Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So much weaving, so little time

So little time to post, that is. I can't believe I've only posted twice since Mom arrived! It's not for lack of content, I assure you - it's just that she's been working so hard that I feel really guilty playing on the computer for the couple of hours it would take to write one and I've been working so hard that by the time I get to sit at the computer all I feel like doing is reading webcomics and playing WoW.1 :P Mom is heading home in two days, though (gnaaaah!) and then I will have time to reprise everything we've done for the past month, including the following scarf related activities (in no particular order):

1) Weaving, sewing up and delivering the stole - which turned out so well I can hardly believe it. It was a thing of beauty, ifIdosaysomyself. I still get goosebumps! If only the pictures of it had turned out as well. Oh well, c'est la vie.

I'll write a proper Part IV post about finishing up the stole as soon as I can with much better pictures. This is just a teaser. :)

2) Weaving three happy trombone shawls on a warp I wound ages ago but never used 'cause I didn't have an 8 dent reed or feel like turning the beater bars around on my Minerva. Happily, Mom brought me an 8 dent reed for my birthday and now those shaws are done like dinner. Well, apart from the wet finishing...

3) Winding a TON of mixed fibre warps out of my ridiculously huge yarn stash. Mom has spent several happy hours staring at the walls of her bedroom (my guest room/yarn room) and picking out yarns to put together. She has wound seventeen (17!!) warps long enough for three scarves each and has woven off three of those warps. They are beeeooootiful and, of the four that I took into the shop last week, one of them promptly sold. Which was heartbreaking 'cause I wanted it for myself but one of my best friends and business partners bought it, so I will at least have visiting rights.

4) Weaving another warp worth of the wide scarves like scarves #30, #31 and #32, to test out whether sleying the 4/8 cotton one per dent in an 8 dent reed works out as well or better as sleying it weirdly with wide gaps in a 12 dent reed. More on this later but the verdict is: "meh, tomayto, tomahto."

5) Figuring out a decent display for Many Scarves in the shop and then displaying the forty-two (42!!) Scarf A Day & other scarves that I had ready for Ship #1. Surely it is not a coincidence that there were 42 of them? Apparently weaving falls under the category of "everything." Was very happy in the end with the new display method:

Hello, Chris-hiding-in-the-mirror-with-whales!

Incidentally, it was a great day sales wise - our best first ship of the season to date - and I sold half a dozen scarves, including Scarf #2, Scarf #5, Scarf #9, and Scarf #14. It was also an incredibly cold day, so I wore Shawl #8 the entire time so as not to freeze to death, with price tag dangling like Minnie Pearl.

6) Working on a Very Exciting Super Secret Scarf A Day Project! The warp is wound, the first scarf is woven and the second is half done but there is much yet to do and the weaving at least all has to be done before Mom leaves at an insanely early hour on Friday morning. I cannot tell you much about this Super Secret Project because it is not a Sure Thing(tm) but I will give you a little hint: it starts with "writing" and ends with "a Scarf A Day article for the SO2009 issue of Handwoven." Woooooot!

7) Appearing in the latest episode of WeaveCast, thanks to Gmail's lovely voice mail feature and Syne Mitchell's audio-wizardry. I haven't had a chance to actually listen to the show yet (might do that while in the shop today - surely cruisers will find it interesting!?) so am a bit anxious - I never sound like I think I sound when I hear myself in a recording. Will be very curious to hear whether I sound okay - I fear I'll sound sing-songy like you do when you're reading something rather than just chatting. Still, is tres exciting!

Hmmm. There may be more scarf related things but they're not coming to mind right now. Sadly, I cannot seem to track down Bella to unload the pictures she's holding, so I have no pics for many of those yet.

There were also non-scarf related things, like setting up the shop, weaving off the wool blankets that have plagued my big loom for some time, sewing up half a dozen small bags and more than a dozen eyeglass cases out of fabric I wove ages ago, delivering scarves to Sunset Gallery, a lovely little gallery in Cheticamp that's carrying my work for the first time this year, weaving a bunch of placemats for another shop I've had things in for several years, having a graphic design student working here for a month, visiting with family and friends while Mom's here, etc. etc. etc.

Woosh. So much of everything, so little time! And now I am running late for Ship Day #2 and really want to take some pics of the newest scarves before they go into the shop and then hopefully off into the world, wrapped round some lucky cruiser's lucky neck. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Introducing the SNRH!

I'm officially going to stop saying "tomorrow I'll post blah blah blah" since this month is clearly not going to arrange itself into tidy days that allow for regular posting, what with Mom visiting and Vanessa working here six hours a day (often on my computer) and the shop opening in ten (10!!!) days and and and... ooph! Also, I'm declaring the entire month an MFM (Mixed Fibre May) 'cause I have no idea what I'll be posting when. There will be scarves - there may even be guest scarves! - but the timing thereof will be dodgy at best.

Now that business is out of the way, I'm dying to show off the SNRH, i.e. my Spanky New Rigid Heddle loom! As you may recall, Mom scored me a second hand but never used Ashford Knitter's loom and brought it for my birthday present. As she feared, I didn't let her save it for my actual birthday; instead, I plunked myself down in her hotel room and waited anxiously while she unpacked her bags then practically tore it out of her hands and started assembling right there on her bed. Let the poor woman sleep after a long international plane trip when there was a new loom to be warped? Are you kidding?

Assembly was easy peasey but figuring out how to warp the loom was a smidge trickier. Mom's room had a sort of flip-top desk we were able to clamp it to (carefully, since the desk was almost certainly an antique)

but there was no other surface to clamp the warping peg onto. Fortunately, Ron was as obliging as ever and anchored a wooden chair so that I could clamp the peg to one side.

I'd packed a couple cones of looped mohair to weave with since I knew the loom came with a 7.5 DPI heddle. I usually weave mohair at 6 EPI but I figured this would work just fine. I snuck the cones into Ron's luggage without him noticing until we got to Halifax. He evidently hadn't got word that Friday night was Weaving Night so was rather surprised to discover coned yarn in his suitcase when he opened it on Thursday hunting for a toothbrush. He's quite used to me buying yarn and packing it home on our trips but it isn't often that I actually leave home with the stuff.

So I had yarn and I'd also packed scissors. The loom came with shuttles and all the bits and pieces it needed... but I'd totally forgotten any sort of packing to go on the back beam between the layers of warp. We hunted around for some hotel stationery but, alas, there was none to be found, nor any kind of sticks either. We hunted around for anything flat we could use and first spied the long plastic sleeve that my new 8 dent reed came in (another gift from Mom - my cup runneth over!). There was also a large Ziploc freezer bag, so that went on the beam next. Then we had to get creative. We tried a t-shirt bag...

...which seemed to work okay (at least until the end)...

...but after that we were really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I considered toilet paper but ruled it out as 1) too narrow and 2) too soft. Then, since I was in the bathroom at the time, I glanced over at the toilet and spotted the only paper product the hotel had provided. A couple quick snips with a pair of scissors later, we wound up with two of these:

Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

It felt a bit daring to use mohair for this project in light of previous mohair-for-first-project horrors1 but am happy to report that the tension was fine in spite of the unorthodox packing material and warping equipment and the mohair worked great without any trouble at all.

By this time it was Pretty Late so I took the loom back to my own hotel room and let Mom get to sleep. I spent an hour or so weaving on the bed with the back of the loom propped up on pillows but that was hard on the back.

Eventually I realized that the foot of the bed was high enough that I could sit cross-legged on the bed and prop the loom against the foot...board? which worked a treat until I just couldn't keep my eyes open any more. I kept weaving the next morning (this time sitting on the floor with the loom propped against a wing back chair since I figured sitting up on the bed might wake up Ron. ;)) and then finished the scarf up in Mom's room before breakfast, wedged between her bed and the flip-top desk.

Here's one last look at my SNRH baby, this time in its natural habitat, i.e. the kitchen table. Although perhaps that's not really its natural habitat since the idea is to take it out and about and weave away from home on it. At any rate, here it is, complete with its Spanky New Rigid Heddle Bag:

And a last glimpse of the scarf fabric:

In other news, work on the stole continues apace and Mom's been weaving up a storm on a warp of shawls much like the Sad Trombone shawl, except that the wool is slightly finer and white, and no sad trombones have been required as yet.

1. The very first time I ever warped a loom it was with brushed mohair. I had some rather alarming problems with that warp which I think you might be able to hear more about in the next episode of WeaveCast. OoOoooOOooo!

Monday, May 4, 2009

On Stoles, Part III: Stoles were woven

Ooph, what a weekend! There were looms and birthdays and loads of shopping and a long day's drive and when I emptied my suitcase onto the bed last night it looked like a book/game/yarn/clothing store had exploded. Today was super busy as well but Mom, bless her heart, got the loom tied up for the stole and wove the first couple feet. I took over at the first colour stripe and accidentally kept going until it was done. (Well, until the length we'd calculated was done anyway - I'm trying not to be too concerned about the fact that there's still a good yard on the loom even though I don't remember adding that much extra. Must've done. I... hope? Gnaah.)

No time or energy to write any proper sort of post, so hopefully these pics will be an acceptable substitute and give you an idea of how it's shaping up:

Tomorrow I'll introduce you to my Spanky New Rigid Heddle(tm) loom!