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Warp Speed

I’ve been winding a 25 yard warp of 20/2 cotton for the maiden voyage of the single-unit drawloom I bought used before we exited Seattle in 2017.

This warp will eventually be sett at around 60 ends per inch, so for a 24″ weaving width I needed 1440 ends.

At first I was winding 2 ends at a time, and this was taking forever. I got smarter and dug out a warping paddle so that I could wind 6 ends at a time. I could have wound more at a time if I had had more cones of the yarn or if I had been willing to take the time to wind off onto more “packages”. But I learned about the law of diminishing returns long ago, so I remained at 6.

Having gone from Warp Factor 2 to Warp Factor 6, my warp speed still did not approach the speed of light, but eventually I completed the task and can now proceed to the next step.

Meanwhile, various critters around the house continue to live a the life of Riley.

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Rugs

Early this year I started my adventures in rug weaving.

First, in a workshop at RedStone Glen, under the supervision of Tom Knisely, I wove a little boundweave rug on a rosepath threading. I used poly-cotton 8/4 warp at 6 ends per inch, and rug yarn for the weft, used singly. The result is rather thin but nice. After the rug was off the loom and at home I twined the edges and buried all the ends in the rug. That took a very long time and is not something I plan to do again on future rugs.

After coming home with the 72″ Schacht Cranbrook I had purchased from Tom, Brian and I set it up and I warped it with 8/5 linen warp sett at 8 ends per inch. For weft I used as many colors of fat wool singles as I could. This yarn had been purchased from Weaving Southwest, which unfortunately in the meantime has gone out of business. I achieved a ppi of 32.

The weave structure is taquete, which is another way of saying Summer & Winter but without the tabby. The threading is 1323 1424 for blocks A and B and I used a profile draft from one of my older weaving books. The rug is about 36″ x 54″ finished. It is nice and thick and feels good under bare feet. I finished the ends with flat braids, having inserted edges of twining while still on the loom.

We put the rug in the great room for a while, but it was largely hidden by the ottoman and seemed too small in proportion to the room.

Later, when Brian had finished building our sauna, we put it in the sitting area there beside the sauna door.

In April I drove over to Elkin, NC, to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center, where I took a plainweave rug weaving class from Jason Collingwood, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Throughout class, as we learned different techniques, we added them to an 11″ wide sampler.

I finished the ends of the sampler once I got home, and plan to hang it on the studio wall somewhere soon.

Though I’ve owned my used 350cm Glimakra Sovereign for over 2 years, I had never summoned the wherewithal to put a warp on it. I feared that, due to its size, it would be too much of a challenge to hoist shafts into place and that the weight of the beater would tax my strength. I decided it was time to see what happened.

Using an app called Assembly on my iPad, I came up with a plainweave rug design that is interesting but not too technically challenging in terms of color placement– i.e., it incorporates clasped weft for the horizontal bars and a combination of clasped wefts and compensated inlay for the focal point.

Again using 8/5 linen, I wound a 380ish-end warp to be threaded in double ends for an effective sett of 3 epi and a width of 62 inches (I reasoned that the draw-in would cause the finished size to about 5 feet).

The warping went pretty well, and with weights from my drawloom attached to every 4-5 inches of warp, the tensioning was not difficult.

Now the rug is in progress, and the sliding bench enables me to handle a width that would otherwise be a challenge. The first photo below show a header followed by a double row of twining. Since this rug will be hemmed rather than fringed, I wove one inch with half-thickness weft after the twining, then wove a double row of soumak, which is shown in the second photo.

I have woven up to the middle of the first bar and things are going well. At this point I plan to weave only a little each day on this project. It’s great exercise.

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When Whorls Collide

That title just came to mind.  Never mind that it was inspired by nothing: it sounded good and so I went with it.

But really, how could whorls collide unless you are spinning on two drop spindles simultaneously (and ambidextrously) and get them a little too close together?  Boggles the mind.  Experimentation will not be forthcoming, before you ask!

I’ve been thinking lately that one of my favorite things to do is to write, and that I haven’t done enough of it.  A novel has been rolling around in the back of my mind for a long time now, though my mind is always so full of stuff there shouldn’t be room for anything to roll.  But, still.

Any rendering of this novel onto legible material is still a long way off, so I tell myself that I should practice by keeping up with the blog.  So I’ll pretend that I have one whorl spinning blog posts and another spinning a novel and perhaps one day they will collide, assuming that their individual momentums are long-lasting.

Meanwhile, back at Bebbanburg, time has marched on.  Brian has put in a lot of hours on the interior of the house, and it is nearing completion of Phase I, which is the one that doesn’t involve replacing most of the windows and doors but does include floors, pantry, laundry room, kitchen, balcony and lights.  Hopefully work on the exterior can commence in the spring.

We have adopted a house gnome to help us with these endeavors.  I knit him into being a couple of weeks ago; his name is Gnorman.  He’s a quiet, quirky creature who listens well and carries out his duties when nobody is looking.  Probably.

gnorman

My weaving studio, which I have named Vävhalla (väv being the Swedish word for weave) is mostly completed (except for baseboards and window trim) and fully occupied.

And that shawl I started eons ago on that dark and stormy day?  Finally finished.  A queen-sized bed was barely big enough to accommodate it for blocking, but it hangs nicely on Louisa May Woolcop, one of my venerable walking wheels.

duskonwheeldusk

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Butterflies

For many moons I have waited for the day when the basement studio would be complete and many looms could be set up. That day has not quite arrived, but it quickly nears. Walls were deconstructed, reconstructed and painted. Floors were laid with waterproof laminate, and a storage cabinet was erected in one corner.

Little by little, it comes together.

Matilda the Great, a Glimakra Sovereign rug loom of vast proportions (12 feet weaving width) has arrived at her final destination, her parts lying on the floor as if her flesh had melted away and left only bones of wood and steel.

The L shape of the studio encompasses around 850 square feet. The side shown above is 30 by 19, and the side along the far wall is 35 by 15.

It is a good thing that this house found us, because large looms seem to find me, and, as with poodles, I am helpless against their seductive powers.

The other day I was minding my own business and dreaming up a large double-knit blanket depicting a Viking ship with its one large sail blown full by the wind, like half a hot-air balloon carrying a slice of canteloupe decorated with round war shields.

More than a blanket, I needed something to hang upon the large blank wall in the great room, after it is painted.

Or any other large high wall in the house, for that matter, for there are several.

And so it was that I began to contemplate tapestry, after I had discarded the ideas of cross-stitch, needlepoint, quilts and a large coat of arms blazoned as Azure, two Poodles rampant on a Carpet of flowers, holding in their dexter paws a Sword gold-hilted, and in their sinister paws a Goblet of vin rouge.

Fascinating, eh bear?

Large tapestries require large tapestry looms. A large tapestry loom was not to be found in the house, but after a few seconds of research I found a beautiful Swiss haute-lisse (high, or vertical style) loom on eBay, located close enough to make it possible to bring it home.

In the stye of bippity boppity boo, I bought the loom and several days later my dearest and I traveled the 2-hour distance to Charlotte and brought it home, where its two “rollers” as they were once called, sit in the entry hall hoping that three large Vikings will soon sail in to put them in their place.

This loom, now referred to as “Geneva” has a weaving width of 300 cm (almost ten feet). It is crafted of Beechwood, made and imported from Switzerland in 1981 from ARM, a family-owned business that was created in 1861 and began making looms in 1940.

Now what? I have to learn to weave tapestry! I enrolled in Rebecca Mezoff’s online tapestry course, got out my neglected Mirrix Zach, and have embarked upon the long journey that will one day lead to walls of wool flown in on butterflies.

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The Mystery Shawl

Here I am once again, ensconced in my favorite chair (an Ekornes) in the great room in the morning. I’ve finished my coffee and oatmeal and toast and would normally be headed for the office to work on Qwipple, but for the fact that there is a cat draped across my legs as they rest upon the footstool. It is a Rule that the cat must be the first to leave, barring urgent needs for the Necessary or a requirement to meet an appointment.

It’s freezing rain outside, the fireplace is putting out heat, and I’ve no great need or desire to abandon this cozy scene quite yet. So I’m working on my mystery shawl.

Most of you knitters think of mystery shawls (or mystery fill-in-the-blanks) as a project that you knit not knowing what it will look like when it is finished. You obediently follow a set of clues, each of which is released on a predefined schedule, such as weekly or bi-weekly or on set dates. Eventually you finish the thing, and you look for the next one.

But the mystery in my shawl is a story in which the plot involves a meandering set of blog posts on no certain schedule. The denouement will, after much intensity and drama, provide the answer to these questions and others: Which shawl am I knitting? How long will it take me? Will I really finish it? Will I like it? Will I wear it?

The first clue for you is this. It is a drab green-gray triangle in garter stitch, started with one stitch and growing by one stitch each row. Currently there are 148 stitches on the needle. The opening lines of our story might be something like this:

It was a gray and stormy day; as gray as the cat which lay upon her lap, and as gray as the beginning of the shawl she would wear in due course at an occasion suitable to its fabric and color.

Stitch by stitch she knit, feeling the crisp wool singles yarn slip through her fingers on its way to forming the linked loops that were garter stitches. It was as repetitive as her heartbeat, as easy as breathing; the same thing over and over, as relentless as the icy rain outside. She let her hands take over and her mind to roam elsewhere. Like a series of still life paintings, visions came to her of…

Well, hopefully some visions will come.

Here is a vision of my lovely Gisela, just having returned from a trip outdoors and having a bad hair day.

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A Fresh Idea for the Prevention of Stash Infection

At long last I have amassed all of my knitting yarn into its forever room, but as I have been putting it away, I find (as if I didn’t already know) that I have way too much. I honestly don’t know if it will all fit into the big walk-in closet, the two 8-foot tall and 40″ wide armoires, the bookcase and the trunk.

As a few of you already know, last fall I came down with a serious case of Miss Babs fever. But even before I moved away from Seattle I had ordered and received one of her beautiful gradient kits, called Enlightenment. In my obviously flawed memory, I had done nothing with it yet, and it was still in its bag waiting to be wound and used.

As I sorted stedfastly through the stash today, trying to find room for it, I came across this and screamed a little inside my head.

I then vaguely recalled a certain poodle puppy with a scientific nature.

He wouldn’t play with real balls, but he loved to toss yarn balls in the air, observe them as they fell, and repeat the experiment until he got caught. When that happened to Enlightenment and whatever it was that I was knitting with it, I simply stuffed it all back in a bag and forgot about it. (Beowulf no longer does this, as he now has Gisela to play with and he is much more mature).

It took me an hour just to restore the gradient, and it will take at least another hour or two to wind the silver yarn back into recognizable condition.

I had a lot of time to think while I was untangling. I am an oxymoron: both a planner and an impulsive yarn buyer. I don’t buy many clothes or shoes; I don’t spend much money on sports events or vacations, but when it comes to yarn, I splurge.

So, I wondered– what would actually make me pause before buying yarn that I thought I wanted? What would prevent me from doing it?

Ok, I thought, what if there was a (voluntary) international Stash Offenders list which all of the yarn shops and online stores had access to? And what if, when anyone on the List ordered or bought yarn, the vendor was required to unskein and tangle up every yarn that the offender was purchasing?

If they did that, then these people (including me) would know that when their yarn arrived, they would have to spend many hours untangling it. It would not be beautiful to behold right away. It would not lend itself to being nice displayed in a photo or drawer until the untangling had occurred. It would be a mess!

This would definitely be a deterrent, don’t you think?

In reality, there will never be such a list. But, as we can imagine such a thing, maybe we can use the idea to help cull our stash.

From now on, as I survey my stash, I will ask myself “would it be worth it to me to untangle all of this in order to use it?” If the answer is no, it needs to go– I’ll set it aside to be listed or taken to the Anything Fiber sale. If I love it enough that I would spend the hours to untangle it, then it is worthy of the stash.

There’s just one problem. I adore all of Miss Babs yarns, and my stash is definitely infected with it. So now what? Perhaps I can persuade her to add a fee similar to the winding fee: the tangling fee. It could be negative amount, so if I chose it I would save money. Besides, how much fun would the Miss Babs staff have throwing loose skeins of yarn up into the air like a scientific poodle?

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The Consequences of Ennuiphobia

When I was a child (and the Dead Sea merely sick) I was bored much of the time. There weren’t enough books to keep me entertained, and besides, my father did not value reading and if he saw me doing it, he would likely tell me to put the book away and “go outside and play”. Going outside to play was boring. Reading was interesting.

I loved to make things; to sew or embroider, but the funds either were not there or not released for such as this.

So I developed a lifelong fear of boredom, (I think that would be called ennuiphobia) and the result is the accumulation of an overabundance of things to do. On the one hand, I enjoy having lots of options, and knowing I won’t be bored as long as I am at home (or out where I can do non-boring things). On the other hand, there is a thumb. No, wait, that’s not right!

Combine this fear of boredom with a love of matched sets and a fear that something will not be available in the future, and you get a big stash of fabric, yarn, fiber and equipment. I know I am not alone in this. I hope I am not alone in this!

Take last night, for example. I was winding this beautiful laceweight 2/36 cashmere/merino/silk, all 1250 yards of it, into this incredibly small cake…

…when I caught sight of the beautiful Miss Babs Wild Silk that I bought in the famous Miss Babs Rampage of 2017. It is a beautiful coral.

So while I am winding my newest beauty, the Black Pearl, I am also cheating on it by eyeing the coral. I eventually finish winding and take both cakes downstairs. (Knitting and Spinning supplies are upstairs; Weaving is in the basement). I had an Orenburg lace shawl in mind for the Black Pearl, but hadn’t really settled on a pattern for the coral. I like to try to use as much of the quantity I have in a yarn on a project, and this takes research. A few Ravelry searches later, I settled on this pretty shawl, the Osmanthus. I cast it on and began, completely ignoring the Black Pearl.

So what’s the problem? you may ask, and I will tell you. The problem is that I did not start a project in Ravelry to record this. Here’s the thing: if I do what comes naturally to me, I will get bored with this in a week or two, put it in a bag and put the bag in the closet. Two years from now when I re-organize things, I will find it and wonder what it is. That is the problem. That is exactly the problem I have with this:

I don’t know what it was to become. It is lost in the mists of memory, but I like how it’s going and would love to continue.

And that, my friend, is why I have to learn to start a Ravelry project when I cast on– not before, not after it’s all finished, but when it is started. I think I’ll go do that now.