Wednesday, February 24, 2016

12 shaft twill

Here's a peek at what is on my mechanical dobby loom right now. This is the first time I've ever tried to use all 12 shafts. The most complicated pattern I've done before has been 8 shafts. This was a bit tricky for me to get all warped up, but now that I have it going I love it!!

This is a twill, taken from the weaving pattern on this page: . I am weaving it tromp as writ, which means I treadle it in the same pattern that I threaded it. I'm using 8/2 unmercerized UKI cotton as the warp, and 10/2 mercerized Valley cotton as the weft. I've got enough warp on here for about a dozen hand towels, and I'm having fun making each one a different color. Here's the same thing, but in red, and looking from the back of the loom so you can see all the shafts.

I'm done with the red towel, and almost done with the green. Hmmmmm.... I'm looking at my yarn stash, and trying to decide on what color strikes my fancy for the next one. I think I'm going to end up making the whole rainbow, plus some!

Friday, February 19, 2016

My new studio space

Last year, one of my sweeties moved out of our house. That left room for us to switch some things around, and I moved from my little bedroom sized studio into a living room sized studio. I was really grateful that the rest of the family was willing to let me take up this much space in the house! We lost a portion of our socializing space, though we still have a living room upstairs for sofas and such. But they thought that my art pursuits were important enough to make giving me room to expand a priority. I am well loved indeed.

So, here is what the room looked like while I was getting it set up. On the wall right near the arch way to the rest of the house, I have cubicle shelves for yarn and craft supply storage. I love having all my weaving yarn out where I can see it.

On the other side of the arch way, I put my computer desk and research books. I'm sitting right there typing this blog entry. To my left, I have room to have both of my looms set up and going at the same time! That means I can have one loom warping, and one loom weaving, with different projects in different stages of progress. In my old studio, it was definitely one project at a time. Which meant, that I had to weave off whatever yardage I was doing before I could start anything else. Which meant, that I had one repetitive motion going for long stretches of time. Which meant that I threw my shoulder out of whack with the repetitive motion, and knocked myself out of weaving for a year while I rehabilitated. Now? I plan on mixing up the motions by moving back and forth between different projects. Yay for more space that allows me to go easier on my body!!
Also, the wall behind me as I sit at the computer has yet another work station set up. This spot has my sewing machine, a work bench, and more item storage. It is a great spot for beading and sewing and silk painting and other hand projects. And I can have something out here at the same time that I've got the weaving projects going. Yes, I am loving this.
On the wall next to the loom in the picture above, I had a white board. I took that down, and put up a display of my collection of weaving tools instead. I like how it turned out. The tools themselves are quite beautiful, and make a lovely art instillation.
And, if I need yet another work space, I can unfold my cutting table in front of the yarn cubicle. I've got it set up for silk painting in this picture, but I've used that space for taking product pictures, and for cutting out sewing patterns as well.
So, here is my new space, and part of the reason why I am back at creating new things again. I had totally outgrown my old space, and it was stifling me. This new space though? I stand in the middle of it and just look all around me. My supplies, tools, and books are organized, visible, and easy to get hold of. I have space to work on several items at a time. And you know what? It looks like a real artist's space.

Which kind of makes me feel like a real artist. Sometimes. Sometimes I still feel like just a housewife with a hobby, and I ought to get out and do something real. Don't we all feel like frauds sometimes? Like everyone else must be doing the real stuff, and we're just faking it? But in this beautiful space, sometimes I can get the sense that I can grow up to fit the possibilities here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

12 shaft fancy twill on the dobby loom

Woo Hoo!! It is working!!! This has been an adventure. This is only the second time I've used the dobby loom--and the first was years ago, and I forgot most of the details between then and now. And, this is the first time I've ever woven something with a 12 shaft pattern. 8 has been my limit up until now. It took a bit to get this one on the loom, but I'm really pleased with the way it is turning out. This is 8/2 unmercerized UKI cotton, and the threading draft is from here: . I set it up tromp as writ, rather than the extended pattern that she shows.

I'm thinking my pattern is a little elongated. I kind of like it, but I'd also like to see what happens if I use 10/2 weft instead of the matching 8/2 that I'm using here for the test. I've got quite a few lovely colors of 10/2 left over from making baby wraps. Hmmm... what to use...

I've got enough warp on here for I think a dozen tea towels. I'll keep a couple, and a couple will go to my physical therapist as a thank you gift for getting my shoulder back into weaving shape.

More pictures to come as the weaving progresses!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Programming the mechanical dobby loom

How did I spend Superbowl Sunday? Sitting around laughing with friends and family, enjoying their enjoyment of the game, and programming my loom.

These are bars for the dobby loom. When you're weaving, you get the pattern by raising up some but not all of the warp threads, and throwing the shuttle with the weft thread across the loom in the space between the raised and stationary threads. (That is one 'pick'.) Then, you change which threads are up, and throw the shuttle back again for another pick. On my usual loom, I choose which threads to raise up by stepping on the various treadles under the loom. On the dobby loom, I pre-program in the pattern. Each wooden bar here represents the choice of which threads to raise for one pick. It was kind of time consuming to put all those pegs in the right spots (no peg for raise a shaft, peg for leave it down), but it will make the weaving go much easier! I won't have to remember where I am in the 48 pick repeat, because I've already told the loom what I want to have happen.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A return to weaving

So. It turns out that if you (and by you I mean I) spend a year ramping up and weaving at a frantic pace to try to make a living with your hand work, and if you don't pay attention to the height of your weaving bench and hunch up your shoulders, you can end up wiggling your right shoulder joint out of place. Yup. I was deranged. That was the technical term. Ow.

I started having issues in November of 2014, and in the beginning of 2015 I started looking for solutions. I hurt. And I was scared that I wasn't going to be well again. Physical therapy wasn't working, and the doctors didn't have much idea as to what was going on yet.

In August of 2015 I finally saw a specialist, got an MRI, and was referred to a new physical therapist. And wow, the difference between the experiences was night and day. This guy was good. He could tell me what the MRI was going to say without looking at it, just by watching my shoulder move. I got to work. He had me doing exercises on my own every two waking hours, and I went in for an hour long session twice a week. It has taken me months of work, but I can move now without fear of pain. And I can even sleep on my right side again, at least for small stretches at a time. And, he slowly had me weaving again. I took videos of the motions, so he could target exercises specifically to my movement.

And now? These blue napkins are my first finished project since I returned to weaving. My shoulder isn't 100%, and I need to be careful still, but I'm cleared to work again. With the proper height on the bench this time, so my shoulders aren't strained. And with more breaks. And I'm not going to weave at such a marathon level slog again, which means I'm probably not going to be going back into the custom baby wrap biz, at least not at that level. I loved making dreams for people, but I paid for it in my health.

So, here is my return triumph. I brought these napkins upstairs, and have been using them for dinners this past week. Each meal is a celebration, and a reminder to take better care of myself.