Technically Tedious…

My lovely daughter is off on a holiday, taking a jewelry soldering and finishing class at Peters Valley. She sent me a photo of a lovely ring she made, and when I asked her what was the stone, she said it was a micro chip from a RAM card… Yes, that would be my daughter…

We raced to get the video for my YouTube Channel The Weaver Sews that was to drop on Friday edited and rendered and uploaded before she left on Thursday. We thought all was well, it looked good when we proofed it, but when it dropped at Midnight Friday morning, the first comment was, “What happened to the rest? Will there be more?”

??????????

So I sat down to watch it and to my shock and dismay, the last couple minutes were not there. I stopped talking in mid sentence and then nothing…

So my daughter drove the hour back from Peters Valley Friday night, and spent a couple annoying and expletive laced hours trying to figure out what was wrong. After a forum search, she discovered that her hard drive was full and so the video couldn’t completely render. Or something like that. I’m a bit clueless as to how all this happens, I just write the script, make the samples, and act in front of the camera.

And so there is now a properly rendered video, on creating a neck and armhole facing for the 1000 Swing Dress and how to install it.

That finishes up the dress videos and now I’m on to the 800 Vest and tutorials for the challenging parts of that vest construction. I’m creating two vests at once, both with welt pockets, one dark and one light, each with slightly different options, and after last Wednesday’s shoot on layout and using the lining as a seam finish, I need to get both vests to the next step to create a video for the collar application. So I spent the last couple days in the sewing room sewing my little heart out, while her sad and stressed dog clung close to me, because, well his mommy wasn’t there…

My last blog post I mentioned that I had set up an inkle loom with a draft from a new book from Annie MacHale, on 3 Color Baltic Pick-Up.

I’m fascinated with the technique, I already am pretty proficient at Baltic Pick-Up (I actually sell a monograph on advanced Inkle Weaving techniques) and have developed my own notation for what has to move within the pick-up area. The red boxes mean I need to pick up a pattern thread, and the X’s mean I have to drop the pattern thread. It made a 19 thread pick up like this a breeze and I had it off the loom in no time.

But 3 Color Baltic Pick-up is different. Pattern threads rotate between the three colors and there is only Pick-up, no dropping of the pattern threads. That seemed pretty straightforward, but I really struggled with the draft, since it wasn’t easily translated into my standard notation.

My apologies for the non weavers among you, hang on, because the point here is that I was determined to achieve something technically and I’ve been thinking about it for days. With my daughter gone, and a heartsick dog following me around, I finally sat down and tried to figure out what I needed the 3 Color Draft to do.

My drafts show what threads move. So all I needed to do was take the draft from the 3 Color book (there is an online link where you can customize the colors of any draft in the book) and indicate what threads are picked up, everything else is static.

I found a Silver Sharpie in my magic box of Sharpies, and that worked on the red and black yarns, so by adding a little dot of silver, I could glance across the row and quickly identify only the threads that had to be picked up. And in addition, I vaguely remembered my mom giving me a line magnifier when I helped her move in January, she used it for Counted Cross Stitch which she didn’t think she’d be doing anymore at 90. She has more fun quilting.

I had tossed it in a drawer, and I was so proud of myself for quickly finding it, and discovered it was magnetic and would easily line through the next row of pick-up, holding my place brilliantly. The draft is on top of one of those metal sheets you use for knitting patterns. So the magnets keep it secure. And I actually found it is still for sale on Amazon. Of course…

And so what took me a tedious hour to do a few rows just starting out, I’m down to half an hour for one black triangular motif. Yippee! And the yarns here are all hand-dyed silk.

A number of readers/viewers/followers on my YouTube channel, have expressed frustration at knowing they watched something on one of my videos and have no idea where it was, or how far into a video it was. Yeah, I get it. I’m getting confused as well. I have 51 videos as of this morning’s launch. Or re-launch as it were…

And so, I may regret this, and I put a self imposed deadline of September 11, which is the anniversary of my first video launch, to create an index of everything in my videos with the time codes. Yeah, I know.

To achieve this, I’m limiting myself to one video a day, starting at the beginning, checking for Closed Captioning typos, and there are a few, and watching and re-watching and pausing and jotting time codes and putting it all into an Excel Spreadsheet. So dear readers, I’m trying… Be patient.

The good news, I’m pretty proud of those early videos, obviously my daughter and I have improved tremendously, and now use a teleprompter, so I’m not glancing at papers all across the cutting board and losing my place. But the content is good, and I covered what I intended, and it seems clear and I can’t ask for more than that.

I’m using my few days without my daughter to focus on this tedious kind of stuff, getting in a morning walk, and cooking from the garden. The days go quickly, and I’m constantly busy. Which is good for me. I bought new sheets from Target made from Hemp, after hearing a lecture on the attributes of hemp as a fiber at the MAFA conference last month from Joan Ruane. Can’t wait for bed to try my new sheets…

I can’t believe summer is half over. Stay safe everyone, stay creative, and stay in the moment… And stay tuned…

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…

 

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…

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…”

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile there is a tropical storm moving in tonight.  Finally, a typical summer…  At least we need the rain desperately…

Meanwhile, I launched another pattern for download.  And I’m beginning to add Lookbooks for some of the patterns.  I’ve had a number of requests from potential buyers to see what people are doing with the patterns.  I know this is a thing on Ravelry, and it does help to see what people do with the pattern, and how it fits all different body types.  This is one more thing on my never ending to do list, but I’ve managed to post three of them, one for the vest below, and one for the 700/1700 tunics and the 100 jacket.  I don’t know if it helps, and obviously the patterns are too new for purchasers to show what they’ve done with them, but I’ve been using these patterns for years, especially the jackets, and I have a collection of mostly in progress, not completely finished versions from all of my workshops.

What’s important here is that if I used a photo of you in your garment, I cropped all body parts, so you wouldn’t be recognized.  Still, if you object to my using your garment, please let me know.  And if you have a photo of a garment you made in one of my classes and/or from one of my patterns, especially a finished version, please let me know at theweaver@weaversew.com

The 800 Zippered Vest is fully lined to the edge and has bias bound edges.  The vest has a stand-up collar with front separating zipper. View 2 uses the lining as a seam finish on the side, shoulder and neckline/collar seams.  Optional yoke on both views.  This pattern does not contain directions for sewing.  The directions, which contain metric equivalents are available for free from my website https://www.daryllancaster.com/Webfiles/800ZipperedVestDirections.pdf 

In addition, a lookbook of garments made from the 800 Zippered Vest is available here https://weaversew.com/wordblog/800-zippered-vest-lookbook/

I’ve only got one more pattern to go in the current collection, which will give me a total of 12!  The pattern for the 1800 jacket is done, it is a combination of the  800 zippered vest above and the 400 jacket with waist darts. The directions are rewritten, I’m waiting for the final edits from someone I hired to make sure what I wrote makes sense.  The conversations between us are hilarious.  Usually she writes that something doesn’t make any sense, and I respond that it would have it they were in class because there would have been an entire class lecture on the fine points of that technique earlier in the morning, and then she responds that people who buy the patterns won’t have been privy to that lecture, so I have to spell it all out.  So I’ve added so much to each of the directions for each of the patterns.  I keep them separate because whenever something is unclear, I can edit easily and post on a page of my website, without generating an entire new pattern download.  The directions are always free, so if you already traced a pattern from one of my classes and need the updated directions, please find them here.  As always, if something isn’t clear, please let me know, I’ll try to fix it.  And there is the goal to have a YouTube channel to explain many of the techniques I feature in my patterns.

Meanwhile I’m already thinking of how to combine the patterns and what silhouette I want to work on next.  A scoop neck top with sleeves…

Meanwhile, I met with a consultant about video equipment and improving the image of my online teaching via Zoom or whatever platform works for the guild hiring me.  And they are hiring me.  My October Calendar is really filling up with remote guild lectures and a few short workshops.  I’m beginning to get cancellations from next year, and I’m really good with that because I don’t see us returning to a normal any time soon.  I don’t see me hopping on a plane, dragging 170 pounds of luggage, staying with people, and teaching a 5-7 day class working intimately with students, and returning safely to NJ.  Right now there is a list in NJ of 31 states that you have to quarantine from after traveling to…  So I’ve edited some of my lectures to list what can be done remotely.  I will start on the half day seminars shortly.

So I now have a couple of Canon SLR’s that actually were designed to also work as webcams, in addition to 4K video.  I have an AC battery adapter so the camera battery doesn’t die in the middle of a zoom meeting.  I have my tech guy coming this week to run an ethernet cable to the garage weaving studio so I don’t have to rely on WIFI.  I have the cable company coming to upgrade my modem so I can get 1GB of internet speed.  And I purchased a sound system and video lights for recording videos, all that of course contingent on my daughter, who works for me now, learning how to use them.  Right now she is creating a logo.

Meanwhile, I’ve mentioned my long time association with Silk City Fibers, which is now a division of Lion Brand Yarns.  Alice, who is the director of that division is an old friend and coincidently lives in my town.  We are in regular contact about what’s new there and my opinion of the market, the type of yarn, the marketing, and anything else that comes to mind.  Last week I was asked if I wanted to be a “weaving influencer”.  I suppose I am an influencer.  A few thousand friends on facebook, been teaching this stuff since the early 80’s and using their yarn since then as well.  I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years, have about a thousand subscribers, and earlier posts have been viewed thousands of times.  And of course I always have an opinion.  I’m not always right, but my opinion always comes with a thought process that shows how I got there.  I met with the powers that be at Lion Brand, via remote conferencing, and largely I said, if you want to toss me yarn, I’ll make yardage out of it, document what I do and what it does, and make clothing out of it to sell my patterns.  

And so, at the end of last week, Alice dropped off a small bag of assorted cones, two of them yarns I’d not worked with before.  Left to right is Nile, a cotton tape yarn, Cotton Bambu, a heavier parallel plied yarn, great for supplemental work, Linen 14, a fine linen yarn I’ve had experience with before, and Bambu 7, bamboo yarn, pretty much a SSF staple.  There was about a half pound of each, which doesn’t seem like a lot to work with, especially if the goal is yardage.  But that never stopped me.  

I thought about the yarn, and then looked through my stash to see what I could add that was part of their current line.  Not much, since my shelves are full of older discontinued styles and colors of Silk City Yarns, all wonderful, but I thought I’d try to stay current.  I was able to add these. Clockwise from upper left, Saphira, Skinny Majesty Variegated, and a possible weft, Bambu 7

 

First I had to figure out exactly what I had.  I use a McMorran Yarn Balance and a scale and I can come within a few yards of knowing what’s on the cone.  

I played with yarn wraps…

…and adapted the draft from Chaos, which you can purchase from my website here

…and came up with something that reminded me of summer rain.  Think Tropical Storm Isaias.

Meanwhile, I haven’t actually wound a warp or set up a loom since the huge studio move last winter, which seems at this point like a lifetime ago.  When I returned from Oregon the beginning of March, the heat had just been installed, but the entire world shut down, and I dug in and made a bunch of new garments, in the basement sewing room, still thinking I had to submit five new works for the Convergence Fashion Show as a guest artist (of course that conference was postponed until 2022). And I started on what seemed like an impossible task at the time, creating downloadable patterns from the ones I developed for classes.  I was sitting on a lot of handwoven yardage I had stockpiled, and now my stash is depleted.

So I did what I do best.  Create with a small pile in front of me, and see where it takes me…

First up was winding the warp.  There are many ways to wind warps, but I wanted to see the colors unfold, so I chose to just do a straight wind off of the draft, as opposed to winding individual chains of each color.  The winding was slow, but the sleying would be much faster.  The first thing I discovered was the Nile tape lace had to be unwound from the cone like a toilet paper roll, instead of off the top, like typical coned weaving yarns.  When exiting from the top, the tape seriously twisted and I knew would never lay moderately flat in the woven surface.  So I put the cone on a spool rack, with the rack facing away from me at about a 30 degree angle.  The cone unwound easily in that position.

Next hurdle was of course the dreaded slippery rayon, and Silk City Fibers has lots of these.  I’ve used them for years.  This was one called Saphira, a pretty shimmery yarn with slubs.  The color I had has actually been discontinued, but a similar one is available with a black core instead of a white one.  Winding a warp with a yarn like this is problematic because any break in movement, like the turn around at the top of the warping mill, causes the yarn to pool around the base, getting caught as the movement resumes.  I usually use a nylon stocking around the cone as a drag, which works really really well, except in the move, they are hiding and I can’t figure out where they went.  So I used the mesh covering from an Asian Pear, which when tucked around the base, stopped the pooling and the warping could continue.

I loved the way the colors built on one another.

By dinner time yesterday I had the loom’s beater sleyed.  Each of these steps was sort of like reinventing the wheel.  The chair I usually used for sleying was now in the basement in my sewing studio.  So I had to come up with new tools and devices, figure out where my regular tools were now living, figure out where to plug in the magnifying light (in the ceiling as it turned out), and how to adjust the split HVAC system that was spilling copious amounts of frigid air right on me.  I figured that out and the room was really comfortable.  The new studio worked well.  I’m happy and can’t wait to actually spend most of my days out there even when I’m Zooming…  

I started threading after dinner.

Meanwhile, my beloved brat of a dog Ranger got his manhood clipped last Monday.  He was very depressed and had to wear the “innertube of misfortune”.  And of course, that meant he couldn’t wear a bellyband, so my fear all week was that he would pee on everything in my house.  We were good until late last night.  He saddled up to a shelving tower of handdyed yarn skeins and lifted his leg.  So I got to use the new dye sink in the studio and wash all of the offended skeins as I cleaned up the mess.  The dye sink worked really well.  And incision or no incision, he is now wearing a belly band.  The relationship between the two males dogs is slowing changing, it will be interesting to see where this goes.  The week for the most part wasn’t nearly has challenging as I thought it would be.  I got a lot accomplished locking myself and the dog in my office for hours at a time while he healed.  He liked the constant companionship.

Meanwhile, did I mention we are getting hit with a tropical storm tonight?  Note to self, pull in anything that isn’t nailed down, like umbrellas, etc.  Better yet, send Brianna out to do it…

Stay tuned…