Saturday, December 29, 2012

Great Towel Warp of 2012

There are things in life that I'm afraid to try for fear of failure. 

Oddly, when I sat down to weave for the first time, I did not have that fear. I approached it with a general attitude of "Eh. It will work, or it won't. Let's try." And so far, with the exception of one project, that attitude has maintained throughout my weaving education.

Its something Erin and I continue to giggle at. She is very structured - I am not. We both absorb a little of the other's attitude; I'm a little more structured and picky, she's a little more "who cares."
I love how we've both slid to a more centered view of life and fiber-art. Its lovely to find that friend that helps to balance you out.

After Thanksgiving, I came home from the holiday and wound a 12 yard warp - known in my mind as "the epic warp" - of 8/2 cotton and started making towels.

This is the same project that required about 2 million string heddles because I'm an idiot and didn't count heddles.  (PS: I'm now an EXPERT at string heddles.)

It became 1/2 overshot towels and 1/2 waffle weave towels - the unintentional split was due to my boredom and frustration. I think I have a 6 yard limit per project.

This is the first 1/2 of the towels before I rethreaded for waffle weave. Erin was kind enough to snap a photo after I did my "OMG I MADE FABRIC" dance of dorky joy. I had lots of fun playing with colors and learning overshot. There's also a towel in there that is cotton and linen weft, which I'm sorely tempted to keep for myself because its just yummy.

The remaining yardage of warp was used for Waffle Weave towels.

The red white and blue towel and the yellow towel became x-mas gifts for mom. My sister received a Red/Black overshot towel and a white/Black overshot towel, while my brother in law received the butt-ugly blue/orange overshot towel in honor of his beloved Miami Dolphins.

Nothing against the Dolphins specifically, however after weaving that atrocious towel in those particular colors, I am a firm believer that a design consultant should be hired by the NFL before team colors are selected. 

So that's the great towel warp of 2012 and how it ended up.

All towels got finished. The warp got used - every bit of the 12 yards!

The remaining woven Xmas Gifts need more pictures before they should be mentioned in a blog. So pics and details to follow.

I'm so pleased with the towels. They are not error free. They are not perfect by any means. There are "oopsies" in each one. But I'm still proud of them. One towel contains some of my handspun cotton. The rest are fun colorful experiments of "this yarn looks good with that yarn." And they all are just plain neat.

Weaving is not 'hard' in that I do not feel I need a degree in applied physics to attempt it. But it is entirely different from spinning. Or knitting. Or crocheting. Or any of the other arts I've tried. Without Erin's patient help -and copious reference library and book addiction - I would have given up and walked away.

I'm glad Erin stuck it out with me. I'm glad I powered through the 12 yard warp. I'm glad I had several hand made gifts to give this year. And I'm really glad I didn't approaching weaving with a fear of failure. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

When I weave...

When I weave, I am focused and everything is clear.

When I weave I feel calm. I know who I am and I know what the world is about. The evils of the world fall away. The politics of friendships, of states, of red and blue, are gone.

It's just me and the threads. 342 navy blue warp threads. Some are a little weak. Some are strong. I shore up the weak ones with a few extra packing sticks on the warp beam. Some are still a little weak, so for a while I will fuss with them and see if I can get them to behave.

When I weave I can feel the rhythm: step, throw, beat, step, throw, beat, step throw beat.

But then I run out of weft. I use a piano bench as my chair because it is the perfect height and I get up and walk over to my little rolling kitchen cart which has the bobbin winder attached to it. It's a great tool, that cart. So is the bobbin winder.

When I weave, my mind empties and I begin to daydream about other projects. I think about projects I want to do and take a mental inventory of my stash - do I have the right yarn? do I have colors that I want to use?  Do I need  to spin hundreds of yards of fiber? Do I need to - gasp - order more yarn??? A friend thinks about what she has and then thinks what she can make with it. Why can't I think like that?

When I weave, I relax, and time disappears. I almost don't need that massage gift certificate given to me by my manager.

When I weave, I don't worry about my day job. There are no statistics or reports or off-shore blame games.

When I weave, I know who I am. I'm me and I make. I weave, I knit, I spin, I flute, I photograph, and (sometimes) I blog. Mostly, lately, I weave and I love it.

When I help someone else weave, I feel joyful. That's better than anything else.

And when it is the holiday season I get a little misty and mushy.

Happy Holidays and Weave On!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stubborn? Moi?

A few weeks ago I (Kerry) started to warp out what I am told is a very ambitious project - especially considering it is only my second attempt at weaving.

I decided that I was going to weave towels and hopefully gift a few for the winter holidays. And hopefully sell a few at some craft shows or on Etsy.

I did some mental polling and determined that I am, in fact, too lazy to do multiple warps to achieve a high volume of towels. What does that mean? If I want 10 towels, I'm only doing 1 warp, not 2 different ones. I am truly that lazy about this sort of thing.

So I then did the math and learned that 10 or 11 towels required about 12 yards of warp. So I began winding warp! And Winding. And Winding. And Winding. I managed to wrench my shoulder from so much winding. And got a kink in my neck until I fixed where the warping board was. Lots of winding = lots of learning.

We had a Loom Lounge day earlier this week and I started to sley my reed with all of this natural 8/2 cotton warp. The sley was 2-2-1 pattern which went very quickly and used up almost every dent on the reed, save a few on one side. I had a few bits of warp left over that didn't quite fit and they got set aside.

Yesterday (Saturday) I began to thread the heddles.

Being the lazy and often carefree crafter that I am, I didn't count a single heddle before weaving. So when Erin turned around about 1/3 of the way into my threading and said "Did you count your heddles?" I looked at her, scoffed/snorted, and replied with an amused "No."

I mean, why would I count my heddles? What in the world would prompt me to do such a thing? There were plenty for my LAST project. Why wouldn't there be plenty for THIS project? (For inquiring minds: the answer to follow in a later blog post.)

What a stupid question, Erin! It'll be fine! Thought I.

... yeah.

This post is renamed The Blog Post in Which Kerry Eats Crow. :(

Today please learn one thing. Learn to count your heddles.

For serious.

I got about 2/3 of the way through the threading and promptly ran out of heddles on shaft 1.

Erin was right. (As per usual.)

So with some Googling and YouTubing, I quickly learned the art of making string heddles. My understanding is that these hand tied heddles are traditionally used in an emergency repair situation where perhaps you've made a threading mistake and you do not want to un-thread 30 inches of warp for one string.

A special thank you to this particular video and this particular video which give two methods for creating string heddles.

Being my stubborn self, however, I was determined to not un-thread the warp and lose 2 days worth of work. I was determined to make this work. And if I had to tie on heddles, that's what I'd do.
I cannot afford to buy new heddles right this minute. And I couldn't wait on delivery time anyway. So I tied. And Tied. And Tied.
At the end of the warp, I must have tied 100 string heddles. It felt like I tied one thousand.

But the warp is on. And I tied it onto the back beam without any help. and I began winding without any help.

And then a thread broke.

And I ALMOST had a melt-down.

Erin was lovely enough to pause in her warp-winding to intervene and prevent the Great-Flood-O-Tears. She re-attached my thread, fluffed the warp, let me wind a bit while she found a good pausing point in her warp.

And she sat for all the remaining 11 yards. And she helped me wind that danged 12 yard warp onto my loom. And she laughed while I cussed and offered pointers for next time, and praised my ambition of a 12 yard warp.

The end of the night went a little longer than we both planned, but the end result is the warp is on the loom.

Let the Choir Sing! Hallelujah!

Tomorrow afternoon I will tie onto the front beam and then give a few test passes.

My greatest fear is that the hand-tied string heddles will not function correctly and that all of that work will have to be chalked up to 'practice.' (A four-letter-word in my book.)