Saturday, July 14, 2018

Looking at the Details - Labradorite Macros

 Labradorite Macro

Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with a woman who is an artist, and who'd been an Art Professor for 23 years.  She's in her 90s now, and I hope we can continue with regular chats.  She mentioned she'd seen a beautiful photograph of an extreme close-up (macro) of an opal.  This got me thinking, and wanting to try it with some of my own favorite gemstones--such as Labradorite.


When I travel, I don't really buy the usual touristy souvenirs.  Instead, I bring back rocks -- or I buy rocks.  That may sound really silly to some people, but it keeps me grounded to a placed in a way that a commemorative t-shirt just can't.   This Labradorite came from Banff in Alberta, Canada -- At least that's where I purchased it.  It is one of Canada's exports.

The beautiful colors and the way it catches the light reminds me of the Northern Lights.


Saturday, July 07, 2018

Rugs Rugs Rugs

 Nearly 10 yards of new rugs on the cloth beam, with plenty of room for more!
About 7 rugs in total. 

On that 10-yard warp from May, I was able to get 6-1/2 rugs out of it.  Some of them were experiments to see how much fiber made how much rug, hence my record-keeping and calculations below each rug.  One of the hardest questions before starting this odyssey was, How much fiber should I buy / prepare for a regular-sized rug?  By that I meant, the widest rug I could make on my loom Kessenich Floor Loom would be about 28 inches.   How long a rug can I make with x pounds of fiber?   Read on for my calculations ....   I hope this helps someone else.

Some of them were experiments to see how wide the strips should be ...
It kind of depends of the fiber.  Pendleton's premium merino wool strips are just about perfect!  Those rugs are soft and pliable -- something I want to have under foot!  Those come at about 1-1/2 inches wide.

This shows the Gray Skies Wooly Worms Rug

End of the line for this warp.  Not an inch more can pull through ...
I also learned why people get end warp shuttles.   They are thinner to accommodate the narrower shed made by the warp getting to the end.  It just isn't able to open as wide as it could earlier in it's life. 


Time for the big reveal!
Yes, I got brave and cut the new rugs off the loom.  Here they are stretched out ...
The adding machine tape helped me keep track of how long a rug I had woven.

Black Watch Pendleton Merino Strips Rug #1
[It's actually pretty square, though it looks wonky in the photo because of my angle to it.]

This is the rug that started it all, and the one for which the warp was designed in purple and blue.
I'd been looking at Tom Knisley's Weave a Good Rug book.  This is one of the Pendleton Premium Merino Strip Rugs.  When you order them, you can't really choose.  You just get what they happen to pull out of the bins and you get and don't complain.  I was lucky enough to get a pile of Black Watch strips (my all time favorite of the Scottish plaids!)  Gorgeous!  It wove up so nicely--it has a softness to it.  Just the very thing you want under foot when you get out of bed in the morning!

Now for the details :
     28 inches on the loom, under tension

     1 smallish ball of strips wove 13 inches on the loom (Sorry--didn't think to weigh that one)
     10.2 ounce ball wove 17 inches of fabric
     10 oz. ball wove  16 inches of fabric

     Final dimensions :
           28 x 46 inches on the loom
           27 x 42 inches off the loom

I wove a 2nd one of these Black Watch Pendleton Merino Strip Rugs because I had some more strips.

       12.10 oz. ball of strips wove 20 inches
        9.9 oz ball wove 16 inches of fabric
        9.7 oz. ball wove 16 inches of fabric
This means I got a pretty good sized rug out of 2 pounds of Pendleton Premium Merino Strips.

     Final Dimensions :
            28 x 52 inches on the loom
            27 x 47-1/2 inches off the loom

 Here's a detail shot, so you can get a better look at the warp colors and how they interact with the merino wool Black Watch Strips.  I love it!  These are definitely Keepers!  And I will definitely be making more of these!

 Here's another one made from Pendleton Merino Strips.  I had 2 types of gray and red strips, so I put them together.  At this point, I still didn't quite have a good sense of how much I'd needof either color strips to make a complete rug -- otherwise, I probably would have spaced them out into a more pleasing pattern.

1 ball 9.25 oz wove 16 inches of fabric on the loom
1 ball 12.9 oz wove 23 inches on the loom
smaller ball wove 
[about 2  pounds of fiber]

Final Dimensions
     28 in x 47-1/2 on the loom
     27-1/2 in x 42-1/2 in off the loom

Note to self : The blue and purple warp disappears with these colors of wool strips, though.

Here's one of the rugs made with Pendleton's Wooly Worms, purchased by the pound.
It's been difficult to get photos where the colors are true for both of these rugs, but here it goes ...

The Wooly Worms are quite a bit thinner strips.  As I was working with them, I had my doubts as to whether or not it would be worth my time and effort.   It was--I was pleasantly pleased with the outcomes -- especially to see the order from chaos as they progressed line-by-line on the loom.

 Batch of Wooly Worms from Pendleton Woolen Mill, OR.

The woolly worms from Pendleton are clean, but a fair amount of fiber dust comes off them as you work with them.  

Some of the worms were disparate enough and boring gray enough that I dyed them first in batches of 1-1/4 pounds in an effort to unify the colors.  I knew some would absorb the dye differently, but they would all come out looking like a set--and they did.

 I dyed this batch Cerulean Blue to help unify the colors.  About 1-1/4 pounds.

 I dyed this batch Kelly Green, but as you can see, most of the color washed away -- It was very old dye, so I'm not surprised.  A bit of fuscia did stick, and created a nice dusty rose color, that also unified the batch as a whole.  Not Kelly Green, but I'm still happy with it.  Again -- about 1-1/4 pounds of fiber.

I did the first rug mostly laying in lines pulled randomly from my bin.  That took longer than it seemed it should have.  Too much diddling between lines,  so I eventually decided to sew the ends together -- again, just pulling them randomly from the bin dyed in the same vat (Kelly Green which came out more gray and pink (old dye) and Cerulean Blue which gave me some wonderful sea and shore colors.   The randomness brings in some nice texture and added interest.

The rugs made from woolly worms are thinner, but still wonderfully soft and pliable--things you'd love to have under your bare feet.

 This is the one dyed from the Cerulean Blue batch.  very nice earth and sea colors here.
Note -- It's been difficult to get photoes that are true to the actual colors.  They seem to change with the time of day, and the light on them -- which is fascinating!

 Detail of Earth & Sea Rug made with Pendleton's Woolly Worms.

1-1/4 pounds of fiber wove 28 in x 42 inches on the loom
          Final dimensions :  26 x 39 inches


 Again, this is a truer image of the colors in this rug, than the full pic above.

Here's the Gray Skies Rug made with Pendleton's Wooly Worms :

 [Photo is not quite true to the actual colors.]

  [Photo is not quite true to the actual colors.]

1-1/4 pounds of fiber wove into 28 in x 44 inches on the loom.
           Finished size : 27 in. 40 inches

This detail shot is truer to the actual colors in this rug than the full shots above.

On to Denim ...

I wanted to try a rug made with denim, or old jeans.  Although I had purchased some denim at Joann's when they were having a good sale on it, I didn't use it for this.  This rug is from a 2-pound ball of recycled jeans from Rugs in the Woods.  Her strips were cut to about 1-1/2 inches wide, and included a really nice variety of colors and textures, as you can see.  And I didn't have to do the prep work on the rag ball!   Also -- nice soft well-worn denim, not like my new stuff which seems to be more spandex than cotton these days! 

It's a very heavy and sturdy rug.  I've heard that the denim is do durable and tough in these rugs, that the warp strings wear out long before the denim does.

Not sure I need to do another denim rug, unless someone requests it.  I think I'd much rather have the soft and warm woollens underfoot.

The dimensions :
2 pound ball of denim strips from Rugs in the Woods

             28in x 39 in rug on the loom, under tension
             26-1/2in x 34-1/2in off the loom

Detail of the warp strings interacting with the blue jean weft.  Also showing the hem rolled under to the back side.  At Tom Kniesley's direction, I wove about 4-5 inches of a double strand of the cotton carpet warp in between each of the rugs.   This cab be cut and rolled under as hems, to protect and secure the warp strings.  I didn't want to mess around with fringe for these.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

DIY Angel Wings and Tension Device for Floor Loom

 The latest improvements and additions to my Kessenich Floor Loom include a DIY (simple) tension device  (4 wooden dowels) held up with "angel wings."   We used the "thick n thin" cherry from my Dad's woods.

Here's the full view at the back of the loom, where the warp strings run around the wooden dowels where the tension is evened out.  This can be used as you're are winding on, or later as you are weaving.   I tested a much more make-shift version with this last warp, and it worked pretty well, so we made a sturdier version with the angel wings.

Here's the angel wing on the other side.  That string is for the brake release.

This also gives a really good idea of how the strings "weave" around the wooden sticks.

 This shot shows the attachment points on my particular loom.   The piece is cut to simply sit between the back beam and the castle.  2 bolts secure it to the slot on the side of the loom that would otherwise allow it to be folded.  In other words, these angel wings will have to be removed, if and when I put the loom away.

Here's a detail shot of one of the angel wings.  The angle matches the legs of the Kessenish loom.   It's a very elegant solution that my husband devised to hold the sticks in place.  It reminds me of Roman aqueducts or bridges in Europe.  
The the 2 bolt hols down below.  

This is still in the "rough" shape.  They still need to be sanded down and finished properly. We were just trying to make sure it would work, and that I could easily install and remove them.  Check!

Sur le pont d'Avignon
O ny danse;  O ny danse
Tu son ron.

Want to make your own tension device for a loom?
There's a very simple version posted at Joy of Weaving.  
Minimal (if any) woodworking skills needed.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Pretty Colors along with Simple Innovations and Improvements to the Warping Mill

Warp for the No-Hassle Scarves

Yes-- It's true!  I've almost used up the 10-yard warp I ran just a few weeks ago on rugs.  1 more rug to go with the remaining warp, but I'm waiting for an electric fabric cutting machine so I can strip up some more rags from cotton sheeting.  Plenty of room for a longer warp, too--meaning this loom can handle a warp longer than 10 yards.

No Hassle Rayon Slub Scarves 
(Photo from Yarn Barn of Kansas)

Meanwhile, I am ready to run another warp for a no hassle rayon slub scarves kit from Yarn Barn of Kansas.  It calls for a 5.5 yard warp that will make 2 long-ish scarves.  Someone on one of the 4-shaft or rug weaving or weaving hacks FaceBook groups said he added a little counter to his warping board / mill to help keep track of how many ends he'd run.  Brilliant! [Innovation #1]

So I told my husband, and he found a simple counting app for my phone, and also engineered a simple little holder for my phone at the top of the mill.  [Innovation #2]  Every time I'm at the top of the mill, I can easily touch the screen to register a new line or two. 

I realize I'll still have to double check the number of ends before I'm done, but it will help keep me on track.

Additional Improvement :  Since this warp calls for a 1/2-yard increment, I asked my husband to drill 2 more holes in the bottom braces of the mill, so I can flip the pegs from one side to the other, allowing me to run the needed length of warp -- no more, no less. [You can't really tell from the photo that this bottom peg is on the opposite side of the box mill from the top, allowing me to save a yard on the warp.]

I'll say it gain-- I LOVE this warping mill.  Thank you Dear Hubby!  It makes what used to be a miserable and frustrating task a breeze!  The time goes so fast, and the tension stays relatively even throughout the warp.  This one is only 152 ends in total.

And because this warp is so pretty, here are a few more photos of it on the mill, where it will stay until I'm ready to warp the loom.  

The pink string is the visible guide so I knew what track to follow around the mill.  It's not actually part of the warp. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Light & Shadows : Cathedral Window Stained Glass Wall Quilt

Detail of the Cathedral Window Quilt.
Light and Shadows.

This Cathedral Windows Stained Glass wall quilt is now finished.   

I used an old poly batting with fusible on it.  It must have turned to dust through the years, because it didn't seem to fuse anymore, and it was kind of dusty to work with.  Why do batts and fusible always bother my lungs?  It's back to my favorite Hobbs 80/20 batting next time, where the cotton just magically sticks to it, without fusible.

Instead of the usual binding, I did a facing instead -- explained here.    It worked very well for this type of quilt.  Never mind my hand stitching which has always been suspect ...

I was originally thinking about attaching it to a canvas -- stretching it, not quilting it.  And I still might do that.  I have a 36 in x 36 in canvas in stock.  I'd have to attach the quilt to a larger background fabric (black) and then stretch that around the canvas.

Detail of the quilting from the backside.   As I said before, I just outlined the stencil effect of the black edges next to the light bits.  This is the view from the back, where you can see the overall pattern better. 

I used a multicolored thread to stitch the edges of the black next to the colored "light" bits.   It looks better in person -- The thread isn't showing up so well in this photo.

I did wind up quilting it, using a polyester batting.  I knew it would not be washed as the raw edge applique might not fare well in that process.    The polyester soon puffed up through the "light" spaces.

Here's what that "light" fabric looked like before the shadow stencil was applied.  
Pretty wild!

 Here's the official quilt label, which is attached, but not sewn on yet.
I spent the day working up 5 quilt labels for the latest batch of projects. 
Not my favorite part of quilting, but it does signify that a project is well and truly finished!