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Pandemic Brain

Let me just start by saying I am not sick. I do not have COVID-19 or any other disease. I feel fine, other my usual age-related aches and pains.

But…

I clearly have what I’m calling pandemic brain. IMHO it’s related to pregnancy brain for women going through that. One’s normal mental processes are not functioning properly. Thinking isn’t always rational. Counting skills go out the window.

I would never want to imply that I don’t make mistakes. I sure do. But it’s highly unusual that I’ll make mistakes 4 out of 5 projects in a row. And that is what has happened.

beaming gems multi-warp

It started in mid-March. I planned a beautiful skein-painted project, intending to make one shawl and weave yardage to make something else – a vest, perhaps. The weaving went fine, but I hadn’t done my calculations correctly, not wound enough warp ends, so the fabric isn’t as wide as I’d intended. Fine for the shawl, but for the yardage? I’ll have to find a different pattern than the one I had planned on. I’m confident I can do that at some point, but not yet inspired to do so.

Next up was my Safe At Home towels. I do love them, and the mistake wasn’t a big one – winding 62 turquoise ends instead of 72 as I was winding the warp. So I had to hang 10 ends over the warp beam and hope I could maintain tension. It all worked out fine but caused me a small amount of anxiety as I wove.

handwoven colorful towels

After that was my Comfort At Home towels. They went off without a hitch.

7 handwoven Comfort At Home towels

Then my Spring At Home towels. As noted, I didn’t pay attention to my math and initially wound skeins only half the size I needed for my wefts. Again, a problem fixed easily enough by winding and dyeing more skeins, but a silly, if simple, mistake.

hand dyed warp and weft for Spring At Home towels

Now I’m working on another batch of Safe At Home towels. I looked through my stash and found colors that I thought worked well together.

warps for Safe At Home2 towels

The turquoise is obviously a commercially dyed yarn. The magenta and green are skeins I dyed back in 2016 for a project but didn’t use. I dyed the yellow and orange skeins specifically for this project. The dark blue-violet is some hand dyed yarn I’ve had for years, dyed by someone else, that I thought was just what this warp needed. In fact, I have 2 of the towels on this warp already spoken for, just from those warp colors and the Safe At Home weaving plan.

I got the threads measured out and beamed.

beaming Safe At Home2 towel warp

All heddles and reed threaded, time to tie on to the front apron. I had some difficulty in the beginning, and ended up doing my lashing on twice to get my tension right. Ok, that’s a pain in the butt, but whatever.

Then I started weaving. I was having difficulty maintaining tension and couldn’t figure out why, but said to myself, you just need to keep going. It will get better. But it wasn’t getting better; it was getting worse. All of sudden the lightbulb went off. I got up, looked at my yarn labels, and closed my eyes and moaned. That lovely dark blue-violet wasn’t an 8/2 yarn – 3,360 yards per pound. It was twice as thick – only 1,680 yards per pound. I thought it felt a bit different when I was measuring it, but as this yarn is also more loosely spun, I attributed it to that and kept going. BIG MISTAKE!

There’s only one way to fix this. Start by removing the weft.

weft cut so it can be removed

Here I’ve got half of that done.

removing the weft

Next insert lease sticks to retain the cross.

lease sticks re-inserted

Go back through the stash and see if I have something else that will look good for warp. Nope. Tomorrow I will wind another skein and dye it, hoping for something similar to that blue-violet.

Then I will go back to the loom. I will carefully unwind all of the warp, pulling it back through the reed and heddles so that it’s all at the front of the loom. (If needed, I will unthread the reed and the heddles, but I’m hoping I don’t have to.) I will attempt to save the 84 ends of the blue-violet yarn, as it is a lovely color and is almost 9 yards long, but if I have to toss it, I do.

Once the newly-dyed skein is dry, I’ll measure that out, put it on the lease sticks, and beam it along with the other 5 colors. Sigh.

I just HOPE that I DO NOT keep making mistakes. This is a royal pain. And not like me.

Spring At Home Towels

The reaction to my Safe At Home towels was so strong and so swift, I knew I needed to weave at least one more warp of colorful towels. I planned and prepared for this batch, Spring At Home, while I was weaving the Comfort At Home towels.

To start, I had to measure out the warp so I could weave eight towels. I’d recently gotten a big cone of undyed yarn that was 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton and wanted to use that. Although I would usually wind this warp in two bouts, I decided to wind this in three bouts because odd numbers are usually more pleasing to our eyes.

Once the warps were scoured and soaked I mixed up chartreuse, fuchsia, lavender, and ice blue dyes and set to work. I had a written plan about how to dye each bout, with each color only used twice.

Hmmmm. Ice blue and lavender dyes look remarkably similar, at least wet. Will they look the same dry? I don’t know. So I changed the plan somewhat.

I also wanted to dye the wefts for this batch of towels, so I wound skeins and prepared dyes for them, too: golden yellow, grape, avocado, and turquoise. But at the last minute I decided to dump the leftover ice blue, lavender, and fuschia dyes into the turquoise bucket.

Here are the final warps and my planned wefts.

hand dyed warp and weft for Spring At Home towels

I beamed the warp, and as long-time readers know, one of my favorite shots is a painted warp going around the back beam.

beaming the Spring At Home warp

I started weaving with the yellow weft and loved it. But wait…why am I going through the weft faster than planned?

Back to my notes and Geez! Once again I hadn’t paid enough attention to the numbers. My math told me I needed about 2.5 ounces of yarn for weft per towel. So although I wanted to weave two towels of each weft color, I only made my skeins about 2.5 ounces each!

So I only had enough weft for four towels, not eight. I had to dye more yarn. And I didn’t have enough of that hemp-cotton blend, so had to go in my stash for more undyed 8/2 unmercerized cotton, and fortunately had some. Wind more skeins and go back down to the basement to dye them. I decided as long as I was dyeing more yarn, I’d make each towel a slightly different color. This time I mixed up tangerine, celery, turquoise (with no additions), and red-violet. Here are the 8 wefts all together.

8 hand dyed weft yarns for Spring At Home towels

Back to the loom. Weave all eight towels, wet finish, and hem them, and here you go.

8 handwoven Spring At Home towels

I divided the towels into two batches for the photos, and decided to label them for posting both here and on Facebook. The first four have that hemp-cotton yarn for both warp and weft.

4 handwoven hemp-cotton Spring At Home towels

And the next four have the same warp, but 100% cotton weft.

4 more handwoven hemp cotton Spring At Home towels

I won’t post on Facebook for sale until tomorrow, and I anticipate they’ll go quickly. So if you want one of these Spring At Home towels, contact me to make purchase and delivery arrangements.

Fun with sidewalk chalk

I did this on my sidewalks this morning.

Stay safe, stay home

stay well, stay creative

stay strong

And this on the other side.

Comfort At Home

We all need to do things that bring us comfort while we’re staying home. For me, too often that’s baking. Here’s today effort – a luscious lemon cornmeal pound cake. Made with 1 bowl.

lemon cornmeal pound caske

I ate a few slices, then sliced up the rest and put it in the freezer. Safer there.

On the weaving front, this is my next batch of towels. I’m calling them Comfort At Home. Why? Because these towels are so oatmeal-like. And what’s more comforting than oatmeal? (Readers of a certain age will remember the Wilford Brimley commercials.) Add the soft wave structure, and you’ve got a comforting towel.

7 handwoven Comfort At Home towels

In fact, although the warp of 7 towels is called Comfort At Home, each towel (or pair of towels) has an oatmeal name. Here you go, along with the info about each weft. The warp is a softly plied 8/2 barber pole cotton.

The first two towels below are Oatmeal & Brown Sugar. The weft is a 3/2 organic colorgrown FoxFibre in khaki. Since this is a fairly heavy and loosely plied weft, the towels are a bit thicker and rougher than some of the others below. If you look closely, you can see that my hemming has shown one towel ‘right side up’ and the other ‘upside down.’ It’s not uncommon that I can’t decide which side should be up when I hem.

2 handwoven towels - Oatmeal & Brown Sugar

The next towels, Plain Oatmeal, are also 3/2 organic colorgrown FoxFibre cotton, this time in oatmeal. (How fitting a yarn color name!)

2 handwoven towels - Plain Oatmeal

Next up are Oatmeal & Honey. This is an 8/2 Brassard cotton, color name…you guessed it…honey. It adds a soft golden glow to the towels.

2 handwoven towels - Oatmeal & Honey

The last towel, Oatmeal & Cream, has an undyed 7/2 hemp-cotton weft. The yarn is 55% hemp, 45% organic cotton. An unusual size, it’s really not noticeably different from 8/2. Only one of these.

handwoven Oatmeal & Cream towel

This is an 8-shaft draft. I originally got it from Handweaving.net, but it wasn’t quite symmetrical so I made some adjustments to both threading and treadling. Then I centered it for the width of my towels.

I’m going to post these on Facebook tomorrow. The last batch of towels I posted sold in a few days, so if you want one of these, contact me and we’ll arrange payment and shipping.

I also did a bit of dyeing. Back in February of 2019 I snow dyed some cotton leggings. But I got carried away with colors and they ended up like a cross between the 1960s and a clown.

1960s leggings

I knew I wouldn’t wear them like that, so I overdyed, again a snow dye technique, with just red.
2nd try dyeing leggings

They were much better, but I only wore them a few times as they were still too flashy for me.

Yesterday I put them on and said, “Nope.” Even though I’m not going anywhere, I wasn’t happy with them. It was time to do something about that. Overdye again, this time in a dark color and immersion dyeing.

3rd try dyeing the leggings

Yes. I can wear these out in public without attracting stares of disbelief.

I have another warp of towels on the loom now, but I’m going to take a few days off weaving to make face masks to donate.

Towel info

Warning: weaverly post

I have lots of things to say, but this post is to follow up on the last about my colorful Safe At Home towels. I’ve gotten lots of questions about them, so here goes with some answers.

handwoven colorful towels

This is an 8 harness twill blocks weave structure: 3/1 twill and 1/3 twill. I’d seen a photo of Catherine Marchant’s work on Facebook. I loved the way it looked and sat down with Fiberworks weaving software to figure out how to achieve it. It took me some time, but I got there.

Although I know others recommend doing your treadle tie up so that you are alternating use of right and left legs, I don’t do this. It’s much easier for my brain to do a more typical tie up, with treadles 1-8 or 10 in order from left to right. This time I modified that. I tied the treadles so that my pressing order was 4-5-3-6 for one portion of twill and 1-8-2-7 for the other portion. This was for 2 reasons: the 4-5-3-6 section had many more repeats and I was lifting 6 shafts with each of those treadles. Sure didn’t want to do all that with one leg, and one that had to stretch to treadle 1 every time. (Yes, I have short legs.)

I used 6 colors in the warp. Each towel has 11 weft-wise stripes. For 7 of the 8 towels, each weft stripe was a different color. On 1 towel I tried simply alternating a light and dark weft, but I didn’t like it as well.

This was the second warp in a row that I lost count of the warps while I was winding them. Of course I didn’t know that until I was threading the loom. I was 10 threads short of one color and didn’t have any choice but to hang 10 threads off the back of the loom. I don’t like hanging so many and was quite concerned about tension issues, but it all worked out fine.

Someplace on Facebook I recently saw a new weaver asking questions about hanging threads, and one of the answers was to tie a shoelace or length of heavy yarn onto the film canister (or whatever else you use). That shoelace has to be long enough to touch the ground. It’s job is to keep the film canister from spinning and untwisting the plied yarn. Hmmmm, I thought. Seems too simple.

NOT!!! It works BEAUTIFULLY! I’ve always had a problem with the hanging yarn untwisting, and this solves it so easily. I happen to have a few dozen old corset laces (no, I never wore a corset), so they’re longer than a standard shoelace. Although I left so many other things behind when I moved almost 5 years ago, I brought these, and now I’m very glad I did.

Honestly, if there were other questions I can’t remember them right now. Ask in a comment an I’ll either answer you or modify the post.