game.  It was tight, but we got home just as the game was about to start, so all was good.  
The rest of the week, I've been replacing worn out weird bits - like 18 yards of elastic tape and resetting the shafts because they were way too high and rushing off a test piece, so that I could adjust the tension.   Once I got it set up, the old gal turns out to have a fabulous shed.  The brake took a few minutes to get used but it holds an amazing tension for a jack loom.   I'm not sure about the texsolve heddles yet.  The move in weird and different ways than the metal heddles, but they work perfectly.  As well, they are so light that it takes no effort at all to treadle and quiet - I don't think I've heard a loom that quiet.   The test weaving was only 14 inches wide, so we'll have to see how a large piece does.   The next one though, will likely be the twill homework gamp, so I can get it done and out of the way.
Gratuitous picture of Kevin being cute -

Friday, 30 December 2016

This Old Table Loom

It's been no secret that I've been looking for a reasonably priced 8 shaft loom and a reasonable priced table loom.  I've whined to all my friends, asking them to keep an eye out for me.  I missed one, which was my own fault because I waited too long to decide.  But sometimes, fate steps in and Lady Luck deals you a good hand.

The day before yesterday, I got a phone call from a friend, who said she'd just picked up this donated table loom and did I want to house it.  It was currently in the back of her car.   Of course I said yes.  She dropped off this baby!  It is made by Metiers Clement Inc, out of Saint Justin, Que.  Interestingly, it seems like the company is still in business, although from what I could tell, they stopped selling looms in the 1980's.

It's big and it's heavy!  It has a weaving width of 24 inches and is solid wood.  It has 4 shafts, strong and secure levers for the brake release, front and back beams.   I played with a Dorothy once, which had a flying brake lever.  If you didn't move the brake lever in exactly the correct way, it flew off, across the room!  It is a jack loom.  It has sturdy metal lams and everything.  The levers to move these are under the loom.   It also has a sectional beam, like an honest to goodness real one, with a 1 inch spacing.  I've never tried sectional warping before and it almost seems like it might be overkill on a table loom, except for the sturdiness of this little loom.

The loom needs a bit of TLC as well.  For one thing, it's filthy.  I mean really, dirty.  It had a thick layer of dust and a layer of brownish grime, lots of build up of dirt and oil from handling the beater and spots of something brown and drippy, which I'm hoping was a benign substance.   The front apron needs to be replaced and all the lamms need the decades old greased cleaned off, and replaced.   However once that is done, it looks like it could be a fun little loom.     I did find a photo of one of these looms on a little table stand, with the shaft raising mechanisms attached to treadles.  
I've already spent a couple of hours cleaning the loom up, with at least a couple more to go.   Then I'll figure out how to dress the loom and give it a whirl.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Kevin Update

Especially for Christiana -

 I've been thinking that Kevin has been a well behaved boy these days.   Generally, he's got a routine, which he follows to the T.  He's not been naughty, or badly behaved for a while.  In fact, he's almost been boringly good.

But as I've discovered, it was all a sham.   He was just pretending to be a good kitty, and lulling us into some sort of peaceful oblivion, thinking that all was well.  
It's definitely a good thing he looks so cute, sweet, nope, interesting and funny while he sleeps!   Shortly after my heartfelt Christmas Eve post, I had abandoned the baking, finished up the last rug hem and was just putting a gift tag on the final gift.   All of a sudden I heard a resounding crash and a flash of fur dashed by my legs to find some hiding spot.  I ran toward the noise, (in the living room) to see the husband and son standing around a toppled Christmas Tree, surrounded by smashed ornaments.

I grabbed every towel in the house and as they uprighted the tree, I started mopping up about a gallon of water, trying to get as much as it as possible before it soaked into the carpet and gifts.   I was able to get most of the gifts out of the way in time, but a few got wet.  We salvaged everything but one gift bag, which held a couple of books.   So my Christmas Eve was ultimately spent, blow drying books (my own present from the husband), which had gotten a bit wet.  My sweetie had to screw the tree holder directly into the floor, in order to keep the now, bedraggled tree upright.

When we finally were able to sit down and figure out what happened, we realized that earlier that afternoon, when Kevin was sniffing the tree and a few low hanging baubles, he was actually preparing for mayhem.   It was he, who my son saw try to climb the tree a few minutes earlier, despite an admonishment and moving him out of the way, it was Kevin who raced by us all, after felling the tree with his adventures.

 A trip to the big box department store replaced a bunch of broken baubles at half price, but when I took down our now sad, rumpled  tree, I realized that most of the ornaments which had broken, were the old ones, baubles and bits from when my kids were young.   Thankfully, I never got around to putting the really vintage ornaments on the tree this year, or that would have been much more sad.   By the time I was able to get the camera out,  the guys had picked up and vacuumed up a rather large pile of broken bits and pieces.  These were all they had left out for me to document the cat-tastrophe.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Eve Greetings

I got some of the decorating done this year.   I made this wreath for the front door, using some dollar store bits and a length of fake fir tree garland, which has been in  a box for years and years.   I decided to give it a second life, rather than toss it.   I found an old metal hanger and wired the greenery to the hanger with little pieces of craft wire, and wire from a decorative trim.  It's held up to the winds, snows, rains, ice and now the thaws of this December.

I wanted to make a wooden box to use as a centrepiece, so I could fill it with seasonal decorations.  I wish I'd taken photos of the building progression.  Apparently you cannot just cut the wood, glue the sides together and bang in a few nails, in order to make a decorative and not very functional box.  Nope, I needed biscuit joints, routered inlayed bottom, lots of clamps and way more time than I'd allotted.  It finally got some decorative nails about 5 minutes ago, but it won't be sanded, stained or finished.  But it is a box that will withstand the ravages of time.  This thing might never fall apart. 

I've been baking goodies all day.  I still have a couple more things to make for tonight, spinach dip, a fruit laden gluten free cake, and the veggie, cheese, cracker trays for this evening.   I made the cranberry sauce with orange juice and remembered why I don't usually do it that way.. yuk.   Live and learn.   However the gluten free /dairy free nanimo bars came out spectacularly.  I guess sometimes it's a bit of a give and take.
The mittens and scarves are all bundled up and in a basket so the kids can chose what they want. I kept one of the scarves out for me.  I'd been eyeing it for a while.  The scarf I've been using is all handspun, nature dyed Shetland, but it's a bit scratchy, so the wool/silk scarf is so soft in comparison.  The rugs are all done too, although I didn't finish one of them.  I kept putting off binding the ends until I realized I was really out of time.   I guess if I forgo the last cake, I might get to it.    

I'd better go finish up.  Happy Christmas everyone.    May your holiday season be full of peace, joy and sunshine.   I hope the New Year is full of happiness and finished projects for you all.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Finishing more things up

 The white Pima cotton is plied.  I'm thrilled with this yarn.  It was fun to spin.   There are 284 yards in this skein, which weighs 44 g.    I'm finishing up the last of the lighter brown cotton right now.

 The last pair of guy mittens are done, just in time for Christmas.  These will be warm and functional, if not pretty or trendy.  I rather like these however.  They'll never show the dirt and if one gets lost, then it isn't like I spent hours on colour work or a fancy pattern

The last scarf is finally off the loom.   I had a bit of fun with this one.  Every once in a while I did a little inlay of varigated blue.  It kept the weaving a bit interesting.  The scarf before this is plain grey.

Friday, 16 December 2016

More Spinning

For some reason I had this great idea, to switch up my spinning and spin up this green ramie.  A couple of problems with that though - 1st, there is half a pound of it, which is a lot of roving to go through.  2nd- it's been bitterly cold out and that means our old cottage is much cooler inside.  I like to spin ramie wet, which means a little pot of water to dip my fingers into every few minutes.  It makes a lovely, smooth, glossy thread, but means in this weather, my fingers get chapped. 3rd - it is not my favourite fibre to spin.

So I've taken it off the wheel.  I'll wind this bit of spun thead onto a bobbin and set it aside for the spring or summer, when wet spinning will be easier on me.

I switched back to spinning cotton.  This is white Pima cotton, so a bit longer staple than the coloured sliver.  I'm surprised that this stuff hasn't spun itself  already, because it really is the easiest cotton I've spun to date.  I am sure that it just glides through my fingers, drafting itself into lovely yarn.   Even with being distracted at times, it just seems to want to spin nicely.

The last pair of Christmas mittens for the kids.   I still want to make or remake a pair for me.  I've tried on every pair of girl sized mittens I've made and they are all too big on me.  I believe that I am pretty much over making mittens for the season though.

As an aside, I've been itching to toss something in a dye pot, but have been holding back.  The new sink was supposed to be installed 2 weekends ago.  The sink cabinet needed some specific modifying because the sink is from Ikea, which meant a bunch of other small adjustments.  Then the weekend weather was icky, so we didn't get the wood for finishing the framing around the kitchen window, which needs to be done before the sink cupboard gets installed.   So, I've been hesitant to dye up the laundry tub, in case all my nice, new wash basins, need to be used for dishes. :(

Our guild offers a beginner weaving class, which is an introduction to not only weaving, but colour manipulation.  We use pre-warped 4 harness looms to make tea-towels.   This is our last class' pretty towels.   The next class is at the end of January.  This spring we'll be doing a follow up class, which will include winding a warp, and dressing a loom.   This class seems to attract fun and interesting people, who all make cool towels.