Monday, May 31, 2010

Colors of May At the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Charlevoix, Michigan

I think that April slipped by me without posting photos of the colors for that month, but I've been out several times getting photos of the colors of May in Charlevoix.
To check out other colors of May from around the country, visit Sue's blog: Colors of May
She puts out a request for colors from each month to give everyone inspiration with their fiber arts. 
Early in May, the three colors of lilacs were beautiful and the smell was wonderful.

Our granddaugher Emily (age 11) snapped this photo of bleeding hearts and lily of the valley. 

Emily also took these two butterfly pictures.

Forget-me-not flowers are a beautiful blue color.
The columbines are beautiful this year.  I wish they lasted a bit longer.

Yellow Lady's Slipper (a protected wildflower)
This mushroom cap is about 4" across.

The two photos above are of the pitcher plant, and are a protected wildflower.  If you ever see one, please don't pick it.  It also applies to trillium and lady's slippers. I have many more photos, but my computer is moving at a snail's pace tonight, so I'm settling on these.

Weaving With Old Video Tapes

I came across some old video tapes today while decluttering the front porch.  Since I just finished a rug, (at left, made with fabric found in my stash)
and hadn't started another one yet, I decided to try weaving a recycled bag with the tapes. I unscrewed the case and wound the tape onto a rug shuttle.  I'm not sure if I like it yet.  It is quite shiny, and only comes in one color-black.  It is certainly easier to wind strips that are already cut to size onto a shuttle instead of cutting plastic grocery bags into strips.  I'll see how it holds up after I get it sewn together.  Unlike the other bags I have made, I am not weaving the straps in on this bag, since it takes a lot of extra time.  Now that I have my heavy sewing machine semi-fixed, I will just sew straps onto the bag. 

The twill section will be on the side, between the bag straps.

I started measuring and marking fabric, getting ready for my fabric stash reduction sale.  Of course,  looking at my stash, I started thinking of the rug warp on the loom and which fabrics I should keep for rag rugs.  Now I have a big pile set aside.  I may have to give myself a good talking to, or I won't get rid of much.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rag Rug Weaving Tips

I was reading a weaving friend's blog today, and she was having some trouble with weaving her rag rug.  I thought I could put a few tips on here, that I have learned from other weavers.

I just started weaving a rag rug yesterday, so I will use it as an example.

First of all, my usual rag rugs are warped with rug warp or a similar weight sturdy yarn.  They are spaced  12 epi in a 12 dent reed and threaded 1-2-3-4 or 4-3-2-1.  (click a photo to enlarge)

Each warp yarn gets its own heddle.  As you can see in the above photo, the warp is threaded 4-3-2-1 until the last 4 threads.  Instead of threading them 4-3-2-1, I thread them 4-4-3-3.  You will see why in a minute.
The last 4 warp threads are threaded 2 per dent through the last 2 dents in the reed for a sturdy selvedge.

 Weaving for a hem can cause some problems, because the yarn used for the hem is so much thinner than the rags used for the body of the rug.  There are a couple things that can be done to minimize the draw-in that can happen.  If I'm using rug warp for my hem, I will double it.  I quite often use a thicker yarn, such as Sugar and Cream yarn used to knit dishrags, and I usually use a single strand of that size yarn.  I weave my hems with a standard tabby (harnesses 1 - 3 alternating with harnesses 2 - 4).

As shown in the above photo, I use my paperclip temple, which I have described in an earlier post.  Anchor the hem weft and angle in the shed.  Change sheds but don't beat yet.
(Sorry, this weft is angled in the other direction, but you get the idea)
With the shed changed, pull the weft into an arch, down to the opposite fell line and beat.  Do this for each pick of your hem.  It creates a bit of flex in the hem that doesn't happen with an angled weft.  A bit of practice will help you decide how big of an arch you need.

I use different treadles from the tabby hems to weave the rags.
I raise harness 1-2 together, and 3-4 together.  That gives me doubled warp threads sett at 6 epi.
I think it helps make a sturdier rug.

Here is the start of my latest rag rug that I'm weaving from a knit I found in my stash.  I showed the fabric in my previous post.  This fabric is the thickness of that icky old polyester double knit everyone sewed with years and years ago.  I cut the strips 1 1/4" wide and it was just right.

I sew my strips together with the following method:
Place two strips at right angles, right sides together.  For illustration purposes, I have marked my stitching line.  I don't really mark my strips.  That's what eyeballing is for!
Stitch from the top corner to the corner of the underneath strip.  I like to backstitch a couple stitches at each end of the seam, but a small stitch length without the backstitch would also work.  Add another strip to the end of the second strip and continue sewing ends together without cutting the threads.  To avoid tangling your strips, wait to cut the threads until you are ready to wind them on your shuttle.  When winding onto the shuttle, trim the seam allowance to 1/4", removing a small triangle. If I am folding my strips so only one side shows, I finger press the seam open to reduce bulk in one spot.  If I'm not folding my strips, I don't do anything to the seam except trim it to 1/4".

Thick hems can be hard on sewing machines if proper technique isn't used.  I will show my method of sewing hems on a home sewing machine in a future post, so stay tuned!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rug Warp on Loom

Bob made a warping trapeze for me out of an old door frame I picked up at a garage sale, and I was able to try it out for the first time a couple days ago.  A friend that I have been teaching to weave came over, so I was able to show her how to wind a warp onto the loom with that method.  I love the way the warp goes on the loom--it is so nice and tight on the beam.

I finished threading the loom last night.  Now the loom is sitting there waiting for me to start weaving.  I still have to get my paperclip temples ready, and I think I will use the live weight tensioning system for the rugs, so I still have to get that ready too. Before I do that, though, I have a major mess in the upstairs of the garage/studio that I need to finish sorting. 

I was going through the fabric stash today and found some fabrics that could be good for rugs, and a whole lot more fabric that I'm hoping someone will buy at my yard sale.  I haven't picked a date yet--I don't like making deadlines for things that aren't super important to get done.  It will just happen when I'm ready.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mother's Day

I'm finally getting a picture on here from Mother's Day.  Two of the linen towels in the previous post were given to my mom.  I gave her the small finger-tip towel and let her pick another one.  She chose the lattice weave. 
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

We finally took our computer to be fixed.  Now Bob and I are going through our old, old hard drive and transfering files to our new external hard drive.  It's pretty slow going, especially since I don't like to spend hours on the computer. 

Right now, I need to get going out to the garage and start weeding out junk.  We are definitely due for a garage or yard sale!  First off, I'm going to see how many empty boxes I can get out of the upstairs.  That should give me a bit more room to work.  Wish me luck--I tend to get side-tracked and distracted!  Hope it warms up a bit.  It is a gorgeous sunny day, but only 48 degrees out.  Running up and down stairs should make me warm though.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Linen Huck Towels Completed

I think I mentioned before that I purchased a couple linen warps last summer at an estate sale.  At the time, I didn't realize they were cut off a loom without preserving the cross.  A few weeks ago, I took the four yard warp and picked the two ply linen out of the bundle and got my loom threaded with a huck pattern.  I finally finished all four towels today.
  I found the directions for these towels in a Handwoven magazine.  I don't recall the issue right now, but I did mention it in a previous post after finishing the lattice design.

After wet finishing the lattice towel, I decided the floats on the back were a bit long, so I only wove one more from that article, since some of the patterns had even longer floats.

The huck spots towel turned out very nicely.  I'm glad I took the time to do the ladder hemstitching.  It really sets the towels off.  And yes, all the hemming is done by machine.

This one, with the horizontal stripes, was not in the article.  All I did was weave a row of spots followed by four tabby rows.  The weave is not as dense as the other towels.

 With the final bit of warp, I combined the horizontal stripes and the huck spots to make a fingertip towel.  The hemming and stripes actually run  down the sides of the towel.

All of the towels were woven with pieces of one ply linen that I pulled from the twenty yard warp.  I think I accomplished enough with those two warps, so I will put the remainders away for a while.

I'm tired of no color, so my next project will probably have some.  I finished winding my green rug warp today.  I'd like to get Bob to help my make a trapeze before I wind that warp on to the beam.  It goes on so much nicer that way, especially with long warps.

I will close with one of my colors of April pictures.  I don't remember planting it, and I don't know what it is, but it has the prettiest blue flowers.  Maybe someone can let me know what it is.