Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blown Away!

Dressing the loom in Linda Hurt's Basic Weaving class at The Art League.

A couple weeks after I started posting guest scarves, I got a little email from Linda Hurt: "On your blog you say you’d like to see beginners' scarves. I’ve got several in the making right now. I teach a Basic Weaving class in Alexandria, VA, and everyone has designed her own plaid and is weaving a scarf on a rigid heddle loom. I’d offer up pictures of these scarves for one of your Guest Fridays if you’re interested." Was I interested? You BET I was interested! I answered Linda right away and we agreed that, once her class was finished with their scarves, she'd write up a post about the class and send along some pictures.

I was particularly excited about this 'cause it's been a while since my guest scarf posts have been written by the weavers themselves rather than by me. My original idea for guest scarves was that people would tell their own stories, after all, so I was really eager to see what Linda would have to say. Let me tell you, when the "article" (as she called it) and her pictures arrived, I was totally blown away. Linda and her students put a tremendous amount of effort into their communal guest post. I am so touched that her students were willing to share the fruits of their labours with us and that so many of them took the time to share their thoughts on their scarves and on weaving in general. Ladies, thank you! Your scarves are just beautiful!

Although Linda had already gone well and truly beyond the call of duty where guest scarfing is concerned, I rather sheepishly sent her my short list of questions I'm hoping all future guest scarfers will answer and asked if she'd write just that little bit more for me. The thing is, this list of questions is in the same document as a laundry list of questions that I put together for guest scarfers just in case they suffered from writer's block and needed a little kick start - the idea being that they can pick and choose some questions from the list to answer just to get the juices flowing. I never dreamt that Linda would answer these too but answer them she did - every last one of them! I couldn't believe it. The woman is FAB.

Before we get to the guest scarves and all of Linda's responses to my questions, here's what she had to say about The Art League where she teaches. It sounds absolutely amazing:

"Our objective, as a non-profit art school, is to offer quality classes in several of the visual arts, including but not limited to drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery, surface design, weaving, and glass, at an affordable price to the community at large. We do not offer degree or certificate programs. Our classes are provided as a continuing education program. We also have various community outreach programs sponsored and conducted by our instructor staff, students, and friends of The Art League. We are currently expanding our fiber art offerings to include additional surface design and weaving options, wet and dry felting, knitting, crocheting, and sculptural fiber work. Our goal is to build a fiber art community.

The Art League, Inc., founded in 1954, is a multifaceted, nonprofit visual arts organization based in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes.

Headquartered on the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria (in the Torpedo Factory Art Center), The Art League is celebrating over 50 years of devotion to promoting and maintaining high standards in fine art in the Washington, DC area. The Art League seeks to stimulate and encourage artists by operating a gallery with many opportunities for members, including monthly juried shows of members work, other chances for exhibition of work and many educational possibilities. The Art League also operates a school with 2000+ students per term and a supply store for the purchase of art supplies by students and members. The Art League currently has approximately 1000 members."
Wouldn't you just love to have access to a place like that? The Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design, where I taught weaving for eight years, is a similar organization1 and has been a cornerstone of the craft community in this region for years. These kinds of organizations are so wonderful to be a part of and are so vital to the communities they serve.

What follows is an introduction to the class itself by Linda, and then the comments of several of the students from the class along with pictures of their scarves. After that are Linda's answers to my laundry list in the now familiar interview format, interspersed with pictures of scarves by weavers who were no less generous with their projects but slightly more shy about writing something for the post. ;)

Incidentally, Linda took more pictures than have actually made it into the post. Each scarf is here at least once or twice, but you can see more pictures of dressing the looms and the scarves before and after wet finishing in Linda's online Picasa album.

And now, without further ado, I introduce to you all Linda Hurt and her co-guest-scarfers: Jan Adams, Melissa Burman, Hannah Chismar, Karen Downs, Pearl Ephraim, Rosalie Hanlon, Claudia Loaiza, Kathy Schneider, Lenora Stephens, Judy Sutton, Joanne Qualey, and Dianna White.

This week’s Friday Guest Scarfa feature is shared among the Basic Weaving students from The Art League, a non-profit art school in Alexandria, VA. This is a weaving survey class, beginning with tapestry techniques, and moving into pickup stick work, creating decorative floats across the surface of the piece. Then we experiment with open lace techniques such as Leno and Brooks Bouquet. The last exercises, balanced weave and color mixing, are worked into a scarf project. Students’ skills range from minimal weaving experience to none. Some have had no fiber background at all.

Judy Sutton -

I picked the blanket pattern from 'Rigid Heddle Weaving'2 because those are my favorite colors. I should have followed the pattern for all three segments, instead of only doing the outside two, so that I wouldn't have had to match the pattern after the second segment was woven. Unfortunately, they didn't match, but instead of one blanket I got two shawls. One I gave away to someone on the other coast, so it won't be seen again around here.

I loved weaving on the project because the colors pleased me and the weaving was relatively simple. I say relatively because the Harrisville Shetland is pretty sticky and it was sometimes a struggle to get a good shed.

I plan to keep weaving because I love the process, the planning, and the weaving and best of all the finished project. My hope is to master the entire process from sheep to wool, by dyeing the wool, carding it, spinning it, and weaving it. As Syne Mitchell says, "You've got to be warped to weave."3

Pearl Ephraim -

I did pick the ice blue color for my first scarf along with the stitching detail at the bottom because of one of the projects in Liz Gipson's book, "Weaving Made Easy." The garnet was chosen because it was the most attractive color available out of the wools. I liked it so well I used it on two of my three scarves.

As for what I did and didn't like about them: The first scarf, with the large patch of garnet I wasn't crazy about at first because it didn't look like a true plaid to me. It turned out to be asymmetrical with the lavender disappearing amongst the other colors. But it grew on me and became my favorite of the three scarves.

I tried to correct the lack of symmetry in the second scarf. But except for the golden yellow I thought the colors looked dull. You'll notice that they were my original earth tones. I do like the finish work of the knotted fringe at the end.

As for the third and final scarf, I over compensated again trying to get the look of the plaid correctly. The colors are repeated too frequently and the scarf is too busy. I can breathe a sigh of relief that the Easter egg look isn't so prominent any more. They'll grow on me I suppose. I will probably continuing weaving, at least for a while. I'm dying to try a twill.

I think I picked the colors (light and dark gray) I did because it seemed they kind of blend in with everything and look cool in every sense. The weaving class was a discovery for me as I never did anything like it before. Now that I have ordered a loom, I am looking forward to doing interesting projects.

Jan Adams -

The course was a great introduction to rigid heddle weaving. I've woven on floor looms, but the rigid heddle is perfect for my small home and it's so portable, too!

The plaid scarf project is something I probably never would have done on my own, so I appreciated the challenge. There were so many wonderful yarn colors to choose from, but I knew I wanted some brown, since I just purchased a brown coat! The blue and yellow complimented it, but jazzed it up, too.

It was especially fun to see the projects selected by the other students, and to confer with them on color choices, etc.

I purchased my own loom and I continue to weave. It is relaxing, creative and fun! There are lots of things one can make on the loom aside from scarves: table runners, placemats, wall hangings, shawls, etc.!

Diana White -

I took the class because I've always wanted to learn to weave. I'm a knitter, and also thought it might be an alternative way to use up some of my stash (or a better excuse to buy more yarn!!). The rigid heddle loom seemed like a manageable way to get started - small, portable loom and not too expensive. Although we spent more time on the tapestry aspect of weaving that I initially was interested in, I'm realizing how much those skills will contribute to future projects, and how frustrated I would have been had we jumped right in to specific projects. Bottom line, I wasn't ready for the scarf project until we got to it, but when we did, I sailed.

The colors I chose (dark teal, light blue, purple and white) are colors that always appeal to me and I thought worked well together and gave nice contrast. I couldn't be more pleased with the end result. I also think Linda was wise (experienced!) in suggesting we limit the number of colors for a first project. While I may want to expand the selection for future project, four colors provided enough interest, but also helped keep us from a warping nightmare.

I don't see myself moving to a larger loom any time in the foreseeable future, and I'm looking forward to weaving more scarves, napkins, and placemats on my RH loom. Next fall I plan to take another class to learn how to use two heddles for a fine yarn scarf.

Karen Downs -

I have been knitting for several years and wanted to learn something new. I have been interested in learning to weave for a couple of years. When I signed up for this class I had no idea what a rigid heddle loom was (never even heard of one) and walked into the class with no weaving knowledge at all. I liked learning tapestry weaving. The scarf project was a nice change of pace, balanced weaving is much faster.

I like my scarf but if I did the same style again, I would switch out the yellow for white or cream. I want to continue with the next class but will wait for the fall project class (maybe something like rag rug placemats). I have been involved in quilting too and have a lot a fabric to use up.

Joanne Qualey -

I loved the scarf project and have so many items in my wardrobe that are red, black or white that I thought a combination of those three colors for my plaid would work for me. I am pleased with the result.

I will be continuing on in the Projects class, and I plan to purchase a rigid heddle loom. I have known for a long time that I wanted to learn weaving and now that my retirement is within reach (probably less than two years away) I want to be sure to have a creative hobby that I can develop more as I have more leisure time. I have always needed to create things to be happy and realize by taking this class that I have stayed away from making things far too long and allowed my work life to become way too all-consuming.

Rosalie Hanlon -

The pattern I chose is a variation of the MacGregor tartan. I chose this pattern because I thought the colours complimented each other well. I am a stickler for symmetry so even when I made a mistake I made sure to copy it on the other end of the scarf too!

The most difficult part for me was after the scarf was off the loom it was revealed that I had pig-tailed all of my ends instead of weaving them into the scarf. This meant I had to go back and weave them in using a needle, which took a very long time.

Linda Hurt -

Every quarter for about 10 years I’ve been teaching the Basic Weaving class for The Art League. Each class is so completely different that I just keep right on teaching. The people I meet are interesting and come from such varied backgrounds and professions (students, military, opera stars, physicians, house wives, nuclear physicists, retirees looking for a hobby, etc.) that I am always amazed. I continue to learn with each student from their choice of colors, their experiments, and their mishaps. It is probably from their mishaps I learn the most; it relieves me of the responsibility of having to make them all myself.

The plaid scarf project is a favorite of mine, because I get to see color combinations I might not choose. This is where I’ve learned the most valuable lesson: It is good to keep my opinions to myself sometimes and not influence color choices. (I do limit the color number to three or four.) In all of this time, I have not seen a bad combination of colors, and every single plaid has been successful. I am quite proud of these scarves that were created by this very lively and entertaining class. They kept me hopping for nine weeks.

JWD: What did you use for warp and weft?

LH: Harrisville Shetland or Highland weight was used for the student scarves.

Melissa Burman's scarf after wet finishing. Love these colours!

JWD: How many ends per inch? Picks per inch?

LH: 8 or 10 epi depending on whether Harrisville Highland or Shetland weight was used.

JWD: What structure did you use?

LH: Plain weave was used for the student scarves. It’s appropriate for a first project. Personally, I think I could weave a lifetime and not exhaust its possibilities. (I’ve got a good start on that!) I do enjoy the game of adding heddles and pickup sticks to the mix.

JWD: How long and wide is the scarf?

LH: Most of the scarves were between 60 – 80 inches long. There was one shorter, because the student preferred short scarves. Then there was one that was even shorter, because we forgot to take into account the loom waste. However, it made the cutest and useful warm collar with a button and loop added. I call this “creative recovery.”
[I love that! - jwd]

Lenora Stephen's scarf-into-collar. Definitely going to keep this in mind for my own oops-too-short-scarves!

The scarves were between 5 – 12 inches wide. I find that people from the colder climates prefer wider wool scarves than those from warmer climates.

JWD: How did you finish the fringe?

LH: Some people chose to twist the fringe just so they could use my battery operated hair twisters; some tied short fringe because they decided to weave as close to the end as possible; some wanted to learn how to hem stitch; some just preferred the look of one over the other for their particular scarf.
[I have one of those hair twisters. A word to the wise: do not try them in your actual hair. "Ouch" is all I'm gonna say... - jwd]

JWD: What kind of loom did you weave on?

LH: Rigid heddle looms: Schacht traditional; Schacht Flip; Ashford; Beka; Glimakra Emelia

Claudia Loaiza's scarf on the loom. I wonder which type of loom it is?

JWD: How did you warp the loom?

LH: The class uses the “direct warp” technique, which is fast and easy on rigid heddles with short warps. It’s good aerobic exercise walking back and forth too.

JWD: How did you come up with the idea for this scarf?

LH: The original lesson plans I inherited with the job called for weaving a short section of about 6 – 12 inches of a self-designed plaid as a color blending and plain weave exercise. I turned this into a final project, which has been generally popular. I’m flexible. If they don’t want a wool scarf, they can use cotton and make a bread cloth, hand towel, or small table runner.

JWD: Why did you pick the colours/fibres/structure/ design elements?

LH: A plain balanced weave was one of the objectives of this class. Colors were limited to four. Nobody picked my favorite color (chartreuse). Do you suppose they were politely leaving it all for me?

JWD: Is it a present for someone?

LH: So a couple of them said. Then they decided they really liked the scarves themselves. I wonder if they were ever “presented.”

JWD: Were you happy with the project? Would you weave it again?

LH: Everyone in this class was pleased with their scarves. Half of the class made more than one, in fact, one made a whole shawl as one of her pieces.

Claudia Loaiza's scarf after finishing. Look how square her squares are!

JWD: What was your favourite thing about weaving the scarf? Your least favourite?

LH: Most students like the speed at which they can do plain weave as opposed to the tapestry section of the class they had just finished.

JWD: What is your favourite thing about the finished scarf? Your least favourite?

LH: As a teacher, my favorite thing about this project is watching people pick out colors and put them together. I learn a lot here, as many people pick colors that I don’t usually work with. We all have our favorite colors. Some people mix colors I might not, and this broadens my viewpoint on color. I also like to see the smiles as the scarves are finished and people are proud of what they’ve done. Their excitement and pride is my reward.

JWD: Is this scarf like other things you've woven? How is it the same or different?

LH: Generally, I weave for class samples. Many times they’re whole shawls, scarves, table runners, towels, etc. But they are added to my chest of examples.

JWD: Did you do anything unusual (for you, or unusual in general) in this scarf?
LH: These scarves are first weaving projects for most of the class members. They designed the plaids themselves and wove them.

JWD: What do you have on the loom right now, or what's your next planned project?

LH: I have several rigid heddle looms. Though most are empty, I have the following in progress: shawl; heavy twill towel; SAORI banner; tapestry. I also have an overshot table runner on a 4-harness loom. On tablets I have a dog leash, necklace, shoe laces, sample band. On inkles I have a bag for my charkha and an Ikat band.
[And she still finds time to teach and write me this amazing post! - jwd]

JWD: How long have you been weaving?

LH: About 12 years.

JWD: Do you weave other kinds of things? What's your favourite thing to weave? Why?

LH: Samples for classes I teach, because my time is severely limited. As I can eek out time, I’m trying to build up a “trunk” of items that showcase what different kinds of things can be done on rigid heddle looms.

JWD: What's your day job and what impact does it have on your weaving?

LH: Computer programmer, which is not a mere 40-hour a week job. It is more like 60 hours a week, and sometimes more. It often eliminates my time for weaving.

Lenora Stephen's scarf on an Ashford Knitter's Loom. This is the kind of loom I'm getting in two (2) days!

JWD: Do you pursue other fibre crafts such as spinning, knitting, crocheting, felting, quilting, etc etc etc?

LH: Oh, absolutely! Spinning, knitting, crocheting, felting (wet and dry), bobbin lace, lucet, Kumihimo, dyeing, tatting, nålbinding, sprang.
[I don't even know what some of these are! - jwd]

JWD: Do you pursue other handcrafts that aren't fibre related?

LH: I used to, but there is just so little time. Well, sometimes indulge myself and play with beads.

JWD: Do you sell or exhibit your weaving or other handcrafts?

LH: No. I wish I had the time to make enough to be able to sell it and get a monetary return. At present, I have to be satisfied with hording my weavings for class examples.

And finally, here are Linda's answers to the much shorter list of questions I actually meant to ask her:
  1. Do you have a blog or other website(s) I can link to?

    No. I wish I had the time to create one and manage it. I keep saying, “Some day.” Teaching fiber arts and working a full-time PLUS job forces me to make choices. Either I weave and maintain a website or I prepare samples, lessons and teach.

  2. What is/are your favourite colour(s)?

    Chartreuse. Orange is my second favorite.

  3. What's your favourite fibre to weave with?


  4. What's your favourite dimension (length and width) to weave a scarf?

    72” x 10”

  5. What are the dimensions of your favourite scarf? (the one you wear all the time, handwoven or otherwise)

    72” x 10”

  6. How did you find Scarf A Day?

    Weavezine. Now I check it frequently.

  7. What are 1-5 of your favourite websites and why do you like them? (they don't have to be weaving related!) for web design work an online tartan generator.

    There are several on line tartan generators, and my class enjoyed using them to design their plaids. We used to use graph paper and colored pencils. But these programs are much more fun to use and display results faster. “Faster” is expected in this day and age.

So there you are. Can you see why I was so blown away by all the effort that Linda and her possee of new rigid heddle weavers put into this post? I am SO delighted and SO touched! The guest scarves continue to be right at the top of the list of things I love about Scarf A Day, and this is a perfect example of why.

Linda, thank you! Jan, Melissa, Hannah, Karen, Pearl, Rosalie, Claudia, Kathy, Lenora, Judy, Joanne, and Dianna, thank you. And marvelous job on your scarves, shawls and collars, ladies!

One final related note: as I mentioned in the caption under one of Lenora's scarves, I'm getting an Ashford Knitter's Loom on Friday! Mom has been following along as I've asked for your input into various kinds of rigid heddles and helped me do a little research into the various types... and then, lo and behold, she learned that Donna Kaplan had an AKL that she hadn't ever used and was willing to send to a good home, so Mom nabbed it for me and is bringing it as my birthday pressie. Isn't it amazing how these things work? A couple months ago I had zero (0) interest in rigid heddle weaving but then all these great guest scarves started turning up in my inbox, woven on rigid heddles... then, no sooner do I express an interest in getting one of these babies for myself when a perfect one lands in my lap! And not just any loom, but one previously loved (if slightly neglected) by Donna Kaplan, whose work I just love (and whose workshop I just loved at Convergence 2002). Yay for karma! Yay for mothers! Yay for birthday looms!

You can be 110% sure that I'm taking yarn with me to Halifax and, just as soon as I smooch my dear ol' Mum hello and make sure she's comfy in her hotel room, I'll be warping that loom right in my hotel room. Or hers if she's not too tired!

She's a weaver. I'm pretty sure she'll understand...

1. Albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. Smaller population base around here, doncherknow.

2. I'm not sure which Rigid Heddle Weaving this is. It might be this one, or perhaps this one, or some other book entirely! Judy, can you help me out?

3. This is a reference to Syne's sign-off at the end of every WeaveCast episode. If you aren't already a WeaveCast listener, you should be!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On Stoles, Part II: Winding and Threading

H'lo folks! Just a super quickie to apologize for being totally unblogtastic the past few days and to update you on stole progress:

After deciding pretty much what the stole was going to look like, I went ahead and ordered the yarn for it. Although the rough draft at the time had one shade of gold and one shade of natural, I actually ordered two of each: a true gold and a brighter yellow, and a true white and a slightly darker nearly-white. My thought was that I'd use one shade of each in the warp and weave with the other two so that, where white crosses white and gold crosses gold, the diamonds would still appear. They'd be subtle, I hoped, but they'd be there.

The yarns arrived last week and I was really pleased with the gold colour and both shades of white, but the second yellow, the brighter yellow, seemed Awfully, Awfully Bright. Still, I took their pics and sampled the colours in Photoshop like I described doing for the blanket and played around with it. If you stare hard enough at the draft, you might be able to see that there's a slight two-tone thing going on in the white on white bits:

The brighter yellow, though, looked awful in Fiberworks. There's a chance that it might look just fine in the cloth so I'll be sure to sample a little of it at the start of the warp, but my plan at this point is to just use the one shade of gold.

The other decision I made was to weave the fabric double wide and half as long. That is, I'd weave both sides of the stole at the same time to cut down on the amount of weaving required and to ensure that the stripes matched exactly on both sides. This means having to cut the fabric up the middle and sew a lining onto the back of the stole but I had planned to line it anyway to give it some heft and stability. Plus, I'm going to sew the mitered corner at the back of the neck, so there was going to be sewing and construction involved in any case. And finally, I enjoy setting up the loom every bit as much as weaving (more, if truth be told), so winding and threading twice as many threads and then weaving 3 yards on a much easier to weave 15" wide warp sounded a lot better to me than weaving 6 yards on a skinny little warp and fussing about matching stripes.

It took a while to wind the warp since I had to do it one thread at a time rather than many-at-once like I usually do but it only took a heartbeat to wind it onto the loom. I have to say, this tencel is pretty stuff! Look at it being all shimmery and waterfally in the raddle:

Ron helped me wind on last Friday and I really hoped to get it threaded over the weekend but I had so much else to do that I didn't start threading until yesterday. It was slow going owing to other irons in the fire; it took two episodes of WeaveCast and staying up until 1:00 but I got it threaded and sleyed last night:

Today all I've managed to do so far is to tie onto the front rod.

It didn't occur to me to change my tie up before I tied on so that's the next job - which I now get to do while crouching down under the cords that connect the rod to the beam. Yay. :P

So.... will I get the stole woven before leaving for Halifax tomorrow as I'd hoped? Doubtful, considering everything else I have to do. Am I going to try? ... ... ... Maybe?

One last note: since I'll be away on Thursday and Friday, I'm going to post this week's Guest Scarfa tomorrow. Which is perfect, because this post is so long and so amazing that it definitely merits at least two full days for you to digest. Linda Hurt teaches a Basic Weaving Class at The Art League in Alexandria, VA and, when she got wind of my request for guest scarves, she actually offered up an entire class worth of them! Be sure to come back tomorrow to check them out - Linda is clearly as great a teacher as she is a guest scarfer, 'cause all the students' scarves are just beautiful.

As for me, I'll see you on Monday!

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Stoles, Part I: Stoles Were Worn

Hey folks! I is back! I took a couple days off this week to recharge my batteries. Felt bad about it at first but then I realized no one's ever commented that I don't weave or post enough whereas some folks have told me to cut back on the ol' intertubes, so hopefully no one will have minded too terribly much. :) Although I haven't been blogging, I have been working away on the stole.

So. This stole. As I mentioned a while back, a friend of the family is being ordained as a priest in a little while - in two weeks, in fact!1 My in-laws wanted to give him a gift to commemorate this major event in his life and my mother in law thought that a handwoven stole to wear with his vestments would be just the thing. Olive and I spent a couple weeks looking for sources of inspiration - she sent me tons of pictures and videos from church events she'd been to at which Stoles Were Worn2 and I trolled the 'net looking for other handwoven stoles to get some specifics re: an appropriate width, length, material, pattern, etc.

By using Google Image Search, I found a handful of web sites that offer handwoven priest stoles for sale, including this one, this one and this one. The first one, Maryweave Studio, is my favourite and the one I kept going back to over and over 'cause I absolutely loved the colours. Really, if I were buying a stole for someone, it's where I'd head.

As a result, I started thinking of something far more colourful that the stoles that Olive had sent me pictures of. I even started wondering if some of the scarves I had woven would work - in different dimensions, of course, but the colour combos might do. To test this theory, I dressed Ron up in a blanket and threw scarves around his neck. Have I mentioned how obliging and supportive my husband is? Add long suffering and pious to the list as well!

I offer you Exhibit A in the "Your Husband is a Saint" category:

Really looks the part, don't he? The whole dress-your-husband-as-a-priest angle is pretty hilarious on its own but it totally cracks me up to see how his facial expression changes as the process went on. The first time I threw the blanket over him and told him where to stand, he thought it was funny. The second time, he understood why it was necessary. The third time? The third time he thought I was nuts. And irritating. But he did it anyway. That qualifies him for sainthood in my book.

Incidentally, when I showed those pictures to Olive her first reaction was: "He looks so holy! You know, I always hoped he'd become a priest..." She was laughing but absolutely serious. How is a daughter in law supposed to respond to that? "Gosh, I'm... sorry?"

So anyway, back to stole development. Olive and Vic (the other half of the dastardly in-law duo) came over one evening to Talk Stoles. They had a look at the scarves and Olive and I talked length, width and weight of the fabric. Olive really wanted to go with a wine red, though she was tempted by one of the blue scarves. In the end, however, they decided to go with a more traditional colour scheme: a white stole with gold edges. Olive was hopeful that I could put a cross or something on it, a la Jackie's beautiful stole, but I really didn't want to get into pick up or finger manipulated weaves.3

So after O&V left, I started playing with Fibreworks to design a draft. I didn't want to do a finger manipulated weave but I was fine with doing something other than plain weave and eventually settled on an 8 shaft 2/2/2/1/1 twill:

Is that a "fancy twill"? Not sure. I came up with it just by slapping in a point threading and treadling and then playing around in the tie up until I liked the alternating diamond blocks. I really liked those horizontal bands on the stoles from Maryweaves, like this one for instance, so I put some of those in and I snuck a little of Olive's wine red in to set off the gold bands at the edges.

I tried to get clever with Fibreworks by repeating the whole stole treadling twice and then fiddling the printed EPI so that the two halves showed up on the page side by side. This made them Very Tiny and distorted the diamonds considerably but it did give me an idea of what the finished beastie will look like:

So! That's covers the first couple weeks of this project: gathering ideas, playing Mr. Dressup with Ron, and finally settling on a draft. At this point I had a plan I was happy with, so I ordered my yarn and waited for it to arrive.

Next up: the yarn arrives, the draft is tweaked and the warp is wound!

1. Two weeks should be plenty of time to break in a new co-op student starting Monday, clean up the yarn room enough to turn it into a guest room, take a 3 day mini-break to Halifax to pick up Mom, start getting the shop arranged and receive dropped off product from consignors, weave the stole fabric, then cut it up and assemble it into the finished, mitred, and lined stole. Right? Right!

2. Yes, believe it or not, she regularly whips out her digital camera and tapes stuff at church, right during the service! Baptisms, ordinations, even Easter Vigil. She gets away with this because she is 80 years old and barely over 5 feet tall, so no one has the heart to take her camera away. ;)

3. See 1.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stubborn as an Ox [Scarf #35]

Last week I said I was lazy and that this was the root of all the trouble I had with Scarf #34, the ScarfFAIL. This is true, really, since it was sheer laziness that kept me from cutting and tying in the first place. Really, though, my main fault is stubbornness: once I'd decided to be lazy I was definitely going to stay the course and see it through come hell or high water ... or bad tension or wooshing pop bottles. ;) Comes from being a bull-headed Taurus born in the Year of the Ox, as I've said before.

Today I exhibited that same determined stubbornness by finishing Scarf #34. Yes, that's right: refreshed from a weekend during which I didn't even glance at the loom, I sat down and wove that hummer as long as I could. I think it wound up about 63" long and, apart from a skipped thread near the end that I can fix easily, it doesn't look all that bad. I certainly don't expect it to be sellable but hey, I'd wear it. Or maybe Mom will. Moms are so good for that, aren't they?1

Just so you can see what I was up against, this pic shows the difference in tension between those crammed 2/8s and the rest of the 4/8 warp:

See those 2/8s floating way above the rest?

Today I did the sensible thing (well, once #34 was done, that is!) and cut the finished scarves off and retied. I considered a few different wefts for the last scarf on the warp: the same green as the ScarfFAIL but in a 4/8 rather than 2/8, the dark blue that appears in the warp in only one tiny stripe, even a beige boucle... but in the end I let Barbara's approval of Scarf #33 guide me and went with a light blue. I was uncertain after the first couple inches but by the time I had 8" or so woven I really liked it.

Isn't it funny how that goes? I used to weave an inch or two to see if I liked a colour and then would unweave results I didn't like. Eventually, though, I realized that an inch or two is not nearly enough to judge a colour by so I usually go for at least 8" or 10" before being really dissatisfied, by which time it's too late for stubborn ol' me to give up. I don't worry too much about it since the colour combos I find most dodgy are usually some of the first things that sell each year.

I had to go slowly while weaving this scarf since those pesky 2/8s started getting tight almost right from the get go. I'd woven 1" worth of scarf, hemstitched and advanced one (1) time only and could already feel that they were tight. I managed to get about 30" woven before I had to resort to first one dowel and then a second to take up the slack on the other threads. Even so, I let them be far looser than I normally like my warps, so today was a good exercise in keeping my selvages even. I usually rely on the fairly high tension of the warp threads to keep the selvages even but I've found in recent years that high tension on the warp = harder to treadle = discomfort in my knee and hips. Ergo, I've been making a concerted effort lately to learn good habits that yield good selvages even on looser tension and these past couple scarves have certainly benefited from that.

I totally blanked on taking a Scarfadone! shot this time, so here's a pic of all three scarves from this warp once they're off the loom: Scarf #33 at the back, Scarf #34 in the middle, and today's scarf, #35, at the front.

Incidentally, I listened to Episode #9 of WeaveCast today while I was weaving and thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Bonnie Tarses. I've run across her blog in the past and found her horoscope weavings beautiful - like me, she's all about plain weave and colour. While I enjoyed listening to her views on design (all of her weaving carries a message of some kind) what I appreciated most were two things she said.

"It's impossible to weave something ugly. The reason why you think that what you've woven is ugly is because you had an idea, a plan in your head and what you wove fell far from the plan."

I have told my students this so many times I've lost count. They'll be disappointed with something they've woven and I tell them: "No one else can see the picture you had in your head of what this was going to look like. You know what you expected and are disappointed that this isn't it but to everyone else on the planet this is beautiful and impressive. Be proud of yourself!"

Bonnie then went on to say something else that was even better yet:
"Now, the way around that is to not have a plan in your head. The only plan is 'how wide you want it to be? how long do you want it to be?' and then what happens in the middle is what happens."

I can't tell you how gratifying it was to hear a Proper Weaver(tm) give credence to this way of doing things! I have long followed exactly this lack-of-plan but have always felt a bit sheepish about it. I felt I ought to be more rigourous about planning my projects, that I ought to take more care, that I was being lazy or stubborn... it is So. Great. to hear a highly respected artist like Bonnie Tarses (who no one could possibly accuse of being lazy!) espouse this method of unplanning. I really would just rather wander into the yarn room each day and discover which yarns are going to speak to me at that moment than try to plan something in advance and impose my will upon them, as Bonnie put it.

Of course, having said all that, my next project will be doing exactly that: I shall impose my will upon the lovely tencel yarn that arrived on my doorstep last week and turn it into what I hope will be a gorgeous stole for a good family friend who is being ordained as a priest in a few weeks' time. The posts for the rest of this week and probably next week too will be all about my adventures in this regard.

Tomorrow: the very planned draft and possibly the wound warp!

1. Mine's got a shaft-switched rug I wove years ago that's as ugly as a very ugly thing that she not only uses, she even claims to like it! At least I can reassure myself that I've woven some far more lovely things for her over the years, too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Warp #7 review [MFM]

Wow, it's been more than a month since I reviewed Warp #6! How can that be!? Wooosh, how time flies. Fortunately, this time Lulu's wearing her spanky new LCD screen and all the colours are bright and beautiful. I even managed to fix up the weird shade of lavender that Lu and Bella were insisting on for Scarf #25 - though I did have to do that in Picasa 'cause even upstairs in natural light it wasn't coming out right. Thank goodness for Picasa's oh-so-easy photo editing tools!

You may recall that Warp #7 was where I started playing around with PPI to see what beat produced the nicest fabric. Having taken a wide survey of all my husband, we have determined that... there's not a whole lotta difference, all things considered. He did think that Scarf #23 (woven ~7 PPI) felt lighter than Scarf #22 (woven ~8) but found that #22 was smoother - whether that was due to beat, to the way I pressed it or to a difference in the spun weft is uncertain. My guess is the pressing - maybe I used more steam? Ron had no particular preference as to the weight but he did like the smoother scarf best.

In related news, I had been fussing a little bit about the weight of these scarves woven on 8/8 warps but I'm feeling very much relieved about it now. Jade-of-the-lovely-neck and her fab photographer husband came over to our place on Saturday so I took the chance to fling a variety of scarves around her neck. They all passed muster; in fact, she loved Scarf #3 so much I thought I was going to have to search her bags before they left. ;) The others were all very nice, she thought, but she deemed Scarf #3 perfect in all respects: colour, length, and in particular weight. She wore it for Some Time and petted it a lot.

This is a big relief to me, both because it means I haven't woven a bunch of scarves that are too heavy and because now I can go back to weaving on the big chunky warps I love to use without feeling like I'm wimping out somehow. Yay!

Here are the finished pics of Warp #7, which covered Scarves 22, 23, 24 and 25:

And here are the particulars:

Warp 7: 8/8 cotton set at 10 EPI, 70 ends hence 7" wide in the reed.

Scarf 22
: 4/8 unmercerized cotton, 62" x 5.5"
Scarf 23: 4/8 unmercerized cotton, 71" x 5.5"
Scarf 24: two strands of 2/8 unmercerized cotton plied together, 45" x 5.5"
Scarf 25: 4/8 unmercerized cotton, 60" x 5.5"

As you can see in one of those pics, I tried twisting the short scarf into a mobius strip and then knotting the fringes from both ends together. I did not love this, so will probably undo it and try something else. I certainly hope Mom remembers to pack her thinking cap when she comes in less than two weeks!

Incidentally, I've started playing around with Flickr since it seems to get so much more attention than poor ol' Picasa does in online circles - and also because I've joined the #twitterweave group on Twitter which now has a Flickr group of its own. So far I've created a Scarf A Day set as well as sets for Warps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and the as-yet-unreviewed 8.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pretty pressies and Rigid Heddles [Guest Scarf 7]

I said from the beginning that I'd love to post very first scarves on Guest Scarf Fridays and Patsy Morris, bless her heart, took me at my word - Yay! Although I must confess, I'm not sure if this is Patsy's very first scarf or merely the first one she's woven on her new Ashford rigid heddle loom. Judging from her nice even selvages (which she took pains to keep straight, she tells me) this probably isn't her absolutely very first scarf. My selvages didn't look anything like that on my first scarf, at any rate!

A quick note about the following: Patsy and I exchanged emails much like I did with both Chris and Dave but then I also sent her a long list of questions I wrote up to try and squeeze as much info out of my guest scarfers as I can. Inquiring minds want to know, after all! I've woven those questions and her answers into our email conversation - hopefully it doesn't sound too choppy! At the very end are her answers to a few questions that I plan to ask each guest scarfer from here on out. I guess I'll have to go back and ask my former guests the same questions, too!

And now, without further ado, here is Patsy's scarf! (NB: there's a bit more ado after her scarf. I don't like to skimp on ado.)

PM: Here are some pictures of the very first scarf I have woven on my Ashford RH loom. I used variegated green mohair. This scarf was made as a birthday gift for my very dear friend in England. I hope my edges aren't too bumpy because I took great pains to keep them even!

JWD: Wow, that monogram! Such a neat idea! So, what's the scoop on this scarf, then? Whatdja use for warp? How long did you weave it? How'd you finish the ends - did you hemstitch or sew across with the machine?

PM: For the warp I used beige 100% cotton 3/2 ply I think. It is 48" long, 51/2" wide. The ends were finished by machine stitching. I then used my embroidery machine and monogrammed the initials.

JWD: Is that cute little bag made from the same fabric? Is the bag for SB, too? Lucky, lucky SB!

PM: The little bag is woven from copper wool/tencel yarn on a small cricket loom, which is the loom that got me hooked!!!

JWD: How did you come up with the idea for this scarf?

PM: My friend in England likes the color green, I like the mohair yarns, the beige warp went well with the mohair yarn and I have an embroidery machine so put her initials on it.

JWD: Were you happy with the project? Would you weave it again?

PM: Yes I was happy with it, no I like making one of a kind.

JWD: What was your favourite thing about weaving the scarf? About the finished scarf?

PM: How fast it went and I that I was able to embroider her initials on it.

JWD: What do you have on the loom right now, or what's your next planned project?

PM: Right now I have material strips on it in batiks making a bag.

JWD: How long have you been weaving?

PM: Only a few months.

JWD: How or where did you learn to weave?

PM: I taught myself.

JWD: What made you become a weaver?

PM: My Mom had a small lap loom and I saw some really, really awesome things a friend had made and just loved them!

JWD: Do you weave other kinds of things? What's your favourite thing to weave? Why?

PM: I haven't yet, but I want to weave the plastic bags cut into strips, and lots of material strips.

JWD: What's your day job and what impact does it have on your weaving?

PM: I am a longarm quilter working out of my home so I can do whatever. I usually do my weaving in the evening as my quiet time.

JWD: Do you pursue other fibre crafts such as spinning, knitting, crocheting, felting, quilting, etc etc etc?

PM: I am a quilter and longarm quilter. I also knit.

JWD: What a cute little loom... would you recommend the Ashford?

PM: I definitely would recommend the Ashford, I did a lot of research and read every internet pro/cons about it and the Kromski. The problem with the Kromski is the ratchets don't hold, it does fold in half but my Ashford isn't so large that I can't just shove it in the car and go... I love my ashford and I also got the stand for it. It is super simple to warp up using the peg method and it also comes with the largest range of heddles, another reason I chose it. I love it!!!! The wood is unfinished as opposed to the Kromski but I just oiled mine with furniture polish before I put it together. It comes with a great book for warping up and getting you weaving in no time. I have the 16" with two different sizes of heddles.

[These are (some of) the questions I'll be asking each guest scarfer - JWD]

1) Do you have a blog or other website I can link to?

2) What is/are your favourite colours?

Tea dyes/creams/beige

3) What's your favourite fibre to weave with?

So far any yarns and material strips I was given two boxes full of 100% wool yarn so will be using that.

4) What's your favourite dimension (length and width) to weave a scarf?

About 6" wide, length depends on who I'm making if for.

5) What are the dimensions of your favourite scarf? (the one you wear all the time, handwoven or otherwise)

I don't wear one - too warm here!

6) How did you find Scarf A Day?

On the internet.

Did you catch up there when Patsy said she's a long arm quilter? She's not kidding - go check out her blog and you'll see all manner of beautiful quilts. Most in the tans and beiges she loves so much but a couple of other colours pop up now and then. Her really nifty embroidery pops up as well, as do other sewing projects.

I have to take a bit of exception to Patsy's answer about her other crafts, though. Yeah, okay, so she quilts and she knits -- but she also does incredible stuff with... tin foil! And old book pages! And bubble wrap! Seriously, people, go check this stuff out. It's wild, and I'm utterly fascinated. If I had half the gumption I wish I had, I'd be trying all this stuff Right Now. As it is, I just boggle at the cool things she's up to. Wowza.

And now that other ado I was mentioning: Patsy's letter and pics got me thinking about getting a rigid heddle loom myself. I can honestly say I've never been that interested in or tempted by them in the past since they seem like So. Much. Work. but lately I find that several things have changed that make them more appealing. Firstly, I'm really trying to slow down and savour the time spent on things. Well, okay, at least a little bit - slowing down is a relative thing! Secondly, I've been heading out to Fibre Fridays at the library now and then and also to spinning gatherings on the weekends... usually I take my knitting or spinning to these but I'd really like to take weaving, it's just too awkward to lug a floor loom around. Thirdly, I've been working on these scarf kits and I think they'd work really well on a rigid heddle but I'd like to actually try it out for myself before I suggest that to a potential customer. Fourthly, I've been trying to think of a way to weave a scarf on days when my floor looms are occupied and I think Ron might balk at the introduction of yet another floor loom into our already cramped house.

So, ever since I got Patsy's letter, I've been pumping everyone I can think of for more info on rigid heddles and their opinions on the best looms on the market. I've asked on Twitter, I've started a forum on WeaveZine, I've asked on Weaving List and I've asked the Ultimate Authority for input.1 Obviously Patsy loves her Ashford; I've also heard good things about Ashford's Knitter's Loom, Schacht's Cricket, and Kromski's Harp. Just lately I've also heard about Glimakra's Emilia, which intrigues me since my big floor loom is a DIYmakra.

And so now I put my question to you, fair readers: which rigid heddle loom do you think I should get? Here are my criteria:

1) I don't want it to be too wide. Wide enough for scarves and maybe a placemat or runner or something but nothing more than 15" or so.

2) It doesn't need to be very expandable either - if I want to do something fancy, I'll use my floor looms. I do want to be able to use heddles with a variety of dpi, though. Probably 10 dpi to begin with, but maybe as few as 8 or as many as... 12? 15?

3) I want it to be small, light and ultra portable.

4) I want it to be cute. Sounds silly, perhaps, but if it's cute I'll be SO much more inclined to play with it. I like to pet cute things, like my kitties. :) And smooth - I like to pet smooth things, too.

5) I want it to work well, of course. Good tension, of course. Depth of shed in particular - I'd like to be able to use a boat shuttle because, frankly, stick shuttles give me wind.

6) I do not want to break the bank but I'm willing to spend what it takes to get a good loom.

I'd love to hear specifics about what you do or don't like about the rigid heddles you've used and especially how the various looms compare.

Incidentally, if others are having the same inner debate that I am, you might find Syne Mitchell's review of Schacht's Cricket useful, or her audio review of the Ashford Knitter's Loom from WeaveCast Episode 5.

Thanks for your help! And thanks especially to Patsy for sharing her first Ashford scarfa with us all. :)

1. I.e. Mom.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scarf FAIL [Scarf 34]

Woooph. Where to begin? At the beginning, I guess.

I started out with pretty high hopes for this scarf. Was going to use my tried and true light green weft which almost always turns out well and which also happens to be in the warp so I knew it would work. No problems there. I also decided to use a 2/8 weft for the first time, like my dear ol' mum suggested a while back,1 which also should have worked. And it was awfully pretty, ifIdosaysomyself, so that wasn't the problem.

The wobbly selvages weren't the problem either, although I admit they do look pretty bad. They are merely a symptom of the problem.

So what was the problem, you ask? When you come right down to it, the problem was me. I am basically lazy at heart, and this leads me into all manner of difficulty when I try to cut corners. ;)

Remember yesterday when I said that those narrow stripes of 2/8 crammed into a single dent in the reed were taking up at a different rate so I was going to have to cut and tie? Well, when I trundled downstairs today to start weaving, I didn't really feel like it. For some reason I thought that perhaps the 2/8 weft wouldn't create the same issues... what's more, I also had a momentary lapse of reason and decided the 2/8 would not only not make the tension worse, it would somehow miraculously fix the uneven tension I already had. And so I decided not to cut and tie but just to carry on and see how things went. This was my first mistake.

It rapidly became apparent that the 2/8 was not effecting any miracle cures for my tension so I was either going to have to take out what I had, start over and waste several inches of warp, or pull a tension fix out of thin air. Being basically lazy and also pretty cheap, I went with option #3. So I pulled out my handy-dandy tension fixer upper and bunged it under the loose threads again. However, since I was feeling particularly lazy today and didn't want to have to keep pushing it back every time I advanced, I pulled it all the way down to the warp beam and hung weights off of it so that it would stay. This essentially turned the whole shebang into a warp weighted loom, with the rod and the weights putting tension on most of the threads and the back beam tensioning those skinny stripes. Or so I thought. This was my second mistake.

What I hadn't considered was that, if the only thing putting tension on my threads was the weights, they had to be Pretty Darn Heavy in order to put more tension on than the loom itself could do. The little water bottles I usually use for heavy weights which work so well on a few ends at a time had no hope of putting enough tension on a full 7" of warp. So I exchanged them for 2L pop bottles instead.2 My third mistake.

Spotted those loose yellow threads, did you? I'll get to those in a moment.

This arrangement worked a treat for several inches... true, the warp was still quite a bit looser than I'd have liked, hence the wobbly selvages, but it was working. Then, the third or fourth time I advanced the warp, disaster struck. I guess I normally just ease enough tension off the brake that I can pull the warp forward to advance but this time I gave the brake release a good ol' stomp and woooooooosh, those 2L bottles went crashing to the floor, taking a fair amount of my warp with them. But not taking those skinny threads, of course, since they weren't weighted. Those skinny threads weren't quite sure what to do with themselves as the warp beam unreeled itself, so they just kinda gathered up, looking a bit lost - rather like sheep waiting for a dog to herd them back into line.

"Huh," thought I. "Well, okay then." And, like a good little sheep dog, I wound the warp back up onto the beam. No harm done... and yet, for some reason, this made those skinny threads waaaay tighter than they had been to begin with. I still haven't quite figured that out... maybe because enough of the warp unreeled itself that the next roll of paper dividing the layers fell out? Maybe when I wound it back up, sans paper, those threads got futzed up somehow. Dunno.

Anyhoo, I eased off the tension on those threads (ugh, loose warp again!) and sat back down and kept weaving... everything seemed to be mostly okay and I figured any unevenness at the fell would probably just work itself out in the wash. Right? Sure. No problem.

And then it happened again. A couple of times. Yargh. By this point I had only two choices: give up, or go out to Tim Horton's with Ron and have a cuppa tea and a comforting chocolate chip muffin. Two guesses which I did.

When we got back, I was all set to just call this a ScarfFAIL day but I figured I at least needed some pictures to go with it, so I went downstairs to take some. And, you know, after a relaxing cup of tea and a nice chat at Tim's, I decided the scarf didn't look that bad, really:

Maybe a little wonky at the selvage, yes, but mostly all right. Good enough that I could wear it anyway, if I just got it done... and so I sat back down to keep weaving. That right there, that was mistake #4.

I managed to get another 12" or so woven, with it wooshing to the floor every time I advanced. I noticed that after each time it did, the tension was just a little bit more lopsided than before. Turns out the rod was sliding back and forth and, as every good physics student knows, the further a weight is from the fulcrum, the more pressure it exerts.3 So I had to shift the rod back and forth each time to try and find the balance point so that the fell was mostly straight. Big pain.

And then this happened:

Yep, that'd be the apple pop sitting on the floor and the lemonade dangling up in the air. Not good.

Nope, not good at all.

This time, no matter how I jiggled and balanced and futzed about, I couldn't get the tension even at the fell:

So there you have it: my first official Scarf FAIL. Maybe I can use the fabric for something else.

And now... now I'm gonna go play some WoW. :P

See you tomorrow with a fun little guest scarf woven by Patsy Morris for a very lucky friend!

1. Somewhere, in a comment I can't seem to locate, Mom suggested setting the warp closely and then using a very fine weft, a la Anita Luvera Mayer. Really, I should have resleyed the warp and beat the weft in less but what can I say? It was a lazy weaving day!

2. Yes, they are still full of pop. Somehow we just have never gotten around to drinking that apple flavoured pop, nor that last bottle of lemonade pop. Who makes apple flavoured pop, anyway? Who BUYS apple flavoured pop?? Apparently we do, but we don't drink it.

3. Geeze oh geeze, I hope that's right. It's been an awfully long time since I was a good physics student. In fact, that's a lesson I remember from... what, third or fourth grade?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Markedly different [Scarf 33]

I wound a new warp to put on the loom today. In the chain it looks pretty similar to the last one...

...but on the warping mill you can see that it's actually quite a departure for me:

As you've probably noticed if you've been reading for a while, my usual MO is to pick some colours that I like together and wind them many at a time, which gives me the same mix of colours across the warp whether I thread them randomly or in stripes. Lately I've been thinking more and more about winding the colours in Proper Stripes(tm) and today I finally decided to do it.

My inspiration for this particular warp was a bookmark I've had for a few years now; usually I lose these paper bookmarks in a heartbeat but I've kept this one all this time because every time I look at it, I think "Wow, I'd love to weave that some day." I also think, "Wow, look how they put in that skinny stripe of unexpected red (or orange, or yellow). I love that!"

I didn't go so far as to put in a stripe of red but I did put in a couple skinny stripes of colours that appear nowhere else in the warp. The warp is mostly 4/8 cotton but I also put in a couple narrow bands of boucle and in three spots I crammed four 2/8s into one dent just for kicks.

'Course, I'm kicking myself over that a little bit because the 2/8 isn't taking up at the same rate as the 4/8 so I'm going to have to cut & tie between each scarf to relieve the tension on those threads. Still, I'm glad I did it - I like the extra surface texture.

I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the feel of the bookmark's stripes. I wasn't so sure about the colours at first but, like yesterday's tan, they grew on me as I wove. I'm really anxious to see what it looks like once it's wet finished and worn, which is always the final test of success with a new type of design or colour scheme. If I like the result, I'll probably be doing lots more of these since it wasn't nearly as fiddly or time consuming to wind the warp as I feared. It's not quite the same instant gratification as my usual method but it's definitely workable!

Scarfa #33 done!

On second chances and gifts in the mail [Scarf 32]

Oops, late again. This time it's because some friends invited us out for dinner and then we played games after - was gobs of fun and I don't feel the slightest bit guilty. :) Tired, yes! Guilty, no, not at all.

When I first put this warp on with the wide spacing in the reed, I envisioned weaving it with a boucle to help retain those spaces when it was washed. I got distracted by that lovely, springy green first and then by the bright, bright blue but today was boucle day. I was actually hoping to weave with a slightly different bright blue boucle but it turns out I didn't have enough - should have placed that big yarn order a little sooner, I guess! Considering that I was a blue boucle free zone, I used a neutral, light tan colour instead.

I must confess, I had some misgivings about this colour starting out. I used a very similar shade of cotton chenille on this warp palette last Fall and I wasn't very happy with the results. The chenille covered the warp almost entirely and the bright blue and green fringes looked Pretty Odd Indeed stuck on the ends of a mostly tan scarf. Not too odd, I guess, since someone bought the scarf, but let's just say it wasn't my favourite scarf of the year.

So why try the same colour again, you ask? Why indeed... mostly because it's the only shade of boucle that I had that I thought would work at all and I was really keen to see what difference the boucle made vs. the smooth cotton. I just plain wanted to try the colour again, though, in a much looser weave and with a fibre that wouldn't cover the warp so completely - the colour seemed like it ought to work and I wanted to give it another chance.

So I wound my bobbins and started weaving... and then wasn't at all sure I'd made the right choice. Fortunately Ron was home at the time and available for a consult. We both looked at the warp and scratched our heads, waffled around trying to decide... and then figured meh, what the heck? Might as well give it a shot.

It looked a bit drab next to the bright blue that was wound around the cloth beam below it but once that was covered it the colour began to grow on me. By the time I got to the end of the scarf (and the warp) I decided I quite like it. :) Hurray for experiments and second chances!

I was lazy when I wound the warp and left in a few knots, so this scarf needs some repairs before it goes into the wash. Will probably do that soon (and twist the fringes again!) 'cause I'm anxious to see how this one compares to the others when washed.

Here's the trio of scarves done on this warp:

The green one at the top is the only one that's been wet finished so far; you can see the big difference between that fabric and the blue, which has the same type of weft as the green one.

So enough about scarves already, let's talk tea towels! In fact, let's talk absolutely gorgeous jewel toned tea towels that arrive unexpectedly in the mail, 'cause that's exactly what I got today! I was sitting at the kitchen table, minding my own business,1 when Ron came in with this:

When I opened it up, this is what I found inside:

Isn't it beeeooootiful!? Those of you with sharp eyes who can read the return address on the envelope will have spied that it came from Laura Fry. Laura mentioned a couple days ago that she'd sent me a little pressie for pointing her in the direction of ArtFire -- which was totally unnecessary, of course, since all I did was give her the url. But hey, this is me not looking any gift horses in any mouths! Instead, I am looking at my georgeous new tea towel:

It's actually a much deeper purple than these pictures make it appear, with zig-zags of hot pink, blue and green warp floats on the sides (see above) and mostly blues with a few sneaky greens in the centre (see below). The weft itself has lighter and darker streaks in it which gives the fabric a really lovely variation and depth. I just love it!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Laura! Can you give us a little intel on what it's made of? I'm sure everyone reading will want to know, as will my fellow guild members when I take this to my next guild meeting and show it off with extreme smugness. It looks like a mercerized cotton warp...? What's the weft?

I should point out that this is actually the second parcel I've gotten from Laura in as many weeks. Last week I got a spanky new copy of her CD Weaver III which, owing to road trips and Easter and other goings on around here, I have not yet had a chance to play with. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do that soon!

1. Which is to say: messing about online. Probably reading blogs, so actually minding someone else's business, I guess.