It’ll be fine…

My daughter has a snippy saying, when she has had enough, or doesn’t want to engage further, she will look at me and say in a really dismissive attitude, “It’ll be fine”. Sometimes it relates to I’m being overly worried about something, or sometimes it means, that whatever she is doing, it is good enough and I should stop thinking that she should do it differently.

It is one of those sayings that I have learned to embrace and hate at the same time. Really, in most of life, most things are really fine, they will be fine. But sometimes that statement can be a sort of shorthand for, “I’m really being lazy and don’t want to see what else I can come up with…”

This all started when I went wandering through my yarn stash, just to see what would spark my interest. I found a bunch of hefty cones of a Silk City Fibers Skinny Majesty, a very slippery rayon bouclé, in a color probably long since discontinued, probably part of a stash I purchased from another weaver long ago. There were probably 6 or 7 pounds of it. I really love the color and I had hoped, since many of Silk City’s variegated yarns are engineered with a repeat, that I could get an ombré effect out of it.

Though I usually don’t pick wefts, I always sample first, I had four cones of this beautiful Wool Crepe tweed on the right, which I recently purchased from the same Silk City Fibers during a sale. I like how Wool Crepe washes, it is very springy and does collapse a bit. I thought it would tame the very slippery rayon.

My four shaft Tools of the Trade 32 inch loom was crying for a warp, as of tonight I still haven’t received my shipment of parts to rebuild the Macomber loom (tracking stopped saying USPS was going to deliver it tonight), and so over the past couple weeks or so while I’ve been waiting, I wanted to warp up another loom. My looms are much happier when they are warped.

I pulled my trusty copy of Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and started leafing through and found this really lovely block huck structure called Julia Larrabec’s Linen. There was a lot of surface interest, in different blocks, but all on four shafts.

I tried for a couple of days to find a repeat in the Skinny Majesty Variegated. I gave up. So I searched for other Skinny Majesty yarns, in solids that would coordinate, for the separate block areas where there is a collapsing huck lace weave. I did a yarn wrap. I thought this would work.

I wound the warp in short order, and threaded the loom pretty quickly. At the start of last week I was ready to weave.

I really wasn’t impressed. There wasn’t a lot of contrast with the warp, and I was honestly disappointed, the colors were so gorgeous on the cones. I showed my daughter. She said, “It’ll be fine.”

I sent a picture off to my weaving buddies, and they encouraged me to send a picture of it washed. I really didn’t want to do that because I knew it would collapse, and I really wanted to use this weft, and I really didn’t want to cut off what I’d done and re-tie on, and I was being just really really lazy. It’ll be fine I said to myself.

But it haunted me. I knew I should push ahead and see if I could do better.

I asked my daughter what other colors of wool crepe she had hidden in her bedroom, she has her knitting machine stash up there, and will occasionally abscond with all of a specific type of yarn for projects on the knitting machine.

So there was a beautiful chocolate brown. Sigh.

I started weaving the fabric with the brown, and yes, it did look better. Sigh.

So I just got over myself and cut off the sample and tossed the whole thing in the washer and dryer with a load of clothes.

Yeah, of course it is lovely.

I actually thought that because it is blocky in nature, that I really liked the block with the twill and that might be better fabric, to just weave the whole thing only repeating one block.

So I tried that, and yeah, it was OK, but sort of boring.

So I’m back to the full draft, of two distinct blocks using the brown weft, and now I’ll agree that it’ll be fine. Sometimes ‘good enough’ isn’t really good enough when you were being too lazy to really see what the alternatives are. I should know better…

At least it is really easy to weave and now I know what it will look like washed. It really will be fine…

Two in one weekend, it was a busy week…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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…