Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Presents - Part 2

I spun and wove coordinating scarves for my sister and her daughter. This is the first project in which I've used all handspun yarn. The warp was a blend of wool, mohair, and angora. At least I think that's what it was. When I bought it at Greencastle this year, the vendor didn't have the fibers written down, so she told me that from memory. I think she dyed it with kool-aid since it smelled a little fruity whenever I spun it. Even though it was dyed with kool-aid, the colors were nice and soft pastels, pink with a little green and orange. The yarn wound up around 18 wpi, and I wove it at 10 epi. If I were to do it over again, I would probably weave it at 12 epi because the end fabric was a little loose for my taste in many places. Since I had a limited amount of yarn for warp, the scarves were a little narrow, but not bad. The weft was handspun corriedale cross. I used a point threading. For the first scarf, I used a straight treadling, and for the second, a point treadling. The main thing I learned from these scarves is that my spinning needs practice to become more consistent. I'm sure that will come with time. The scarves turned out nice, soft and warm. My sister and niece liked them. I think they will appreciate having them during their first Indiana winter after years of living in Texas!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Presents - Part 1

Since Christmas is over, and all the gifts have been given, I can now post pictures of some of the gifts I made. For my dad and boyfriend, I made scarves of 8/3 Jaggerspun heather. For heavier yarns, I think four shaft patterns often work best. For these scarves, I used the Herringbone Plaid #2 threading from page 27 of Davison's green book. I was going to use the first treadling, which was tromp as writ, but when I wove the sample, it seemed that there wasn't enough contrast to make the pattern stand out. It just looked kind of cluttered. So I wound up using a straight treadling for one scarf and a point treadling for the other. Here they are before fulling:

And here they are, thick and soft, after fulling:

Now I feel compelled to share an irrational pet peeve. Occasionally, as I am finishing a project, or shortly thereafter, I will see something similar in a new Handwoven. In this case, while I was finishing with these scarves, I got the new Handwoven, chock full of articles on fulling. Last year, I wove several tencel scarves in huck lace and then saw an article the new Handwoven about tencel scarves in huck lace. When that happens, I feel like I have to tell everyone that my projects were my own ideas and that I did not get them from Handwoven. I think Handwoven is an excellent publication, and I am always excited whenever a new issue comes. I have thought about why this would irritate me when I should be proud that some of my ideas are in league with those published in my favorite magazine. I realized that before I began weaving, I had no creative outlet and did not consider myself a creative person. Now that I have discovered this creativity within myself, a creativity in relative infancy, I feel like a protective mother, needing to always defend it (and sometimes brag about it, the way mothers do). I have concluded from all this that to mature, I need to be more open about sharing my own ideas and about receiving ideas and inspiration from others' experiences.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thoughts on Megado

I had the opportunity to weave a scarf on the Megado in our local weaving shop last weekend. I think it's always interesting to try out different looms. Here are my observations about this one:

First, I LOOOOOVE Louets! I was already prejudiced on this point. I have a Louet Kombo and a Louet Spring myself. They are quiet, well engineered, and they look nice. I know that appearances aren't really a big priority for looms, but I see it as a nice bonus. Anyway, the Megado fit all of those expectations. The only noise I noticed was a click each time the (computerized) dobby prepared for the next shed. The shed was nice and clear. The tension stayed very even with the floating breast beam. Treadling was easy, even on such a big loom.

I found weaving on the Megado to be a little slower than weaving on a plain ol' treadle loom. This is because I generally tie up my treadles in a walking configuration. That way I can raise one treadle, lower another, and beat all at the same time. With the Megado, the rhythm wasn't as fast. It was lower the treadle, throw the suttle, beat, raise the treadle, and so on.

I did like the computerized dobby. I usually plan my drafts out on the computer anyway, so it doesn't take any more time to set up the dobby than it does to tie up treadles. I can see that pegging dobby bars would take much longer, especially for a complicated draft. Also, with a manual dobby, you are limited by the number of bars you have. A couple of ladies in our guild have Octados, and they are quite often borrowing dobby bars from each other because they don't have enough. With a computer dobby, there are no such limits.

The other thing I learned was that I love treadling. I don't really see a dobby loom in my future. I got a little bored with just one treadle. Up, down, up, down, same treadle, over and over. Not that a dobby doesn't have some real advantages. Without a dobby, you can easily run out of treadles for many drafts, and a dobby allows you to weave many more interesting patterns. I have to admit that the pattern I wove was realatively simple. It was a straight threading and treadling on 16 shafts. I think that weaving a more complicated pattern (maybe something in the vein of Bonnie Inouye) would be much more interesting. But as for me, I weave for fun, and I think that a big part of the fun is treadling.

In summary, I think the Megado is a fabulous loom. It's not something that would make sense for me to buy, but I am really glad that there is one available for me to use occasionally if I so choose.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

'Tis the season

Last week I finished the last three rayon scarves for Grandma, but I forgot to take a picture of them before I gave them to her. They were shades of blue. Grandma was thrilled. She plans on putting them in unmarked gift bags and letting each sister pick a bag, so she won't have to choose who gets what.

Now I'm busy weaving Christmas presents for me to give. I'll post pictures after Christmas. I love weaving for others. It's so much fun picking out the right yarns, colors, and patterns for each person. It's also nice to know that they are appreciated. I'm really looking forward to finishing and giving them away!