Saturday, August 12, 2017

Paint the Town Red

This past late spring I was thrilled to be asked to weave two all silk scarves for a client!  She was very particular about what she wanted as far as pattern, colours and fibre which is great.  She had purchased one of my linen / cotton book marks a few years ago and loved the intricate twelve shaft pattern.

yes, this is the same draft as the scarves!
As I had some projects under way on the loom and another special order to go so I had time to order in the silks.   The black 30/2 silk came to me via a friend in California who had done a bulk buy. She has a modern jacquard loom and it eats yarn like crazy! It arrived and looked wonderful!

Meanwhile I found some lovely red 30/2 silk from a Canadian supplier.   When it arrived it was decidedly an orange based red and not the requested blue based red.   It had looked just right on the screen... and of course, all screens are different.  Nothing replaces a real sample and I had clearly overlooked that fact, even though I often tell you just that.   My Bad. 

So my client found what she envisioned as the perfect colour and sent me a link to Treenway Silks and their dye number 42 "Velvet Opera".  Oh, yeah!   Rich, deep and  lush.... and rather burgundy compared to the other reds in the lineup.

So I ordered 30/2 silk, dyed to number 42 and waited for my order.   I was thrilled when it arrived as the colour was simply beautiful!  Then I noticed it.   It was not 30/2 silk. It was 60/2 .
Oh, geez...

I last ordered bombyx silk from Treenway under the old ownership and when it was here on the west coast on Saltspring Island. They called their yarns by their actual type of silk and the size of the grist.  The new owners have given all the various yarns names, which is lovely, but apparently confusing to me when I ordered. 

I called and spoke to Susan at Treenway and asked if a rush order could be done on 30/2 silk and  in number 42 Velvet Opera?   After hearing my story she kindly offered to take back the finer silk but I declined as firstly, it was my mistake, and secondly... I love the colour!  Susan drove some silk over to her dyer who did it right away ( and was about to go away on holiday for a month... talk about cutting that one close! ). It arrived quickly and it was perfect!  

So runs of bad luck usually runs in threes.  I started to wind my warp and it was going well. I had about 50 ends wound when I started to notice little bits of black dyed 'fluff' stuck to the smooth yarn.  They picked off easily enough and I carried on.... but they started to increase and within a yard or two the yarn was covered in little bits.   While they picked off okay and in time would wash out of a fabric, it was not the smooth  silky look I wanted for this project. These are going to New York City!

I located some black 30/2 silk at Sanjo Silks in Vancouver and happily my friend took back the  other 'fuzzy' silk (minus the weight of what I had wound off)  It was a shame as the cone had started out so well

The only other yarn used was a natural off white  bombyx silk, also a fine 30/2  and I'm happy to say, problem free!  From that point on there were no more issues to deal with. The beaming of the warp went well, threading was straight forward and no mistakes, no sleying errors and after lacing on, the warp tension was great!

It was just a lot of weaving as the yarns are so fine!  I listened to podcasts as I wove and mostly CBC's Quirks and Quarks, a science program.   There are several ways to treadle this pattern but I used two of them by the client's request.  Next post I'll discuss the various options and show you how they look.  It also took a bit longer due to Life happening (Calli's surgery) and summer in general (gardens and getting out more).   Then, they were done and I cut them off, leaving a third silk scarf on the loom for later.

The lady's scarf: I twisted a finer fringe this time and made it seven inches in length.

The gent's scarf: was a more regular sized twist bouts and cut to four inches in length.
Time to hand wash them!

I had a feeling that washing the scarves separately would be best and it would seem my intuition was right! The dye job was a rushed order and so perhaps was not rinsed till clear.   I did several rinses and used a drop of synthrapol to help but this scarf will have to go with a warning to handwash separately. 

As you can see from the pictures below, the black really wasn't an issue with minimal bleeding. There was no greying of the white silk at all.   A good hard pressing with my trusty steam iron and out popped that lovely glow that only silk has!

This is the gent's coat scarf:  eight inches by fifty six inches with a four inch twisted fringe.  ( thirty six ends per inch and forty six picks per inch)

Picture above and below how both sides of the scarf. one side is a bit darker, the other a bit lighter.

I can't imagine anyone who would not feel extra special wearing this red and black beauty! The burgundy red is simply rich as this picture shows...

Then there is that silk sheen as this one reveals

The fabric is fine and feels soft and light under the fingers.  It made all the tromping worth while! The finer fringe was also a good idea and it gave a graceful movement to the fringe. It measures eight inches by sixty six inches, as requested.  (Interesting points: both scarves were three inches longer when woven. Relaxation of the warp and wet finishing reduced both by a full three inches in length only.  Drawn in and wet finishing  reduced width by half an inch.)

close up of right selvedge

These two final pictures are my favourites as they really give you a good idea of how lush this colour is!  I think my client is going to be very happy once she opens her parcel.  I know it was hard to part with it myself.

Meanwhile back at the loom, I laced up the warp again and checked my stash for options.  I found a full pirn of fine silk yak blend left over from a recent shawl project. It made sense to me as since I wasn't entirely sure of how much warp I had left. If it was a bit short, then it could be a man's scarf  and if my luck held, then a full length lady's scarf.... plus my pirn would be empty and back in use again! The colour is also nicely neutral too.

Sorry for the slightly fuzzy focus picture but it does give you an idea of how things are progressing. In a word: slowly.  It seemed like I'm treadling a lot for little gain so I set a fine coloured cotton thread into a shed and wove for an inch. Using my trusty pick glass I counted forty six picks per inch!
Well no wonder it's a lot of work.....  Its labelled 30/2 but it looks and feels much finer than the bombyx 30/2 I just used.

So my next post will be a follow up from this project on treadling variations and how you get more bang for your buck out of a tie up and threading! 

Calli report:  she's doing just fine and had her stitches out this past Thursday. Its healed very well and the nasty onesie has been washed and put away.  She will need to see her vet in six months time for a check up.

Me? I broke my recently completed (spring 2017) root canal molar and waiting for yet another crown.   I was planning on getting a crown on it this fall but apparently that wasn't soon enough.   😳

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Our Best Friend

We have an Airedale terrier named Calli and I have spoken of her here on my blog a few times before.  She has a sweet temperament and even at seven years old, she still has a puppy like attitude.
Her vet sent us a reminder to get her booster shots and kennel cough vaccine done.  I booked an appointment and she went in for a check up.

She had been experiencing some issues to do with her skin and coat but since Airedales are known for this, we figured it was breed specific.  A test or two later, some talk about her food intake and daily habits and we believe she has Cushing's Disease.   No real need to treat her for it but she will be on a low calorie diet from now on.

A lump was more of a concern and after extracting some suspicious cells via a fine needle, it was decided to remove the lump and send away for full report.  So this past Thursday, Calli had surgery to remove the lump. Seems it was growing more inwardly than out so it was a larger mass than first thought.

She was very woozy and obviously sore when we brought her home that night. We gave her the pain meds and she stood for an hour or so until she was comfortable enough to lie down.    Both Hubby and I were up several times to check o her and she slept well from what we could see.   The next morning, she got up and walked like nothing had happened!    Dogs are amazing really...

Oh, she's napping more and for longer but she is back to her old self and wants to run and play.  That would be a big NO and so we have to keep things low key and encourage rest, with small walks on a leash.

The other big thing is no nipping at the drainage tube and leave the darn stitches alone!  She does not deal well with the plastic cones and generally bashes everything in sight trying to get rid of it. We opted for a onesie outfit.   Cotton with a touch of lycra, its a modern fashion statement for dogs!

After finding that she got her big nose and teeth in and under the leg opening and nipped off her drainage tube, we had to opt for an additional barrier.    This picture shows two nighties "MacGYver'd" (the art of fashioning a quick fix based on what is to hand, as shown in the TV series MacGyver.  The name of the show is now a verb!) on either end and cinched off while her onesie was being washed.    Now with the drain tubes removed we use the onesie by day and an extra nightie on her back end by night.

Classy huh? Hard to get a sneaky snout back there now!

Its going to be a long ten days to two weeks before the stitches come out!

We should have the pathology report by mid to late next week. *fingers crossed*

Edit August 1st, 2017:
We are feeling happy and much relieved! Phone call just came in from our vet: Pathology report has confirmed it was “stage one soft tissue carcinoma” but there are clear margins…. meaning they are happy they got it all. (15% chance of reoccurrence.) Now Calli must have check ups every 6 months over the usual annual visit. Big sigh of relief! Calli showed no signs that the tumour bothered hurt her. It was found by us as we brush and groom her... bathe her. We showed it to the vet and it was dealt with. So, handle your dog and cat often and get familiar with their normal bodies. It could save their life!

Saturday, July 22, 2017


I enjoyed weaving the red silk and it was done in no time (once I got my bum on the bench). I have now moved onto the second scarf. I'm using a plain off white 30/2 silk and a different treadling variation. 

So both scarves have similar, but different patterns. Both are custom colour,  lengths and fibre choice as chosen by my customer.   She was very particular about all these details.  I like that.

Try doing that with a store bought scarf!  You get to chose from what's on the shelf or hanger and that's that.  If its purchased in a retail store it also means many other people will have your scarf too.  I have worked with a few clients who helped with designing their project and they said it really added to the experience.

So weavers.... rather than weave a scarf or towels and gift it. Why not give a lovely gift voucher for one scarf or a couple of towels..... and, with some guidelines from you,  they get to choose the colours, size, and pattern.  Really personalize it!

I have warp enough for a third scarf  and I'm starting to think on what my weft will be..... I'll be digging through my silk bin tomorrow for options.   I'll be back to show you the winner when I have a start woven.

Finally, here is our sweet loveable goofy girl Calli who puts a smile on our faces everyday.  She is having a sizeable lump removed from her side next Thursday.  If you are a 'pet person', please spare her a thought.  Initial needle tests show carcinoma cells so we hope our vet gets it all.

She loves our new, fully fenced back yard and keeps the raccoons away (sort of!)

You couldn't wish to meet a more gentle dog.  She's 7 1/2 years old and still plays like a puppy.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Velvet Opera

I think I'm in love....   with this colour!

Its called #42  Velvet Opera and came from Treenway Silks

The fine 30/2 black silk came from Sanjo Silks.

Its a Canada - USA collaboration here on my Dutch made Louet loom. 
The silk most likely came from China and India. 

Its a slower weave but its fun to watch the pattern build. 
I think my client is going to find it hard to gift this scarf away!

I have done some on line shopping and bought a couple of rare end delivery shuttles via a friend.   I have been trying to find an English Crossley shuttles for several years now.   They stopped making them in 2006 and rarely come up for re-sale.  AVL bought out their remaining stock and released AVL shuttles that used Crossley hardware and shuttle blanks and I have two of those.... but no genuine Crossley's

This one is roughly fifteen inches and I have ten wood based pirns. Its big and heavy and for a fly shuttle.   I'm going to have to get my fly shuttle set up on the Megado and give them a whirl!

The second shuttle is smaller, lighter and could be used on a regular loom despite the metal end caps. Its eleven inches and uses these  lacquered cardboard pirns.  I have ten of those too.

As you can see both are in beautiful condition  and only the larger one shows a bit of wear.  I can't take any credit for the linen huck lace weave cloth in behind the shuttles. That towel was a gift from dear friend and weaver Wayne Nicholson.  Its currently in the "too good to use" phase right now as I admire it in my studio.

I also found a gently used copy of "More on Mormon" by Heather Lyn Winslow. It takes Theo Mormon's work and takes you in to more general use for hand weavers. It has some dated pictures of 1980-1990's fashions but the techniques are timeless.

So just a short update today.... and I'd best get back to weaving this lovely scarf !

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dragon Fly Wings

There is just so much going on this time of year!  The sun is out, vacationers are in town, special events are on and every day is busy.     That's a nice way of saying there not been much weaving of late.  To be fair, it is our first summer here and its so nice to enjoy it. Last year was all about healing from surgery, then all about selling, packing and moving.... which was all for the best, but it was a lot of stress and work.  

I do have a finished project for you though.    Its the third project in a series using the same threading and tie up as the previous posts of the two shawls and table cloth, but this time with some brighter colours..... and some amazing iridescence !  We have a pond behind our yard and so we have countless damsel and dragon flies everywhere. These scarves remind me of their wings.

So this is a twelve shaft point twill draft,   8/2 tencel sett at 24 epi and I used colours dark teal and amethyst together.  I tried a treadling variation which made for a nice change, but it also was hard to keep straight in my mind for some reason. I had to be very careful to keep it on track and watch for mistakes as I went along.

Where the fabric bends, the light changes and so does the colour. Its very silky and cool to the touch. I really enjoy working with tencel as it always satisfies the weavers inner need for drape, sheen and a darn good burst of colour.  I set Madge up by the climbing rose outside the studio and snapped some pictures.  They are nice but the sun was almost too harsh so I took her back indoors for some more  photographs in different lighting.

It almost looks like a whole new scarf with different colours!   I know its the same scarf as above as I only wove one with the treadling variation. 

It became more 'moody' and subdued, if you can call something like this subdued....

The second scarf was treadled in the same fashion as the shawls, so producing that neat little diamond and what I call a flower shape.   This time I paired the teal with red purple (magenta) and I expected some dazzling results..... and it didn't disappoint !

The picture above and below are taken outdoors in the sunshine. You can see the iridescent effect below where the fabric curves. 

The two pictures below were taken indoors in the studio with no flash ( as it bleaches the colour out). This colour scheme is by far the flashier of the two scarves woven. Which one do you prefer?  

Its time to switch things up around here.  I'm changing from weaving with  tencel to silks, using a new 'old' 12 shaft draft and a much finer focus at 36 epi.    I have been commissioned to weave two all silk scarves for a client and so I will weave a total of three so I have one for my etsy shop.

Here's one of the warp bouts on the mill and ready to come off.   This project already has an interesting story and I haven't even finished threading it yet.   The client wanted a blue based red as weft for one of the scarves and so I ordered a nice deep red on line .....and it arrived as an orange based red.  I should have known better about ordering reds based on a computer screen image.  So into the stash they went. The client found the colour she wanted and since the 'customer is always right'  😊  I ordered exactly what she wanted, only to find I had inadvertently ordered 60/2 silk instead of 30/2.  

My bad.  Into the stash they went too. 

I re-ordered the dyed silk and they rushed to get it done ahead of both of their two dyers leaving for a months vacation. *phew*   It arrived and is just lovely and the right size. 

My warp yarn is 30/2 black silk I bought from another weaver in California.   The difficulty with it started once I had ten to twenty warp ends wound and I could see the fine two ply yarn was scattered through out with little neps and noils. There was no sign of these 'fuzzies' on the surface of the cone of silk.  They picked off okay and in time maybe even wash out, but I could see how it would make the fine weaving ahead look like it was pilling.  This is not good at all as my client wants smooth and elegant.     I could go with a 20/ 2  charcoal black silk I have on hand in the stash but its not that inky jet black we wanted for this project.  

The weaver I bought this silk from was happy to take it back and give me an adjusted refund.  Then I lucked out and found a Canadian source for 30/2 black silk in Vancouver.... that's practically in my back yard. 

So I'm half way threading it and hoping all my 'woes' are done and I'll have smooth shuttling ahead.