Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rep Swirl - Yuletide Swirl

Having woven all those Rep Weave coasters it occurred to me to try a denser sett using 8/4 cotton carpet warp. Over the years my favorite sett for carpet warp has been 24 e.p.i. For this first attempt I tried 48 e.p.i, two ends per heddle for a working sett of 24 e.p.i.

Yuletide Swirl Rep Runners
Inspiration for the design came from a larger design found in the book Rep by Catharina Carlstedt and Ylva Kongbäck. I adapted a small section from the draft called “Tiger Blue” (page 84) that caught my eye and made it into a table runner.

These colors are pleasing, reminding me of Christmas cards from a bygone era, the 1950’s perhaps. And while they are red and green, they don’t necessarily shout “Christmas”.

The first Yuletide Swirl runner, the one with plied fringe gave me trouble. The places where there are “breaks” in the pattern and the white rag peeks through did not please me. Color blending happened in an area of the smallest pattern blocks and made the colors look muddy. Maybe it would have helped if I’d stuck to blending either reds or greens right there but I’d done both. Then there was trouble with the tension. I found it difficult to beam the warp properly with that many ends and with two ends per heddle.

After weaving two runners with this set-up I found it impossible to continue. I cut the first two off the loom and rethreaded the entire width, maintaining the sett of 48 e.p.i. but switching to one end per heddle. This was essentially a return to the beginning since every single end was involved in the re-thread. While I was at it I rearranged the color order in a few places taking special care in the areas with smallest blocks. It was a lot of work but as they say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

Left side of photo - Sett: 48 e.p.i., 12 dent reed, 4 ends per dent, 2 ends per heddle
Right side of photo - Sett: 48 e.p.i., 12 dent reed, 4 ends per dent, 1 end per heddle

In the end, the rethreaded runners were a huge improvement and I was far happier with them than the earlier ones. Here you see the runner on our kitchen table. For each month of the year we use a specific tablecloth, placing it beneath a tabletop glass cover. Yuletide Swirl compliments the Christmas table theme nicely.

Yuletide Swirl runner atop our Christmas-themed table cloth

Even though the colors are fabulous, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with these runners. Check back to see what happens with my next Rep Swirl project.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Monday, January 9, 2017

Coasting into 2017

Okay, that’s corny but good titles can be tough to write. Sliding into 2017 might be a better heading. Snow has been on the ground every day so far this year. That’s only eight days, I know, but very unusual for any winter where we live. It seems to have prolonged the Holiday season so we can’t complain.

Rep weave coasters from the final two warps

Here are additional photos of my Christmas coasters. In all, I wove six separate warps in six different color ways. It worked out beautifully since I was able to give gifts sets of coasters, one of each color. I hope friends and family enjoy using them. They certainly were fun to make.

Sets of six made Christmas gifts
In addition to coasters, I wove a few narrow table runners. The purple one was perfect to hold our Advent candles. Sadly, I put those away before I took a photo. We use votive candle cups: three purple, one pink and one white for Advent. The little purple runner worked so well because one candle fit on each of the middle five motifs. Next year I will try to remember to post a photo.

Already this year I have one warp of table runners off the loom and finished. Today another warp is freshly beamed and ready to go. Photos to follow.

I think it's time to put the kettle on and enjoy a warm mug.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Narrow table runners to match the coasters
The purple one was especially nice for placing Advent candles

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ladder Stitch Hems

Happy New Year! The Christmas season passed far too quickly for my liking. A trip to visit our grandchildren in a distant state kept us busy in December. We had a lovely time celebrating together. Then it was home again just in time for Christmas. And before we knew it, it was time to flip the calendar page. Here’s wishing 2017 proves for you a year of health, happiness and successful endeavors.

Hand hemming Christmas coasters and runners

Those on my gift list received sets of six coasters; one from each of the six warps woven in the same pattern. They were fun to weave and I managed to empty several cones of yarn in the process.

The hems are sewn by hand using the “Ladder Stitch”. Once the warp comes off the loom I use a machine triple zigzag stitch to overcast both edges between each piece. After cutting between these stitch lines hems are folded twice and Ladder Stitched. The photo shows my needle taking a stitch under two warp threads on one side of the hem, next I skip directly across to catch the very next two warp threads on the other side. When the thread is pulled up the two sides of the hem are invisibly woven together. You can find video demonstrations of the stitch on UTube. The technique is particularly effective on Rep weave due to tightly sett warp ends.

At the very bottom of this photo you can spot the edge of a tiny wad of beeswax. Since I was in my teens, this same bit of wax has lubricated and strengthened my hand sewing threads. If you prefer, there is a commercial non-wax product available that does the same job.

Another helpful tool are the colorful little clips seen here. They are called Wonder Clips and work far better than pins to secure hems before sewing them. Even if they didn’t work so well I’d want to use them because they are so cute. They come in various sizes and colors and are fun and easy to use. You can find them at your local fabric store, quilt shop or on line.

Ladder Stitch in progress
Raw edges machine triple-stitch zigzagged

These small projects have been a lot of fun. Now that the 2017 has dawned I am ready to tackle some larger pieces. May your year be filled with good health, happiness and satisfying projects. Happy New Year!

Warp On/Weave Off,

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weaving Fun in Small Ways

Wee Swedish Coverlet

Photos of my final Wee Swedish Coverlet warp are probably in order. Here they are. Since this warp turned out to be other than perle cotton, it behaved differently. Shrinkage was greater. The finished cloth drapes well, better than the 100% cotton version. Overall, these are nice but I am wishing to weave some brighter colors for my next Wee Coverlets.

Wee Swedish Coverlet, Detail

Wee Swedish Coverlets
This group of coverlets drape beautifully.
The colors are pretty subdued for babies.
Maybe parents will appreciate this at laundry time.

Since last I posted life has taken a few twists and turns, some far less than pleasant. In the face of turbulent events, returning to the studio and immersing myself in weaving truly helps. Whenever calm reflection is necessary to peace of mind the studio is my go-to destination.

A box of odds and ends, mostly 8/2 cotton, had been on my shelf for a very long time. My guild sale was coming soon. It occurred to me to use some of that cotton to weave some quick coasters for the sale.

I took my first weaving class in 1988. My first exposure to Rep Weave at that time was an article by Joanne Tallarovic in issue #74 of Shuttle Spinal and Dyepot. A narrow runner in her article was the inspiration for these little coasters.

Rep Weave coasters
Notice the blue ones. One has rag as thick weft.
All the others have bright yellow cord-type yarn as thick weft.

Life intervened and I did not complete as many of these as I would have liked in time for the sale. But that is fine because Christmas is coming soon. Each of the four warps shown was an opportunity to learn and improve on the design. Exciting discoveries along the way made for a load of fun.

Blue coasters:
I wind my warps twice as long as needed but only half as wide, with a cross at each end. For Rep weave I wind two ends together. This works out great except when I forget to divide the total number of ends for the center block by four – not two. That is why that middle block is wider here than I meant for it to be. Since the extra ends were available, I just threaded them as wound.

The first few coasters on the blue warp have rag as thick weft (see group photo above). I liked that well enough until I thought to use a bright yellow cord that has been on my shelf longer than I can remember. Wow! That bit of bright yellow at the selvedges really pleases my eye.

Green coasters:
Now that is better. The center block is the proper width.
Unfortunately, in the meantime I’d forgotten to weave six thick wefts in the center. These coasters are shorter than the blue ones. Sometimes life events interrupt my train of thought. Oh, well.

Red coasters:
The challenge here was a limited supply of red and white. Making due, I used black and grey for the borders. Somewhere along the line I’d had a conversation about floating selvedges with a weaver friend. It motivated me to do something for the very first time – add floating selvedges to a Rep weave. I am never too terribly worried about matching floater color to warp color. Here I decided to go out on a limb and used a red floater next to the black border. The result made me very happy.

Yellow coasters:
Here you see more odds and ends from my box of 8/2. The border yellow is darker than the center yellow. And take a look at that floater!

Floating selvedges on Rep Weave???
What will be the next adventure? I saved the warp for a tie-on and there are still remnant cones of various colors in my box. Ideas are brewing and so is my next mug of tea. Hum, any coasters around here?

Watch for coaster hemming technique in my next post.

Warp On/Weave Off,

Brewing a cup of tea with first two versions of Rep Weave coasters

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ahem, a Hem

Have you been trying to get my attention? After all, I did promise hemming photos and you have been patiently waiting. But life has a way of interfering with my plans.

The first delay occurred on October 15th. At 14½ years of age, our sweet Jenny had been ailing for quite a while. She was the best of company all her life, especially for the two years while my husband was away working on the East Coast. She was always here for me and sounded the alarm that saved our house from even worse damage in the midnight washing-machine flood. She came to us as a feral rescue cat and proved herself a lady in the best sense. Our time together came to an end the Saturday before last. My husband and I are still grieving her loss. Oh, JennyCat, how I miss you.

That same weekend my mother took two falls. I did not hear of this until Monday morning when she called to ask for a ride to the Emergency Room. Doctors there discovered a compression fracture in her spine. Poor Mom is in terrible pain. She lives in a nearby retirement home but she has needed my time and assistance.

Whenever possible I have been weaving and doing my best to be ready for the Seattle Weavers’ Guild Sale later this week. My latest Wee Coverlets are finished and I wove two stacks of little Rep Weave coasters for the sale. Watch for more photos in a later post.

In the meantime here are a few pictures to show hemming techniques that work for me. At the very least I aim to give you the confidence to finish your handwovens as you please. Remember, there is no right or wrong way, only what works best.

Here is how I weave a hem at the beginning of a Wee Coverlet:
After a contrasting weft to mark the cut line weave
11 shots tabby weft
1 shot variegated weft
12 shots tabby weft
1 shot variegated weft
14 shots tabby weft
Weave the body of the piece. At the end reverse the above weave order for another hem.

Showing contrasting dividing shot (white)
Triple stitch zig-zag overcast on cutting edge
Variegated shots to mark fold lines for the hem

Fold the hem twice, once on each variegated marking line and machine stitch close to the folded edge. I tuck a label end inside the hem and sew both with a small regular-type zig-zag stitch. My labels don't shrink so I wait to stitch the other end down after the first washing/shrinking of each piece.

Label placement has me puzzled. I used to put it in the lower right corner on the back of a piece as if it were the artist signature on a work of art. Here I decided to place it in the "return address" position as if it were on an envelope. Maybe I will go back to the first way of doing it. Maybe.

Label tucked inside and sewn down with the hem

On a side note, being rather the introvert I strive to maintain a low profile. But here you see my label  in detail and there it is (horror of horrors), my name.

A weaver friend recently asked where I got my labels which sent me searching for a web link. They were woven by Xpresa Labels. Here is what I found on their website: Xpresa Lable Examples
Uh-oh, my cover is blown!

Tamer at Xpresa was incredibly helpful. The whole process was done electronically. I created my own design using Adobe Illustrator software and sent a .pdf file to Tamer. Xpresa even wove and sent sample proofs for my approval. Their customer service is top shelf.

The finished hem

I always hem or edge finish pieces before I wash them because I think it gives a more polished finishing. Then on the first washing those stitches shrink right along with the piece. That makes the hem more secure.

Next time I will share another hemming technique and I will share photos of my latest Wee Coverlets and Rep Weave coasters.

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver (a.k.a. Claudia)