Lots of learning going on

Warning – long post. Read at your own risk. 😉

Apparently lot has happened in the last week. As soon as I got that black & white shawl warp on the Macomber and saw that there was a loom problem, I dyed a tencel warp for a run of 3 scarves. I wanted the blue-violet and periwinkle I’d used before, so pulled out my formulas and set to work. The colors going on the tencel looked just as they should…that is, just like I thought they had last time. But as the dyes batched, soaked, rinsed, and dried, my brain was confused. Where was the blue violet? And where the periwinkle?

hand painted purple and blue tencel warp

That is red-violet and turquoise/teal. So I went back to my sample that I’d dyed using this formula. Yep, they were the same colors as what I had here. While those colors are very nice, there is no blue-violet and no periwinkle. Perhaps those were the colors I was going for when I created the formula, but they’re not the colors I got. Yet I never re-named my notes or my samples. DOH! Still I think the warp is beautiful, so it’s all okay.

While I was waiting for the Macomber parts to be ordered and shipped, as planned I got a towel warp on the counterbalance loom. I opted for a red-based bumberet. In the must-use-stash mode, I chose color combos outside my general comfort zone. Here it is on the loom, with the first towel I wove, using a red weft.

bumberet reds towel on loom

That was too much bright red for me. I used a white weft next and really liked the way it muted the colors, so wove 2 towels of that. Then I wanted to use that peach/coral color that was also prevalent, but didn’t have enough left for even one towel, so matched it the best I could. Next I used one of the dark blues in the towel, then a cranberry. Here’s the batch of them.

6 towels off the loom

Interestingly, now I like the red. Not as well as the lighter colored wefts, but definitely better than the darker colored ones. The cranberry one is too short to be a towel – not enough warp on the loom – so I’ll hang onto that for generic kitchen use.

In between weaving the towels I also finished weaving the warp that I’d put on my rigid heddle loom for demonstrations at the July show. Since I generally weave with relatively fine yarns, I have a challenge finding yarns in my stash that work well on the rigid heddle loom. So this time I thought I’d try a thick-ish variegated sock yarn in the knitting stash.

Looked nice, but O.M.G., what a pain to weave! The yarn was loosely spun, and the movement of the heddle kept abrading it. After a few broken warp threads I got wise and used the heddle only to raise and lower the warp threads, packing the weft in with a weaving sword that I’d fashioned a few years ago out of a paint stick.
Fancy, eh? But it was with me at the show, and it worked. Not a great demonstration of what the loom could really do, but this was another live and learn situation.

First I used an orange rayon chenille weft for a long scarf.

handwoven wool & rayon scarf

Then a red rayon chenille weft for a cowl.

handwoven wool & rayon cowl

Moving on…you know that saying that no good deed goes unpunished? This next segment is like that. I suggested an ice-dying activity for a winter evening meeting for my Guild. Would I teach it? Um…sure. However, since I’d never actually done it, I’d need to practice and work out some kinks.

First I dyed two little Tshirts for my youngest grandson. This was a test of whether it was better to use the dyes in powder form or after they’d been mixed with liquid. I was hoping the liquid would be just as effective, since I didn’t want to have to deal with the powders with a group of people, as they’d all have to wear masks.

Here are the Ts after I’d sprinkled on the dyes. Red & orange were sprinkled on dry, blue & green after mixing with liquid.

ice dyeing Tshirts, step 1

The next morning, after the ice had all melted, they looked like this.

ice dyed Ts after melting

After that I rinsed till clear, then washed and dried with other laundry and a color catcher. The reds are quite nice, I think.

red iced-dyed Tshirt

The blues & greens, not so much.

blues & greens ice-dyed Tshirt

Ok, so we’ll use powered dyes. (Or maybe I mixed them with a bit too much liquid…that’s for the next experiment.)

Then I realized that I’d planned on using little silk scarves I’d purchased for this process. But uh oh, silk needs to be steamed for the colors to set. No way will everyone who takes home a scarf covered with ice and dye at the end of an evening meeting have a dye-dedicated steamer at home. So next up was a test to see if other heating methods worked as well. Three little scarves are under this ice and dye.

ice dyeing silk scarves

After the ice melted, I steamed one and let the other two dry on the line in the basement. Then I tossed one in my dryer for about 20 minutes, and pressed the other with my iron set on silk. After that I rinsed all three scarves – it didn’t appear that any color ran at all.
An apparently successful experiment. Here are all 3 scarves after pressing.

3 ice-dyed silk scarves

Personally, I prefer the top one, with the most variation in color, but that’s a function of how it was in the container when I put the dye on, nothing to do with the method used to set the color.

Next experiment, which I’ll be doing with a few friends, is to try koolaid and other food dyes, and also to use both some cottons and some silks. That won’t happen till September, so the learning will continue. Glad the evening meeting isn’t until winter!

Holding pattern

Life is funny. Things unfold as they are supposed to, if only you can relax and let it be. Being rather obsessive-compulsive, I have to remind myself of that – less now than when I was younger, but still…

I got that black & white shawl warp planned, measured, hand painted, cured, dried, beamed, and threaded. Then I started weaving. Hmm. I wasn’t as happy with the weave structure on the loom as I was when it was in my weaving software.

“Just go with it,” the little voice in my head said. Repeatedly. Despite the fact that I was having problems with some of the threads on the left side of the warp. “Just go with it.” Go back to the computer and play a bit more with different treadlings, different tie ups. Decide to use them after shawl #1. Add some tension on the left side of the loom. Weave now.

Hmm. That additional tension didn’t make a whit of difference. Better do some sleuthing to find the cause of the problem.

O.M.G! Look at this!

worn out Macomber jack

The hole in that heavy brass jack is supposed to be small and round, not long and jagged! Definitely not reaching almost through to the bottom of the brass!!

Contact the local Loom Magician immediately. (Seriously, that’s what he calls himself, and that’s what he is. A remarkably skilled man who’s been fixing all kinds of looms for many years.) Does Charlie have a jack in stock, or do I need to order from Macomber?

Well, not only does Charlie not have one in stock, he’s never seen this happen before in all his years of repairs! Plus he’s leaving town for a time (not sure how long) so can’t help me till he returns. I carefully examine all 16 jacks, and see that I better order 3…wow!

So while I’m working on reaching Macomber to order, and then for Charlie to return to town, I’ve decided to cut out the 10 or so inches I’ve already woven. Even if the repairs can be made with the warp on, I can’t believe that my tension will be right after all this mess. I may or may not decide to re-thread the loom while I’m at it.

But all the while this loom will be most definitely out of commission. I’ll work on my little counterbalance. Which calls to me for towels. But while I’m deciding specifically what towels to weave, I planned, measured, and hand painted a tencel warp for scarves in blue-violet and periwinkle. At least that’s what colors I hope they’ll be after they’ve dried. I used the formulas I used for that silk recently, and we saw how that turned out. But they’re also the formulas I’d successfully used on tencel a few months ago. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

Hanging the roses

roses hung in the window

I have the transparency done and hung. It’s not perfect, and I would make different decisions if I were going to do it again, but I’m happy with it. I debated about making it monochrome or using several colors, and honestly, I don’t know which I would have preferred. I may make another transparency at some point in the future, but not right now.

To both remind me and potentially help others, I used 16/2 linen for warp, sett at 10EPI, and doubled 8/4 cotton (rug warp) for the inlays.

I made it to hang in the front section of the bay window in my kitchen, where there’s no crossbar to interrupt it, but I don’t have the right rod to hang it with. I’ll pick one up soon.

Elephant jokes

elephant cartoon

When I was a kid, elephant jokes got very popular for a time. In case that wasn’t happening when & where you were, here are a few I remember.

Q. What’s red & white on the outside and gray & white on the inside?
A. A can of Campbell’s Cream of Elephant soup.

Q. How can you tell if an elephant has been in your refrigerator?
A. You’ll see his footprints in the cheesecake.

Not good, huh?

Again, maybe just where I grew up, but the elephant jokes transitioned into nun jokes.

Q. What’s black & white & gray?
A. Sister Mary Elephant.

That’s the nicest one I can remember.

So why am I posting about bad elephant and nun jokes? Because of my dyeing, specifically my black and white and gray dyeing.

It took some days longer than I’d anticipated to get my warp bouts wound for the shawl, and then more days to find the time and energy to dye them.

yellow blotches on tencel

I was quite surprised when I took them out of the ‘scour’ bath (soda ash and Dawn) to find these odd yellow blotches on the yarn. Fortunately it washed/rinsed out.

Then I laid them on my table in the basement and set about dyeing. Oops! Had to stop mid-stream and run to the store since I ran out of saran wrap, darn it!

Got it finished, remembered to wind tiny bouts of both natural silk and 10/2 gray cotton to see (a) how the dye would take on the silk and (b) if I might like the gray & black as an alternative to white & black. Interestingly, the silk and cotton both took the color the same
as the tencel. Hmmmm. Not what I expected.

Did my usual steaming of the wrapped yarn, then soaked it all for 12 hours in a 5-gallon bucket of water.

Took it out of that bucket, only to see that there was a LOT of red on the yarn where the dye ‘broke.’ I have no problem with the dye breaking on this, and in fact got some comments from customers that they like the color variation, but this was most definitely too much red. So I rinsed quite a bit, then put it into 3 large dishpans with a little bit of Dawn to soak for another 12 hours.

After that second 12 hours and plenty more rinsing, the red is virtually gone. Thankfully. But when I was hanging it to dry, I couldn’t help but think of those old elephant and nun jokes.

black & white tencel hanging to dry

Sharing my food

I decided not to plant those luscious little Sugar Cube cantaloupes again this year, since last year squirrels or chipmunks munched into them before they were fully ripe for me to pick.

So I put in a few tomatoes (which have really suffered with our lack of rain), a few sweet peppers, some lettuce, beans, Brussels sprouts, English cucumbers, and English peas. This year, for the first time ever, someone (I’m thinking squirrel or chipmunk vs. bird, and the chewed bits are way too high for bunny) has decided that they need the peas more than I do.

critter chewed peas on the vine

I’m okay with sharing my homegrown yummies with the local wildlife, but not when they get the lion’s share and I get very little. So I guess I won’t put in peas next year. Sigh.

Or maybe it’s just that they’ve all discovered that my yard is full of goodies and they’ll eat whatever I plant. Interestingly, my lettuce is left alone, as are my beans. Someone, however (and I’m thinking bunny on this one) is eating the tasty tops of my lovely garden mallow, so I won’t get many flowers from them this year. That’s okay with me. Munch away, little friend. I don’t eat the flowers so you’re welcome to them.