Fall is finally here!

Tomorrow ends my summer. I will be starting back to college for my senior year. It’s definitely been a good summer and I’ve learned a lot about weaving. It’s been wonderful having a loom and hopefully I can continue weaving this fall. But it probably won’t be as much or as often.

I didn’t manage to get my loom re-dressed for another project before school started, but that’s okay. I’m planning scarves for my next project and a scarf warp doesn’t take long at all to dress. I’m thinking I might just do a tabby scarf set in some lovely natural colors of rayon that I have. I’m excited about them.

The weather has been lovely this weekend. Fall is my all time favorite season. I especially love the smell of crushed leaves that have fallen from the trees. (yes, I’m a bit of a romantic at heart.) Anyway, I really want to make things for people this fall so I’ll have gifts for Christmas and birthdays. (I have several birthdays in my family in Feb.) I’d definitely like to make a scarf for my sister-in-law. She’s 12 and she keeps asking me to make her one. 🙂 It makes me happy to know that I have that ability to make her something lovely and hand-made.
Ack. My brain is a bit all over the place right now. I’m going to talk more about this scarf thing. I think the longest part of dressing a scarf warp is winding the warp. I wound off an 8yd. warp so that will take longer than the other projects that I’ve done this summer. But it should go pretty smoothly since rayon doesn’t tangle and stick together as much as cotton.

I’ll be using a lovely pale yellow with a khaki stripe down the middle. I used almost all the yellow yarn up winding off two 8 yd. warps. I only had one lb. of that color and there’s 2500 yds. per lb. so that’s pretty much spent. I think I have enough to use it for weft for one scarf and the other two that will be on the warp shall have to be something else. I’m wondering if I can use the green, yellow, tan, and white variegated yarn I used a little of earlier this summer for one of them. It’s a lovely cotton(?) slub yarn and should weave up very nicely. For one of them I plan on using the khaki color that matches the stripe in the scarf.

I saw in a previous article on Weavezine a scarf (or…some other woven article…) that was done using natural dyes (fermented persimmons…But I can’t remember the name of the dye) and it was this lovely natural khaki, brownish orange color. I can’t really describe it. But it’s quite lovely. Well, I can’t get the color variation, but I have colors similar to that. So perhaps I can weave something similar. 🙂 That’s my next plan. I still have so many things that I want to weave!! I can’t wait to have a studio to work in. And time to work in it…


Messenger bag #1

I’m done sewing the first messenger bag. FINALLY!!! It looks SO GOOD!! I think it’s really cute. It was a bit of an ordeal to finish it. haha
So I was sewing along and everything was going well. And all of sudden something catches and it starts making this clunking noise. Well, I didn’t really freak out so I just kept trying to sew. But the clunking and catching persisted which was when I took the cover off the bobbin holder and there was something loose.
Amazingly at this point I still didn’t freak out. (I usually do…) So since it wasn’t working I took it immediately over to the store in town that does repairs and where I purchased the machine. The guy said it was something like a weight or a pin or something that holds the piece in that is loose and he can have it fixed by tomorrow. Yay! Good! Because I need to finish these bags!! I have to sew two more! I’m sewing mine last, but that’s okay. So I guess I just have one.

Anyway, once I got home from the quilt shop I was determined to finish the bag I was working on. There wasn’t much left to do and I still have my old Singer. My Viking just sits on top of the cabinet that the Singer is in. And the main reason why I needed a new machine was because the bobbin winder broke off of my Singer. It’s not much good if you can’t wind bobbins…And it’s a little old and finicky. I still have a love for it though deep down in my heart.

I unfolded the cabinet and pulled it out. Thankfully I had some red thread wound onto a bobbin for that machine! It’s really picky and you can only use these certain plastic bobbins in it. Anyway, I was most of the way done sewing on the strap (the last part I needed to do besides a little hand stitching) and wouldn’t you know it, the needle breaks. At this point I just laugh at the irony. I left the sewing machine needles in the OTHER machine’s storage compartment! Well now I’m just determined to get this thing done. I finished sewing on the strap by hand and did an invisible stitch to close up the top where I turned the bag right side out.

I still might need to do some stitching around the edge of the flap to make sure it stays in place instead of floating around. It looks REALLY nice though! I’m so happy with it! Especially the strap. I used some really pretty embroidery stitching that my Viking has and I think it makes the strap pop. It’s pretty awesome. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll be able to finish the other bag during the first week of school.

Still sewing

I think I’m finally done with mock ups. I’m currently working on sewing the actual messenger bag. (Just the first one. I still have two more!) It’s going pretty well so far. I’m having a hard time getting the flat bottom of the bag. I don’t sew it as a separate piece, I just sew across the corners so it makes like a triangle shape which creates a flat bottom. But I can’t remember how I got them so even on my last bag…So far on two mock ups and the actual bag, I haven’t been able to get them even. I had to pull the stitches out last night…This is especially hard to do with handwoven fabric.

I’ll get it eventually. I was just too tired to still be working on it last night. I’ve pretty much turned our entire apartment into my fibers studio. There’s fabric everywhere and bits of yarn and thread all over the place. There’s a trail down the hall to the bedroom (Where my sewing machine is) of fabric, yarn and thread. Ben has been very sweet and told me that since I’m there a lot more than he is, he doesn’t mind if I use the whole house as my studio.

I finally figured out a strap for the bags though. I was trying to come up with something that wouldn’t look like it was just stuck on there with no thought. What I ended up doing was using a lovely dark brown canvas. Canvas is a tough fabric and holds up well as a bag strap. But I still wanted to tie it in somehow to the bag. So I used an embroidery stitch on my sewing machine and ran three stitches down the length of the strap in red, yellow and pink. (three of the colors of the woven fabric.) I’m SO excited about how it turned out!! Hopefully when I get them finished I can put up photos of them.

Mock ups!

I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t do mock ups for a piece you’re planning on sewing, it’s going to be a disaster. So I’m currently working on a mock messenger bag so I remember how to sew them. I have to sew three…Well…four with the mock up. But I know this is a good thing. I got to go buy some mock up fabric (i.e. cheap fabric) and I also got some lovely cotton for the liner of two of the bags.

Since I can’t dye the fabric myself I was determined to at least try to find some fabric that wasn’t…tacky. Hancock had some lovely fabric that looks similar to a low water immersion. So I bought some in a peach and some in a pink variation. That way each bag will look completely different while having similar elements. It kills me that I have to buy “hand dyed” fabric instead of making it, but I’m just trying not to think about it too much and reminding myself that someday I shall have a beautiful studio space to work in and I won’t have to buy fabric besides white.

I do love buying white fabric. It’s so much fun to get it ready to be dyed. You scour it and then depending on what process you use you might throw it right in a pot of dye or you dye it and pin it down to a table to be printed on or do surface work. Goodness I miss that!! I love having my little stash of tools and my apron and gloves on, all ready to go. Creating things is such a wonderful process. I love it. It’s crazy to think that I’m going to school to create things. Like class is creating and learning new and better ways of doing that. How fun!

Whenever I’m in a studio working on a project and I start to get a little stressed or frustrated, I remind myself that I could be doing homework on paper or a computer instead of working with my hands to create art. I mean I could be writing a paper or doing math problems or studying a book. But no…My homework is do surface work on 12 samples of fabric, make 15 pinch pots, do a mock up of your wall hanging idea, build a foot stool from wood.
I have loved each of the classes that I have taken at the Craft Center. I loved wood working because it was something that I shared with my husband. We learned together and helped each other with our projects.
I’ve always loved fibers and taking the four fibers classes has opened my eyes to this vast medium that can be used for practical as well as artistic and sculptural.
Clay has been a wonderful experience after three semesters of fibers because it’s so much about instant gratification. It’s difficult to go from a 2 dimensional art form to a 3 dimensional one, but it’s so different that I love it! I love being able to make things so quickly. The only part of the process that takes a long time is firing, but it so worth it because you can create these wonderful pieces that are so beautiful and unique. I have sculptures, mugs, bowls, jars, pots, masks and all kinds of different things that I made in my last clay class. I can’t wait for clay on the wheel this fall! One full week left before school starts! I’m SO EXCITED!!!

Too exciting!!

This doesn’t really have anything to do with weaving, but I wanted to post about it anyway.
We got a new computer!! I am currently sitting on my couch with a 4lb. notebook on my lap. It’s an HP Mini and it’s very nice. I’m still getting used to the keyboard since it’s a little smaller but overall, so far I really like it. It’ll be convenient to just whip this sucker out in class. Very handy.

We’re gonna have to find some kind of case for it. I’d thought about weaving something and then sewing it up to fit around foam pieces so it would be a case that actually protected it. We shall see.
It will be nice to have a computer that is actually ours again. My parents lent us one of theirs and we haven’t felt like we should put anything on it since it didn’t belong to us. I did install weaving software, but other than that, I don’t think there’s much else we put on ourselves. I’ll have to download Weave Design for this one. I’m pretty sure it’ll be more difficult editing drafts on this computer because the screen is much smaller, but I can’t really complain. It’s still faster than drafting by hand.

It’s funny that I hate hand drawing drafts but when it comes to architectural drafting, I would much rather do that by hand than learn how to use the AutoCAD software. I’m generally good with just about anything that will speed up the process (usually computers) but for some reason, AutoCAD was one of the worst classes I ever had to take. It was right up there with my remedial maths, college algebra and chemistry. Ick!! So glad I’m done with all of those yucky classes.
Well since I’m now completely off the original topic, I’m going to go. I should be weaving right now anyways. I’ve gotta finish that shawl right?
~A very happy JoAnna

Weaving along

I’m not very far into the canvas weave shawl, but at least I’m actually weaving! I wove about 3.5 inches of tabby to fold up and sew a hem on later. I’m hoping that will be enough.
So far I’ve had a few minor problems. Nothing terrible though. Broke a warp yarn that was twisted (Thankfully just the one and not both that were twisted) I’ve found one weaving error, but I’m not going to go back and fix it. It’s really only evident to me because I’m the weaver. Also, I don’t mind having one or two errors in my cloth. I feel like it shows that it’s woven by hand and not machine. My instructor would completely disagree with me and tell me to fix it, but I have to become my own artist and my own person.

My clay instructor purposefully leaves the seam lines in the coffee mugs he builds using the soft slab technique for the same reason. He wants the buyer or viewer to understand that it was made by a person and not in a factory. I’ve always loved that idea and so I don’t freak out and go back if I’ve woven about 4 inches past the error. My instructor was once going to have me un-weave 11 inches just to fix a weaving error. That’s not something that I will ever do in my work that is not done at school. Some may say that’s bad craftsmanship, some say it’s laziness, whatever.
The main point of weaving for me is to enjoy the process of making my own cloth. It takes away from the enjoyment to fix every single error. I end up getting frustrated and stopping.

I believe I posted about this canvas weave shawl before and how I was concerned that a sett of 25 wouldn’t show off the lace weave enough. It actually looks quite lovely. It’s still soft enough and open enough for the canvas to be evident and catch the eye of the viewer. I’d forgotten how lovely canvas weave is. And I can feel when I release the tension to advance the warp that it will be a wonderfully soft shawl. I’m fairly excited about it. I still hope to be able to put the rayon scarf warp on before school…but that’s seeming less and less likely.

I also really need to sew up the messenger bags that I wove yardage for. I want to find nice liner fabric for them though and I haven’t had a chance to go to the fabric store yet. I guess part of me doesn’t want to. I’d rather dye fabric to be the liners, but I don’t really have that option right now. 😦 Someday…Won’t it be nice to have a studio to “play” in?

A picture's worth a thousand words…And now I know that

Sometimes re-reading things and examining pictures more closely can be extremely enlightening…I have been having major problems winding my warp onto my back beam and I just discovered part of the reason why…

I have been using a technique that I saw in the Weave Geek blog on Weavezine.com where you tie onto the back and pull the warp tails through the loom and hold them in one hand to tension while you wind on with the other hand. Okay here’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I didn’t look closely enough at the photo but upon second, closer look and re-reading the description provided, it appears that you are supposed to pull the warp under the front beam and not still have the warp threaded through the lease sticks…This has been my problem. I learned to wind on by leaving the lease sticks in. If you’ve ever done this then you know that there’s a lot of fiddling that goes on with the warp due to the yarns tangling around each other or essentially felting together if they’re more fuzzy.

Well now that I think about it, if you took the lease sticks out, that would basically fix the problem of yarns wrapping around each other. Also, the front beam is much stronger than flexible lease sticks held down with masking tape. I shall have to finish fixing the errors on my canvas weave shawl that I’ve been putting off and weave it up so I can try this “new” technique.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to weave the shawl! I definitely have. But when it takes about 2 hours to wind on a 3.5 – 4 yd. warp, you just don’t want to look at the project for a while. I’m really hoping that the actual weaving part goes more smoothly. I’m still a bit nervous about canvas weave and that my sett is going to be too tight. But I suppose that’s part of learning. And since that’s what I’m trying to do this summer, it’s good for me.

I’ve got a hankering to weave scarves though. All the more reason for me to get this shawl off the loom, washed, hemmed and ready to use! I have a 6″ wide warp that’s 8 yds. long all ready to be woven up. 8 yds? Goodness! I could weave that up into 4 scarves! Oh my! I need to get weaving! If I can get focused again, I could have all this done before school. Scarf warps don’t take long at all to put on. And if I can get a handle on this winding technique, it should go beautifully. Now to figure out what to do with each scarf…
P.S. It’s also possible that I have been winding my warp bundles too small. It appears in the photo that the instructor is only holding one or two bundles for a warp that is aprox. 12 – 15 inches wide. Perhaps I should try that as well…I’ve got a nice strong warping board that my wonderful husband built for me. 🙂