A Little Bit Of Everything

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I know I said I would be *back* here Monday, but between mountains of laundry and work/house catchup, it took me longer to get some time available for writing.

This morning’s quickie post has me whining just how !@#%&!! cold it is outside here in the land of the Great White North as all it does is have me pining for the place I left behind on the weekend.  I guess it really makes you appreciate, no covet, the days spent frolicking in the sun and the sand.  I am still putting together a post about the trip, so your patience is greatly appreciated while I juggle several different barrels of balls…it’ll come by the end of the week… I promise ;)

The past 2 days I have also done some experiments with food, seeing as hubby is back to working away from home 5 days I week, I become the guinea pig…which I love doing as he really doesn’t like the stuff I like to experiment with.  So dinners on Monday and Tuesday were fun, more on those later this week and next.

I also was asked to do a quick sewing project for a coworker of my daughter, that will also become a future post for you sewing/knitting junkies out there, and my other hobby, Bob the loom, is about to get *dressed* as he is naked right now.  A naked loom is an unproductive loom so a new project is on the horizon now that the first dish towels are done…oops, I forgot to post a pic about the first tea towel project, I finished hemming them just before I left for Mexico, so here they are, all done…

first dishtowelsAll 4 towels have the same colours running in a striped pattern from top to bottom (these are called the warp threads), and by using different coloured weft threads (side to side), each towel develops its own personality.  The top one I used a natural coloured yarn, the next, a cinnamon colour, then chocolate brown, then black.  They did shrink a bit more than I anticipated, but still turned out well and will be a nice addition to my kitchen.   The learning curve is huge, but definitely fun!

Meanwhile, with the *Spring* real estate market under way (unfortunately for this blog and what I would like to devote to it) it will require the majority of my time, so bear with me over the coming months if I am not very regular with posts.

That’s about it for now, stay tuned and more importantly, stay warm until Mother Nature gets the ice out of her veins…

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My Husky & I…

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Huskystar that is…will be very busy the next couple weeks….so many sewing projects to do, so little time.  Actually, a lot of other projects on the go as well.  There is one knitting project, a whole lot of house de-cluttering going on, and let’s not forget my newest hobby ~ Bob the loom.

I think I need to get a day planner and start blocking hours for each project, as well as regular chores and work.

Meanwhile, here is a snippet of what I am working on….not included in this pic is a blue floral print for a blouse for my Mexico trip that is half done.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back at it…no time for idle chit chat!

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Twill Tea Towels

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I think I can… I think I can… I think I can….

I think I may finally be ready to start weaving an actual project.  I have been playing with sock yarn on the loom for the past couple weeks which has allowed me to develop a rhythm as well as give me lots of opportunity to learn the finer points of weaving (and the sometimes sorry looking results while traversing the learning curve).

After straining my mental capacity learning how to calculate yarn requirements for each project to be developed on the loom, it was time to sit down and come up with my very own design for a set of 4 tea towels.

I spent last weekend with a pad of graph paper, pencil, ruler and several cans of beer….and this is what I came up with:

Twill Tea Towel PatternPsychedelic enough?

Do you feel like the room is moving?

The top and sides are a regular Twill patterning with the center dots being called a Point Twill.  The whole pattern will repeat from top to bottom along the length of the towel with the pattern going across as you see it.  Once I had a snippet of what I wanted written on graph paper, I created a spreadsheet in Excel to replicate it.  Which was much easier as you can customize how many repeats width-wise and length-wise utilizing the copy/paste function.

Next was to figure out how much yarn I needed for the project, which entailed starting at what you want in a finished size of towel and working backwards.  Lots of math…with lots of eraser being used up.  Thankfully I am still sane after this first go round.

Next is to figure out what colours to use…

Weaving CottonHere is some 8/2 cotton yarn (8 being the size of the yarn and the 2 denoting how many plys there are) that I am thinking of using.  Having several stripes of different/matching colours for the warp (the threads from front to back) and using a natural or white for the weft (the threads that go side to side), that should highlight the pattern without making it too busy.

Now that I have the colours picked out, it will be time to start warping…I love the lingo in weaving, it makes me feel like I am on board the Spaceship Enterprise with Captain Pickard.

Stay tuned…

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My First Weaving Project

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Actually, it isn’t really a “Project”, but more of a “Lesson”.  After spending over 2 hours painstakingly setting up the loom with regular sock fingering yarn, I sat down in front of Bob, instruction book in one hand, a case of beer in the other to calm my nerves.

Ok, no actual beer was handy, so I made do with a glass of water.  I know, so unlike me.  Anyway, I wound a bobbin with yarn and popped it inside the shuttle.  With my feet at the treadles, I pushed each one to make the frames lift in turn, watching the yarn in the heddles being pulled up and down.  I marveled at Bob, this ancient technology that sat before me.  Who could have dreamed up such a thing so long ago?  Definitely a pioneer thinking outside the box.  Same as the person who came up with the combustion engine or the ghetto blaster…. My hats off to these super-brainers.

The first step in weaving is to secure the ends that are tied onto the front apron, then make a header so your weaving doesn’t unravel at the front end when it is finished.

This was definitely harder than it looked.  Especially when the book showed nice, glossy pictures of a beautifully even header.  Ha!  Me on the other hand, I could have hog-tied a calf quicker.  Without a rope.  Once I secured the header, it was time to ‘weave’… I pushed treadle # 1, which opens the shed, the shed is the space created in between the lifted yarns so you can pass the shuttle of ‘weft’ yarn through.   Then you pull the beater towards you to compact the weft.  While the beater is pulled forward, you push treadle # 2 to open the shed in an alternate pattern and pass the shuttle from the left back to the right, then pull the beater down again….and that is the sequence, to be repeated forever, or until you run out of yarn in your shuttle.

Weaving_2My first couple inches of so-called weaving was atrocious.   Trying to get the selvedges even was trying my patience.  I was either drawing the yarn in too tight so that the sides of the fabric were pulled in in an hourglass shape, or I had acres of spare yarn loops hanging on each side.   ARGH!

Weaving_1After a couple more inches, and some really intense concentration, I finally had something that could actually be called fabric.  I motored along until dinner time, weaving a total of about 9 – 10 inches, changing the treadle pattern halfway through from a plain weave to a twill weave, which ended up looking nothing like a twill because I think I hooked up the treadles incorrectly…. I believe I just created a new pattern.  I will call it Hidden Twill.  Can you find it?  It the top most portion of the fabric, all in dark brown, not the pretty diagonal brown/cream lines a Twill is supposed to be.

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, so I will be using up stashes of leftover yarns to play around with and develop a smooth rhythm before commencing with an actual project.

I have plans to make tea towels first as they are the easiest, as one can never have enough tea towels in the kitchen, and if they look crappy, well, they are just in my kitchen and no one elses.  From there, a scarf or two, maybe some placemats…and a rope to tie up that calf….

I hope Bob is patient with me…..

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Learning To Weave = Math???

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I hate math.

I have always hated math.

Numbers scare the bejeebies out of me.  Give me good old letters any day.  I excelled at English, grammar and spelling in school.  Math was just along for the ride, and not a very good one at that.  So what does this have to do with weaving? Well, every piece of weaving you want to do will have math involved.  If I had known of this ahead of time, I may have thought harder before I pounced on the opportunity to buy Bob.

There are formulas to arrive at your sett, e.p.i., p.p.i., dents and a thousand other alphabet soup acronyms that are a part of the weaving world.  Figuring out what all these mean and applying numbers to them smacks of algebra.  Combining letters with numbers was the demise of my mathematical aptitude back in grade school.

So here I am, mathless, and wanting to learn to weave.

So far I have managed to prepare my first Warp, and to ‘Dress the Loom’.  The picture below is the start of the process, called ‘Sleying the Reed’.   Next comes ‘Threading the Heddles’, then ‘Tying to the Back Apron’ followed by ‘Beaming the Warp’.   Seriously, Gene Roddenberry must have obtained all the lingo for Star Trek from participating in a Weaving class.Dressing the LoomThis all sounds so complicated doesn’t it?  It actually isn’t, at least not until the math issue comes to a head.  Right now I am following a lesson dictated in the ‘Learning To Weave’ book I wisely purchased.  Which so far has been pretty easy.  When it comes time for me to plan, draw up and execute my first ‘project’ though…well…you will hear me cursing like a sailor, and wishing my brain had of been able to pay attention in math class….

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