Saturday, October 31, 2009

Just the stash, Mom, Just the stash. [Scarves ?? and 44-46]

You may recall that when Mom came to visit1 last May, I stashed her in my yarn room for a month. Some people might object to being stuck in a storage room rather than a guest room but, being a weaver, Mom is quite content with the arrangement.2 For one thing it's the only room in the house besides our bedroom, office and bathroom that actually has a door (for some reason she objects to cats climbing into bed with her).3 For another, it's filled with yarn:

Remember this? One wall of my yarn room/guest room/Mother containment unit/playground.

The door's nice but it's really the yarn she likes, even though she says it makes it hard to sleep sometimes. It overstimulates her and gives her all kinds of ideas for things to weave, apparently, and I don't doubt it. In years past when she visited I'd stick my head in and find her lying on the bed, staring thoughtfully up at the walls and worrying her lip or tapping her cheek as she combined the yarn on the walls in her mind. "I'd love to use that one and that one together," she'd say, pointing at the walls and looking at me hopefully.

I had my stash sort of organized, though - at least in theory. Production yarns were on one wall, knitting yarns on another, yarns I collected before starting the business on a third, etc - and I tried not to mix them up too much since some were business supplies and some weren't. And we were always so busy... and I never wove many scarves... There was always some reason I put her off, poor thing.

This year, though - This was The Year of the Scarf! I swear, she literally clapped her hands with glee when I didn't just allow her to go crazy in there but asked her, pretty please with sugar and cherries and all the trimmings, to wind me up some stash scarf warps. She was like a kid in a candy store mixed with a kid whose favourite toys were all in her room - she'd disappear for ages and when I finally tracked her down she'd be sitting on her bed with piles of yarn all around her and a big excited smile on her face: "Look at these, honey! Ooo, and what about this!? And you could use this or this... ooo, or that for weft!"

The end result was seventeen (17!!) warps she wound for three or four scarves apiece. The first couple of combos she just made a single warp out of but by the third one she was making two warps from each so that she could take one home and weave it too - the idea being that we could then compare to see how our respective scarves turned out. Here's the lot, aren't they gorgeous?

The stash warps Mom wound for me while she was here in May.

We thought they were so cool (and the pictures so neat) that we sent them off to Handwoven to see if they'd be interested in them for an Endnotes but I guess they already had stash warps articles planned for an upcoming issue or something so they didn't bite. Their loss, I think!

Anyhoo, we were both really excited about this back in May and each of us put on a warp right away. Mom actually wove three of them in quick succession, and they all turned out GRATE. See for yourself:

Mom's first three stash warps, all woven up. Soooo pretty!

Aren't those pictures FAB? I particularly like the ones that show the finished scarves all swirled up with their own wefts.

Unfortunately, I hit my Weaving Funk and stalled during the first stash warp I put on. Truth be told, I think the two are related to some extent. I don't mean to say that the stash scarves caused my funk, no sirree! They are BEEOOOTIFUL and I love them, and I love that my Dear Ol Mum (who I also love) wound them for me. But Mom's scarves were soooo pretty and her pics soooo cleverly composed that I, in my funkiness, thought to myself: "how can I compete with that? How can I improve on that??" As if competing or improving on was important somehow! Pfff! Ridiculous! But there it is: my darkest, dirtiest secret is that I'm a competitive little, thing, even where my Dear Ol Mum is concerned. I'm working on it, really I am. :P

I did manage to finish that first stash warp, though. And then, since those three scarves and three similar stashy scarves Mom had woven before she left sold like hot cakes in the shop, I managed to squeeze out a second one over the summer in spite of my weaving dry-spell. As it turns out, the two warps I chose were two of the ones Mom had also woven and we both wound up picking similar weft colours, too. Great minds think alike and all that:

Gaah! Mom's pics are much better than mine! Let it go, Janet, let it go...

Sadly, I didn't take any finished shots of the pastel warp, or if I did I can't find them. I still have one of those left - the only stash warp scarf that hasn't sold yet, I think because it's very springy colours and I didn't get them woven until fall - so maybe I'll get one taken yet. Or maybe I'll unearth the pics I thought I took but can't locate.

Those two warps were the only scarves I wove between June and September, actually. I've been weaving like crazy this month, though - and, now that my funk is over, these stash warps are calling to me! I wove one last week and am hoping to get several more done before the market next month. I'm sure they'll be as popular there as they were in the shop.

Here's the one I've done so far:

Warp #17, Scarves #44-#46

As I wove the first one I thought I was beating the weft in too hard and that it would cover up the lovely warp too much, so I beat the next two very lightly. In retrospect, I like the hand of the first one best even though the warp does show better in the other two. The third one, #46, was a particular experiment: I couldn't find the exact shade of grey I wanted on my production wall so I used a fine silk that my friend Barbara (hi, Barbara!) gave me years ago. The colour wasn't quite as blue as I wanted but hit the mark pretty closely. It must've been a good choice 'cause that's the scarf that the peanut gallery of weavers I showed these to on Thursday liked best. All three of these are sooo drapey and soft and the colours look reeeally great with a chocolate brown vest that I have, so I'm hoping they'll go quickly at the sale.

I still have four more warps from October to share with you but I'll save those for future posts. Right now, it's back to der loom for me!

1. Read: "work like a slave"
2. Good thing, 'cause I haven't got a guest room!
3. Hmm. Maybe I'm adopted?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Round Up [Scarves 36-41]

I finally got a chance to take some after shots of some of the scarves I've done the past week or so. I took all these pics in the shop, actually, so the colours are really pretty accurate - the ones I've been taking in the basement lately have been Very Odd Indeed. Maybe we changed the lightblubs or something?

First up is Warp #12, which is the same colourway as Warp #1. You may recall that I wove the first one just like Scarf #3 except that I hemmed the ends rather than fringing them. After I finished that first scarf, though, I resleyed at 8 EPI rather than 10 to see whether I liked the hand of the looser fabric better.

Scarf #36...

Scarf #36

Scarf #36

...Scarf #37...

Scarf #37

Scarf #37

...and Scarf #38!

Scarf #38

Scarf #38

Turns out that I do quite like the lighter hand: the 8/8 cotton woven up at 10 EPI is a really nice weight for winter but the scarves are ... well, let's just say they're Big Boned. At 8 EPI the scarves have a bit more drape and flexibility - and they're wider, of course. If I had to go out on a limb, I'd say the 10 EPI might be better for guys (narrower, sturdier, denser) and the 8 EPI ones might be preferable for da ladies. I'll definitely be doing more of each for the market and will try to pay attention to whether or not this theory carries any weight. :) I used the same old 4/8 cotton weft as usual for scarves 36 and 38; for 37 I used a cotton boucle of similar weight.

Next up, Warp #13, the wide Water Lilies scarves -- except that now that they're done, they make me think of the Scottish heath as well so now I'm not sure what to call it. Might have to have a "name that colourway" contest or summat. Name the palette, win the palette kinda thing. These are done in 4/8 cotton both warp and weft, with a planned stripe permutation in the warp. Anyhoo, here they are, whatever they'll wind up being called:

Scarf #39...

Scarf #39

...Scarf #40...

Scarf #40

...Scarf #41...

Scarf #41

...and the whole happy family:

Scarves 39-41

Scarves 39-41

So there you have it: the first crop of scarves I'm getting ready for the craft market next month. I'm going to work both these colourways up as kits as well, and I think I might take some prewound warps to the market with me - either to sell to local weavers or to take orders if someone wants to choose his or her own weft colour.

Incidentally, I didn't make a slideshow out of these 'cause I put them on Flickr rather than uploading them right to Blogger, as my Picasa account is rapidly filling up. I don't yet know how to create a slideshow out of a Flickr set and if there's a handy little "create slideshow" button on my Flickr page, I'm not finding it. Can anyone shed any light?

I also wove off this wide scarf that I'd put on the Schacht Flip I borrowed from my friend Marie earlier today. Apart from an interlude of great wailing and gnashing of teeth, I got along pretty well with the Flip. I've got to give it back on Friday but I went ahead and put another warp on it this evening while Ron and I were watching t.v. Will keep you posted!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sheds, temples and water lilies

Just a quickie to show you guys some of my progress so far on Craft Market Countdown 2009. You may have spotted my tally in the top right corner; if so, you're probably fretting at the very small number of scarves I've finished so far - I know I am! Still, those are scarves that are Completely Done, tagged and everything, not any of the ones that are currently in progress, so things aren't quite so grim as they appear. Which is to say, I'm not yet in full blown panic mode - that's still a week or two away. I hope. Ahem.1

In addition to those three finished scaves (pics up soon, I promise!) I've actually got warps going on four different looms right now, with two wide scarves off and ready to be twisted and three others in varying stages of doneness. (Is that a word? My spell checker says no but I say yes. Take That, Mr. Spellchecker!) The warps are all totally and completely different but very pretty in their own ways. Here's the one I'm loving the most, in spite of the fact that it's totally unseasonal. It's on Joey right now but only for another hour or so until I get the last of three scarves finished:

The weird green thread on the left side is the guide string - I don't usually use one but did this time just for kicks.

That's the warp on the mill before I chained it off. The colours aren't so hot in this pic but you can see that they're soft, nearly-but-not-quite pastels. Or maybe they are pastels but they're more grey than the baby pink and blue and yellow that I associate with the word "pastel". To me this colourway looks like one of Monet's paintings. One of the Water Lilies, perhaps?

Here it is again, all chained up. This shows the colours much better:

I'm doing these scarves like the ones from Warp #9 and the magazine article: 4/8 cotton at 8 EPI, 15" in the reed and beat Very Gently Indeed. They usually come out around 11" wide after they're wet finished. I used the same stripe progression that I used for the grey scarf in the article rather than my usual random colours or reflected stripe - I'm quite taken with that and expect to be using it quite a lot in the weeks and months to come.

I started out using the same light green that's in the warp. I wasn't sure at first whether it worked but after the scarf was finished and off the loom I decided I quite liked it. The stripes are much more subtle than I'd anticipated but subtle is okay!

For the second scarf I used a soft grey with brownish undertones that sets off the warp stripes much more than the green did. I fell in love with that one from the get go but didn't take any pics of that one on the loom so you'll have to wait until it's wet finished to see how pretty it is. Ho hum.

For the third one I used a bluish green that's just a bit darker than one of the colours in the warp. At this point the grey's still my fave but I remain open to the possibility that this one might overtake it. I started working on it this morning when I found out today's cruise ship was canceled, and I'm heading downstairs inna bit to go finish it, then twist the fringes on all three and get them wet finished - am very excited to see what they look like all done!

I've got two rigid heddle looms on the go right now, too: my own little Knitter's Loom which is dressed with some bright scarves in purple, gold and navy, and a Flip that I borrowed from a friend which is wearing all bright purples and fuchsias. I'm really loving the fuchsia stripe action on the Flip and I think they'll be really popular what with how big purple is these days but the muted tones in the Water Lilies are my absolute faves for me personally. I wear those kinds of colours all the time. Will be hard to part with the scarves once they're done but then I can always make myself another. :)

Anyone following the hubbub over the use of temples on the Weaving List may be interested to know that, as you can see from the pic, I'm using one on these scarves. I didn't use one for the green scarf but put it on part way into the grey one (hopefully the funny little bump where it gets wider won't show up too much) and plan to use it for all other scarves I do of this type since it makes such a big difference. I generally use a temple on my wider scarves and shawls but not on my narrow scarves. Don't use one on placemats, sometimes do on blankets and sometimes don't. I have no hard and fast rules except to use one when it improves the cloth.

Incidentally, for narrow and lightweight fabrics I use Glimakra temples. I've tried the LeClerc temples and, although they're very similar in style to the Glimakra, I Do Not Like Them. I don't know whether it was the particular temple I was using at the time or something about the LeClerc design, but it prompted considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth that the Glimakra ones do not. The Glimakra ones are lighter with finer teeth and just generally more pleasant to look at and to touch. That counts for a lot in my book. For heavy, wider fabrics (read: blankets and rugs) I use metal Toika temples. They are The Business. Also, I like the bright cheery colours. I also like that they don't obscure as much of the fabric as the wider, wooden ones - that extra width bothered me a bit at first with the Glimakras but I've gotten over it now. :)

Speaking of seasonal colours, things are absolutely gorgeous around here right now. The colours are just a tad past their prime around my yard but still lovely, as you can see in this pic of our brand new shed, which has caused much rejoicing chez moi the past couple days:

Every fall I daydream about weaving something using the colours in the trees. Especially the hot pink and gold of the maples - such an unlikely combination but so beautiful! Throw in a bit of dark green from the evergreens and the grey of the tree trunks... oh man, now I want to go wind warps instead of weaving. Good job there's time for both!

The shed is big news 'cause it's finally going to relieve some of the pressure in the house space-wise, plus it's extra exciting for me 'cause it feels like Step One towards building my outside studio, which I think might become a reality next year or the year after. The link between the shed and the studio is more psychological than anything but I have walked around in there and tried to get a feel for the space, estimate how much more space I'd need for what I want in the studio, etc. etc. It just feels like Progress, and that's a really great thing.

1. I've also got a fair number of scarves at a couple of different shops that will close for the season by the end of the month and I'll be Very Surprised Indeed if I don't get several scarves back that haven't sold yet. Surprised, then thrilled and then really freakin' desperate 'cause I won't have diddly for the market. Gaahh!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back on Track [Scarf, 36, maybe?]

Oh, so many things to tell you! Not least of which is that, after seemingly MILES[1] of placemats, I am finally weaving scarves again! See?

That right there is Mr. Scarfy Pants, the first proper Scarf A Day scarf in simply months. By "proper" I mean one who had his picture taken on the loom and is getting blogged about on the day of his birth - I've actually woven a couple others but I either didn't snap any pics while they were on the loom or haven't blogged 'em yet. I'm sooo out of practice!

More about MSP in a minute, but first I want to say a huge THANK YOU to you guys who have stuck with me through my long dry spell. I also want to give a hearty welcome to anyone who's found the blog via my article in the latest issue of Handwoven Magazine. These two things are related!

That they're related will come as no surprise to anyone who's read both my last post and my article, as the first inspired the latter. You'll recall that I mentioned the article way back when, when it was supposed to be about Scarfaday and stash scarves and weaving on the cheap and joint projects with Mom and, oh yes, the kitchen sink as well... The scarves were originally supposed to be a project article for the Sept/Oct issue of the mag but for Various Reasons it was delayed until the Nov/Dec, which was just as well 'cause I had no clue how to work all that stuff in, really I didn't. In fact, I was still struggling with the subject matter when I wrote that last post - I was just seeing the light at the end of my funky tunnel, but article angst was holding me back. Finally I wrote to Madelyn and said, "Look, I'm really sorry, but unless you want an article on what to do when your attention span is shorter than your warp, I'm afraid I'm not your girl for this issue." "Really?" she asked. "Were you serious about that?" And the rest, as they say, is history. They also say you should write what you know and you know what? It works!

At first I felt mighty sheepish about writing an article for lazy weavers but then I had an epiphany of sorts: I realized that being a hare (at least one who eventually gets off her duff and back onto the track) isn't a Bad Thing, it's just... a Thing. If you know in advance that it's Your Thing, you can plan accordingly and there won't be any need for embarrassment or guilt or funks or angst when you inevitably decide to cool your heels for a while. I also realized as I talked with other people about the article that I'm not the only hare out there. I can't tell you what a relief that is!

And so, article angst, hare self-acceptance and miles of placemats behind me, I am not just ready but anxious, eager and excited to WEAVE SOME FLIPPIN' SCARVES. Which is a bloody good thing, since I inadvertently signed myself up for a craft market next month and then forgot all about it, so now I have less than five weeks(!!!) to weave a booth full of stuff, and by stuff I mean scarves.

Which brings me back to Mr. Scarfy Pants:

You might recognize the warp colour combo. It's Warp #1 again, and it's back on the loom[2] 'cause a customer ordered a scarf just like Scarf #3 except that he didn't want fringe. It was for a friend of his whose chemo treatments were making her skin super sensitive and he feared the fringe would irritate her. Personally, I think the firm edge of a hem would be more irritating than the super soft cotton fringe, but he wanted a hem so a hem he got. I split the 4/8 into plies and used one ply of 2/16 for the hem bits so that when folded up on themselves they wouldn't be tooooo bulky. Worked far better than I expected, I have to say.

I put on enough warp for four scarves, of course. The first was his and done just like the others on Warp #1, i.e. with regular stripes in the same colour order and at 10 EPI. Just to change things up a bit (yay for hares!) I resleyed before the next scarf and wove it at 8 EPI like my wide scarves 'cause I want to see what the 8/8 warp will do at that set. I've done two scarves like that now and am trying to decide whether to do the last one that way as well or cut these two off and wash 'em first. The fact that I think I've woven #2 and #3 longer than I planned for is a mitigating factor - don't want #4 to wind up stubby!

For the weft of the second scarf I used the same blue that I'd used in Scarf #4.5 'cause I loved it so much and really wanted a full length scarf in that colour. No pics of that one on the loom, but here's 4.5 as a reminder of the lovely colour (this one's at 10 EPI, tho' but):

I think a chocolatey brown would be lovely with this warp palette but I quite liked how the blue of a more similar value wove up, so I decided to use a grey with brown undertones for Mr. Scarfy Pants. I like it but it hasn't sent me into paroxysms of delight. Perhaps it will once it's washed. :) I hope so - I do so enjoy a nice paroxysm. What a funny word. Paroxysm.

Hmm... I like it even better in this pic than I do on the loom. That is Promising!

So! That's all the time I have right now, but here are a few other things I want to be sure to share in the near future:
  • Mom's super keen stash warp project and the lovely scarves they've produced
  • Plans for two week-long workshops that Mom and I are offering in January on Vashon in WA - excitin'!
  • Pics of more of those wide, loosely woven scarves like the ones from Warp #9 and the ones in the Handwoven article, which are doing really well in the shop
  • Pics of my stole, which I never did post. Gah!
  • The rehabilitation of Scarf #34

[1] I'm sure 30 yards = miles in some space time continuum.

[2] In fact, it's on both looms which is Very Odd, let me tell you. Like I'm seeing double when I go downstairs, 'cause the same colours in the same stripe pattern are in two places. First time that's ever happened, and it's because two people ordered the same colours, one for scarves and the other for baby blankets - who am I to argue with paying customers?