Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning: Find #3

By Leigh

If you read Thrums, then you've probably seen Susan's blog posts about some of the beautiful and inspiring things she has in her home and studio. The interior decorator in me is always interested in things like this, and in reading them I was reminded of something I had packed away.

We made two long-distance moves in six months, so a lot of stuff stayed in boxes. The idea was that apartment dwelling would be temporary, so why bother to unpack everything. That has turned out to be longer than we expected, so a number of things I love remain out of sight. After moving everything out of storage, it only made sense to go through boxes and repack them as needed. Inside one of those boxes I found these...

Click on either photo to enlarge.

These are framed plates from Godey's Lady's Book, given to me by the same grandmother who gave me the coverlet. Godey's Lady's Book was a popular publication in the 19th century, so obviously these were saved by my great-grandmother. I'm not entirely certain which issue these came from as there is no date on them. The caption reads Le Bon Ton. There is a signature on one, Heloise Leloin. I assume this is the artist.

Eventually they will find their way onto my walls, but in the meantime, they are being repacked, with the hope that they won't remain that way for too terribly much longer.

A few issues of Godey's Lady's Book can be viewed online; just click right here.

Related Posts:
Spring Cleaning: Find #1
Spring Cleaning: Find #2
Spring Cleaning: Find #4

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SSC: Bands Done At Last!

By Leigh

At long last I can report progress on my Shetland Sampler Cardigan. The front and neck bands are finally finished!

Finally in the home stretch
The neck band was a breeze, but the front bands were a booger-bear to knit. Each side had to be done twice. I started with the button side, and used the same circular needle I used for the bottom ribbing, a size US0. This is two sizes smaller than I used for the body of the sweater.

I was careful to check both my stitch and row gauges, so that I could adjust the number of stitches I needed to pick up along each front edge. This is where I ran into my first problem. According to my calculations, I needed to pick up two stitches for every three rows, which I did. After knitting for awhile, something didn't seem right, so I transferred the stitches onto a string. Sure enough, the band was tight and pulled the entire front edge of the sweater into one big pucker. The second time, I picked up one stitch per row, which seemed to work perfectly with the K2P2 rib I'm using. That was re-knit #1.

Re-knit number #2 was the buttonhole side. When I bought the buttons, I arbitrarily figured on five, so I bought six buttons, in order to have one extra. However, once the buttonholes were in, I realized that the distance between buttons was too great. I should have planned on at least seven. Unfortunately, I bought the buttons out of state! So I pulled the five buttonholes out and put in six the second time.

One row buttonhole.  Can you see it?I used Nancy Wiseman's revised one row buttonhole (pages 114 - 117 in her The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques.) I was going to say that they turned out fair to middlin', but the one in the photo on the left appears to be almost of invisible, so maybe they aren't too bad after all.

Next is attaching the sleeves and knitting the cuffs. I'm delighted to think that I'll be finished and able to wear it before winter is gone.

Related Posts:
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Ribbing Update
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving

By Leigh

Now here is an odd thing.

Hardbound copy of 1944 reprint.A couple of years ago I purchased a hardbound copy of The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving by Mary Meigs Atwater at a silent auction fund raiser. I refer to this book frequently, so I am familiar with it's text, drafts, and photographs.

At my guild meeting last weekend, there were some used books for sale, among them a paperback copy of The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving. Being a wordy title with a different cover, I had to stop and think if this was the same book by Mary Meigs Atwater that I already had, or if it was another. I flipped through the pages, but it didn't look familiar, so I bought it.
Paperback copy of 1951 reprint.
When I got home, I went to my bookshelves to see what my other Atwater book was. I was surprised to see that it had the exact same title. A quick look at the title page revealed that both were published by The Macmillian Company and both carried an 1928 copyright date. However, they were reprintings from different years.

Feeling quite silly for purchasing a second copy of the same book, I was nonetheless puzzled as to why I hadn't recognized this. I started to compare them chapter by chapter. The two books were organized differently, but the first couple of chapters were identical. However, after that, they are not the same book!

My hardcover 1928 version (printed in 1944), contains such chapters as:
  • "The Practice of Hand-Weaving - Spinning"
  • "Dyeing"
  • "Dressing the Loom"
  • "Rug Weaving"
  • "The Weaving of a Coverlet"
  • "Finishing Hand-Woven Fabrics"
  • "The Linen Weaves"
  • "Counterpanes"

The 1951 paperback version (printed in 1978) has none of those, but does have chapters such as:
  • "Beginner's Problems"
  • "Design of the Fabric"
  • "Choice of Pattern and Color"
  • "Setting up the Loom"
  • "Adjustments, Knots, the Tie-Up"

As well as a more chapters on individual weaves:
  • "The Plain Weave"
  • "The Twill Weave"
  • "The Four Harness Overshot Weave"
  • "Leno"
  • "Pick-Up Weaving"

Even chapters with the same title such as, "The Summer and Winter Weave" do not have identical content! Most of the photos are the same, but the newer version has a few more drafts. It looks like I have copies of both the original edition and the revised edition.

The moral of the story? Don't judge a book by it's cover, or rather by it's title. I realize that newer editions of books are often updated, but this re-write seems to be more extensive than just an update.

So, I didn't exactly purchase a duplicate after all. As Ma Ingalls would say, "All's well that ends well." And I have a brand new book!

Related Posts:
New Loom = New Books. Right?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pol-paca Progress

By Leigh

I haven't written about spinning lately. That's because I'm still on the same project, my Polwarth / alpaca blend for a weaving project (probably somewhere in the distant future.)

Spinning a whole fleece doesn't make for a lot of interesting posts, like it did when I was spinning all those different samples of Shetland. Plus, I'm dividing my sit down time with knitting on the Shetland Sampler Cardi, so progress may seem slow. I do have five (almost six) nice, fat skeins done though. Here are four of them:

Pol-paca yarns are piling up.
Since this will be for weaving, I decided to use two different alpaca fleeces, each for about half of the total skeins. You can't tell from the photo, but the one skein on the left is from a different alpaca than the three on the right. When compared side by side, the two are not identical in color. My idea was to use one for the warp and one for the weft. There doesn't seem to be much visual difference in the yarn color however, so I doubt it will matter in the end.

As I spin, I design in my head. I've also been looking around for sewing patterns. This is the one I'm leaning toward at the moment...

This is a Folkwear pattern. As you can see from the line drawings on the left, the pattern pieces would be perfect for handwoven fabric, especially if I decide to weave and piece it in a variety of twill patterns for example. Of course as I sit and spin, I can't help but make changes as per Random Thing #9. For example, I think I might prefer it a little shorter, like a long jacket.

I haven't signed on the dotted line yet for my pattern choice, so this may change. I'd like to decide soon, however. Then I will know how many yard of fabric I will need, so I can calculate how many yards of yarn to spin. Decisions about a weaving draft will be much later.

Now, back to spinning.

Related Posts:
What's On My Wheel? Pol-paca
Spinning For Weaving, Knitting, Crochet, Etc. An Introduction
Calculating Handspun For Weaving

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Loom Doodling With The Pine Trees

Before I removed the warp from my Pine Tree Table Runner, I wanted to weave a few mug rug size samples of an idea I've had on my mind.

Do you remember my first warp painted project? I took a break from my summer & winter explorations for that, and the entire time I was weaving I was wondering about combining the two. These little samples did that.

4 S&W mug rugs with variegated warp.The fun part was making up the treadling as I went along. In fact, I wish I had put on a little longer sample warp. That warp BTW....

The yarns I used.....wasn't actually painted. It was dip-dyed last summer when I was first working with Procion MX dyes. They were part of my experiments with PMX exhaust, and they suited these samples. I used a solid turquoise tabby weft for the first three, and then switched to the dip-dyed yarn for a tabby weft for the last one (bottom left).

I learned several things from these.

Firstly I was reminded how different S&W can look with a heavier, softer pattern weft. I have tended to use pattern wefts just a little heavier than the tabby. This one was a soft, 3/2 cotton which covered the warp (8/2 cotton at 16 epi.). This brought definition to the pine trees. Good to remember for weaving picture patterns like this.

Secondly, I learned that as much fun as it was to weave those pine trees, shapes are not what I enjoy about S&W. These can be accomplished in other ways; in fact I've moved double weave closer to the top of my "to-do" list.

What I have loved about S&W is what a weaver can do with color. Remember these (click here) dishtowels? They held hours of fascination for me. Not because they are geometric shapes (modern is not my style of art), but because of the blending of the colors.

So. I set out to explore one thing and learned something else. I love it when things like that happen and now I'm all the more ready to get started on my next project. What will it be? Stay tuned ..........

Related Posts:
Back to the Pine Trees
Summer & Winter Pine Tree Table Runner

Monday, February 09, 2009

Spring Cleaning: Find #2

By Leigh

I have found something that has been on my mind ever since Jane's post about the Pikes Peak Weavers Guild coverlet project. I knew it was packed away somewhere. When I commenced my spring cleaning project, I decided to find it and get it out. And here it is, my very own family heirloom antique coverlet.

My family heirloom handwoven coverlet.
This coverlet resided on the single bed in my grandmother's sewing room for as long as I could remember. Eventually it was passed on to me, I think because I was the only one of nine grandchildren who had an interest in textiles.

A close-up......

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Variation of 1000 Flowers?
I am uncertain of the pattern. The center motif (pictured on the right) looks like a variation of Thousand Flowers (see the "Orange Blossoms" draft in Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book, page 114).

The warp is a very fine, inconsistent, white single. The same is used for the tabby weft. The heavier pattern weft is obviously wool. Upon a close examination, it appears to be handspun, hand dyed singles. Here's a shot of that from the side .....

Close-up of blue weft
Those first photos may look pretty good, but in reality, it is very worn and dirty, not to mention having a few flaws.

One side of the coverlet(You can click on either of these two photos to enlarge a bit. )

The other side of the coverlet
The length is 96 inches. The width is 77 inches. Like most coverlets of its time, it is actually two loom width panels sewn together. You can see this coverlet's seam quite clearly as the pattern on the two panels is quite mismatched.

This, and a few other clues such as this rather careless hem ......

Very crookedy hem
.... and a blatant treadling error ....

Treadling error
.....make me wonder. Was it was a young weaver's very first coverlet? Or was the need for blankets so pressing that the weaver rushed to complete it without care? I'll probably never know.

It may not have been a show piece, but it evidently got a lot of use. It has numerous worn spots, and quite a few not too neat repairs ...

Very poor repair job
In fact, the needle and thread (lower right) were left in it from before when I received it.

Also this.....

Dark stains look like blood
Blood stains? All of this just makes me more curious as to it's story!

Who wove it and when? To that I do have a clue.

Handwritten label on the coverlet "Woven by W. A. Paine's Great Grandmother.
Oral Paine Wilson's great, great grandmother. "

Oral Paine Wilson was my paternal grandmother and this tag is in her handwriting. W. A. (Winslow Austin) Paine was her father. I've done some genealogical research, and so have some clues.

Winslow A. Paine was born in Wellfleet, Massachusetts in 1871. I have been able to find information on his grandparents (all from Massachusetts) and one set of great-grandparents: Nathan Young Paine (1794 - 1879, Wellfleet, Mass) and Dorcas Cole Lombard (1798 - 1885, Truro, Mass). Wellfleet and Truro are villages on the Cape Cod peninsula.

[UPDATE 2/10/09 - Thanks to the Cape Cod History and Genealogy website, I have been able to fill in a lot of blanks. My great-grandfather's other great-grandmothers were Betsey Hopkins Dyer (1793 - 1863), Huldah Holbrook Jerrolds (1800 - 1850),and Rebecca Wiley Cole, ( 1799-1883), all of Wellfleet, Mass.]

I don't know which ones were weavers, but at least from this information I can guesstimate that the coverlet was woven in the early to mid-1800s, most probably in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

My coverlet may not look like much, but it is a treasure to me. It is so worn I'm not sure how well it could be cleaned, nor whom I would trust to do it. For the time being it will just remain as it is.

Related Posts:
Spring Cleaning: Find #1
Spring Cleaning: Find #3
Spring Cleaning: Find #4

Friday, February 06, 2009

25 Random Things Meme

By Leigh

This meme comes via MiniKat. The rules are: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to publish a blog post with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose up to 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

Here are my 25 random things:

1. My very earliest memories are textile related. As a wee girl I was allowed to play with my great-grandmother's quilting squares. She was bedridden and hand-piecing quilt tops was how she occupied her time. Most of the squares were very small, 1 inch squares. Her stitches were very small too. I have three of her quilts. Somewhere. One of them is the beloved, much used and therefore much worn bedspread of my childhood.

2. In my early 20s I developed a passion for quilting. I completed about four quilts, all by hand. Some of them can be seen here.

3. I now have a goal to photograph and post the other two on my Fiber Gallery as well. This is thanks to this meme because in the rules it says we can include goals as part of our 25 random things!

4. My grandmother was a knitter. She taught me to knit several times. This is because I would let lose interest for years at a time. I still have the afghan she knitted back in the 1970s for me.

5. The last time I learned to knit was after I learned to spin. Once the handspun started piling up, I had to do something with it! My grandmother had passed away by then, but there was a knitter in our homeschool group who held an informal class at her home. I've been knitting regularly ever since.

6. #5 points to the fact that I am a project person rather than a process person. I know spinners especially can become yarn collectors by virtue of spinning for spinning's sake. While I acknowledge the value of learning a process or trying something new, my mind is always hounding me with "Now, what can I do with it."

7. Writing random thing #6 brings to mind another dichotomy, this one within myself. I have a creative dilemma which sometimes troubles me. It surfaced in my awareness once again after reading Peg's post, "Focus". I have two creative bends which compete for my focus - weaving as an art form of itself (i.e. nonfunctional self-expression) and weaving to create a beautiful environment (functional self-expression). Rather than creating a tension which motivates me, it serves more to stagnate me. For that, read Peg's "Focus: A Postscript."

8. In between quilting and knitting I took up crochet again. (I'm back to random.)

9. I learned to sew in junior high, but was never satisfied with sewing patterns the way they were. I was forever combining three or more to get what I wanted.

10. Consequently my mother thought I should go into fashion design and wanted me to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. I didn't like designing clothes that much.

11. Then she wanted me to go there to study painting, which I didn't like that much either. As a compromise, I enrolled at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, as an art major. I had no motivation for painting, but that was where I saw my first floor loom. I knew then and there that this was what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I had to take two years of preliminary art courses to get to that particular weaving class. I didn't have the self-discipline to do that.

12. I took my first spinning lesson shortly after that, from a demonstrator who was kind enough to invite me to her home to give me a spinning lesson. I only had one lesson, but I carried the pleasure of that experience with me for about 20 years.

13. Many years later I taught myself to spin on a drop spindle. I had no clue as to what I was doing, even though I followed the instructions in the book that came with the drop spindle kit. My very first yarn was as thick as my finger, and this was a single! I have a photo of that yarn, here.

14. The break through came when I got Melba Montgomery's Drop Spindle Spinning. What a revelation to discover that I could split the roving! Things improved considerably from that point.

15. I gave up spindle spinning when I developed an ache in my left shoulder and could no longer hold the spindle up. Several years later this developed into full blown adhesive capsulitis ("frozen shoulder") which rendered me completely non-functional for six months. Because of that experience, I have extreme empathy for anyone in chronic pain.

16. My first wheel was a Babe's Production Machine. I got it because it was what I could afford. I got teased about it, but it made yarn and that was all I cared about.

17. Eventually I saved up enough to get a "real" wheel. After extensive research, I bought an Ashford Traditional, single treadle.

18. For a number of years I did historical spinning demonstrations. I would bring the Babe with me, put commercial yarn on the bobbin, and invite folks to try their hand at it. All they had to do was to "spin" the yarn back onto the bobbin, but they quickly learned this wasn't easy! It was a good teaching tool and it also kept them from wanting to "try" my wheel.

19. Eventually I saved up enough for my Kromski Minstrel. I got it because I thought it would be portable, but alas, it really isn't. I like it very much anyway, and it is my most used wheel these days.

20. My Kromski is set up double drive, my Ashford is set-up for Scotch tension. I have no preference about this either way.

21. About nine years ago my husband Dan decided I needed a loom. I was pretty content with spinning and knitting at the time, so I was surprised when he came up with this. He kept insisting, so I signed up for a one day weaving workshop and told him I could live with a Schacht Wolf Loom. He bought me a used 4-shaft Mighty Wolf and my journey into weaving began.

22. I've taken a couple of weaving classes, but am mostly self taught. True to my project person self, I used my very first sample to make a pieced work vest. Now I have boxes and boxes of samples and yardage, all waiting for me to do something with them.

23. The truth of the matter is that I'm a bit intimidated with the whole process of sewing with my handwovens. But I do have a goal to learn. I am equally intimidated about using my handspun in my weaving. I have a goal for that too.

24. Dan did make an error in thinking when he got me that first loom. He thought that once I got a loom, I would have absolutely everything I needed to be a happy, productive fiber artist. Little did he know. A whole roomful of yarn and weaving gadgets later, I "outgrew" my little 4-shaft loom. We found a 2nd-hand Glimakra Standard loom (59" weaving width) advertised in my guild newsletter and went to "just take a look". (You can read about that, here. ) Dan was again, the motivating force behind this purchase. As you can tell, he's not only my best friend, but my most enthusiastic supporter and source of encouragement.

25. I once had a goal to work my way through all the families of weave structures. This goes back to a mindset that to be a knowledgeable weaver, I need to be familiar with all of them. Besides being easily distracted from this goal, I quickly discovered that it is difficult to truly understand a weave structure with just a few samples. However, this has helped me to choose areas that I want to explore further. This is why I signed up for the Complex Weaver's Tied Weaves Study Group, because I fell in love with summer & winter.

So there you have it. 25 random things about me. Actually, that was easier to do than I thought it was going to be.

Now. If you've gotten this far, consider yourself tagged! I get close to 250 hits a day on this blog, so 10% compliance isn't too much to ask for, is it folks? ;) If you do participate, please let me know. I'd love to come read your 25 random things.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Summer & Winter Pine Tree Table Runner

By Leigh

Here it is, off the loom, wet finished, and ready to use. The pine trees ..........

Summer & Winter Pine Tree motifAnd the snowflakes / birds nests ..............

Summer & Winter mystery motifThe project particulars:

  • Draft: adapted from Carol Strickler's A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns (#549 page 155)
  • Warp: 8/2 unmercerized cotton in navy blue
  • Weft:
    • tabby: 8/2 unmercerized cotton in navy blue (different cone)
    • pattern: 5/2 mercerized cotton in light green
  • Sett: 16 epi
  • PPI - 18 pattern ppi and 18 tabby ppi
  • Total warp ends: 220
  • Width on loom - 13.75 inches
  • Width off loom - 12 inches
  • Width after washing - 11 inches
  • Length on loom - 2.5 yards (total warp length, tied on)
  • Length off loom - 72.5 inches
  • Length after washing - 63.5 inches
  • Wet finishing - cold water wash and hot dry
Because of the finished length I really couldn't get a good photo of the entire thing. Plus it's a little too long for either my dining table or my hutch.

What I learned:

1. That it would be easier to see mistakes if I had woven with the "winter" (dark) side up. After it was off the loom, I discovered a treadling error, which wasn't nearly as noticeable on the side I looked at as I wove (summer, light side.) I don't quite understand the structure well enough to correct this with needlework, so there it remains. You can see it in the bottom photo if you look closely.

2. That to weave the profile draft in the book, I had to weave each block with four pattern shots (plus their tabby shots.) To put it another way, I had to weave each profile block with two units of the designated threading. If I wove with only one unit per block, the result was very squatty looking pine trees. I got a glimpse of this when I doodled with the draft on DB-Weave, but what was actually happening didn't sink in until I started weaving.

3. About that skeleton tie-up. I've tried it two ways on my 8 shaft countermarche Glimakra.
This way ............

revised CM  skeleton tie-up........... which puts tabby treadles on the extreme left (1 & 2) and the tie-up treadles (3 & 4) next to them. Also this ...............

Countermarche skeleton tie-up.......... which puts tie-down treadles on the left and tabby shafts on the right. I changed because I was having trouble keeping track of the treadling order the first way. However, I had the same problem with the second tie-up as well! What I've learned is that I have to find a better way of keeping track of which tie-up treadle is next, without losing the pattern treadle. I don't have it all figured out yet, but I'm learning from my experience in spite of myself.

Related Posts:
Back to the Pine Trees
Snowball, Star, or Snowflake?