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More Not-Weaving

I have been busy. Here’s what I’ve been up to, in chronological order.

Almost 2 years ago I paid someone to strip wallpaper and paint my kitchen. He did a great job. You can see the before and after pics here. I really like the light green on the top portion of the wall, but that blue on the bottom? When I walked into the room partially painted I was taken aback. I made him show me the paint chip I’d chosen and the paint we ended up with to make sure they matched. I figured I’d get used to it.

But 2 years later? Nope. That blue is still way too blue. I thought there was probably enough of the mint green in the can to paint over the blue and make the walls all one color. Now that there was no pressure to produce weaving, it was time to get to this.

So first I had to move everything – furniture and appliances – into the center of the room.

kitchen mess-prepared for painting

You know how that job you’ve been putting off can often make you wonder what took you so long when you jump in and do it? This wasn’t like that. 🙁 The opposite. Maneuvering around everything, scooting along the floor, getting up and down a lot, this took longer than I’d anticipated. But at the end of the day everything was back where it belonged and the job was done.

kitchen walls all light green

I’m much happier. Although now my sort-of-chartreuse table doesn’t look good at all with the green walls. I’m thinking I might paint the table that blue as an accent. But I don’t know if I’ll like that, either. Actually the blue of my chambray shirt looks pretty good with the walls, doesn’t it? Whatever color paint I choose for the table, it’ll have to be clear-coated after painting to stand up to daily use. This isn’t something I’m going to do immediately.

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Since I was on a roll I decided to move into the living room. The house had mini blinds on all the windows when I got here. Although I didn’t remove them in the kitchen, I put up those cafe curtains I’d woven so never use the mini blinds. I replaced the blinds in my bedroom with cellular shades and hung the curtains I’d woven in there, too.

But five years later the ones in the living room remained. It was time to do something about that. I decided to make some Roman shades. I gave some thought to what color and pattern I might want, and tempered by my kitchen experience decided I’d best not go with my usual too-bright/too-busy thought. Go with something neutral. Although I’d intended to buy drapery fabric, Joann was having a huge sale on their outdoor fabric as it’s the end of the season, so I bought that at 70% off and went to town.

Hmmm. That’s not right. In reality I struggled through following the online directions to turn my mini blinds into Roman shades. The first window probably took me 4 hours. I was DONE for the day at the end of that. The next day I spent probably 5 hours to make the other two shades.

Roman shade raised

Roman shade lowered

I’m reasonably happy with them. The two side windows, 27″ wide, raise and lower fairly smoothly. The front window, 35″ wide, raises well, but I have to play with it a bunch to get it to lower. I believe it’s a matter of weight. All those vinyl slats that I removed weighed a LOT more than the fabric does, and I think the mechanism needed that weight to work smoothly. I’ve considered trying to figure out how to add some weight to the bottom of the shade, but haven’t done anything about it.

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As always, I have socks on my needles. It’s what I do in the evening while I’m vegging out in front of the TV. A friend gave me a very lovely gift of a kit that contained undyed sock yarn and the dyes to make them colorful. I finished knitting them a few days ago. All ready for the cooler temps. I opted for a simple lace pattern and like the way that worked up and how it looks. (Sorry for the blurriness.)

hand painted hand knit lace socks

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I found an interesting new pattern for face masks. It’s called a 3D mask, and the design does hold it away from your mouth, making it more comfortable. The pattern and directions are free from See Kate Sew. I made myself one in Adult Medium and tested it out at the grocery store. The top part had a real tendency to ride up under my eyes, so that wouldn’t do. I picked up several small pieces of fabric and made myself another in Adult Small. Much better.

I admit I had to laugh when I saw the photo. I like Laurel Burch’s designs, but hadn’t considered that the part of the fabric that I’d chosen would make it look like I had 4 eyes. Or 6 if you count my glasses. 😀

3D mask, front view

3D mask, side view

Here’s what it looks like flat.

3D mask, flat

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In between all of that I did manage to get the remaining needed fabric woven for my tunic. So that’s up next. Or maybe I’ll paint the bathroom next. And there’s all the fall garden cleanup to do. I am never at a loss for projects. 🙂

New stuff

I finished that warp of 9 towels in the random Fibonacci stripe pattern. Used 6 different wefts and treadled just 2 different twills. Four of them – not sure which ones yet – will go to our Guild’s towel exchange.

Fibonacci towels on the line

Don’t they make a lovely fall flower?

Fibonacci towels flower arrangement

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My son has totally inspired me this year. He’s been canning like mad. Even bought himself a used pressure canner so he’ll be able to can venison this year. :-O So I decided to make and can a big batch of ciambotta – an Italian veggie stew sort of thing.

Although the veggies are certainly changeable, in my family there are a few must-haves. Of course, every good Italian recipe starts with sauteing onions & garlic. The only other essential ingredients are fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans. Now is absolutely the season for farm-fresh of those 3 items. I picked up extra of them at the farmer’s market and got busy. I added chopped celery and sweet red peppers to the saute, then tossed in a bunch of tomatoes – red and yellow – and the green beans. Chopped up and tossed in fresh parsley and basil from the garden and some salt & pepper. Last in was the zucchini because I didn’t want it to turn into mush.

ciambotta in pot

I covered the pot, stirred often, and brought it up to a point when it was all at a slow boil. Then right into the waiting canner. And voila! 5-1/2 quarts of ciambotta.

ciambotta in jars

I hope I processed it for long enough. With the tomato base I processed as if I was canning tomatoes, so 45 minutes. I’ve never done this before, so hope it turns out well. And doesn’t poison me.

When I’m ready for a fresh-tasting soup that reminds me of summer, I’ll boil up some pasta separately. Then I’ll add either pasta water or a bit of broth to the heating ciambotta.

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After making the sunrise/sunset top with my handwoven I decided it was time to go further, to make myself some more clothes. So using a combination of a commercial pattern and some photos I found online of other handwoven items, I got out my newsprint and an old sheet saved just for this purpose and set to work.
sheet tunic from the front

I had to draft that sleeve 3 times and it’s still not perfect – my notches and center top absolutely do not match – but I can set in the sleeve just fine. I’ll make the real thing a little bit shorter, but am quite pleased with myself for getting this far on my own. Of course, I didn’t finish any of the edges or sleeves on this mock up.

sheet tunic from the side

I have 2 pieces of yardage I wove some time ago that I wanted to use. Of course neither is enough to make the garment. I could use one to make a sleeveless version, but with the cold weather almost upon us, that doesn’t make sense to me. I can possibly recreate the warp and weft of the other fabric and plan for that to be the next thing on my loom. I’m excited.

This & that

I have been doing a variety of things lately. Some fiber-related, some not. Let’s start with the not.

A woman who lives a few blocks away has 2 pear trees in her backyard. This was a great year for the pears and she posted on a neighborhood connection that anyone who wanted could go to her yard and pick pears. I did this 2 years ago and the pears were great, so I walked over there with my basket.

basket of pears

I put them in a brown paper bag and waited for them to ripen. Meanwhile I bought an 8-quart basket of local peaches. Of course both were ripening at about the same time. 🙂 I made a batch of spiced pear jam, which turned out super yummy. I also tried a new recipe – honey vanilla peach butter. It tastes fine but I wouldn’t make it again – LOTS of standing in the kitchen and stirring. After this picture I also made a batch of peach jam that didn’t gel properly, but is great for baking cobblers and such.

homemade pear jam and peach butter

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I live on a corner – a fact that serves me well. I have a chain link fence in my backyard – a fact that also serves me well but neither looks attractive nor offers any privacy. In the 5 years that I’ve lived here I’ve tried a few different things to improve the look and function of the fence, but all have been major fails and didn’t last more than a few days at best.

chain link fence & plants

This year I had yet another idea to try. I put out an ask on my local BuyNothing group, seeking old lace curtain panels. I was quickly gifted with 3 panels. I got out my seam ripper to remove the casings and hems, then sewed casings along the sides. 7/16″ dowels in the top casing provided the rigidity I needed. A few ties of carpet warp at top and bottom of each panel, a quick zip of hand work up the seams between panels, and this is the new look.

fence with lace panels

It works and looks about as well as I envisioned, which is all I could ask for. I’ll leave it up for the next several weeks and take it down before winter. Then I’ll decide if I’ll put it back up next spring.

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A friend and I have organized a towel exchange for our Guild, both as a hopefully fun activity and to promote community while we remain physically distanced. I knew I would put on a warp of towels for this exchange.

Sort of simultaneously I was taking an online class from one of our Guild’s teachers on incorporating Fibonacci or other number series into weaving. As I’d not successfully done this in the past, I knew that I wanted to do this for the towel exchange towels. I also knew that I was going to use yarn I already had — no purchases for this project.

Although I usually use 8/2 for my towels, my stash of unmercerized 8/2 cotton was getting quite low, but I had a bunch of 10/2 I could use for warp. (Note the cone on the right isn’t the accurate color – it’s leans much more toward brown than is shown. The on-loom image below is reasonably accurate for color.)

turquoise and maroon cotton on cones

So I spent way too many hours planning a stripe sequence, eventually choosing a random Fibonacci stripe pattern. (The teacher had told us that the eye likes Fibonacci even when it’s applied randomly.) My towels have approximately equal amounts of the turquoise and the brownish-red yarn, with 3 ends of pale gray separating the stripes.

I threaded the loom in alternating point twill, knowing that there were a variety of tie up and treadlings that I’d used previously and liked. So I set off weaving.

Fibonacci striped towels on the loom

I finished the weaving yesterday but pressing and hemming remain before I can take beauty shots or show you all of them – as usual for me, all a bit different.

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Warning: If you don’t have a Macomber loom, this section may not make sense or have any interest for you.

I do love my Macomber loom. But I don’t love the tie ups. I have both the older super hook style of hook and the newer smaller hooks. Both have issues for me. The super hooks tend to either grab onto the next lamm while I’m weaving or be almost impossible to remove when I want to change the tie up. The smaller hooks tend to pop off while I’m weaving.

So when a fellow Guild member told me that she had Texsolv tie ups made for her 12H Macomber, I was all ears! She kindly showed me a photo of her loom and gave me a sample of the tie up. I exchanged emails with our local Loom Magician (that’s what he calls himself) who had made her ties to find out if he used the regular or heavy duty Texsolv cord (regular), placed my order, and set myself up.

Macomber with Texsolv tie ups

It’s a bit of a different process to do the tie up, and at this point is a bit slower for me than my old process, but I’m betting that will change as I go forward. I’ve now used the Texsolv tie ups for 2 different 9 yard warps and LOVE IT! Not a single problem. No worries about things popping off or grabbing the neighboring lamm while I weave. YAY!

Sunrise Sunset complete

I finished all 3 pieces on my handpainted Sunrise-Sunset warp. I’m happy with all three. Remember, this is an oddly-sized 8/3 mercerized cotton warp. There’s a bit of 5/2 cotton in between the handpainted stripes – red, yellow, red.

I’d originally sett the warp at 16EPI, but after weave a few inches and thinking about my recent experience with the silk, I unwove and resleyed to 18 EPI. First up I used a dusty rose 8/2 tencel weft, in plain weave.

sunrise sunset shawl with dusty rose weft-on mannequin

The weft toned the warp down – in a good way.

sunrise sunset shawl with rose laid flat

Even though the cotton is semi-thick for this sett, with the tencel it retains some drape.

sunrise sunset shawl with rose in a round

I auditioned various wefts…16/2 navy cotton, 8/2 lavender tencel, 10/2 sienna cotton, and others I don’t even remember. But decided I wanted to emphasize the orange, so went with 2 strands of fine mercerized cotton. I had a red-orange in 16/2 and a medium orange in 20/2. I wound them on the bobbin together and set off weaving. This time I chose a 3/1 twill to enhance the drape of the fabric.

sunrise sunset shawl with orange on mannequin

Again, remembering my recent experience with the silk, I decided to stick with the same treadling throughout the length, no alternating faces on this. So here you can see how one side punches up the purples and blues, while the other really focuses on the oranges and reds.

sunrise sunset shawl with orange laid flat

The twill did, indeed, enhance the drape of this piece.

sunrise sunset shawl wrapped around

Now, I had originally planned on making a long vest with the third piece, but that was before I had to omit a bunch of planned warp. So plan #2 was a mobius wrap. For this one I wanted to punch up the red, so I used 1 strand of 16/2 red mercerized cotton and 1 strand of that 20/2 red-orange. I wove this one in plain weave as well, but felt like I wasn’t getting decent consistency in the fabric, so beat it a bit harder than the first piece.

I hoped I had enough length to get a bag or pillow out of it, too. But when I still had at least 20″ of apparently weave-able warp length left things started getting really wonky. I’m not generally of a mind to fiddle endlessly with the end of my warp, even if I really like it as I do this one, so I cut it off.

After wet finishing I pinned the fabric into a mobi, but found that it didn’t have the kind of drape I thought such a piece needed, so once again I went back to the planning board. I ultimately decided to make it into a top – for me! I got out an old thrift-store sheet I’d purchased just for the purpose of making a pattern and got to work drafting something with straight pieces, using images I’d seen online as my plan. I can’t tell you how many times I put on and took off both the pattern and the real fabric. MANY.

It took a fair amount of pattern tweaking to get it reasonably right. Since my fabric is only 16″ wide and about 76″ long at that point I had to play around quite a bit, but finally finished the top this morning.

sunrise sunset top front

sunrise sunset top side

I’m happy with the result, although I do wish I hadn’t beat the weft quite so hard. But hey, there’s always next time, right?

Lots of color going on

I finished the three silk shawls I’d woven with the two different hand painted warps. First up, here’s the group of three, before wet finishing, just so you can see the overall differences. Reminder – the warp is all 20/2 silk.

3 handwoven shawls made with paint 2 silk warps

I wove them in the bottom-up order of the photo. So first is a navy 60/2 silk, woven in tabby. Here’s a beauty shot from the front.

handwoven silk shawl, paint 2 warps, navy weft-front

And from the back, so you can get a better sense of its weightlessness.

handwoven silk shawl, paint 2 warps, navy weft, back

Then I used a sage green tramm silk. Tramm is a very loosely spun yarn, often used for embroidery, and is very fine. I used 3 strands at once to approximate a 60/2 silk grist.

handwoven silk shawl, paint 2, sage weft, front

If the navy was weightless, I can’t think of a good word for this one. SOOO soft and lovely.

handwoven silk shawl, paint 2, sage weft, back

Unfortunately, that very loveliness is a drawback. I sett this yarn at 24 ends per inch, which I have done with this yarn with much success in the past. And since tabby is usually sett more loosely than twill, if anything I was concerned that the fabric would be a bit stiffer than I wanted. Well. This tramm silk is so fine that the finished cloth is not as stable as it needs to be. Here’s an example of what happens with an errant push of a finger.

example of finger push in sage silk shawl

The threads shift. Easily. Far too easily. So I won’t be selling this shawl.

Last up, I used 20/2 silk in a twilight blue, using a turned twill tie up and treadling. I followed the same ‘pattern’ as the threading. So for example if my threading pattern was 40A, 24B, 8A, 12B…that’s how I treadled, too. While I like the ‘randomness,’ this piece is way too busy for me.

handwoven silk shawl, paint 2, twilight weft, twill

Usually as I am weaving my brain is working on what comes next. But this time I just didn’t know. I thought I needed a bit of a break from towels, but what would I weave? No answer came, so I let that just be for a few days. Since it takes time to twist all that fringe on those shawls, and a lot more than usual as I beaded the fringe on the 2 tabby-weave pieces, I had plenty of time to think-while-not-thinking.

And my brain told me I needed to do another paint 2 warps piece. It kept saying Sunrise/Sunset. So I went through my stash, picked some mercerized cotton (since I can’t use that for towels), and measured out warp lengths.

(Side note: this wasn’t without problems. I didn’t have enough of the oddly-sized 8/3 cotton I wanted to use so planned to mix it with some 5/2 as they were a similar grist. But as I was measuring out the 5/2 I said, ‘nope.’ The yarn smelled funky. Why did I continue measuring out the whole thing before I made this decision? Who knows, but I did, even though I’ve not been successful at getting rid of that smell in the past. But since the warp was measured and chained, I decided what the heck, nothing to lose. So I washed it with very hot water, Dawn dish soap and a bit of white vinegar, then draped it over my fence. For a few days. And a few rains. When I re-chained it and brought it in I can’t detect a smell. But I put it in a bag by itself. If there’s still no smell in a few days or weeks, I’ll use it. Oh yeah…as it turns out, good thing I couldn’t use it right away as it’s actually 3/2, not 5/2, so is quite a bit heavier than my 8/3. Sometimes life works out as it is supposed to.)

Although without any additional yarn the piece would be narrower than I’d planned, but I couldn’t find any other yarn in my stash that I wanted to use with it, so I went down to the basement and dyed the 2 warps I made. Here’s what I ended up with.

hand painted cotton yarn, sunrise-sunset

Kind of shouts at you, eh? While I was a bit apprehensive that it would all be too bright, I fell totally in love while I was beaming these warps. I hope the weaving turns out well.

beaming sunrise sunset warp

Unrelated, I picked my first pink brandywine tomato. Isn’t she a beauty?

pink brandywine tomato

I made my first-of-the-season tomato salad. SO YUMMY!!

tomato salad