Saturday, June 18, 2016

Every so often

Things work out better than originally planned.

Back in January, I pulled a piece of test fabric off the LeClerc 36" floor loom I had. I wanted to see how different weights of wool (fingering, sport, dk, and worsted) worked as weft with some Brassard 8/2 Cotolin warp.

At the time, I was thinking of making a skirt from the test fabric; however, I never wear wool skirts, and I never got around to doing anything with the fabric, other than occasionally petting it.

While surfing Pinterest yesterday afternoon, I came across a picture tutorial for a Hobo bag.

I thought it was cute, and it looked easy enough. Then, I thought my woven fabric would be perfect, if I could find something to put on the bottom of it.  Honestly, I did not relish the thought of sewing a bag from handwoven fabric and just sitting it on the ground.

A quick stash dive brought up some remnant denim, and I was off and running.

After a couple of hours, I had a pattern (I wanted a bigger bag) to which I added extra seam allowances and quickly cut out the outside fabric, as well as the lining.

In an abundance of caution, before I cut the woven fabric, I ironed some heavy duty fusible interfacing  to it, then serged around it.  I also serged the extra fabric, as not to waste it or risk it coming apart.

By the time I went to bed, the outside and inside pieces were complete, including a pocket on the inside, which the original was lacking.  All that remained was to attach them and top stitch the openings.

The woven fabric is quite thick and a little more difficult to sew, especially with heavy interfacing attached, than lightweight upholstery fabric. Thus, it took another couple of hours to complete.

The finished dimensions are 14.5" wide x 20" tall x 5" deep.

Now, what to put in it?

Friday, June 17, 2016


The knitting has been rather slow and sporadic around here for a while now. There are a lot of distractions:  life, weaving, needlepoint, the day job, new puppy, etc.; however, there is nothing quite as soothing as the feel of lovely yarn in one's hands.

Two years ago, I went to a retreat with Hill Country Weavers out of Austin, Texas. While there, I won a prize or two!!

One of the prizes was two skeins of Shibui, Silk Cloud lace and Baby Alpaca dk, both in the Grounds, a lovely deep, rich brown.

They were accompanied with a pattern for a slouchy beanie called Shibui Mix No. 6.

This is a design I have been wanting to try for ages, but it required size US 5 and 7 16" circular needles and when I had one pair in my hands of one size, I never could find a pair in the second size. I ended up buying another pair of the US 7 needles (12" circular this time), the second I remembered where I placed the US 5 ones!

There is nothing nicer than a simple, quick pattern in luxury yarns!

The only drawback:  the yarns are a little pricey for a hat. But, I was so taken with the yarn combination, before I was even finished with the first hat, I ordered the yarns for three more in different colors.

There may be a bonus, too!

The finished hat weighs 59 grams.

The Baby Alpaca dk was originally a 100 gram skein. I have ~51 grams left.

The Silk Cloud lace came as a 25 gram skein, and there are 15 grams left.

There appears to be enough to make another one!!!

Far more bang for the buck, if I can get two hats out of this combination!


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June Already?

The first project is off the new loom!

It is a throw approximately 50" wide x 65" long!

The warp is made up of an assortment of fingering weight yarns, most with silk and/or cashmere along with merino.  There are 676 warps.

The weft is about 2,000 yards of Italian Grignasco Merino Gold dk in a lovely medium purple. 

It took me about two days to dress the loom properly and about two weeks to actually weave it.

I machine serged the raw edges before gently rolling the hems over and taking them down by hand.

The new loom is a dream!  I really love it.  Macomber certainly designed it with the weaver in mind. Unlike the LeClerc floor loom I had, the front beam unfolds all the way down to the floor to allow me to actually sit in the loom, if I wanted to thread it from back to front.

Alas, I warped it from front to back.  However, the back beam moves forward to allow easier access to made threading the heddles a more enjoyable experience.

My back beam is plain and not sectional. Instead of paper to separate the warp threads, I discovered that replacement pvc vertical blind slats fit perfectly on my beam.  My weaving width is 56".  The beams are free and clear for about 59 inches. The vertical slats are 58.5" long and 3.5" wide.  They are also much easier to place, wind, and keep straight, than paper!  

Bonus:  while you can reuse paper, the paper eventually wears out...these can be used indefinitely! 

Besides, the slats cost just as much as a roll of 60" kraft paper that I would have had to cut down to fit.

That actually makes me feel a bit clever.

As the following pictures will illustrate, I really need to work on my photography game.  It is obvious I have no idea how to take pictures of handwoven fabric.

At least, the dogs tried to help sweeten the shots.

Next up, the loom is already warped again and ready to go.

The warp is gold tencel and the weft is Miss Bab's Yowza in Ruby Spinel.

Monday, April 25, 2016

"I like big looms and I cannot lie..."

I totally stole that line from a sweet friend who happens to have the exact same loom as me!

What's remarkable about that statement is that I had no idea she had a Macomber loom until I shared what I had just bought.  Ha! I was delightfully blown over when she announced that fact and sent photos to prove it!

The Macomber B4E was picked up in east Texas yesterday and driven all the way home! We got in the truck yesterday by seven in the morning and we rolled back into the driveway just before seven in the evening.

As my husband said after he loaded it, unloaded it, and with the help of a couple of good friends and neighbors, moved it into its final resting place:  "I didn't think it was going to be that big!"

The former owner had all the original accessories (lease sticks, three shuttles, etc.) AND the paperwork from when she bought it, including the invoice and manual.

Looking at the date of purchase, I call that impressive.

I digitally erased her name and previous address, but everything else is remains the same. 

There are two things that struck me when I looked at this:  1) the loom cost her $754 and 2) it shows she ordered a 16 dent reed.

Odd because she did not receive a 16 dent reed, but a 12 dent one.  I know because it has a 12 etched on one side of it AND I counted the slots in the reed. There are 676 slots. At 12 slots/in that gives me 56.3" inches on this 56" loom.

If it were a 16 dent reed, it would say 16 on the side of it AND for 56", there would be 896 slots.

The good news:  I prefer a 12 dent reed, and one was on my list to buy immediately. 

The not-so-good news: In my excitement over the loom and before I ever saw it first hand, I prepared 890  warp ends to dress the loom...214 too many...

However, that's fine.  I just saved $138 in not having to buy one.  Woohoo!

Here she sits:

While not quite centered on that wall, I will move the picture so it is not so obvious.

The apron strings will soon be replaced with a canvas apron. She will get new bumpers, too! It may take me a while to save for additional harnesses, the kits are $338 for each harness kit, and I need 6 to fully fit her out.

Most importantly, she will be cleaned.  The previous owner stated she had not touched her in over 25 years.  Wow!

In fact, the previous owner still had a rug project on her which she had started some 30 years ago and passed on to me, complete with draft and cotton yarns.  I guess she was hoping I would finish it for her.  Well, the cotton was dry rotted and broke apart easily.  They did not smell very good, either. I disposed of them all quickly!

What she needs right now is a name.

Due to her stoutness, I was thinking about Brunhilde. The husband suggested Big Bertha. I am not sold on either of those, I guess it will come to me when I finally get to weave on her.

Things may be quiet around here for a little while. We have a new family member arriving on Wednesday.

Meet Bane. He's an 8-week-old Rhodesian Ridgeback.  The name Bane means "glorious protector," which is very different from the noun bane.  We shall see which he suits him better. I am really hoping for the former.

Last, but not least, I finished a hat on that long road trip:

Pattern:  Boyfriend Hat (Free!)
Yarn:  Black Trillium Pebble in Bifrost

Quick, easy, well-written!  What's not to like?

Happy Knitting, Weaving, and Puppy Loving!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Well, that didn't take long...

We had some good friends visit us this week. He is an old college roommate of the husband's, and she is someone the husband introduced the roommate to.  The rest, as they say, is history.

While based out of Houston, the couple now live in Saudi Arabia.

She started weaving on a Cricket rigid heddle loom sometime in the last year or so.

As you know, I started weaving a couple of years ago and acquired a Schacht 25" 8 harness table loom and a LeClerc 36" 4 harness floor loom.

The LeClerc found a new home with a dear friend of mine last month.

Yesterday, the Schacht found a new home and will shortly be on its way to Saudi Arabia.

While I loved both looms, I had decided my dream loom was something along the lines of an 8 harness 48" floor loom.

Brand new, those kinds of loom are very expensive.

As both of my former looms were used, I had no problem with buying a used loom.  Shopping for a used loom revealed one major issue:  location.

Most people selling their looms want someone to come pick it up because they do not want to take it apart to ship it.

As a buyer of a used loom, I did not, necessarily, want someone to ship me a box full of loom parts with little to no idea of how to put them all together.

Thus, I have been limited in my search to finding a loom in driving distance of South Texas.

For the past few months, there has been a lovely contender for the loom of my dreams, a Schacht 46" 8 shaft in Amity, Arkansas.  New, this loom runs about $4,700, without shipping from the seller/manufacturer.  The asking price was $2,300 with free pick up.  As in, I drive to Arkansas to get it.

Earlier today, I sat down at my computer and decided to see if I could find a similar loom in Texas...

Well, before today, I had not heard of a Macomber loom, but I found one between four and five hours away called a Macomber B4 E, Add-a-Harness.  Basically, this is a four harness loom that is 56" wide (WOOHOO!) that can accommodate up to ten harnesses!!

To give you an idea of what I can do with a 56" width, a queen size quilt is usually 60" x 80".  That is a really nice blanket width.

According to the owner, "The maple loom was purchased brand new in 1976. I am the original owner. Has seen light use and is in excellent condition. It has a 16 dent stainless steel reed and 4 harnesses. I paid extra for a brake on the warp beam."

The asking price was $1,295.  According to the price list from Macomber, today that loom would be $3,777. With all ten harnesses, it would $5,625.

As soon as I saw it, I contacted the friend who bought the LeClerc.  I needed a little sound advice before I did something impulsive.

She did some research. I did some research.   

She found where we could add a harness kit for about $300, and I found that I could get another reed for about $118. However, neither of those purchases needed to be made anytime soon.  The Macomber company appears to have been in business the last 80 years.

After I compiled all the information, I actually visited with the husband about it. With his blessing, I bought it. 

I am waiting to hear back from the seller to see if we can pick it up next Sunday.

Looks like I may only be a weaver without a loom for a week or so...

Road trip, anyone?!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Shawl!

This was a really fun and quick knit that I finished the middle of last week, then promptly forgot about it.

Pattern:  Dissent by Lisa Mutch
Yarns: Vice Yarns fingering in Karma Kameleon and Collinette Jitterbug in Nocturne.

Stripes seem to be my thing of late, but I love the interplay between these two colors!  The pattern is very well written. The stripes and short-rows make for mindless knitting.  Plus, it is done in a flash!

Per the usual these days, CoalBear is the in the middle of everything. He doesn't understand why I would want to take a picture of anything, but him!

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Feisty Painter?

The knitting has slowed down in the last few weeks, as I worked on getting my office/yoga room/personal yarn shop organized.

This involved taking out a china cabinet that had been housing my design samples and absolute favorite yarns.  My good friend Laura and her husband took it off my hands, along with the 36" LeClerk Artisat loom yesterday. Bless them!

My goal for the last three-plus years has been to destash down to the point where I have only a few skeins of sock yarn for those startitis emergencies, but to actually buy yarn for specific projects when I am actually ready to knit them.  Novel, I know.

At the moment, I still have enough yarn for, at least, fourteen full-size sweaters, dozens of socks, but I am probably at a quarter of what I had.  This actually feels very liberating, as the emotional weight of a very large stash was eating away at me.

My fear with the china cabinet with its glass shelves, is that they would break under the weight of all those woolens.  The cabinet also took up a lot of space the room, literally and visually.  I felt swamped by it.

In anticipation of its departure, I knew I needed something to house the knitted samples and a few of the absolute favorites from the stash.

Within days of mentioning it to the handsome husband, he emailed me with a picture of a pie safe and asked me if it would work.  The dimensions were basically 36" wide x 60" tall x 18" deep.  Perfect!

Well, I say perfect, except for that teal color going on and stainless bolt thing at the top.  This was the original cabinet, as it sat in its former owner's home.

Rustic is a good word.

But, I had plans for it!

I bought Annie Sloan chalk paint in Graphite and French Linen, as well as some of her clear wax. The plan was to paint the outside in Graphite and the inside in French Linen, wax the whole thing a couple of three times, then add new hardware.

A couple of weeks ago, I did just that!

This was obviously an "in progress shot.  The Annie Sloan chalk paint is amazing!!  It is thick, almost like pudding and goes on easily.  Prior to adding the wax and buffing, it had a matte, chalk-like (no surprise!) finish.

The following are the finished photos of the piece in place, just remember, I inherited the room from my younger daughter who chose the paint colors and curtain sheers when she was five years old...

To the left is the faithful Rita, standing (lying) guard over more of the stash, as well as my blocking mats. 

The pie safe is a lot different from the china cabinet, but I love it! 

I added cedar planks to cover the punched tin on the sides, as well as a couple of dozen lavender sachets to help protect against the dreaded moth.

Flush from the success of this makeover, I decided I wanted to do something for my older daughter. Both my girls enjoy sitting down to apply their makeup.

The younger one bought a sleek Ikea desk last year to use as her vanity, but the older daughter has been using a computer table with a missing/broken drawer.

In my mind, I wanted to find a vanity/dressing able that I could paint for the older one. 

Saturday afternoon, the original plan was for the family (the husband, younger daughter, and me) to go to the movies, but the 15-year-old balked at the last minute.  So, I asked the husband to take me to an antique store instead.To my surprise, he agreed!

As we walked around, looking at everything, I explained my plan to the husband, including my desire not to spend more than $125 or so.  He looked skeptical.

Mid-way through the store, we came across this kidney-shaped vanity/desk.

I thought it was perfect, but it had originally been priced $245 or $249, and it was marked down to $199.

I did not want to spend that and I did not know if the older daughter would like it.

The cost of the Annie Sloan paint and dark wax (instead of the clear I already had) would be another $130 or so, not to mention the acquisition of additional (pretty) knobs and a glass table top cut to size had to be taken into consideration, as well. 

Add to that, the husband was initially unimpressed.  Which means, we continued to poke around for a few minutes and eventually left.

Once we were driving away, I sent the daughter a text with the photos, as she was already aware of what my plans were.

She texted back immediately:  "I love it!"

As soon as I told the husband, he turned around and we went back.

He waited in the car, as I went in to inquire about the piece. As we looked at it, I fumbled trying to open a drawer or two, asked about the missing mirror that had obviously been attached to the back, scowled a bit, and finally asked what his best price was.

He said:  "$125."

I said:  "Done."

We returned on Sunday in the husband's pickup to pick it up.

Ridiculously delighted is the only way I can described how I feel about this!

For color inspiration, I found this picture:

From the Annie Sloan chalk paint line, I will use Aubusson on the outside (perhaps with a little graphite added to darken it) and Emperor's Silk for the drawers.

Below is a shot of both colors together, which is lovely, I just want the blue to be a bit darker.

Then, of course, there are these mercury glass knobs...

There are no plans to start right this second, as I must order the paint first, but I have high hopes this will be finished before the heat of the summer descends.  The garage will be not a very nice place to be after a few more weeks.