Saturday, April 8, 2017

Lost in the Woods

Pine Tree Towel
8H Summer & Winter

According to the calendar, spring is here but still we wait for sunshine and warm days. It was a tough winter for a lot of reasons including but not entirely due to severe weather. Instead of feeling blue while suspended between situations and seasons I decided to try my hand at weaving Summer & Winter.

So I headed for the woods and searched for a nice pine tree border in several books. My loom is limited to eight harnesses and ten treadles allowing me to weave six blocks in Summer & Winter. In order to achieve a nice branch effect I wanted to find a draft using all six possible blocks. I was particular that the trees appear as realistic as I could make them.

This draft seemed to best fit my requirements. You will find it on pages 27-28 of the Shuttle Craft Guild Monograph #19: Summer and Winter and Other Two-Tie Unit Weaves by Harriet Tidball.


Pine Tree Towel showing front and back sides
8H Summer & Winter




Summer & Winter has long been on my "to-do" list because it took time for me to get over being intimidated it. Most worrisome was the necessity of using a skeleton tie-up on my countermarch loom. I studied and sampled and discovered it was not as difficult as I had feared. It is possible to use the countermarch action using a skeleton tie-up but instead of tying only rising or falling sheds to every treadle, one ties only selected harnesses on each treadle to be paired. Yes, two countermarch treadles can be tromped at once when tied up this way.

Weaving with the skeleton tie-up requires half again as many treadle steps as otherwise therefore many more opportunities to go wrong. But with careful attention a rhythm establishes itself.

There are several methods of treadling Summer & Winter. I attempted to illustrate the three I chose to weave with these photographs. They produce similar but different results. It is tough to say which I like the best.

Click on Photo to better see results of three treading methods.
Lower Left: Paired X's
Lower Center: Singles
Lower Right: Paired O's
Treadling Variations:
Black: Paired X's
Dark Green: Singles
Medium Green: Paired O's (this towel shows reverse side)

In my usual fashion, I added color to the warp and tabby threads. To make the tree trunks seem more real, I used brown warp ends and in the very center of the brown trunks is one subtly variegated thread. I hadn't considered how the added color would play throughout the center of the warp. The result made me very happy. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

8H Summer & Winter Pine Tree Towel
Hem details
After a while I grew tired of weaving with only green and gave black a try with pleasing results. Dark brown would work well, too. Take a close look at the hems on the black towel. I began with the hem on the right. By the time the ending came I'd decided to add two extra shots of black to close off the block design. This seems to make for a more finished look.


Summer & Winter opens exciting possibilities for further design exploration. But for now I am working to rethread my loom with another warp based on this draft. At 15x19 inches these towels are rather small so now I am working on something a bit wider.


Will I find my way with Summer & Winter or stay lost in the woods? Actually, being lost in these particular woods isn't so bad.

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver
8H Summer & Winter Towels
The towel at upper left showing the reverse side

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Beat Goes On . . .

Heat-seeker Dot lending a paw to my fringe-twisting efforts
She loves the lime light and thinks she is a tiger.
Putting together colors for this fourth and last Rep Swirl warp, I kept picturing tigers. It wasn’t until the runners came off my loom that I wondered which side should be the “right” side. Technically, rep weave is reversible. Both sides seemed appealing so I hemmed some of them one way and some the other.

Tiger Swirl Rep Runners
Warp: 8/4 Cotton Carpet Warp
Thick Weft: ¾" Wide strips of Tee Shirt Knit


Is the tiger black with orange stripes?


Later I began thinking, really thinking, about tigers. Are they orange with black stripes? Or are they black with orange stripes? Hum . . . Better take a closer look next time I see one.

Or is the tiger orange with black stripes?

Following my workshop experience with Kelly Marshall, I knew these would require black for the thick weft. On hand, the only black I had available for rags was a pile of old black tee shirts. Tee shirt knit is messy to cut but makes for soft, well-packed Rep weave.



For extra interest I added three small blocks of brown in the border. This was careless, as they could have been better thought out beforehand. As they are, they are slightly reminiscent of paw prints. Also evocative is the contrasting lime-green floating selvedge. Those seem like tiger eyes peeking out at me, a happy result.


Christmas-Turned-Easter Outfits





Sewing has kept me busy lately, too. Here are a few outfits for my grandchildren. The dresses have yet to be hemmed. My daughter had hoped to sew the dresses as Christmas outfits but ran out of time. Caring for three little ones, it is hard to imagine her actually finding the time. So I volunteered to take on the project. Once the two dresses were as finished as I could make them without trying them on my far-away granddaughters, I decided my grandson should have something to match. So I sewed the little shirt for him as a surprise. He was thrilled. The too-late-for-Christmas outfits worked out just in time to serve as Easter outfits.

Isn't it interesting how the colors of sewing and weaving projects match? Even at a far distance, my daughter and I think a lot alike.



Summer & Winter Sampler
Bottom - Paired X's treadling
Center - Paired O's treadling
Top - "Plain" treading


Next up on my weaving agenda is Summer & Winter, a structure long on my to-do list. There is much to do and much to learn.

Here is a small sample of current explorations. The draft is from Shuttle Craft Guild Monograph #19, "Summer and Winter and Other Two-Tie Weaves" by Harriet Tidball. The warp is 20/2 cotton with pattern weft of 10/2 cotton. A perfectly balanced plain weave is essential for this design. I think the sett of 24 e.p.i worked okay.

Adding color through the center of the tree trunks  created extra interest with a checked effect in the middle, a happy result. Experimentation will continue.

The beat goes on . . .



Warp On/Weave Off,
RepWeaver

Monday, March 13, 2017

Always More to Learn

"Life-long learning" and "Life-long learner" are oft-repeated catch phrases lately. Not so long ago it went without saying that a person gained knowledge over time. Although I don't disagree with those sayings, I wish it still went without saying. After all, don't wisdom and age go hand-in-hand? It does not hurt to go out of one's way to seek information, to digest it and to come to one's own conclusion.

Having promised to write about a Rep Weave workshop with Kelly Marshall, it is long past time to do so. Kelly came to speak to my guild and teach a workshop in January.

At the first opportunity I signed up for the workshop. Good thing too, because the roster filled immediately and the wait list was long. Demand was so great that Kelly agreed to teach a second group of students. Our enthusiasm was well founded. Kelly is a nice person, an accomplished weaver and an excellent teacher. Do make the most of any opportunity to learn from her.




Sample and Table Runner woven in Kelly Marshall's Rep Weave workshop

Here you see my workshop sample. I opted to use my own color choices for her design, mostly because there is little 5/2 perle cotton in my stash. Adding a single cone of Verdant Green, the other colors are bits and pieces left over from a previous project. The final result is not the best color-wise. The structure itself is far more satisfying.

If you look at the photos of my Yuletide Swirl rep runner in a previous post you will see one describing my dissatisfaction with the color breaks formed when I tried double-threading my heddles for a sett of 48 e.p.i. You may recall that I painstakingly rethreaded the whole thing with single ends per heddle because I did not like those spots. The result was a nice runner with near complete weft coverage. Weaving it was slightly problematic not in treadling but in advancing that dense warp. My three subsequent Swirl warps were sett a bit looser at 40 e.p.i. That was easier but still a tad dense. Still, the resulting runners are pleasing.

Threading two ends per heddle affords ample opportunity for color blending, something Kelly uses to great effect in her work. Two ends together in the heddle allows them to sometimes switch places. If the ends are two different colors interesting blending effects can occur. The possibilities are endless and exciting. 

Left - sample with mixed brown and cream-colored yarns for thick weft
Right - Rep Runner with all brown yarns for thick weft
Kelly won me over to her way of weaving Rep with two ends per heddle. The way she avoids those weft color spots peeking out is by carefully matching her thick weft color to her warp colors.

Being used to weaving on a more “open” sett and using the thick weft color as a design element, I wasn't expecting that as the solution. On the first class day I did not bring carefully matching weft yarns. Kelly directed us to use three strands of Sugar & Cream yarn as one for the thick weft. For my first day’s sample I used three different colors for the three strands: brown, cream, and variegated browns. On the left the photo shows the same problem that bothered me back with the Yuletide Swirl runner. The final runner on the right, with three strands of brown yarn together, is far better.

If you don’t have the chance to take a workshop or hear her speak, Kelly Marshall has written a lovely book about her design process and technique, “Custom Woven Interiors: Bringing color and design home with Rep weave”. Any or all of the three are highly recommended. Meeting her and learning from her was a thrill and a golden opportunity.

There is such a thing as an information overload but one can never know enough and learning is fun. I aim to learn more every day. Whether I manage to do so is another thing . . . I am a work in progress.

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver


Monday, February 13, 2017

Sweetheart Swirl and Signs of Spring

One week ago our Linden tree
bowed low beneath six inches of heavy snow.

It is said, “Time flies.”

I say, “Time accelerates!”

Heavy snowfall one week ago made it feel as if Winter would never end. But then these appeared. 

Yes, Spring really is on its way and here is proof. Yellow crocuses are always the first to bloom. Still they are a sure sign of warmth and sunshine just ahead. Hooray!



Today crocuses were in full bloom beneath the very same Linden tree.


















Sweetheart Swirl Rep Runners by RepWeaver
Sweetheart Swirl Rep Runners


If you guessed the next version of Rep Swirl would be red and white, you were right. Sweetheart Swirl seemed the best description for this color-way  The runner with an alternating block order suggests heart shapes to me. Only one runner is woven in the alternate way, but the others are perfectly evocative of Valentines and hearts, too. Red is great for any time of year because it is my favorite color.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Sweetheart Swirl Rep Runners showing two different block arrangements
 and both front and reverse coloring

Warp On/Weave Off,

RepWeaver

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Starry Night Swirl

Starry Night Swirl Rep Runners



It’s always slightly sad when Christmas is over and our decorations are back in storage. Each year the whole process of “taking down Christmas” is a hurdle. At least getting a start on the process is tough. But then, once begun, I warm to the task.



After Christmas with all its red and green, I turn to blue for January. To me blue means cold weather, starry nights and Epiphany. In January we change our kitchen tablecloth to blue with sparkly blue snowflakes.



Planning my second rep swirl warp, I naturally turned to the color blue. The Yuletide Swirl runners seemed too tightly sett at 48 e.p.i. At least that was my opinion of them at the time. For the second warp I backed off and chose a sett of 40 e.p.i. Consequently, these runners are slightly wider than the previous ones, measuring 8” wide. You can see a slightly thicker and contrasting floating selvedge, a recent idea that still appeals to me.



January blue tablecloth with sparkly snowflakes
Starry Night Swirl Table Runner
The runners from this warp made me happy so I decided to weave the design again in another color way. Perhaps you can guess which colors I chose for the next warp. Look for details soon.


Detail of Starry Night Swirl showing red floating selvedge



Tatted snowflakes hang from antique fretwork

In keeping with the January theme, tatted snowflakes hang from a fretwork panel in our home. The fretwork came from my great grandparents’ Minnesota home where it once hung above the doorway between their dining room and parlor. But that was in the day before Mother was born and before the house was reconfigured. At least three generations occupied that house over the years. For my entire childhood the fretwork panel remained stuffed in the back of a storage shed. After my grandmother died, the fretwork came into my mother’s possession. When Mom and Dad moved into a retirement home a few years ago it came to us. I am so grateful to have this memento of generations past. After several nights' work to clean and refinish it, we hung it between our dining room and "parlor" where it fits perfectly and is the best place to hang tatted snowflakes.




My current tatting project


Most usually I have a tatting project in the works. As it is quite small and portable, tatting is the easiest kind of handwork to carry along to meetings. Here I am at work on a tatted bookmark with a center twist. I have a way to go on this one. You will find the pattern for it on the designer Jon Yusoff's blog here: https://tatsaway.blogspot.com
Ancient nub of sewing beeswax next to a new block








Do you remember my mention of the little bit of ancient beeswax I use when hemming? Here it is in all its glory. After 45 years of constant use it is now quite small. Once it was the size of the plastic holder on which it rests. That bright green rubber band keeps the slightly broken holder together. My sweet husband bought me a fresh bar of beeswax. But this little old nub of wax carries a lot of sentimental value. I wonder if it might last longer than I do.



A couple of weeks ago my husband brought the latest plague, an especially nasty cold, home from work. Naturally, he shared it with me. The timing was bad. Back in September I signed up for a workshop with Kelly Marshall. It was scheduled for this past week and for the 10 days prior, I’d been knocked off my game by the bug. Next time I’ll let you know how it went.

Stay warm out there on these cold, starry January nights. Soon it will be February!

Warp On/Weave Off,
RepWeaver

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,
RepWeaver

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,

RepWeaver
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,
RepWeaver