Zoom Jacket

Dearest readers and followers on facebook…

You make me laugh.  Oh the uproar when I posted my near completed jacket and mentioned that I wanted to wear it around the house over my pajamas.  Best laugh I’ve had in a week.  Like handwoven anything can only be used for special occasions.  So here’s the thing…

  1. We are trapped at home in quarantine and I have no plans to leave the house for any reason for the remainder of this year, and probably well into the next.
  2. I have a bulging wardrobe of handwoven stuff to wear for special occasions.  Even culling the early stuff, there are 30 years of gorgeous handwoven garments in there, that I have no place to wear.  (And some of them are not fitting me too well either, given that the last nine months has padded my lower half just a bit more than I’d like…)
  3. Being trapped at home spending my days either working in my office at the computer, like I am now, or in the weaving studio, or the sewing room, or the kitchen, means that comfy flannel pajamas, now that the weather is cold (I keep my house at 64 degrees) are my wardrobe of choice.  
  4. I only dress for Zoom meetings, and trust me there are about 50 options for what to wear.  
  5. My beloved go-to knockaround commercially purchased jacket that I throw on when I get out of bed in the morning, and take off at night, hanging it on the coat tree in my room, is getting worn, old, boring, and it needs to move on.
  6. I want something cuddly, roomy, with large pockets, and can also hang on the coat rack every night without getting the center back neck bump from the hook.

Enter this fabric which recently came off the loom.

I blogged about it in the last post, and there is a link in the last post to the details, what I used as a draft, the warp and the weft, in the last post from when I first put this fabric on the loom almost two years ago.  I love the colors, and this fabric I knew would be challenging to lay out.  The coloring was formed from the engineered gradient in the Noro Taiyo Lace skeins I was using.  Though they were engineered to repeat themselves, when a dreaded knot in the skein would appear, or I had to change skeins, the sequence was thrown off.  So I did the best I could…

I had lots of unwanted assistance, trying to lay this out, stretched all across the sewing room floor which is in the basement, and all the way into the utility closet.  The cat was very amused…

It took two days of moving pieces around to get what I wanted.  The fabric wasn’t really wide enough, but fortunately last Friday’s YouTube video shoot was on that very topic, What to do When You Don’t have Enough Fabric.  So I shared some of the tips I did in this garment to try to make the most out of what I have.  That video should drop next Friday.  It is still in edits.  (Who am I kidding, she hasn’t started editing yet, she waits until the day before…)

Anyway, I wanted something unfussy, and perhaps crocheted around the perimeter, so I wouldn’t have to fuss with hems, or facings, or bands, whatever.  And I wanted big pockets.  I pulled my 100 Jacket, chose a larger size than I would normally take, so I’d have roomier sleeves to fit over whatever I was wearing, overlayed the neck from the 800 vest pattern, and extended the fronts 3 inches so they would fall back into a mock collar, but still could overlap to keep my chest warm when I really wanted to snuggle. (It is on my list of topics for my YouTube channel The Weaver Sews, to illustrate how to combine patterns, putting a sleeve on the swing dress, combining patterns for different necklines, etc.)

I got exactly what I wanted, and posted it on facebook last night.

Hahahahahah!  The responses were wonderful.  I love you all.  The outrage that I’d wear this over my pajamas was truly hilarious.  Of course it is a beautiful jacket.  Of course it should be seen out in the world.  But that isn’t realistic right now.  I’m not going anywhere.  I need to keep safe, healthy and not burden the hospital system because I was stupid.  It is worrisome enough that my son, who is an interim general manager at a local Target is exposed every day, so far has tested negative, but is going into the retail season from hell.  He is not allowed near the house.  NJ lived through hell last April, and we are there again, I’ve lost count of how many have died, almost 17,000 in our state alone.  It is as if my whole town got wiped off the map, and half of the next one as well.

And so, I will wrap myself up in a lovely comfy handwoven sweatery coat, and go about my day in comfort.  And smile dreaming of a time when I can go out and about and show it off.

So here are some of the observations and details.  Because you really don’t know how comfy and snuggly something is until you wear it.

First, since the fabric wasn’t wide enough, I moved the side seams towards the back so I could get a full back from the fabric, and used a crocheted seam finish, overlapping the seam with the fronts.  I cover this in the video that will drop next week.

You can clearly see in the photos above where I’m wearing the jacket that the collar points and lower front edges tend to curl inward.  There isn’t a facing for support, so I’d expect that.  I kept thinking about my late husband’s dress shirts and the little collar stays that would keep points crisp, and I remembered I have a drawer full of zip ties, and there are some really tiny ones in there.  I’ve used zip ties as boning in garments that call for that, so why not as collar stays.  I slipped a few behind the crocheted edges and I’ll let you know how well they work.  Already there is an improvement, time will tell if they hold.

And I dug through my box of inkle bands, and found this lovely narrow black band I wove to help support the sloppy neckline in a sweater I knit.  There was enough left to make a loop at the back neck for hanging my jacket at night on the coat tree.  That’s the sad very well worn jacket it is replacing on the left of the coat tree.

There are a couple of negatives that I really can’t do much about, one is that the wool (Harrisville Shetland singles from the 80’s) in the warp isn’t the softest.  That yarn typically isn’t meant for next to skin.  So the jacket is a bit scratchy, but I have a good tolerance for scratchy wool.  The good news is it should wash and dry pretty easily, I tossed the original fabric in the washer and dryer twice to get it to full up.  That will be important wearing it every day.

And the other negative of course is that I have a bunch of animals, that insist on curling up when ever I sit down, right in my lap, even the ones that weigh 60 pounds.  Animal hair sticks to it.  It was challenging crocheting around the edges and constantly pulling cat hair out of the yarn as I pulled up loops.  And I do vacuum often I can assure you.  But the good news is that unlike a fleece jacket, the hair comes off easily with a lint roller, it doesn’t seem to embed itself into the structure.  So I’m hopeful my new comfy jacket will prove to be my best friend in the coming months.  I want to wear this so much I wear it out!  

And speaking of Zoom…  I’ve spent many hours on Zoom meetings over the last number of months, and found that knitting wasn’t really for me a great idea, I was making mistakes on the sweater I was knitting in the decorative patterned border.  I don’t multi task well.  Really.  

So instead, I started pulling out my bags and baskets of thrums from past warps, most of which were hand dyed yarns, maybe 18-24″ lengths, and started tying them together. I keep the large basket of thrums now under the table where I Zoom.  Years ago, one of our beloved guild members, who has since passed, came to a September meeting fresh from a MAFA conference.  She had taken a workshop with Tom Knisely, a beloved weaver and teacher who has written a number of books, and one of the techniques she learned was something called Zanshi.  It is a Japanese technique for using leftover thrums and yarns so nothing goes to waste.  Tom talks about it in his book about Table Linens.

Anyway, the guild member showed her sample from the workshop and I was intrigued.  Thrums were tied together with overhand knots and the tails just got woven in.  Plain weave, couldn’t be simpler.  So I started tying my thrums together.  Mindless but productive while I sat through endless meetings.  I had a beautiful rayon/cotton discontinued yarn from Silk City Fibers called Marbella, in a greyed brown color called Bison for the warp.  I kept the warp narrow so I’d have a bit of color building from the short thrums.  I’m loving this.  And no, I have no idea what I’m going to do with this fabric.  I just like to weave…

Stay safe everyone, celebrate this season with whatever silver linings you can find.  Life is getting curiouser and curiouser, feeling more like Alice in Wonderland every day, there is some whacky crap in that story, worth a reread!

Stay tuned…

 

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Two in one weekend, it was a busy week…

Huge apologies right up front.  I have never posted two blog posts back to back in the same weekend.  Yesterday’s blog was a story of triumph, but there was lots more to tell on my week of extreme productivity. So indulge me this one…

I worked hard to get all of my floor looms filled with something interesting for the virtual HGA studio tour that we filmed back on October 8th.  That meant that every loom had something going on, and my daughter, who is madly prepping for this lecture next week, needed a floor loom or two to be empty, and I’ve got ideas of what I want to put on a loom that isn’t available.  

So the only thing to do, is to just weave.  I had a couple cranky mishaps with a couple of looms, parts get old and worn, especially cords, and I’ll need to do a bit of repair work, or had to repair in the middle of a large piece of yardage, when the front crank broke in two in my hand…

Despite roadblocks, I managed on Monday to clear one of the 4 shaft floor looms, of yardage that has been there for a couple of years.  It was a welcome site when the knots came over the back beam!  

I pulled 7 yards off the loom, and popped that baby in the washer.

The end result is really pretty.  A flower garden.  I have ideas for the yardage, but nothing set in stone.

In case you want the details, I wrote up the yarns and the draft back in a post in January of 2019, scroll way down to find the information here…

So Tuesday I had to set up a complicated Zoom class, which I was to give that night, the night of the election here in the states, for a group in Toronto.  I spent the morning getting the camera and lighting right for the live demo on the loom.  The topic was “doup leno”, a structure I wrote about in a lengthy article for Heddlecraft Jan/Feb 2019 I believe.  

Once I was set up, I decided to kill a few hours until showtime, by weaving on another floor loom.  And pretty soon, the knots were up and over the back.

This yardage was one of the ones I put on the loom to play around with one of the new yarns from Silk City Fibers.  I combined the Nile cotton tape with their traditional Skinny Majesty Variegated, in a simple plain weave.  And after some extensive testing, which I talked about in an earlier post, I ended up using Silk City Fiber’s Deluxe Wool Crepe.  Which is Merino and rayon.  This is my new favorite weft.  Highly recommend.  I can’t wait to do something with this fabric.  It feels amazing and the wool crepe weft keeps the rayon in check.

Anyway, because the yarns came from Silk City Fibers, I wrote up the specs and the draft for what I’m calling Antique Jewels and it is available in my eShop for free.  Click here.

Wednesday was a tough day.  I had to teach again in the morning, after a very successful, at least I thought so, class Tuesday night.  Because no results were declared Tuesday night, and I didn’t expect them to be, I didn’t sleep all night, and I suspect neither did most people in the US.  So bleary eyed I logged onto my class Wednesday morning, and I believe all went well, and this time no landscape crew came by to blow my leaves like the class the week before.  Wednesday night was my guild meeting and we had a terrific program with an old weaving friend of mine, Sheila O’Hara.  I’m blown away by how easy it is to bring a guest speaker from 3000 miles away for an evening lecture.  She was fantastic.  We are only about a year apart in age, and studied the fiber arts in college about the same time in the 70’s, it is amazing how different our paths took as weavers.  She was one of the first to truly embrace Jacquard weaving.

So Thursday, prior to the debacle I covered in yesterday’s post , I managed to clear yet another loom.  This one was also the result of a challenge with yarns from Silk City Fibers.  An odd combination, but I took their new poofy Cotton Bambu, and combined it in a light/dark 8 shaft shadow weave with their old standby chenille, in a variegated color.  The two worked perfectly together, and I soon had the knots over the back beam as well.

The fabric was a bit coarse when I pulled it off the loom, kind of what you would make a carpet bag from, but never the less, I went to the washing machine and tossed it all in. 

What came out is the most gorgeous, glorious fabric you’ve ever felt.  Cotton Bambu doesn’t have any body weight behind it, but in this context it became gorgeously flexible and mixed with the velvety feel of the chenille, I can’t wait to weave more in a larger piece of yardage.  I wrote up the specs for this fabric as well, which I call Shadow Tapestry, and again, the PDF download with the draft is free.  You can find it here.

I’m off to the studio to weave another scarf on one of the other floor looms, and then do stupid stuff like clean my bedroom and bath, annoying Sunday chores, though I can’t wait to remake the bed with the new sheets I just got from LL Bean.  Portuguese organic cotton flannel.  Looking forward to a good night sleep tonight. I had a set from the last couple of years, but when I went to change my sheets with the change of season, from linen to cotton flannel, I discovered that my daughter had swiped them.  They were on her bed.  So shopping I went for another set!

Stay safe everyone, one of my closest friends was just diagnosed with Covid.  These are scary times…  Stay tuned… 

 

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That’s not why I did it…

It has been a very long time since I’ve dealt with a major loom screw up.  A really long time.  Like I don’t remember the last time?  And it isn’t because I’m so very good at this whole weaving thing, but it sort of is.  I’ve been weaving since the mid 70’s.  If there is a mistake, or screw up, I can assure you I made it or did it at some point in my career.  One of the glorious things about being a weaver is the pure tenacity that controls what we do and how we approach a situation.  

Of course by now, you are all familiar with my daughter and her major accomplishments as a weaver.  She works for me now, and is responsible for converting all of my garment patterns into digital downloads.  She is also responsible for filming, producing and editing all of my videos for my YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews and writing all of the Closed Captioning.  (Yes, I caught that there were a couple of misspellings in previous episodes…)  I couldn’t have moved into this next portion of my professional life without her, but that’s not why I did it…

My daughter, Brianna, yes she has a real name, not the one she uses on Facebook, was asked back last winter if she would give a lecture to her old weaving guild in MA, near where she went to school.  The lecture, on differential sett, was scheduled for April of this year.  And of course we all know what happened in the northeast by April.  The world was cancelled.

Since my daughter is a soon to be 28 year old millennial, she does her best work under deadline pressure.  (Truth be told, so do I…)  The guild called her last week and asked if she would be willing to give the lecture remotely.  Hahahahah!  Of course she said yes, which is what I would have done at that age.  I use to have a sign on  my studio door that said, “Say yes, then worry…”

So my daughter had to build an entire lecture that only existed as an outline, and weave all the samples in less than two weeks (the lecture is next week), plus edit and create new content for me, plus work in the evenings on her schooling, (yes, she is still in school to get her vet tech license).  But that’s not why I did it….

One of the samples Brianna decided to weave, was exploring what happens when you use differential sett with really slippery rayon, warp and weft, and then slippery rayon warp and a dragging kind of weft like Shetland wool.  The sample with the slippery rayon warp, though challenging, was completely successful.  She then wound a warp with the Shetland wool, and the idea was she would tie into the rayon warp and repeat the experiment with a rayon weft and a wool weft, producing an additional two samples.  

At one point, she said to me, as I was weaving on another of the looms in the studio, “This is ridiculous, tying in a new warp, I could have started fresh, sleying and rethreading in half the time…”  and I couldn’t disagree with her.  I’ve never found tying in a new warp to be a time saver.

I went off to do something else and came back and she had only tied in about 2/3rds of the warp, and she moved onto a different loom to do other samples of different weave structures.  She told me that she was fed up and didn’t have the time to waste tying in 600 ends on a table loom.  But that’s not why I did it…

I went off to other projects of my own, like writing the script for Friday’s The Weaver Sews Youtube installment.  I came back and decided to finish tying in the rest of the warp, which would have been 200 ends.  It wasn’t a big deal, and I can do stuff like that in my sleep.  I was surprised when she directed me to make a square knot, I had always tied in new warps with an overhand knot, but I learned long ago that I didn’t argue with my late husband, and I don’t argue with his daughter.  Even though I have almost a half century of experience…

I finished the task and then turned the job of beaming the 1  1/2 yard warp of sticky Shetland wool, onto the warp beam, over to my daughter.  I think I went off to bed…

I came back the next day to find the warp abandoned.  It was a complete disaster.  I don’t think even at my worst I’ve ever had a mess like that.  Partly I take some responsibility because my daughter has worked along side of me since she first learned to throw a shuttle.  She never had the opportunity to fall flat on her face, like most weavers, including me, have had to do.  I’ve always been there to guide her, when she chooses to listen to me.  But that’s not why I did it…

Largely what happened, is that when she put tensioning bars in the back of the warp, and tried to beam the new sticky Shetland warp into the old slick rayon warp, the square knots didn’t hold, they slipped right out.  And for some reason, the Shetland wool ends, that slipped out of the knots, ended up in the front of the beater, probably about 200 of the 600 ends.  I think this wins an award for the most messed up warp I’ve ever seen.  That’s partly why I did it…

I felt really sorry for my daughter, she was trying so hard to see this lecture into fruition…  But that’s not why I did it…

I felt partly responsible because I knew that when you tie in a warp, you always use overhand knots.  There are a lot of things I know, but I don’t know why I know them.  And because my daughter requested square knots, I obliged.  But that’s not why I did it…

I laid awake all Thursday night haunted by the mess on one of the looms in the garage right underneath of me.  I kept thinking, if that were me, I wouldn’t have gone to bed without fixing it.  But that’s me, even though I knew I had a video to shoot in the morning. I didn’t sleep the whole night.  My daughter just moved to a different loom, and started on a different group of samples she had been planning.

In fact my daughter was so upset by what happened that she couldn’t even look at the loom. She couldn’t even walk over to that area of the studio.   She is not use to having major loom screw ups…  I’ve largely protected her from that…  But that’s not why I did it…

We stopped everything to shoot the new video Friday morning, and I had some computer/business stuff to attend to, but Friday afternoon, I sat at the loom and thought, it has been a very long time since I’ve bailed a loom out of a major temper tantrum, and you know what?  I really wanted to just dive in there and fix it.  That’s why I wanted to do it.

A couple of years ago, I had my new to me dog chew up a skein of yarn that was being wound into pirns for the weft yarn for a project I was working on.  I got distracted by the doorbell, and when I returned I found  the skein stretched around my loom, and all the way down the stairs, and the skein chewed beyond help.  I can’t believe the number of weaver’s who offered to have me send them the skein and promised to untangle every last yard.  There is something about fixing a monumental disaster that is really appealing for a weaver.  

I sort of think that it has to do with creating calm in chaos.  There is so little in the world that we have any control over.  But what happens at our looms, that thing, we have control over.  And if what happens on our looms becomes total chaos, then patience, tenacity, and time will make it work.  That’s why I did it.  

So I started Friday afternoon, after the shoot, and I began to reassess the 600 ends and how to best resolve the mess.  Cutting the whole thing off and starting over was an option, but it would mean wasting a perfectly good 1 1/2 yard Shetland warp, that I paid good money for…

I decided that the best way out, was to carefully pull the warps that ended up in front of the reed, since they were only 1 1/2 yards, and resleying them where required (because this was a differential sett warp, there were dents where there were as many as five ends) and then carefully tying them back into the slippery rayon warps that went through the heddles, one by one.  I probably spent 10 hours.  This was really really challenging.

I did it because there is something intensely satisfying about bringing order to chaos.  There is something intense about saving a project.  I had my doubts that this was even weaveable, 5 ends of Shetland in a 12 dent reed on a table loom didn’t see realistic, but that wasn’t for me to judge.  I grabbed my 5X glasses, a magnifying OTT lite, and a sley hook and started in.  10 hours later I was triumphant.  

As I suspected, the warp was unweaveable at that dentage, Brianna had to pull some of the densest parts of the warp, but after much bitching and kvetching, she managed to get the sample she needed, but that’s not why I did it…

For all of you out there who have ever had to deal with the warp from hell, remember that there is something healing in finally controlling that which would not be controlled, something triumphant about making something from total chaos.  And that’s  why I did it.  It has been a long time since I’ve had to bail out a major loom screw up, and I loved every minute of it.  It wasn’t my screw up, but I felt like a warrior on a mission and I was ultimately successful.  Mission accomplished.  It was sort of poignant that in the middle of the last inch and a half, that the election finals were called.  No matter who you supported, the wait is over.  And there is a sort of relief there, and now we as a nation can move forward to what I hope is a common goal.  My ten hours of determination over a warp from hell was finally over.  And I won.

Brianna did manage to beam and weave the new samples.  She did as I suspected have to cull some of the warps in the densest part of the reed.  But she learned that on her own.  And she also learned that when tying in a new warp, you should use overhand knots.  But kids learn by falling flat on their faces and picking themselves up and reevaluating the experience.  I never had anyone to tell me otherwise, so I learned the hard way, by trial and error, but that weaver’s tenacity kept me moving forward.  

 

To say that I’m so proud of the body of samples she has produced as a result of this exploration in differential sett would be an understatement.  And what she has learned from things that I would have loved to have prevented from my vast experience would have deprived both of us from an experience that ultimately benefitted both of us.  

So next time you are faced with the warp from hell, have a drink, and dive in head first.  There is some personal triumph that no one else but a weaver will understand…

Stay tuned…

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Simple days, complex world…

The days pass quickly in a routine that is pretty pleasant truth be told.  I’m not missing traveling, not missing even leaving the house.  I see friends and family enough via zoom, and with all the remote lectures I’m giving, I feel as though I’ve just attended the world’s largest weaving conference.  Each day I bounce around to some part of the country, and each lecture there are old friends and familiar faces in those tiny boxes on the screen.  I’ve been corresponding with someone in MO, who was supposed to take a workshop with me in August in Kansas, but appeared in a lecture in western MA.  We weavers get around…

Having my daughter here, working with her, developing new content, shooting a new video every Friday for my YouTube site The Weaver Sews.  It has kept us busy.  The biggest challenges are keeping the animals quiet, and hoping the landscape people don’t come through in the middle of filming the way they did last Wednesday in the middle of a class I was teaching remotely.  Those leaf blowers right outside the garage doors were pretty noisy.

So the election in the US is Tuesday.  I don’t hold hope that things will be resolved by Tuesday night.  I don’t hold hope that things will be resolved for a very long time, no matter who is declared the winner.  I’m sad for the polarization, I’m sad for the divisive language used by both sides, I wish we could all get along and move forward.  We are in the middle of a couple of international crises and I’m a firm supporter of science (having a daughter with a science degree means I can’t even cook without a science perspective thrown into the recipe), and no matter the results, I hope moving forward that we as a nation can come together to solve some of these major issues.  I’ve just heard of another weaver who lost their entire studio to one of the fires in Oregon.  She took a workshop with me just in March of this year, my last stint before the world shut down.  I sent her digital files of everything we could piece together that she lost from my workshop, but that doesn’t replace yarn, samples, looms, weaving equipment, spinning wheels, and a life time of knowledge in physical form.  My friends in California, Oregon, Washington, as well as Louisiana have taken the brunt of this year’s climate disasters.  I wish the world had a plan moving forward.  For me, I voted within 24 hours of receiving my mail in ballot (only mail-in voting in NJ this year because of the pandemic), so on Tuesday night, I’ll be teaching remotely for a guild in Toronto.  I can only do my best to keep moving forward, being kind, paying attention to the science, fighting for equality for all, and embracing my countrymen no matter what and who they are passionate about.

Since  Tuesday night’s lecture is on Doup Leno, a technique I wrote about a couple years ago for Heddlecraft Magazine, (January/February 2019), I needed to have something set up for a live demo.  The warp that I had been using was mostly used up.  So I rewarped this week, with a couple of handdyed skeins of cashmere I had sitting around, one a dark and the other a variegated turquoise.  The goal is a couple of scarves, the leno structure will keep them lacy, but the structure will hold together.

That said, I’ve been rather busy with my simple days.  Simple means I can fill my days up with juggling 40 things at once, because I can’t imagine a day when 40 things aren’t happening simultaneously!  

I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on a new project.  The last two vests I made both had welt pockets.  It has been on my to do eventually list for a couple of years.  I finally sat down, designed a diagonal entry welt pocket and then once I did a few of them, drew illustrations and wrote up the 12 page directions.

Now you can actually purchase the Welt Pocket Variation as a download.  The download contains the 12 page heavily illustrated directions, the two pattern pieces full size for the welt and pocket, and replacement pages for the 100 jacket, 200 jacket and 800 vest.  By substituting the pages in the pattern digital files, you’ll see where the pocket goes.  So if you’ve purchased the 100, 200 or 800 vest, you might enjoy this variation.  Of course it will work for any jacket or vest you make from anyone’s patterns, you’ll just have to figure out where to position it.

The second vest I finished is the one I’ve been using for demonstrations during my last few YouTube videos.  The fabric was a remnant I bought somewhere, can’t remember, but it was a gorgeous sleezy Chanel type tweed, really challenging to work with, like your worst case handwoven.  My handwoven fabrics aren’t nearly as challenging!  I made up the 200 jacket but left off the sleeves, bringing the lining to the edge of the armhole.  With the shawl collar and welt pockets, it is a much different look than my other vests.  

I realized of course that I haven’t updated my gallery on the website with the last couple of pieces I’ve made, the Summer Rain Top, and of course the leopard trimmed and lined Confetti vest shown above.  It is much more important to be timely in those updates because my daughter references those details and images when she creates the show notes for each video I do.  We took one of our guest rooms, since we aren’t getting a lot of guests (none actually) and turned it into a temporary photo studio.  So I popped the Summer Rain top onto the dressform, and perched it on top of the table to take a quick shot of the top.  The free draft for the fabric for this top, using Silk City Fibers is available here.  The pattern is a combination of my 1000 Swing Dress, very modified to take out the “swing”, and the armhole and sleeve from my 200 Jacket.

Meanwhile, now that all my looms are full, I filled them up for the HGA remote studio tour the beginning of October, I need to start clearing looms because I’m getting more ideas of stuff I want to weave.  So I cleared one of the table looms first.  This one had a test for Silk City Fibers, their Supermerino yarn, sett in an 8 dent reed, plain weave, to simulate what one would experience with a rigid heddle loom set up.  One was a single end in an 8 dent reed, single weft, spaced a little far apart for my taste, but that was the point of the test.  I gave that one to Silk City and kept this one, which is two ends together in an 8 dent reed with a doubled weft (I used a double boat shuttle for that scarf).  Supermerino is a superwash yarn.  It doesn’t say that in the description, but it doesn’t full at all when washed.  The result is actually quite soft and lovely, and I’m glad they let me keep one of the scarves.  I suspect I’ll be venturing outside a bit this winter, if only to walk the property and pick up dog debris, and I think this will be quite warm.

I did a round robin sort of day earlier in the week, I wove a yard of two on each of the other floor looms, just to get them moving forward.  I can probably just sit and weave and finish off a couple of them in a day or two.  To have time to just sit and weave is such a gift.  And that means I’ll have yardage to sew.  And empty looms to rewarp…

There is this one, which has been on the loom for way too long.  The yarn is Noro Taiyo Lace, a pain to work with but really beautiful in its gradient effect as the weft.  4 shaft, warp is vintage Harrisville singles Shetland wool and vintage Maypole Nehalem worsted.  I’ve probably got less than two yards to go…

This is another test for Silk City Fibers, their new Cotton Bambu yarn mixed with their Chenille Tapestry yarn.  I modified an 8 shaft shadow weave draft, it is a bit slow to weave because of the two shuttle complicated repeat but it is moving along nicely.  

And this one is also using Silk City Fibers, their new Nile cotton tape mixed with Skinny Majesty variegated.  The weft is their Wool Crepe.  I can’t wait to weave off this fabric, it is weaving like butter and I want to make swing dress out of it. Over a black turtleneck, this could be fun for winter, something new to wear, even though I don’t go anywhere and only dress for the upper third of my body for remote Zoom meetings.  And for the videos, I get to dress up, put on makeup and look remotely professional, but everything has to be 2-piece to support the remote microphone pack clipped into my waistband.

Days are cooler now, we have finally had frost in NJ.  I cuddle up with the gas stove in the living room, and a 1000 piece puzzle and some wine in the evenings, or watch late night political satire on the TV with my daughter.  We need to keep laughing, we need to surround ourselves with art, humor and good food and drink.  And of course animals, there is a cat asleep on my lap as I type, with one paw draped over my typing hand.  And yarn and good books.  I have all of that, and new flannel sheets coming this week from LLBean.  My daughter stole my other set.  Life is OK for now in my small neck of the world.  I quietly keep making up new stuff, and keep an eye out for important things to know about.  

See you all on the other side of this election, stay safe, wear a mask, and don’t forget to vote…

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Everyday feels like a year…

This is the weirdest year I’ve ever experienced, and there have been a lot of them.  You’d think by 65, especially having lived through the 60’s and 70’s that you’ve seen it all.  Hahahah!

I’m not going to comment on any of the current world situation.  You don’t need one more voice in the cacophony of voices and events and situations screaming at you for attention.  Because you all know or should know that the world is imploding like some sci-fi novel and that we just all have to buckle our proverbial seatbelts and hold on for the ride.  A bottle of wine or something more powerful would help for fuel.

That said, my last couple of weeks have been wild and crazy, and that has nothing to do with all the drama and sturm und drang happening in the world.  

In case you missed it, I did finish my Confetti vest, lined with a vintage leopard coat.  It makes me smile in so many ways when I look at it.  I’m ready for winter, this will be warm as s**t!  

So this week is Spinning and Weaving week.  It is a big deal in the fiber community, usually full of events, and gatherings and all sorts of fibery happenings.  The Handweavers Guild of America is giving it the valiant try of doing a bunch of fiber related events virtually.  While not ideal, in essence it allows participation by anyone, anywhere, in the comfort of your own home.  I know our homes are getting too comfortable and we are looking to get out and go anywhere, but inspiration comes in odd packages, and basically all this is free and all you have to do is register for a specific event.( I think it helps if you are a member, because everything is free, but there are modest fees if you aren’t a member.)  All this coming week, the HGA is sponsoring studio tours of various fiber artists they have selected, whose studios they think might be of interest to the fiber community at large.

And guess who is featured Thursday at 4pm EDT.  Yeah, so there is that hanging over me.  In preparation for a virtual studio tour, I mistakenly said, when they inquired if I would be willing to be a part of this, that sure, I’ll even have something on every loom that I can talk about and explain, and fill up space for an hour.  I need to learn restraint!

So, in anticipation of Thursday’s live virtual studio tour, filmed by my daughter who will be tethered to the laptop, camera and sound system, we will walk through my wonderful new garage space, and then on to the basement where I have my cozy sewing room.  But all the looms had to be warped…

So, my 8 shaft 36″ loom was unwarped and very lonely.  I still had a couple of cones of Silk City Fibers yarns to test out, one was a Cotton Bambu, in Silver, and the other was a Chenille Tapestry variegated called Japanese Red Maple.  I envisioned a light dark shadow weave, something sett well enough to keep the chenille from doing silly things like worming out of the structure.  Some day I’ll recount my early experiences with chenille, but with a lot of experience behind me, I thought I’d give it another go.

I used the Powell book for inspiration, but since I’m aiming to publish the draft and specs for this fabric, I needed something that was mine.  I started out with this 8 shaft version, and wasn’t completely happy.  (Actually I started out with 24 epi, alternating the CottonBambu and the Chenille.  Resleyed to 20 epi, and then resleyed again to 16epi.  Don’t ever be afraid of changing course mid stream.)

The change might not be obvious, but I redesigned it to reverse in a more pronounced way, and to better square up with the sett.  I’m pretty happy with this.  Now I just have to weave it off, but not before Thursday…

And my big loom, the 45″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade, my first loom and first love, still with me after all these years, purchased in 1977, delivered in 1978 was also naked and really not happy.  Since every fall I put on a run of dishtowels for holiday gifts, I decided that that would be an appropriate thing to put on the loom, and then at the end of October into November, I could weave it off and have my holiday gifts.

Social media can be really challenging and full of untruths and misinformation and a lot of passionate people on both sides of the fence no matter what the subject.  But the social media sites dedicated to fiber and specifically weaving has some very dedicated moderators and some very talented contributors and every morning when I wake up I feel like I have just been to a fantastic inspirational gallery opening.  

The Facebook site Strickler in Color has been a tremendous source of inspiration.  Carol Strickler wrote a lovely book, now considered essential for every weaver with 8 shafts on their loom, full of patterns, all black and white, and you could spend a lifetime with this book and not make a dent.  So this Facebook site has talented contributors who post what they’ve woven, but in color, with a nod to the draft.  Strickler 728 keeps coming up, and if you looked at it in the book, you would have just turned the page.  It really is rather boring and not very inspiring.  But I’ve seen so many people use this draft in eye catching ways that it was on my list to try.

In keeping with the need to stash bust, because I’ve acquired a lot of 8/2 cotton in the last year or two, I pulled a length from all of my cones and sat with weaving software until I was happy.  I decided to put 15 yards on the loom because turns out, I can never have enough dishtowels.  I’m always needing one as a gift, and I’m tired of running out in July. (I still have two left from last year because I haven’t been anywhere since March, but hey…)

My table top warping mill technically holds 10 yards.  I’ve successfully pushed it to 14, but I decided that my AVL warping mill, now 20 years old, would probably serve for this purpose.  I rigged up way to make a cross, and I wound 15 yard bundles in 2.5″ widths.

I threaded the loom.  My ott-lite magnifier has changed my life!  

I beamed the 15 yards.

And I started weaving.  I am completely in love.  This is why we do this.  I am so thrilled to have been forced to fill up my looms, because now, after Thursday, I can walk in my studio and just weave.  A lot.  I have a whole fall’s worth of looms to clear.  Which will mean, except for the dishtowels, a lot of sewing this winter.  I can’t wait when we reemerge from this protective cocoon to wear half the stuff I’ve made this year.

Speaking of…

In addition to studio tours and virtual vendor halls, the Handweavers Guild of America is also sponsoring a virtual fashion show next Sunday.  Not the same as sitting in an auditorium at a conference and watching cool handwoven garments strut across the stage, but they are trying to put together a virtual fashion show.  That would be next Sunday at 2pm EDT.  Of course I’ll have a piece in the show, but I hear they could use more participants.  WHERE ARE ALL MY STUDENTS, AND WHY ARE THEY NOT SHOWING OFF THEIR WONDERFUL GARMENTS!  This isn’t like where you have to be juried.  Just sign up!  You need the ability to Zoom, log in and they will tell you what to do.  The rehearsal was today, but I think they still want more participants!  Come on guys, you have some great work!  The link to enter is here.  I know the deadline has passed, but I believe they are still looking for participants.  The link to view the virtual fashion show next Sunday is here

And finally, there is my new Youtube site.  We now have four episodes of The Weaver Sews.  Every Friday we film a new episode on something related to sewing handwoven fabric.  Four are launched with Closed Captioning, which my daughter writes, so it is accurate and synced.  Two more are shot and I’m planning the topic for next Friday as I write.  I will create a script, which makes it easier for my daughter to write the Closed Captioning, and then I work all week on creating the samples and supplies I need for the video shoot.  We are having fun with this and I hope it is helpful and informative.  Sales of my patterns are certainly picking up!

So my head is spinning with all that is on my plate.  I’m old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show, and the guy from some Baltic country that did plate spinning.  He would keep 10 or 20 plates spinning all at the same time.  I remember watching with fascination and thinking, “How does he keep them all going at once?”  Well now I know.  Somehow that skill managed to rub off on me and I’m doing that every day.  And I wouldn’t wish for anything different.  My days are full, I have plenty to keep me busy.  I am lecturing virtually almost every other day, somewhere in the country.  It is so great to log in and see familiar faces.  I can do this… (though sometimes I wish I could redesign the plates).

Stay tuned…

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