Slow and Steady…

I’d like to think I’m a patient person. I suppose it depends on what or whom I’m required to be patient with…

I’ve undertaken a couple of major projects in the studios, which completely thrill me, yet create stress, and challenges, and a couple of probably unrealistic deadlines. That’s my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work best under unrealistic deadlines. Except when my body doesn’t want to cooperate…

Though my fractured shoulder is improving, little bits at a time, I’m impatient. I’ll admit it. I carry on with great fanfare, but secretly cry a little bit each time I am held back from what I want/need/have to do.

The Rainbow Double Weave Jennifer Moore Workshop sampler turned into a completely reversible jacket is nearing completion. This wasn’t so physically challenging, I just had to sit for hours hand sewing. And I mean hours. About 90% of it is sewn by hand. Including the entire interior. All that remains is the collar, and I hope to get that finished up this week. At least get it mounted on the jacket and ready for handwork.

I am just so in love with this jacket; it is how I imagined it in my head. I combined my 800 vest, with added seam allowances on the front, with the armhole and drop shoulder sleeve from the 1700 tunic, patterns from the Daryl Lancaster pattern collection. There are two layers of wool suiting to create the garment, basted together, with windows cut out, where the double weave cloth fits between the layers, and both layers are then sewn to the double weave cloth in reverse appliqué. Once the individual sections are completed, the outer garment layer is sewn together by machine, and the entire inner layer is sewn by hand at all the seams and hems. There are days I think I’m absolutely brilliant, and there are days where… I’ll leave it up to your imagination 🙂

The fabric inspired by the Magic Puzzle Company Busy Bistro Puzzle I fixed with my daughter, has proven one of my most difficult physical challenges. I use a heavy end feed shuttle, which is tough enough on my poor fractured shoulder, but the loom I’m weaving on, new to me, is a monster. 12 shafts and 54″ wide. The beater alone could kill you! Yet it is gorgeous and comfortable in the hand. Assuming the hand isn’t attached to a fractured shoulder. The most difficult part though, is lifting the shafts. Most picks required lifting 6 of the 12 shafts, and each shaft had 225 inserted eye heddles, which I didn’t remove because there was room on the sides to store them, and I spent so much time putting them on to begin with! Trying as hard as I could, I just couldn’t consistently lift 6 shafts and get a consistently clean shed every time. I’m past my mid-60’s and my joints just can’t lift what I could in my 20’s.

I’d lay awake at night, with my fractured shoulder aching, especially when bad weather approaches, and think, how am I going to weave this… If you ever watched the Queen’s Gambit, a Netflix series, you might remember how the main character, I’ve forgotten her name, could see chess moves happening across the ceiling. That’s the way I sometimes think, I can see the mechanics behind a draft, and how things need to move up or down to create what I want. And what I wanted was a clean shed opening. When that happens in any other situation, I revert to using two feet to help lift, break apart the tie-up, and figure out a logical treadling sequence that will get me what I want with a lot less physical effort. I watched the ceiling in the dark and saw how I could do it. I flew out of bed in the morning and went to the software and reconfigured the tie up and crossed my fingers. (An apology to my non-weaving readers, this all makes no sense, just know it worked.)

The original tie-up and treadling
Revised tie-up and treadling using two feet.

It was miraculous, and magical and I just wove like the wind, or maybe a slight breeze because I’m still dealing with a fractured shoulder. I use to be able to weave like the wind. Maybe someday soon. But I’ve got a deadline now, and I’m frantically trying to pace myself to get what I need to get done before April 15th. That’s the deadline to submit the five garments I’m planning to exhibit at the Convergence Fashion Show this summer, sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America, in Knoxville, TN, as an invited artist. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to send, but I want more choices than I have, from what I’ve made in the last two years, and I’d love for this puzzle inspired fabric to be one of them.

So given my arm limitations, I’ve just resigned myself to only empty one pirn a day, with 2/12 wool, which is about what my shoulder can handle. Still, that’s about 15″ and that adds up. I looked at my warp beam, and was shocked to see the I’m on the last round of paper. This was a seven yard warp. I’m almost there…

What really surprised me, is I’ve had no tension issues at all so far, which I completely expected given the dozens of different yarns I’m combining together in a dozen different structures. It will be interesting to see what happens when the fabric is off the loom and washed…

On a completely different note, spring is here, though we are supposed to get one last frost tonight through Tuesday, but in celebration of my late husband’s 71st birthday last Tuesday, my daughter and I went to the garden center and bought a couple flats of cold weather greens, and some pansies. We got everything planted, started the spring clean up in the yard, which means bags of animal excrement, because, well, if you have dogs, you know what spring means…

The garden center was just a riot of color…

And last Tuesday I was interviewed for the Handweavers Guild of America series Textiles and Tea, which I adore; The Textiles and Tea interviews are the highlight of my week. They are live interviews, over zoom, but also simulcast over Facebook, and of course recorded. You don’t need a Facebook account to watch, it is a public site. The recording will eventually be posted on the Handweavers Guild of America YouTube channel, (it might take a couple of months) but for now, if you missed the interview, you can watch it here. Kathi’s questions were thoughtful, and fun to answer. Apparently there were 600 people watching in the webinar, and another couple hundred watching the live Facebook feed, which they said was a record. I don’t know, I just had fun answering the questions. Everything for me has a story, which is why I still have something to say after almost 14 years of blogging. I know few people blog anymore, and far fewer people read the blog than did a half dozen years ago, but that isn’t why I write it. I used to journal, but it is more fun to type what I’m thinking and be able to add cool pictures, and then be able to go back and search for what I want, because blogs have that built in feature. And it is there forever, or as long as I pay for the hosting fees…

So dear readers, spring is upon us, and that means outdoor stuff, and I have a lovely garden with ponds and fish and places to sit and weave, all coming to life, and I’ll have a garden full of salad fixin’s, and I think, each spring, that this season I’m going to spend my time outdoors and do fiber-y things, and by fall I realize that none of that happened. It is an amusing cycle, but still, I am determined each spring and we will see how the year progresses… Deadlines await…

I’d just hate to call it an addiction…

It’s just that I can’t resist those emails. The monthly ones from Peter Patchis Yarns. The frequent ones from Webs. The one to me personally from a yarn company that shall remain nameless, “Hi Daryl, we are going to discontinue a product line, one we know you like, let us know if you want to purchase what’s left…”

I had even avoided opening the monthly newsletter from Peter Patchis, until a friend on a Zoom call mentioned the great yarns for the month. It is only $6. a pound. Sigh… So after filling up on one of almost every color of Webs 8/2 cotton, on sale for an OK price, and a number of $6. a pound cones from Peter Patchis, and another box from the unnamed company… I sort of panicked. Where the heck was I going to put all this yarn when it came in? I swear there is no room in the inn… And no, as a friend suggested, I’m not renting a storage unit… Can you imagine wanting to know what colors I have in 8/2 and driving to a storage unit to retrieve a couple cones? Absolutely not…

So sitting in the studio, doing odd tasks like winding cakes from my dyed skeins, a boring and tedious task, I’ll get to that in a minute, I just sat looking at my wonderful, incredible, overfilled monstrous space of a studio and it occurred to me that I could move some of the Structo Looms out of Yarn Alley, the alley behind the bookcases, to another location in the studio, and the felting supplies I have for teaching, which I’m not doing, could store someplace else.

In case you are wondering, I have 18 Structo Looms, I believe five are 8 shaft, plus I have 2 of the 10″ wide Leclerc versions of the Structo’s. Those are the greenish ones on the top shelf.

That left the top of the bookcases in Yarn Alley empty.

Which I immediately filled up with all the yarn that came in the past few days. It really isn’t an addiction. Of course I’ll live long enough to actually use it all… Stop laughing dear readers, stop laughing…

In between all that, I took that pile of dyed skeins that I thought would be pretty together, refer to my previous blog, and I lined them up to plan out a scarf warp.

I thought of calling this run “Winter Sky”, because that’s what I saw out my window, January in NJ. But then the title A Winter’s Tale, with a nod to the Bard, popped into my head, and this has certainly been a winter to tell about, what with my fractured shoulder and all, and getting this warp on the loom, especially one I haven’t put 12 yards on two beams before, I earned the title.

So, skeins have to be wound into cakes.

Cakes have to be wound into warps.

Warps have to be sleyed, I work front to back, and had to use an 8 dent reed for my 27epi, because the 9 dent is tied up with the Drunken Squares Warp, which I can’t weave on yet because my arm won’t do a 25″ wide warp easily. Note to self, you need more 9 dent reeds…

Sleyed warps need to be threaded.

Threaded warps need to be tied onto the back apron. Tensioning devices are added…

And the warp is wound. All 12 yards. I did have my daughter help, it really does go easier with two people, though I rarely have that luxury.

And then I had to rig up a way of attaching my sectional box to wind the supplementals onto the lower warp beam. My Leclerc Sectional box does not fit on the second back beam of the Macomber. Weavers are so resourceful.

Everything is now in place, second back beam installed, and I’m ready to tie onto the front.

And the weaving has commenced. I’m loving this warp. Very understated. A true winter’s tale…

Meanwhile, I cleared the Harrisville Warp I put on my small four shaft loom. I was trying out an idea, and threw on five yards. I wove a couple narrow yards with the two skeins of sock yarn I have, sett way too dense for a scarf, which I did on purpose because I was testing for garment weight fabric, and the end result is pretty cool.

I must have screwed up the calculations because I thought one 50 gram skein of sock yarn would do a two yard scarf length, but it took both skeins. So I pulled some small leftovers of mohair I had laying around and wove the other couple of yards. Both are washed, and these will eventually become panels for some sort of garment. I’m mulling over possibilities…

I’m always thinking, always thinking. Nights are the hardest to shut off my head, and especially now because my shoulder constantly aches, and I just can’t get comfortable. So I spend many hours at night just thinking…

I’ve mentioned before that my daughter and I adore fixing puzzles. She purchased a series that she adores, from the Magic Puzzle Company. We were working on one called The Busy Bistro, and I just couldn’t stop thinking about the color relationships in this puzzle. They were gorgeous. I spent many hours at night just thinking… And I have all this dyed yarn.

So I took the poster from the puzzle box and started pulling color groups, lining them up in the apron of my 12 shaft loom, which I got, new to me, last Mother’s Day.

I’m determined to get a warp on this before this Mother’s Day, it cries every time I walk by it, “Warp me, please…” I’m basing this on a fabric I did before, except I want to expand some of the design areas, to include an additional 4 shafts. This is the fabric I wove years ago, probably 10, and made a tunic out of it. It was 8 shaft. Now I have 12 to play with.

I’ll move yarns around and eventually start snipping samples on a draft, and see what I get.

Meanwhile, I found fabric to use with my 3 1/2 yards of the Rainbow Double Weave sampler I painstakingly wove off right after my accident. Of course this fabric was on my shelf, and there is a story behind it, but that story is for another day. First I want to see if this will work… Everything is hanging up to dry, and I’m loving the palette.

And finally, I got a large envelop from the US Government earlier in the week. And this just made me smile. Back when I developed the YouTube channel, and came up with the name, The Weaver Sews, and had my daughter help me with a logo, I thought it would be beneficial to have it trademarked. What a process. After a couple of rejections for technical reasons, I failed to read the unreadable directions properly, I managed, after a year and a half, to procure a real trademark document. Perseverance, a typical trait of most handweavers, paid off and I’m official.

Spring is coming, and I got out for a walk today. It was near 50 degrees. I am still terrified of ice, but I got out, bought a couple things from the grocery store, and walked home. It felt so great. Stay tuned dear readers, there are more adventures to come, and lots of yarn to play with. and lots of looms just calling for warps…