Lots of work, little weaving

The forecast was for lots of rain from Wednesday evening to Friday morning, so I wanted to get the lion’s share of gardening done in advance. I didn’t take many photos, but here are a few.

Half of my front garden. Weeding done, annuals planted, mulch laid.

front garden

And the side garden. You can’t see much, but the same work was done all the way down the line…weeding, annuals, mulching. I think about 60 feet of it.
side garden

I also did the same work on about 30 feet of bed behind and next to the house.

I also improved the bed for and subsequently planted tomatoes with their companion marigolds and Carmen sweet peppers. Before the planting, Jack thought the mulch was the best thing ever. I must say I’ve never seen him do anything like this before…his back feet were pretty much straight up, and he was motionless for well over a minute.

Jack in the mulch

I re-worked the RALA logo and tried it out. The design is better still, but I didn’t pull the weaving nearly tight enough. It’s too wide, especially on the right half of the logo. I’m going to try again, and see how long it takes to complete one logo.

RALA logo version 4

Today, in addition to groceries, pet food store, and other errands, I’m continuing to work on re-labeling all my previously woven work and labeling the new work. I’ve spent at least 3 hours already, and probably that much more to go. The good news is that this is a good opportunity for me to see just what I have in my inventory for the show season.

Rigid inkle pickup

I need to do some demonstrations at 2 shows this summer. I always use my rigid heddle loom and weave functional scarves. In typical Peg fashion, I decided that this year I wanted to shake things up a bit. Ergo that attempt with the triangle loom. So I figured I’d try some inkle-type pickup weaving using my rigid heddle loom. I thought I’d do some lettering. So I warped the loom and set about trying.

Here’s attempt #1. In the garbage can where it belongs.

RH inkle pickup 1

And my 2nd try. Much better but not yet acceptable.

RH inkle pickup #2

This is where my OCD/stubbornness/persistence kicks in. Attempt #3, while not perfect, is much better.

RH inkle pickup #3

It’s good enough for me to know that it isn’t what I want to do for the demos. So I go through the Anne Dixon Inkle Pattern Book looking for some other inspiration. And I got it. I wound more warp and set up the loom again.

My first attempt was a short celtic knot. It was ok, but too wide. And would take far too long for a one-hour demo, which is the time I had at the RALA show. Before trying that again I tried another design – a heart. Easier to see it taking shape before your eyes.

RH inkle monk's belt 1

Unlike the lettering, this type of pickup looks cool on the back, too.

RH inkle monk's belt back

I’m happy enough. But wouldn’t it be great to do the RALA logo? (Look up my header and you’ll see it.) So I graphed it out and tried it. 1st attempt needed work. Re-worked the design and tried again.

RH inkle RALA attempts 1&2

Second attempt not perfect, but much better. With a little tweaking, and plenty of practice, this is what I’ll do.

TerraNOTTA woven

I’ve been weaving like mad, but getting everything fringed, wet finished, and photographed takes time. So you’ll see one warp of scarves per post.

beaming terraNOTTA warp

First up is that TerraNOTTA warp. That’s the tencel that I hand painted in colors that were decidedly NOT what I wanted, and decided to overdye in blue. I thought it made sense to weave that warp off before I did the others, figuring that if I couldn’t make it work for me I’d have more time to dye and/or weave other things. Since I’d dyed it in two separate bouts, I decided to offset and lighten the warp with a gold rayon. Although I had dreaded the beaming, afraid that I’d have a real mess of knots, it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected as long as I took my time.

The colors in the warp reminded me of a peacock, so I decided to use a threading that has served me well several times before and that was reminiscent of leaves or feathers. Then I decided to weave the first scarf with a peacock blue weft to accentuate those thoughts even more. Wow, was it bright. Brighter than I would have liked.

terraNOTTA cowl flat

I ran out of the blue weft so ended up making it a long cowl, which was fine with me. Fortunately once the cowl was wrapped around the neck a few times it seemed toned down.

terraNOTTA cowl wrapped

Then I auditioned a few more possible wefts. From the bottom they are yellow, burgundy, periwinkle, silver, pink, and pale blue.

auditioning terraNOTTA wefts

I went with the pale blue, which was a 16/2 cotton, for the next weft. On one side of the scarf that pale blue really predominates. And I was surprised at how different the scarf felt with the cotton weft. Although it drapes well enough, it sure doesn’t have the hand of a tencel or rayon weft.

terraNOTTA pale leaves, tied

That pale blue made the scarf so light that I opted for black weft for the third scarf, and changed the treadling from leaves to a more geometric pattern.

terraNOTTA dark weft, flat

It was a real challenge photographing all three of these scarves. Being on Dolly didn’t do any of them any favors.

terraNOTTA light leaves, draped

terraNOTTA dark scarf, draped

I got these 3 scarves up in my Etsy shop on Monday morning. Everything takes so much time……

How nice was that?!

gifted iris

On Tuesday I was mowing my front lawn when a woman with infant twins came by in a stroller. She hurried past me so as to not interrupt my row, a nicety that was unnecessary. Then my daughter stopped by with her baby in a stroller, so I stopped mowing for a while.

When they left I returned to my mowing, and only then saw a baby bottle in the unmown part of the lawn. It was most assuredly not the type my daughter uses, so I figured it had to be from the woman with the twins. But I had no idea who she was to return it. So I set the bottle up on my steps so that it could be easily seen by someone walking or even driving by.

When I went to walk Jack that evening I noticed that the bottle was gone. Good, I thought, she came back and got it.

A few minutes ago I was sitting here in front of the computer when my doorbell rang. I was amazed when I answered it and there was the woman with the twins, holding a bouquet of iris. For me! As a thank you for ‘saving’ the baby bottle!

How incredibly nice, and how unnecessary. I will have to remember this kindness, and offer a simple unexpected thank you to someone.

Kindness. It’s what we can all offer, in our own fashion.

Do it again…or not

I didn’t take any process shots of the transparency weaving, but I can talk about it a bit. A woven transparency is a fabric that has a very loosely woven linen background with a patterned inlay. That inlay can be done with color in a very representational style, such as this from handweaver.us:

transparency butterfly

Or a more abstract design that’s almost white on white. (I’d credit the weaver if I knew who it was.)

abstract transparency

I knew I wanted to make a graphic, stylized rose, so I found something online that I thought might work, printed it, and brought it to the workshop with me.

rose design for transparency

Mary McMahon, the teacher, assured me I could do this. This was a 2-day workshop, and at the end of day 1 I was sure that either I couldn’t do it, or it would take untold hours that I didn’t have.

Sometime overnight I realized that my thinking wasn’t right. Much of my difficulty came from the restrictions inherent in the loom – I was using my rigid heddle loom. This led to 3 problems:

–I could not beat the linen firmly enough. The goal is to have the openings be little squares, but mine were rectangles. I had to just accept this fact, and realize that it was just a sample, and the purpose of the class was to learn the process, not to complete something.

–I had to use thicker linen yarn for the background fabric than the other students, so that the inlay yarns did not have the same impact on my sample as it did on as theirs. I could ameliorate the situation during the workshop by using thicker yarns for my inlays.

–Because of the rectangles and the thicker linen, I couldn’t achieve the curves I was looking for. But if I enlarged my design on a copier, I could try again and get closer to my desired end.

So on day 2 I sat down with these insights and was much happier with my attempts. I didn’t bring home enough linen to finish weaving all the length I had, but that’s ok, because I knew I’d not be able to achieve my intended sample on this loom anyway. But I wove a bit more, cut it off the loom, and hung it in a window in my studio. If you stand back and squint, you may be able to see part of the rose in the middle of the weaving.

transparency from class

As soon as I have time (please control your laughter) I will order some linen, set it up on my counterbalance loom, and try again.

Then there’s the the weaving fail. I often bring that little rigid heddle loom to shows with me to demonstrate weaving. I thought it was time to mix it up a bit, so I rented a triangle loom from the Weavers’ Guild. I’d never used one before, but figured I’d try it at home and then rent it for a show or two.

When I picked the loom up, I was quite pleased at how much it collapsed. It would be a simple matter to add it to a van for a show.

triangle loom collapsed

Then I set it up. Ay yi yi! It’s HUGE!

triangle loom set up

So I watched a few YouTube videos and started weaving. After a few false starts I got the hang of it and was weaving without too much difficulty.

weaving the triangle

But I was clear that this would most definitely not come to shows with me. In addition to the size, it was a slower process than I’d anticipated. Since most shows are outdoors, I couldn’t count on decent enough weather long enough to weave off a triangle, and I couldn’t collapse the loom till the triangle was finished.

Anyway, I finished the weaving in my living room.

triangle weaving done

See that wonky space in the center of the loom? And the other wonky space at the top? I was hopeful that these would disappear in the wet finishing, that the fibers would shift to take up the space equally.


triangle shawl washed

It’s a mess and I hate it. Neither of the spacing problems were resolved, or even improved. I don’t anticipate ever weaving on a triangle loom again. The good news is I bought the yarn at a local thrift store, so I had a minimal investment in materials. I do feel bad that I’ve wasted a lovely purple alpaca yarn, but c’est la vie. It was a good learning experience.