Archive for the ‘Weaving’ category

Finished Hemming Tea Towels Over Two Years Later

February 24, 2014

I started these in November 2011 and used Knit Picks Shine sport weight yarn. Never again, what a waste of money and time.

It looks fine and feels soft but the yarn itself frays and pulls, it’s slippery (being made of cotton and modal which is a beechwood fibre), and seemed to deteriorate the hour I got it hemmed and started to use one.

ModalTowels

I had a smaller third towel that I cut up to use for a book cover. I’m really sorry I bothered to try a bookbinding project with it, and I might discard it.

It’s so disappointing to try a new fibre and have it ruin a project. I stopped buying from Knit Picks because of the poor quality of their yarns and the way some of their colours bleed and bleed. It looks like a great opportunity to get inexpensive yarn but when you consider the time and effort that goes into making something, it’s better to save some money and buy good yarn.

They used to have a great yarn at Knit Picks called Simply Cotton that wove up beautifully but they discontinued it. I have avoided them ever since and these towels only remind me of why. It is discouraging but a learning situation I suppose. I finished it, that was the main thing.

Save up to buy the best materials no matter what your creative discipline is, because it really matters! Don’t use junk, it doesn’t last.

 

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Poetry, Laminator, Paper Trimmer, and Plates

April 1, 2012

One of my dogs died recently of cancer so I’m making a small memory book for her. After buying the book Adventures in Bookbinding by Jeannine Stein, I saw her project and sample of a little booklet made with hand-woven fabric that is bound around a piece of driftwood. Unlikely to find driftwood in rural Ontario, I did find some suitable branches that had blown down on a walk with my other dog, so I shall repurpose those.

I want to stitch a small cross stitch picture of a yellow Labrador on the cover, so I’m waiting for an out-of-print book I ordered for that. The weaving was one I did months ago; I have two tea towels from it, but had a left over piece that wasn’t long enough, but is perfect for cutting book covers from.

Yesterday I went to the art store and bought several shades of Canson Mi-Teintes paper to bind into the book and pick up some of the colours in the woven cover. I like that paper as you can sketch and draw with coloured pencils on it, you can also use a pen and ink or put photographs in—I like to make my own corners out of coloured paper for photo corners in a book like this. In this image I have placed a piece of white paper over the book cover to approximate where I am putting an applique with the cross stitch. The cover will be lined and then bound much like a quilt and then I will sew it to the twig.

Years ago when I used to work in a library, I would use the laminator at work for laminating bookmarks I made for myself. I have been limping along for seven years using Contac paper to protect bookmarks, but because it isn’t heat-set you don’t get the nice saturation of colours and it doesn’t stay put over layers. Yesterday while shopping for my art paper I decided to take some money from my Dad and buy an inexpensive laminator. I also bought a Fiskars paper trimmer to save my hands while trimming paper for small handmade books, and while we were checking out at Michael’s, a nice customer gave us a 50% off coupon so I got my trimmer for a decent price.

You can see two bookmarks I laminated in from of the laminator, and I just used the one on the left for a daily draw with a bit of poetry on my card blog.

The book I used in that draw is a gem. A gentleman on one of my reading lists recommended it to me, and I ordered a copy through inter-library loan and liked it so much that I bought a copy. Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison, is a book I can see myself reading through the years in small moments of reflection.

Old willow
taps the river
with his cane.

I had recently purchased some quilt fabric in a deep red Jacobean-type fabric to make a pillow for a chair I want to buy for my bedroom, and to use in finishing a red sampler quilt I am nearly ready to put together. I bought two yards of it from the States, and while at Pier 1 yesterday I saw a small salad plate for $8 that I bought. I have wanted this plate since last summer, and my husband was kind enough to buy it for me.

I will eventually put this on the wall behind the chair with an existing print of a watercolour of a red-wing blackbird and an antique plate with a red-wing blackbird, that my husband bought me because I love these blackbirds. Excuse the crummy photography.

If only I could find a chair that was affordable.

Winter knows
when a man’s pockets
are empty.

My Autumn of Textiles and Books on Textiles

November 5, 2011

Back in March I ordered three patterns for sewing jackets. I felt like sewing and perhaps fiddling around with some hand woven fabric. So far I have one of these multi-sized patterns traced out on freezer paper in preparation for laying out fabric for cutting: the Stitch ‘n Save 5162. It is a lined jacket and has no hems, but is finished with bias binding. I can make my own bias from my stash of quilting fabrics, so I am hoping to try out some of the fabric I weave at a closer 25 sett with the new second heddle blocks I bought for my loom.

I got to thinking about ways to sew with hand woven fabric and decided to use some Christmas money buying a lovely book on weaving clothes and a philosophy incorporating Zen and the attitude of going with what happens and creating. So I have ordered the book Self Discovery Through Free Weaving By Misao Jo & Kenzo Jo. It is only sold through distributors for Saori looms, so is fairly expensive; I’ve been waiting since last year to order it.

I like the casual look to the clothes but I also wanted some more jacket patterns to try with the yardage I weave. I went back to Kwik Sew as I really like their patterns. They are only sold online so I had to place a special order, but I’m considering this part of my Christmas present too. They should drape and go together nicely with woven material.

I am weaving with some knitting yarn I bought last Christmas, which is a blend of cotton and modal (a beech wood fibre.) I wanted to try out a checked warp and play with it as an exploration of colour blending in weaving. I am calling the project Quasimodal Towels, a play on words invented by the spouse. The 110-inch warp will make two or three kitchen towels, or kitchen towels and a fabric for sewing later as a handbag. If I do that I will use my tablet weaving cards to weave a strap for the purse too.

Autumn and the cooler weather has made me interested in both knitting and weaving again. My hand and arm pain has diminished enough that I can do a bit of knitting on small things, so it has been fun. I read a book I’ve had on my bookshelf for months on the history of weaving called Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, which I found to be quite a page-turner and full of theories and examination of historical documents and Indo-European languages.

I also ordered a book in from the library called No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne L. Macdonald that gave me such feelings of joy, because my Mom used to be a terrific knitter and anything related to knitting reminds me of her. I finished this quickly, ready for the next book. I find with inter-library loans that they all seem to come in at once, leaving me scrambling to finish them in time and assimilate the information.

The newest book I received yesterday on inter-library loan is called The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Ulrich won a Pulitzer Prize years ago for another of her books, and she really packs this one with information and interesting pictures. I have only begun but it feels good to have a history book related to my own creative passions.

I Stick a Needle in the Monster Head While Wearing New Socks

October 27, 2011

Way back in March I started a felted bag for knitting projects and then got stuck on the embellishment. I have lots of stuff for embellishment but it wasn’t coming together, I felt I needed more texture or three-dimensional flowers or something. I recently purchased the book Knitted Flowers by Nicky Epstein, and have done up some samples of the Florets pattern on page 48. They are easy to do but I have a limited amount of yarn, so I scrounged up some old tapestry yarn left over from a long-ago needlepoint project. I tried some leaves too but I need a firmer fabric so have to use smaller needles before continuing.

I recently taught myself how to knit socks. There is never enough time for learning new things I find. I get pain when I knit too much, but lately I have found myself able to do some smaller projects on finer needles without pain, so I feel the world opened up creatively. It gave me a happy feeling to uncover my old needles from 30 years ago. My mother used to knit so it gives me a nice connection to her even though she died many years ago.

I call these my Malachite Socks because they have the colour gradations of malachite, one of my favourite gemstones. I made some mistakes but practice will help with that and I managed to trade some old machine knitting magazines and a book for some sock yarn, so I’m ready to go on another pair.

Here is a shot of the yarn with a string of malachite chips. Absolutely yummy, maybe I should make myself jewellery to match my handmade socks?!

Then I decided to make myself some mittens and a cabled hat for my husband using some other yarn I traded two books for. I of course made the spouse his hat first. I am just coming up to the crown shaping now, and he already tried it on and it fits well and looks very nice. This was made of Patons Decor yarn which is a blend of acrylic with 25% wool.

I like hanging around with creative types in forums as they are so inspiring. Lately I have been interested in what people are doing with knitted patterns from Rebecca Danger. I bought The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by her and am planning a few projects from there.

This is not the sort of thing I usually make since I don’t have children, but I do like to tell a story about characters and pair them up with books and card draws just for fun. To practice some of the techniques for knitting in the round to make monsters I made some Owl Puffs from a free pattern designed by Jenna Krupar.

I call them Percy and Patty, the Parliament Twins since a group of owls is called a parliament of owls. I messed up my Kitchener stitch on the heads. I did the stitch flawlessly before but got mixed up here. Perhaps they have tufts on their heads? Maybe a woodpecker got confused one day and started hammering on Percy’s head? You know how that happens in the wild.

I started weaving these towels on May 1st. Here it is October and I finally got around to hemming them. I was trying for something different and using a thick cotton yarn called Sugar ‘n Cream by Lily. I used their Hot Lime, Hot Pink, and Tangerine colourways. I liked the lime and pink but orange is a colour I detest, so that was my first mistake. My second mistake was using a thick yarn as I don’t like bulky yarns for knitting or weaving. My third mistake was doing two long towels on the warp instead of dividing it up into three. These are a huge thirty-eight inches long, almost the size of bath towels, and they are for the kitchen.

This project languished while I reconciled myself to not having a perfect project, then I got busy and hemmed the towels yesterday so I could get them out of the way and warp up again.

It nearly put me off weaving. While I understand the need for artists to stretch out of their comfort zone and use different colours and techniques, the bloody ORANGE was never going to fly for me, I don’t know what possessed me.

While getting charged up about weaving again, I decided to spend some of my Christmas money this year buying a second heddle kit and two extra reeds for my Ashford 16-inch rigid heddle loom as well as two pick-up sticks. Up to now I have used a plastic ruler as a pick-up stick but it isn’t ideal. The kit is two blocks of wood that fit on the loom to allow you to place and rest an extra heddle and thus weave a finer fabric or double weave fabric with two heddles to double the sett.

The shop that ordered my loom for me usually doesn’t open on the weekends but they are doing so in November and part of December this year, so I shall be able to pick my loom parts up and talk to them about finer cotton yarns and buy some fibre to work with. I have decided that I love weaving towels and want to experiment with finer setts and different materials and patterns .

As long as I don’t buy orange I should be successful.

Sea Towels

March 16, 2011

10 dent heddle
158 ends
112 inch warp
9 to 10 picks per inch

This was a random warp, an experiment with Knit Picks Simply Cotton Sport yarn, including some bouclé. They are tea towels, but because of the colourway I’m calling them “sea” towels. This is supposedly the maximum amount of warp I can get on my loom. The yarn was lovely and soft and I used the Knit Picks Crayon bouclé in the warp for a bit of texture. It was a slightly heaver double knitting weight but it worked fine, I just had to watch my fell line while weaving and make sure it was beaten down to be even with the sport weight yarn.

Before washing the dimensions were 14.5 inches wide by 26 inches for two of them with the third being 29.5 length. I had to squeak out as much warp as possible. I could probably have warped about 120 inches with this yarn as it was fairly soft and fine.

I put a decorative band of leno lace after the hem area. For the hem I used #30 DMC crochet cotton as weft for turning a finer hem, and I sewed the hems by hand because I felt the sewing machine would stretch them too much, plus I just think it’s a neater finish. The third towel on the bottom is still showing the hemstitching I did on the loom, I haven’t pressed and hemmed it yet. Here they are disporting with a shamrock plant in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day.

Next time I try weaving towels I will use the 8/2 cotton on cones and double the threads in the heddle. But that’s for another time when the budget rebounds.

Woven and Felted Knitting Bag Project

March 16, 2011

I used my Ashford 16″ rigid heddle loom for this.

7.5 dent heddle
116 ends
80-inch warp
7 to 7.5 picks per inch

This started with some Berocco Peruvia yarn that I bought last summer. I was originally going to use it in the knitting machine and then felt a large swatch, but I wasn’t too keen on the yarn as it’s very fuzzy and it’s only one ply and tends to split and fall apart if you work with it too much. Once I took up weaving I thought I’d make use of this for purse fabric of some kind. I prefer weaving to knitting because it works up quickly and is relaxing.

I cut the initial yardage in half, sewed an invisible seam to sew the two panels together and then felted it by hand. I used 3 buckets of hot water interspersed with a cold water shock and it felted fine, it’s quite bulky. The seamed piece before felting was 29 x 26 inches. After felting it was 22 x 20 inches.

I plan to embroider one side with tapestry wool motifs and beads and embroidery floss, inspired by the book Bags In Bloom and make my own wire handles for wooden beads and my own paper beads. Sort of funky and wild. I recently went back to some old hand knit projects from 15 to 20 years ago to finish them. I also want to teach myself how to knit socks on double-pointed needles, so I’ll need a roomy tote to store and carry these projects and I think I can make something much like a carpet bag and line it with the floral fabric.

I get very uptight about things being perfect, so part of this project is to let go and have fun doing random designs and apart from the colours, not planning what happens. Here it is with some fabric, tapestry yarn, embroidery floss, felt, and beads, ready to be turned into something wild and free. It’s a nice heathery blue/green colourway called Garden, so it should look nice with some embroidered floral motifs and floral lining.

Another Woven Scarf

February 12, 2011

Aha, now that my friend has received this as a gift I can post pictures of it.

This is a scarf I made for a gentleman friend in the UK, and it is done with three skeins of Knit Picks Felici yarn in the colourway Sorcery. This is a very soft yarn with stripes. The finished measurement after washing was 6.5 x 64 inches, so a nice size for wrapping and warmth.

86 ends
12.5 dent heddle
15 picks per inch
90 inch warp

I couldn’t achieve a balanced weave but it made a nice fabric with a good drape for around the neck. The fringe is extra long at 6.5 inches but I thought that extravagance was something my friend could pull off; he’s quite stylish. One of those people who can throw on a scarf and look like they bought an ensemble at Harrods.