Thursday, January 31, 2013

Productive Evening

After coming home from work today, I headed out to the studio and got quite a bit accomplished.  The rug I started on Fanny is now finished and ready for the next one.  And I cleaned up all my trimmed bits and pieces and fabric strips that were littering the floor.
I sat down in my rocker to give my back a rest and worked on a few draw-downs for my next rug on my Weaver's Delight.  I decided to try one of the other cam  set-ups, but wasn't sure which one I wanted to use, so I drew out the Kersey twill, the Birdseye and the Union weave structures.  With the stripes, I thought I would like the Kersey twill the best.

After settling that, I had a big chore to tackle.  While weaving my last rug on the WD, I had one cam that was hanging up and wouldn't rotate, so every fourth pick, I was having to poke at the cam to make it move.  I thought if I took the cams off and back on in a different order that it might help.  After putting on 8, 7, 9, and 10 and readjusting the key that holds them in place, I was still having the same problem.  Then I fiddled around with the cast iron part "A", scooting it a bit closer to "B".  I found a pretty loose bolt at the bottom of "B" and tightened that.  Hurrah!!  It finally worked as it should!

Once I knew that it was going to work correctly, I straightened out my warp threads and tied them back on the front rod.  I had a canister half full of heavy yarn that I used to spread the warp and get the temple adjusted.  The fly shuttle is working fine, so now it is all ready to go.  I just have to get some fabric strips cut.
This is a close-up of the Kersey twill weave structure.  The loom is threaded 1-2-3-4, with alternating navy and tan, and the rust threads are doubled to make them stand out a bit better.  They are threaded 12 ends per inch.  The color order reverses in each navy/tan stripe.

I may have to have a couple grandsons over soon to help me make a rug!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Autumn Leaves Towels Are Completed

Last October, I made a long warp for towels.  My inspiration was the beautiful fall colors on the trees in Michigan and was why I named the towels Autumn Leaves.  I was able to finish four of the towels before Christmas and they became Christmas gifts for my daughters.

I put the warp on my Leclerc Jano table loom, and after the first towel, I removed the two outermost stripes.  It was just too wide for the loom.  The next three towels wove a little better.

After cutting the first four towels off the loom, I retied the warp and started what I hoped would be five or six more towels.  As the warp decreased on the loom, it became easier to weave.  I cut a few more towels off and continued to weave the rest of the warp.  Each batch got easier.  I'm not sure if it was because of less warp on the loom, or I just got into a routine with the weaving.

I finished the last towels a few days ago.  The were wet finished, dried, pressed and hemmed, and then they were posed for a photo.  All of the towels were woven as checks with a single color except for the last one.  I had a little fun playing around with the block sizes, and I used all eight colors instead of just one.  I think I like that one the best!  It was a good way to empty all the bobbins of the yarn left on them.

Now, I am back out in the studio weaving a rug, and thinking about more rugs to follow.

I started with the intention of doing a rug with dark cloth strips in a twill pattern, but couldn't find the fabrics I wanted to use, so I went back to doubled threads in an almost tabby.  I am using up more polyester doubleknit strips I had sitting around in a box from an old braided rug attempt from many years ago.  Yea stash reduction!  This one is going quickly, but is not on my Weaver's Delight, so it is a little harder on my arms and shoulders.  I should have it done in a few days.

Hopefully, by the time this rug is complete, I will come up with fabrics to try my other design plan.  The way this is threaded, I can weave x's and diamonds, and they show up especially well in the white stripes.  I think it will make a distinctive rug.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

T12, the Leftover Bear

 While putting things away in my studio, I came across the left-over fabrics from last year's bears that I made.  A couple others in the family wanted one, so I got out the pattern pieces to see what I could come up with.  I actually got enough pieces drawn onto the fabric to make three more bears.

I decided not to push myself this year because of the arthritis in my hands, but was able to get one done for a Christmas gift. 

This is T12 with his joints installed and ready for stuffing. 

Fortunately, I had the parts sewn and the seams pressed when our power went out three days before Christmas.  The bear ended up being one of the projects I worked on for the three days without electricity.

He was stuffed and I got his arms and legs stitched closed, but by the time I got his head on, the sun was starting to fade.

 Once he got his mouth, he told me he wanted to be an artist.  He does look a bit artsy with the patchwork of many colors. 
Here he is by candlelight, holding his ears.  While counting up the fabrics for this patchwork bear, I realized that I didn't have all eleven of the other bears represented.  I switched out one of the sewn ears for the other two fabrics that I needed.

I had Bob hold a flashlight so I could sew that ear on the sewing machine by turning the handwheel.  It's a good thing it was just a small part, or my hand would have been super sore!

We were quite the pioneers.  I finished the stitching of his mouth, claws and ears by candlelight. He now represents all eleven of the other Griswold bears
Here he is at breakfast the next morning with ears attached.  We shared a bowl of Mama Bears Porridge.
Later in the day, I took him to Petoskey so he could meet some of the other Griswold bears.  Cheeka, Ben, Othar, and T12 had fun playing a video game.

T12 wanted to make a watercolor painting to take to his adopted dad, so Emily got out the supplies and helped him get started.  He decided to do a picture of Peter Rabbit.
Since Emily and T12 are both artists, they got along very well together.  They did a little experimenting, since neither of them had done watercolors before.
 While they were working, Becky (Emily's mom) made a beret for T12.  He certainly looks like an artist now!  The watercolor was finished and set aside to dry and the table cleared for a party.

Davey, Emily, and Bobby joined in along with Othar, Ben, and Cheeka.  Becky fed them homemade honey wheat bread with homemade butter, and of course there was lots of honey on the slices too.

After the party, T12 had to be packed so he could go to his new home in Spokane, Washington.

He had a long arduous journey that was very nerve wracking on my end, since FedEx decided not to track shipments that week.  He finally arrived by January 2nd, and was very happy to get unpacked!

His adopted dad Nick was very happy with him.  They are going to get along famously.  T12 has a new name, but it is quite similar to his old name.  Nick is calling him Tiz, because that is what the tag that came with him looked like. 

Tiz is looking forward to art lessons from Nick, who is an artist.  It will be fun to see what kind of art work they come up with.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sett Solutions and Binding a Denim Rag Rug

After correcting the two threading errors on my second warp on the Weaver's Delight, I planned on weaving a denim rug next.

The loom was warped at 12 epi and set up to weave plain weave.  That was no problem at all with the rug at the left.  The fabric used for the weft was a polyester double-knit, so I didn't have any problems with the weft packing in tightly.

It took several attempts with the denim to get an acceptable rug.  Twelve ends per inch would not work with denim, or at least not with the plain weave I was attempting.  I had done a sample before on the tail end of a previous warp with strips cut 3/4" wide. It worked out great, so I wasn't anticipating problems. 

I could not get the denim to pack in tightly.  Then I remembered that my sample was set at 12 ends per inch, but it was a twill variation (Chicken Tracks), which essentially changes the ends per inch on each pick to six instead of twelve.  That allowed a nice tight weave.

Rather than re-thread, I changed the cams on the loom to the twill set-up.  It is just a simple 2-2 twill, and it made all the difference to how the denim packs down.  The 3/4" wide strips were just right.  An alternative could have been woven with plain weave with doubled ends set at six ends per inch.  I wouldn't attempt a rug with regular rug warp at only 6 epi.  It needs to be doubled to be strong enough for a sturdy rug.

Because I started over so many times before getting something that I liked, I neglected to start over again to give a proper header for a hem at the beginning.  To solve that problem, I looked in my Rag Rug Handbook for instructions for binding a rug.

I tied off my warp before removing it from the loom.  This photo is the start of the rug.  If I had been thinking ahead, I would have just glued the header and let it dry, thus avoiding the need for all the knots.  That is what I did at the end of the rug.

On the cutting table, I trimmed the warp close to the knots.

I used denim for the binding at both ends of the rug.  I wanted the binding to be about 1" wide when finished, so I cut two strips about 3 3/4" wide and a little longer than the width of the rug.
With the right side of the binding against the rug and even with the edge, I stitch through the two layers at the first denim pick.

This is not a project for an ordinary home sewing machine.  I am using my industrial upholstery machine.

Fold the hem ends as shown in the photo and stitch the ends even with the edge of the rug.
I didn't like how the hard warp knots felt under my feet, so I put some glue on the header, let it dry, and then cut through the knots to remove them. 
The hem ends were trimmed to reduce the bulk and then turned right side out.
The hem is turned up to the first line of stitching and then top-stitched.  I am sewing through four layers of denim on the main part of the binding plus the rug, and on the ends, eight layers of denim.

I don't think this would be my first choice for a hem, but I was glad I had the option.
I wish I had taken a better photo of the finished rug, but it's gone now, with no chance for a do-over. I gave it to our daughter Carolyn and her husband Eric for a Christmas gift.  The finished size is approximately 30" x 50".