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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No Guts No Glory redux…

Back in 2013 I wrote a post with the same title.  I  reread the post in prep for using the title again, and yeah, this one should be titled, “Hold my beer…”

As the story went, “back in my college days, I befriended a nun who worked on campus. We all called her Sister Fran.  She had an old station wagon.  She use to drive students around to wherever they needed to go off campus, and we’d pile into the back of the wagon and head off into the town.  When Sister Fran would come to a rather busy intersection, especially one without a light, she would barrel on through  shouting , “Fran, no guts no glory!”  I learned a lot about life through that mantra, and learned a lot about driving in NJ.”

I recalled that mantra this past couple of weeks as I embarked on a rather risky use of fabric from my box of yarn that Silk City Fibers encouraged me to play with.  This fabric featured a very muted orange Cotton Bambu, one of their newer yarns, heavier than I would normally use in any weaving, and I combined it with some of their old standby’s, and came up with this…

The draft and notes are available for free in my shop, since they gave me the yarn, I feel obligated to share anything I come up with for free.  Click here.

As I’m weaving this fabric, the vision of a leopard skin coat, that has been living in my closet for many many years, I’ve lost count, kept swimming into my head.  At one point I pulled out the coat and looked at it with the fabric still on the loom.  This is one of those times when “No Guts No Glory” came into my head.  I knew I wasn’t going to have much fabric, net maybe 3 yards if I was lucky, I only have what yarn Silk City Fibers gives me,  so a vest made sense.  What if I lined the vest with the fur?  It could be either really really cool, or really really awful.  I voted for “let’s find out…”

So I finished the fabric pictured above, and brought the coat to the sewing studio in the basement.  The lining had been pulled from the coat a long time ago, I seem to remember it was disintegrating.  Maybe not, maybe I was just curious. I also remember loaning it at one point to the HS for a costume for a production of Little Shop of Horrors.

If you have never been inside a vintage coat, it is really something to behold.  All those skins are strategically stitched together into an amazing pattern. 

Please, no letters.  I would never purchase a fur coat now.  But many years ago, having used vintage fur in a couple of art pieces, here and here, I have this vague recollection of someone giving me a coat, thinking I might incorporate it into a garment some day.  It was a long time ago.  The problem is, a number of animals died for this coat, and it is old, out of fashioned, dry rotted in places, and what do you do with something that should probably be tossed but I don’t have the heart.  This was once a living breathing thing.  So if I can give it yet one more life, I feel like I have maybe brought some good karma into my own life and saved something precious from the landfill.  

I started to dismantle the coat, and found in one pocket a name and address.  Kris Kolber, if this is your coat, it is being put to good use.  The other pocket was full of sunflower seed hulls.  I’m not going to comment on that, except to say that at one point, in the old studio, where this coat hung for years, I did have an issue with a couple of mice who secretly hoarded a stash of bird seed in all the yarn cones on my shelves.  They apparently made it to the second floor via a baseboard hot water heat pipe…

Meanwhile, I didn’t want to put patch pockets on this vest, but I did want pockets.  So I designed a welt pocket.  The goal is to write the directions for it, so it can be used in my jackets and vests.  Please be patient…

I also debated whether to leave the fabric as is, fuse with a fusible underlining, or quilt the fabric.  I needed the fabric to support the weight of the fur lining, so I opted for the quilted body, and underlined collar.

Working with old fur coats is a challenge (and no, I’m not looking to acquire anymore), mostly you are trying to salvage areas that are brittle, torn, cut for design purposes, and of course, there will be fur EVERYWHERE!

I’ve spent the last few days in massive handwork, sometimes with a pair of pliers, but I’m completely loving how this is coming out.  The real challenge will be the armholes, and I have an idea how to finish them with the fur.  Meanwhile, I’ve looked at many button options, and come up with these.  I’ll be using Scunci hair ties as the stretch button loops.  I think.  I won’t really know until I try it.  

This vest is my 800 vest pattern, without the zipper of course which wouldn’t be practical. You can purchase the pattern here.

MEANWHILE…

I have some really big news here, I feel like I’ve just given birth.  Bri, my daughter and I have been quietly filming and editing footage for a YouTube channel,  We launched the channel for real, though I should say she launched the channel, because without her, this would never have happened.  She has been tirelessly slaving away at the Adobe Premier tutorials online, learning how to edit multi camera and sound footage, and for a novice, I’m really impressed. We call the site “The Weaver Sews“. (And yes, I’ve applied for a trademark)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmz2mYvnteUP11-LvK8-eNg

So I now have a YouTube channel, which will hopefully contain a weekly upload of a short video that pertains to sewing with handwovens.  We have shot four videos, two are launched, two are waiting for edits.  We write our own close captioning, so it is accurate and sync’d.  Please check it out, and if you feel like this is something you will benefit from, please subscribe.  It is free.  As I add content, you will be notified.  

And I gave one of my first remote lectures since the pandemic began last March.  It was incredible to be able to turn on my computer in NJ, and give a presentation to a group in the Pacific Northwest, almost on the border with Canada.  I know many of these ladies.  Last year this time I was on Whidbey Island with many of them doing a private retreat sewing event.  Seems like a lifetime ago, now.  All the pre planning, monies spent on upgrading my equipment, video, sound, ethernet speed, it all worked in the best way possible.  This is a completely viable way of sharing my knowledge without dragging 170 pounds of luggage 3000 miles away.  I’m hoping that this can become the new normal in much of my life.

I’ll continue the handwork on the vest tomorrow, and hopefully work out the armhole trim, and start a new week with hope and confidence that all will be well.  Because I know deep down that all is not well in the world, but I can only wake up each morning, do what I can with my day, and hope I get to learn something new and share that with someone else.

Stay tuned…

 

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One thing led to another…

Wednesday night my guild had their first meeting of the new year, and sadly it was remote.  Still.  We won’t be back at our regular meeting place for while.  But a healthy amount of members tuned in and  we got through the business meeting in short order.  The program was actually put together by our program chair, because it was discovered that our guild was celebrating its 40th anniversary and she had requested last spring for older members and those with early archives to come forth and share stories.  She did a wonderful job on the PowerPoint and shared her screen, and there were lots of good remembrances…

So I got to thinking and doing some remembering of my own…

About 10 years ago, I was asked to be the keynote speaker for the Syracuse, NY weaving guild as they celebrated their 50th anniversary.  I put together a short slide show of the weaving world in 1960, which is when the guild got its start.  I knew it was somewhere in the archives, and it was a pretty cool presentation even though I’m not sure it had the effect I wanted since most of the members in attendance were students in the weaving program at the University.  They wouldn’t appreciate the ad for a Peacock Loom.  They wouldn’t appreciate the gossip columns and who was who.  

I started to think, well damn, I have the means to make this public, and so I started searching and found the presentation and posted it on my site.  It is a short PDF, but if you’ve been weaving awhile, you’ll enjoy it.  The link is here.

On Tuesday I was the guest on The Shi Show, which is a daily live broadcast on the Lion Brand Facebook site.  It was huge fun, and I copied the link to also post on my site. (You probably need a facebook account to watch it, I come in about 6:50).  Trying to figure out the best place to post stuff like this, I started actually looking through my website.  Hmmmmmm……..

Whenever I have special events happen, articles, exhibits I’m a part of, major teaching venues, etc, I try to enter them into my resume when they happen so I remember things like who the juror was, where the gallery was, where the conference was held, etc.  I wanted to enter the link for the Shi Show into my resume and to my complete horror, I haven’t updated it since last fall.  I know I haven’t gone out much, but still…

And the Published Work section of my About Me, on my website hasn’t been updated since 2017.  My bad…  And the Exhibition section, same thing.  So I spent a number of hours trying to update pages that haven’t seen the light of day in awhile.

It was then that I discovered  that I hadn’t entered all the videos that I did for Threads Magazine Insider.  It is a subscription service, modest yearly cost, and totally worth it if you make clothing, of any kind.  I kind of lost track because they were shot in October of 2018, and slowly over the next year they were released.  I know we shot 9 segments over the two days I was there for filming, but I really did lose track.  I have a vague recollection that the bound buttonhole segment was broken into 6 parts.  So I started doing a search and found all kinds of things I was missing in my resume, and to my complete surprise, the last of the 9 segments, featuring crocheted edge finishes, was released February of this year, and I completely missed it.  

Video: Threads Insider PRO TECHNIQUES FOR APPLYING BIAS BINDING February 2019
Video: TIPS FOR CUTTING BIAS STRIPS March 2019 

Video: Threads Insider BIND SEAM ALLOWANCES WITH BIAS CUT NYLON TRICOT May 2019
Video: Threads Insider COVER AND INSTALL SHOULDER PADS July 2019
Video: Threads Insider UNDERLINING TECHNIQUES June 2019
Video: Threads Basics Video STAYSTITCHING BASICS August 2019
Video: Threads Insider FITTING A FULL BUST October 2019
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: INTRODUCTION (Pt. 1) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: MARKING THE BUTTONHOLE PLACEMENT (Pt. 2) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: CREATING THE BUTTONHOLE LIPS (Pt. 3) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: ATTACHING THE LIPS TO THE GARMENT (Pt. 4) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: COMPLETING THE BUTTONHOLE (Pt. 5) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider BOUND BUTTONHOLES: FINISHING THE BUTTONHOLE’S WRONG SIDE (Pt. 6) January 2020
Video: Threads Insider CROCHETED EDGE FINISH February 2020

Hopefully that’s all up to date, it all started because of my guild meeting Wednesday night…

Meanwhile, Silk City Fibers is looking at a new yarn, and they had samples in two different weights.  The yarn is a tencel, one an 8/2 and one a 6/2.  I was asked to run a quick test to see what they could do.  Well, actually weavers can’t really run a quick test on anything.  Because you have to set up a loom, weave it off, and wash it before you can make a judgement.  

Sidebar, one of the looms in my studio is a small 12 shaft Leclerc Voyager I purchased last year from one of my guild mates.  For some reason she didn’t want it anymore, and I didn’t really have a 12 shaft loom, and the price was fair.  It still had a warp on it from her last workshop she took.  The warp was a 12 shaft point twill, 10/2 cotton in white, 24epi.  It occurred to me that I could wind a one yard warp combining the two tencel yarns, because I’d probably sample them at 24epi, and I could just tie into this existing warp, and make quick work.  I sat down at my computer and knocked out a draft.

The yellow is the 8/2, and it is a little meatier than what I’m use to seeing in an 8/2 tencel.  And definitely a little meatier than a 10/2 perle.  I love the yarn, the finish on it is slightly overtwisted and not as shiny as other 8/2’s, but silky smooth.  The red is the 6/2, and it is slightly thinner than many of their standard yarns, like the Nomad and Bambu 7.  Both have their place, but I think they are trying to pick one.  So I spent Thursday tying in the one yard warp…

And Friday afternoon I started weaving…

I cut the sample off and headed to the washing machine and loaded in a bunch of towels and washed and dried this little sample on high, within an inch of its life.  I like to see how far I can push a yarn.

Wow.  The point twill threading gave a bit of a waffle effect, but I had about 20% shrinkage.  The yarn really bloomed and filled up the spaces.  Tencel usually doesn’t do that.  The surface is smooth and silky, typical of a tencel, and I’m loving both of the yarns.  I’ll let you know what they decide to go with but this was a fun exercise.  

Saturday night I blew out an article for my local chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  That request came in earlier in the week, so I had actually a couple of days to think through a topic I thought appropriate.  Like how to work with digital patterns!  I get a lot of emails on the subject, I’m sure you can imagine.  And I realized that I have to go back and reformat all the intros to include my new logo, because nowhere does it say, Daryl Lancaster Pattern Collection!  Mine is the second one in from the left.  Yeah, I need to add the logo… (And before you start sending me letters, each of the patterns here were downloads that I printed and put in a catalogue envelope with the lead page taped to the front. I talk about that in the article.  My patterns are only available as downloads.)

And today, I sat down to actually sew the top I cut out last Monday from the Summer Rain yardage I wove using Silk City yarns.  I blogged about what went into this yardage here, and the draft is available for free as a PDF download here.  The top is a combination of my 1000 Swing Dress and the armhole and sleeve of the 200 (C) jacket.  Many of you probably already have the patterns from my classes.  The goal will be to do a series of videos that show how to combine patterns.  We are working on it!

I’m just coming up for air, and realized that tomorrow is a federal holiday.  Somehow I missed that. Can’t go to the post office to ship orders.  I live in a world now surrounded by fiber and light and color and assignments and the chance to explore, and yes, I’m still quarantining because it just isn’t worth going out and risking anything unless I have to ship an order.  So I forget that there is a big world out there, with a lot of turmoil, and a federal holiday thrown in.  Oops…

For my US friends, enjoy the holiday.  Fall is coming.  My favorite time of the year because I get to break out the cool sweaters and handwoven garments.  And I can’t wait to turn on my gas stove in the living room.  Stay safe, wear a mask, and stay tuned…

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My new favorite place…

I blogged a lot about the major studio changes last winter, HVAC was installed as I was walking out the door to teach in Oregon the beginning of March.  I returned from Oregon just as the world was beginning to shut down and so embarked on a five month effort to convert all my patterns to digital downloads.  So though I had this brandy spanking new shiny place for all my looms and fiber equipment, with the basement as the new sewing room, I never really got a chance to use it.  It kept calling me.  I felt really guilty.  I kept thinking about all those gorgeous magazine worthy studios in houses where I stayed, and their owners admitted that they didn’t actually do much in them.  I hoped that wasn’t the case with mine.  Most of my days since the quarantine began have been sitting right here at my computer in my office generating some kind of content.  Sigh…  Creative in a way, but not what I really want to do.  

Enter an email from Silk City Fibers.  I’ve had a very long relationship with them, and I’ve blogged about recent encounters with them, but this time they wanted me to consider being a “weaving influencer”.  My discussions with the head of Lion Brand Yarn marketing turned into, send me yarn and I’ll see what I can do with it.  And blog about it, or write about it, or give them usable content, or whatever.

What a shot on the arm that was, and in one of my last posts I blogged about the fabric Summer Rain that I got on and off the loom in record time.  It was the first time I had set up a loom since I built the new studio.  I ran into a lot of, gee, where did I put that tool…  but ultimately the studio did its job and created a brightly lit, comfortable and easy place to do what I do best.  So as I wrote in my last post, the Summer Rain fabric is finished and sitting on the cutting table in the basement waiting to be cut and sewn into something fun.  The draft is available in my store, and any of the drafts/fabrics that result from the relationship with Silk City Yarns, especially if they are giving me the yarn, will be available for free.  Add it to your cart, and there won’t be any charge at checkout.  You’ll get a link in your inbox and you are ready to go!  Find the PDF notes and draft here.

Meanwhile, having discovered the joy of my new studio, and having finished the scarves that were on the 8 shaft small floor loom, I decided to wind a new warp, this one called Autumn Harvest, based on a forecast from my Handwoven Column back in 2004.  It is on the loom, and it just glows!  The draft is available here.

I got more yarn from Silk City Fibers.  A lot of it.  I think of nothing else…  I gave them a general idea of what I’d like to work with based on what they want to promote, mostly their newest yarns, and I gave suggestions of color combinations, but I get what I get.  Which is just wonderful fun.  I work best designing with what’s immediately in front of me.  

Right out of the box I grabbed this orange Cotton Bambu, (one of their new yarns) which is a little heavier than I like to work with for garment yardage, but I successfully used it in the Summer Rain fabric in a 4 shaft mock supplemental, and I thought I’d like to expand on that for a full yardage.  So I added Saphira, a viscose and polyamide variegated with very cool slubs, and a gorgeous copper metallic called Radiance.  The weft is a beautiful cotton yarn called Nomad, which I actually prefer to Bambu 7, it has way more body and the same 2100 yds/lb yield.  Under the studio lights the fabric just glows, but it doesn’t really show in the photo.  Trust me it is head turning when you see it in real life.  It is a 4 shaft structure, and I’ll eventually post the details as a PDF download like above.  I’m calling it Confetti.

Meanwhile Silk City wanted to know if their SuperMerino yarn would work in a Rigid Heddle loom with an 8 dent reed.  I don’t do Rigid Heddle weaving, but I have a table loom with an 8 dent reed, and I can set up a two shaft plain weave.  There is enough for two scarves, the first one we doubled the yarn (Brianna did the grunt set up here).  She has a heavy hand with the beater, so I’ve taken over and using a double weft, the effect is quite lovely.  I believe their SuperMerino is superwash, but I’ll let you know once the scarves are off the loom.

Meanwhile in the bag of yarn from Silk City were these two, Nile cotton tape in Onyx, and Skinny Majesty variegated in a color called Antique Jewelry.  I wound the 6 yard warp alternating one of each, and after it was wound, I changed my mind.  Nothing like redesigning after the warp is wound.  I used every inch of both cones, which is always fun, to have no leftovers!  And if you are wondering about the contraption on the back beam, I use the Harrisville tensioning device for perfectly tensioned warps every time.  (I’m a front to back warper).  Problem is, this is the new to me 32″ Tools of the Trade loom, one of his really old ones, and I have tensioning rods made for the 45″, the 36″ and the 25″ looms.  Not the 32″ loom.  So using the second back beam from the 36″ loom to support the set up of the tensioning device with the 36″ rods, and a number of C Clamps, we got the job done.  (I confess it was all Brianna’s idea).  

So I threaded the updated design, beamed and then began to test a number of wefts they offer that have a wool/protein content.  I’m a big fan of putting something in the weft that will give a modest amount of fulling to really keep slippery rayon fabrics under control.  I have used Zephyr merino/silk from Jaggerspun, and Webs Colrain Lace Merino/Tencel, but wanted to try out some of the Silk City Fiber offerings.  Left to right is Nature’s Way Merino doubled, Eco Cashwool, SupraMerino doubled (which I believe is a superwash), Baby Alpaca doubled, and Wool Crepe Deluxe (80% Wool and 20% Viscose Rayon).

I kept the first sample right off the loom (top), the middle sample shows some hand washing in warm water, and the last sample was thrown in the washer and dryer with a load of towels.  I love knowing what a yarn can do.  I’m ultimately going to use the black Wool Crepe for this particular fabric, but the Nature’s Way Merino (far left in navy) is awesome.  The Baby Alpaca (the ivory one) didn’t shrink or full, but it is fluffier than an angora rabbit’s butt.  I’m not a fan of superwash, so I probably wouldn’t use the SupraMerino (the middle one) unless the goal was a washable baby blanket, it is really lovely for that kind of purpose.  And I liked the Eco Cashwool as well.  This was a test I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.  

And of course, this loom still has fabric on it that I really should weave off, but there is something about full looms that make me smile.  My babies have been naked for far too long.  This is a wool warp with Noro Taiyo Lace weft.  January of 2019 to be specific. I’ve blogged about it here.

Assuming the internet gods are cooperating on Tuesday September 1st, I’ll be the featured guest on the Shi Show, which airs live at noon daily on the Lion Brand Yarn Facebook page.  I’ll post the link when it shows up on Youtube or you can tune in at noon EDT.  I say if the internet gods are cooperating because three times in the last week, there was an area outage, and though I still have some unresolved internet issues, Like I can’t get my printers to connect, the tech guy came yesterday morning and the whole system went down as he started to work, area wide I was told, and so he could accomplish nothing.  He is supposed to come back today.  He texted me that he is having issues at his house, different carrier, but his power and internet are failing.  And there are no storms, nothing that should cause these constant outages, but there are seriously weakened trees and limbs just randomly fall and take out the grid for whatever period of time you need it.  We were successful last weekend in running new lines in the walls, upgrading switches and network cards so all the important rooms and devices are hard wired for ethernet at 1GB of speed.  Brianna ran the last line herself much to her complete amazement and satisfaction.  She is her father.  

And so, I’m looking in corners of the studio to see where I can pitch a sleeping bag.  This is my new escape, a place that the world stops spinning out of control, actually the only place in the whole world where I have some control, and nothing in there needs electronics or power to actually operate.  Maybe the bobbin winder, but I do have hand cranks for that…

Stay safe, wear a mask and stay tuned…

 

 

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Balloons and Fireworks…

I should be celebrating, this is five months of hard work, and it is finally completed.  But I’m already onto the next adventure, so much to cram into this quarantine that doesn’t seem to be going away.  Oddly enough there are deadlines looming, pun intended, more about that later.

So we launched the last of the 12 patterns I use for my classes.  At this point, you can purchase my  patterns, all of them, on my website.  This has been a huge deal, we have never worked so hard.  It took a team, I created the content, my daughter created the layered files that actually created the patterns, and I hired a tech editor for the instructions.  The instructions are, as always available for free on my website.  There is a lot of great information in there about sewing with handwovens, but I’m really looking forward to creating YouTube videos on specific areas of support.  Like how to actually print and create the full size patterns.  

Because so many have written me and asked, and many in the handweaving community haven’t ever purchased a downloadable pattern before, I want to do a video explaining how to basically print and tape together all the sheets into a full size pattern.  Yes, you have to print them yourself.  Yes, you can have a place like Staples print the file for you.  Yes, you have to tape all the pages together.  And no, I don’t sell the printed pattern.  Only the download.  I’m even wanting to get away from printing and shipping the monographs which at the moment are available digitally and in print form.  Printing and shipping costs are ridiculous, and with the delays in the post office, I’m wanting to get away from shipping altogether.  

Anyway, huge celebration.  The last of the patterns is up.  This is the 1800 jacket which is like the 800 vest only with sleeves and waist darts.  There is a look book available here.  There aren’t a lot of images in it because the pattern is only a couple years old.  But you’ll get the general idea.  You can purchase the pattern here.

Meanwhile, my relationship with Silk City Fibers continues to grow.  I’ve always adored their yarn, and I’m getting to really play with styles I normally wouldn’t have looked at.  And really loving the possibilities.  I wrote in my last post about the yarns that they sent me, new yarns to the collection for me to explore.  So refer to the last post about what I actually used.  The fabric came out fantastic.  I called this Summer Rain, because I was weaving it during tropical storm Isaias, and lucky for me I was one of the few that never lost power. So I kept weaving.  The fabric is exactly what I envisioned.  It has been washed and dried, and is a gorgeous drapey but stable rayon, cotton, linen, and bamboo fabric that will make a great summer top.  I’m thinking I want to combine my 1000 Swing Dress with the 200 Jacket for the armholes and sleeves and make a basic top with short sleeves.  At this point, I’m having fun seeing what my patterns can produce by combining them.  

Silk City has promised me more yarn.  Oh, goodie!

Meanwhile, I finally cleared a loom that has had a bunch of my handdyed scarves on it for more than a year.  I was able to move the loom to the new studio with the warp intact, so there it sat.  I ended up netting six 2 yard scarves from a 14 yard warp.  I love these soft retro looking scarves.  They are mostly all handdyed rayons and cottons.  The weft is tencel.  Actually three of the scarves have a tencel weft, three have a bamboo weft.  It is hard to tell the difference. 

Normally these scarves would be donated to arts organizations for fundraisers and tricky trays, and whatever makes me feel like donating a scarf worth a couple hundred dollars.  I’m really careful whom I donate to.  But sadly all of the arts organizations I support have had to cancel major fundraising events this year for obvious reasons.  And even my lovely guild show and sale in November has had to move online.  So I’ll be populating my eShop with whatever scarves I have, and things like totebags from scraps, that’s my project for the next couple of weeks.  We are setting up a lightbox and photography area in one of the guest rooms.  Since I can’t have any students or guests, one of the rooms can easily become a photo area.

With that loom cleared, and more yarn from Silk City Fibers coming in the next couple of days, I’m wanting to get another warp on the loom I specifically use for these scarves.  It has to have a second beam for the 14 yards of supplemental warps.  So I looked through my huge binder of all the color forecasts I developed for Handwoven Magazine, back in the early 2000’s and picked one that appealed to me.  Mostly it appealed to me because it was called Autumn Harvest and fall is coming.  And I can’t wait.  Normally fall means I live on planes and travel and I’m not doing any of that this year.  I’m doing different things.  I have a huge amount of bookings for guild remote lectures, and some remote workshops and I’ve had to rewrite most of my prospectuses to indicate what can be done remotely.  Actually most of them so far.  You can look at what I have to offer for remote learning here.  I just have to figure out how to do some of my garment classes remotely, especially now that you can buy the patterns… 🙂 

So anyway, here is the Autumn Harvest palette drawn from a 2004 column in Handwoven Magazine, and I pulled some yarns to see if I had the right combinations. 

I just couldn’t come up with enough of the right muted dusty purple.  Everything was too blue, and I needed something softer that leaned warmer.  So I dug out the dyepots and for the first time used my new dye sink/area in the new weaving studio.  Lots of firsts here.  I did have to ask my daughter where we put stuff, but this worked remarkably well.  The sink was built high enough so I didn’t have to lean in.  It is stainless so I don’t have to worry about stains.  And I can hang skeins to dry right over the sink.  I think this color will work, if not, I’ll dye another batch.  I’ve got plenty of white yarn…  And you can purchase the 8 shaft draft I use for all my scarves here.

And the push is on because I’m booked to be the guest on the Shi Show, if you aren’t familiar with this, it is a half hour daily live show on Lion Brand Yarn’s Facebook page.  Shira is a descendent of a long line of family that owns Lion Brand Yarns.  She is young, and savvy and enthusiastic and represents the next generation of makers.  I’ll be the guest host on the September 1st episode that airs 12 noon EDT, I’ll let you know when we get closer, but I need my YouTube channel up and functioning, and the page in my eShop as well, with my lovely scarves and other items that I would have sold at the guild show and sale.  This year has been about reinventing myself in fast forward timing.  I’m doing my best.  

And speaking of my best, my daughter and I came up with a new logo for the videos I want to produce.  I’m pretty proud of this.  I designed the concept and my daughter turned the whole thing into a vector drawing in layers in Illustrator.  Everything is falling into place.

Stay tuned for more adventures of “The Weaver Sews…”

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