Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Happy Customer

A friend and co-worker requested that I make a rayon chenille scarf in specific colors.  I don't usually do custom work, but I thought I would take some yarn I already had in my stash and try over-dyeing it.  The yarn I used is 1300 ypp light blue rayon chenille.
I wanted random color, so I didn't wind the warp before dyeing.  I made it into a 6 oz. skein, tied it off in four spots, and then washed it.

After washing, I soaked it in water and soda ash for about half an hour, while I mixed my dye.  I used Dylon fabric dye for all the colors- a couple purples, pink, turquoise, a couple greens and a blue.

I used a mix of the blue and purples to dye another skein (about 3 oz.) for the weft.  The color ended up sort of variegated, but in a subtle way.

The soaked and squeezed out skeins were arranged in a circle in a couple plastic dish pans. Dye was drawn up into a hypodermic syringe, and squirted into the yarn in short sections.  I wrapped the skeins in plastic, and put it in the oven with the light on (heat off) overnight.  By the time I got home from work the next night, the yarn was ready to rinse in cold water.  After rinsing most of the stray dye out, I washed the yarn with Dawn dish soap to remove more stray dye.

The skeins were put in the washing machine to spin out as much moisture as possible, and were then air dried over a heat register before measuring into warp and wound onto bobbins.

If I was going to dye more skeins, I would dye about 7-8 oz., so the scarf could be longer, and would make the weft skein about 4 oz.

Heather was very happy modeling her new scarf!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I removed two rugs off the looms today.  One was on Fanny, and the other on the Weaver's Delight.  Both were woven with the same fabrics.  I started cleaning out the old fabric stash, and found some polyester double-knit, that I already had cut into strips.  The rug on the left was woven first, on Fanny.  I had leftover strips after completing the first one, so evaluated how many strips I had left, and started designing the next rug.
The rug at right was woven on the Weaver's Delight.  I decided not to unweave and fix the two sleying errors.  I like how different the rugs can be with different colored warp and weave structure.  The above rug was threaded in a twill, and the one on the right was plain weave, threaded in a log cabin rug pattern.  I doubled the warp threads in the rust colored stripes, but the rest are threaded 12 epi.

I prepare for hemming my rugs in a couple different ways.  When I finished weaving the rug on Fanny, I spread some Tacky Glue on the last 2-3 rows of weft, and let it dry.  If you click on the photo, you can probably see it.  After the glue is dry, I can cut the rug off without worrying about it unraveling.  If I am going to immediately start weaving the next rug, I wouldn't use the glue, and would just weave a few extra rows of hem, to allow for unraveling.

I did that with the other rug, and then ran it through the serger to secure the last 2-3 weft rows.

I don't worry about the little bit of glue that gets folded into the hem.  It is water soluble, so will eventually wash out.
I fold the second part of the hem so it partially covers the first fabric pick.
I don't use sewing pins.  I have been poked too many times, so I switched to clothes pins.  Avoid buying them from the dollar store, because the spring isn't strong enough.  I found mine in my local grocery store.
Five clothes pins on each hem is plenty.  I start my hem by closing up the end, turn and stitch the hem, then close the other end.  It helps to stretch the hem while stitching.  I don't use a home machine for the hems, because I own an industrial upholstery machine.  If you have to use a home sewing machine, follow my tips to avoid breaking needles while sewing heavy fabric.  It was published on my blog on 10-20-11.
I took a little time last night and this morning to fix the sleying errors, using one of my current favorite tools.  It is a slick little sleying hook that I picked up this past spring while on my trip to go get my Weaver's Delight loom.  The blade is super thin, but strong.  I have caught myself with the hook a few times, when I wasn't being careful, and it can draw blood!

The reed hook is available from The Woolgatherers, in Wisconsin.  I'm glad that Sara, the owner, suggested it. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Various Projects in Progress and Finished

UFOs.  Those unfinished objects that get set aside and never get finished.  I think it is a rare crafts person that never has any.  I came across one the other day, and decided it was too nice to not be finished.  This was a project that I think I saw in the Weaver's Craft magazine.  The yarns are fairly heavy, but a good weight for a bag.  The warp is a turquoise 3/2 pearl cotton, and the tabby weft is a heavier yarn, similar in weight to Sugar and Cream in a bluish green color. 
The weave structure is called Monk's Belt.  The weft used to weave the pattern is actually a thin, loosely woven plaid fabric, cut into bias strips about 3/8" wide.

I had the outer part of the bag done, and this photo shows how I formed the bottom of the bag.  The seams are on the sides.  With the bag inside out, I stitched across a triangle at each side.  When the bag is turned right side out, the triangle seams are at each end on the bottom. 
After a couple years on the shelf, I got it out and decided what still needed to be done to make it usable.

First of all, I needed handles, so I dug around in my yarns to find what I used for the tabby.  I threaded up a narrow warp on my floor loom and wove a strip long enough for two handles.  Then, I had to search my fabric stash to find the fabric I used, so I could cut the lining.  After sewing the lining on the regular sewing machine, I did all the finishing on my heavy industrial machine.  It was too thick to get under the presser foot on the regular machine.  I sure am glad I have that heavy old machine.
Click on the photos for more detail.
This rayon chenille scarf was completed in a few days, between other things I was working on.  The warp is a variegated reddish orange, and the weft is a dark red.  The weight is 1300-1400 yards per pound.  I used a 10 dent reed, and originally sleyed it at 20 epi, but that was too dense.  I resleyed at 17 epi (1-2-2) and that was just right. 
 The scarf is plain weave, but I did a short sample using 2-2 twill that also looks nice.
I am still working on my Autumn Leaves warp, and have four towels completed, and the fifth one is almost done.  I think I would like weaving it a bit better if it was on one of the larger looms.  I warped it the full width of my table loom, and ended up taking out one stripe on each edge. 

I am using eight colors in the warp, so I wound a warp long enough to make eight towels.  It was a bit too long for the loom, and I had trouble weaving the first couple.
The current towel is woven with light orange.
This rug is the first one on my second warp on the Weaver's Delight.  I set it up to weave log cabin using the plain weave cams.  My first attempt was weaving denim, but I couldn't get them tight enough with the plain weave, so I unwove it and tried the remainder of the polyester double-knit that I had cut.

That took some trial and error also, but I finally got something that I liked.  After I wove about a foot, I realized the error I saw earlier, but couldn't figure out what I did wrong, was very noticeable on the dark section.  I finally had to work the mechanism till all the warp threads were at one level, and then could see that I had sleyed two threads in a couple dents.  It's a good thing this rug is for me, or I would have unwoven everything again.  I can live with it.  Once this rug is done, I will cut it off and resley the reed to correct the errors.
I weighted my last four threads on each selvedge with 2 pound weights, because I think it helps me get an even edge, and the last rugs were nice and flat on the floor.  I do fiddle with the edges, because I don't like big fabric loops at each edge.  I get them snugged in tight to the selvedge by pulling on them. 

I have one more section of the dark to sew together and weave, and the last light section and the hem and this rug will be done.  Maybe I will complete it after work tomorrow.  Now it's time for bed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Choosing Warp Colors for the Taquette Pattern

I was asked about the colors I used in my Autumn Leaves towel warp.  These are the pairs of 8/2 cotton colors I used.  (top to bottom)
Lipstick and lt. orange
Plum green and rust
Wine and maize
Antique gold and dk. red (which is actually orange)
This is how they look on the cones.  The colors are pretty accurate, at least on my computer.

For anyone else that wants to try the pattern (on a previous post), make your warp uniquely your own.  I would suggest using what you have in your stash, unless you have an urge to add to it.

The fun is in the design.  For my warp, I obviously used the gorgeous autumn leaves as my inspiration.  Look around for other color combinations that look amazing.  The colors in the desert are going to be different from what I see around the Great Lakes.  City colors will be different from out in the country.  How about the colors on your dishes, or your walls and counter tops?  Or maybe colors from a favorite painting.  Have fun with choosing!

At least four colors are needed, two for each block, and two for each stripe.  Use multiples of two, and each additional pair of colors will make another stripe.  I have eight colors and four stripes that get repeated across the warp.  I played around with the colors in a weaving program until I got the look I wanted, and after doing that, I still changed out one of my colors, and the threading order was changed.  Most of my pairs are reds contrasting with yellows.

I wanted to weave a towel with each color, so I put on a long warp.  I wish I hadn't, because it is on a table loom, and it is too much for the loom.  I'm having issues with the fell line curving because of warp tension issues.  The next warp will be on one of my floor looms.

This is the second towel, woven with the plum green.  The towel is actually greener than in the photo.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weaver's Delight and Tying on to the Apron

ReNee, a weaver on our Rugtalk Yahoo group just asked me a question:  "Would you please walk me through your method of tying on to the apron rod. I have always tied onto the eyelets in the apron. Do you tie overhand knots in warp and insert a rod and then lace on? I can see that lacing on the entire width of the apron improves the eveness of the take up."

She had recently visited my blog and I think she was referring to the photo of the Weaver's Delight in my last post.

ReNee, rather than answer on Rugtalk, I'm sending you back here, because photos are easier for explaining methods.
Here is a repeat of that photo from my previous blog post.

I want to mention that this is a common method of tying on to the loom.  These are my photos and written directions, but I didn't come up with the method.  I don't care if anyone uses these elsewhere, but please give a link back to this blog.
The cording is a sturdy cotton that I found packaged as a center pull ball at the hardware store.  Don't buy anything too thick, or it will make too much of a lump on the beam.   The cord needs to be 3-4 times  the width of the apron.  It has to be long enough to zig-zag.  Tie onto the first eyelet.  (By the way, I do have a rod in the end pocket  of the apron.)  Lash the cord through each eyelet like in the photo.  Too see better detail, click on the photos to enlarge them.
 Continue to the other end of the apron and tie off the cord.  Thread your rod through the loops.  Wiggle it around until the loops are even and your rod is parallel to the front beam.  If your apron doesn't have eyelets, but just a rod in a pocket, there are usually slits cut in the fabric.  You can thread the cord around the rod through the slits. 

One caution:  this photo is showing what you shouldn't do.  Keep your last loop as close to the selvedges as possible.  The right hand lashing is correct, but on the left side, I am going to drop the last loop before I start to weave.  If I don't, the lashing cord will bend the rod .  There needs to be equal pull from the lashing cords and the tied on warp.

Now, to tie on the warp, I work from the outside, from both sides, toward the center.  I do a couple on the right, then a couple on the left, etc.  I like to keep smaller bouts to tie on than the whole bundle from the section, so they are about 1" each, because the warp will spread quicker with smaller bundles.

Wrap the warp around the rod and bring the ends up on either side of the bundle.

Tie a half granny knot.  Often I will tie all of them to this point in the knot.  They don't have to be super tight, but all need keep the warp the same tension.

I was taught to never tie a knot if a bow will work just as well.  I start to tie the second half of the granny knot, but don't pull the loop all the way through.  I think it is also called a bow knot, and is similar to tying a shoelace.

Now I can tighten the loop.  If I need to make an adjustment to the warp tension, it's a simple matter of untying the bow. 

Don't forget to cover all those knots with a stick when your rug starts wrapping around the cloth beam.  Your first rug will be distorted by the knot indentations if you don't.

ReNee mentioned another method for lashing on, that can also be used.  It eliminates the need for the second rod.  Each section is tied in an overhand knot at the end of the warp.  Tie the lashing cord to the closest eyelet past the selvedge, lash through the end of the first bout, then into the second eyelet, etc.  The bouts will be thicker, since only one can be lashed per eyelet.  Adjust the cord until the tension is equal on all of the bouts.

I like the method I use better, since the knots aren't as big, and the space between bouts is smaller, letting the warp spread evenly with fewer passes of the weft.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Love My Studio

Bob and I worked on a couple big projects recently, making some changes in the studio.  The first one was giving the Weaver's Delight a permanent spot inside.  After I finished the first warp out in the garage, I knew I had to decide where it was going to go for the winter.  We moved three of the smaller looms out of the studio, which gave quite a bit more space.

After measuring the doorway to the studio, we knew we could get it inside without taking it apart if we stood it on one of the ends.  Now, this loom is HEAVY!  Even with the shafts and cams and top part of the beater taken off, I still can not lift it off the floor even a quarter of an inch.  So, how did we move it?  We used the Forearm Forklift.  It's the best investment we ever spent for moving heavy items.  It is just two straps that go under the item to be moved, and there are slots to slip the strap onto each forearm, up by the elbows.  Your hands have to brace on the item that is being moved in order for it to work. 

Bob and I were able to lift the loom and carry it across the two car garage, through a doorway and all the way across the studio.

We spent an evening getting it warped in the log cabin pattern, using the tension box that Bob made for me.  The warp is stripes of denim and tan, with small separator stripes of rust.  My first rug from this warp is going to be for me to put in front of the loom.  The room has a cement floor under the carpet, so I need a little padding under my feet.  I've started to cut some old denim jeans into strips for weaving.
My next project was to make the space under the stairway into functional storage for all my rug yarn.  It took about three trips to K-Mart to get the cupboard units that would work in the space.  I had to wait for Bob to get home from work before I could install them, because the 3-2-1 cubes had to be held up in place while I slip the closed cupboard units underneath. 

 This is my cutting area.  The bookshelf is under the stairs and I have a pin-board on the wall that I made from 1" thick Styrofoam insulating board.  I covered it with inexpensive fabric and nailed it to the wall.  The counter top is recycled from my aunt and uncle.  It's a yard wide, and cut at a 45 degree angle against the wall.  There are four double-door cupboard units supporting it, with a little knee room under the cutting board where I can sit on a stool to work on design.
Inside the front door, facing east and the house, I have an 8' table that I use for my two sergers, and the bobbin winder is at the end of the table (not seen in photo).  Under the left windows, which face north, I have my sewing machine table.  The looms are the Artisat on the right and Fanny with the blue striped warp.  Victoria is to the left of the wall furnace.  My favorite part of the room is my little reading and relaxing area, with rocker and table, right in the center.
In the back corner, facing north, is my ancient Singer industrial machine.  Next to it is my steam press, and above it is storage for dyeing supplies.  The big cupboards are full of yarn.  On the floor, in front of the stepladder, is a tool chest my dad made for me when I was in college.  He made it so I could keep all my upholstery tools in one spot.  It has a nifty covered tray inside for upholstery tacks, and hog rings, and other such supplies.

End of tour!  Come visit sometime!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Leaves Warp for Towels

Several months ago, my weaving friend Sharon C. gave me this pattern.  It is called taquete.  She has been having all kinds of fun with it.  I finally bought some colors of 8/2 cotton yarn and got a warp for towels put on my Leclerc Jano table loom.

I'm calling this warp Autumn Leaves, because it reminds me of all the beautiful trees in my area of the country (Charlevoix the Beautiful).

I finally figured out a way to put a draft of my pattern on my blog.  I know there must be an easier way, but this is a printout that we scanned and cropped.  It works, so I'm happy!
Here is the Autumn Leaves warp all set to wind on.

Jano had a revamp recently.  She got a nice treadle stand that Bob and I designed and built.  I haven't tried it yet.  I'm looking forward to getting this project threaded, so I can test our work.  I love that the stand has shelves on either side, so I have a spot to set extra shuttles if I'm weaving with more than one.  I also like that the loom isn't bolted to the stand.  The legs on the loom extend below the crossbars, so the legs just hold the loom in place on the stand.  To remove the loom from the stand, all I have to do is unhook the "S" hooks from the levers.

I have a couple other very big projects out in the studio that I need to get photos of, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weave a Tiny Paper Bag

The latest issue of Handwoven (Nov/Dec 2012) arrived in the mail yesterday.  Almost immediately, there was a post on one of the weaving boards I am on, from a weaver that was frustrated with the lack of illustrated instructions for one of the projects, a tiny woven paper bag found on page 14.  I got out some 12" square scrapbooking paper this morning and tried it.  I could understand why the other weaver was frustrated, because I couldn't figure it out either, or at least not in the time I had before church. 
When I got home this afternoon, I decided I would figure it out and photograph the process. 

First, cut 5" squares form each corner of the 12" square.

 Cut the 5" cross bars into 1/2" strips.  Don't cut into the 2" square area in the center.

Strips cut

Fold the center square diagonally.  It will form the bottom of the bag.

Fold in the four strips closest to the bottom fold, to form a 90 degree angle.  They are the start of the sides of the bag.
 Starting with the lower left corner of the bag (front or back), fold it around to interweave with the back strips, going under the first strip.  Turn it over and repeat. 
Now weave the right corner.  If you look closely at the magazine photo, you can see that the right and left weave differently.  If you zoom in on this photo, I think you will be able to see it.
 This is how I folded the sides before weaving.
 Continue with the next row.  Start the weaving with the left side, wrapping to the back, and UNDER the first back strip (on the inside of the bag).  Flip over and repeat.  Weave the other corner, front and back.
Repeat with the next two rows.
I was able to weave four rows.  Tighten the weave and finish following the magazine instructions. 

The instructions didn't say anything about securing the weave at the top before cutting, but I would use a tiny dab of tacky glue or some double stick tape before cutting.

I hope my photos help frustrated weavers!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tension Box for Sectional Warping

My first experience using a tension box was when Bob and I wound my first warp onto the restored Weaver's Delight loom.  I didn't own one, since none of my other looms have sectional beams, so I borrowed a homemade one from a friend. 

Now, I have a whole box of rug warp, with lots of colors, and am ready to wind on my second warp.  I gave the tension box back to my friend after putting the first warp onto the loom, so I showed Bob what I needed. 

He drew up some plans, and when I came home from work this afternoon, he had most of it completed.

I found a wire coat hanger and made the two wire gates to keep the yarn from popping out of the tops of the open reeds.

Bob finished it after school.  He picked up some 1" dowel at Ace, and some wing-nuts, cut the four tension dowels and added the posts for the wing-nuts to tighten them.

I varnished the dowels, and have them drying on the box.  A light sanding of them tomorrow with super fine sandpaper, and it should be ready to try.  Now I need to decide what I am going to weave.  I did Chicken Tracks for the last run of rugs, so I will try something different this time.