Thursday, May 25, 2017

Purple Ruanas: The beginning!

Each of my weaving projects starts something like this. I've got a spiral notebook, and each new project gets a fresh new page for me to do the planning on. I know a lot of folks have moved to using computerized forms for this, but my brain seems to like the old school method of thinking with a pencil in hand. You can see from the note I left myself on the right that my thought processes in planning end up captured on the page. Then, when I'm planning future projects, I can go back and use this as a foundation to build from.

This particular project? When I had posted pictures of my last blue-green ruana project on Facebook, a gentleman very enthusiastically requested that I make another batch in purple and black. I love that kind of enthusiasm! I love knowing that my work is going to go to someone who really wants and appreciates it. Purple it is!! I worked with him, and we chose black, grey, and four different purples in 3/2 cotton for the warp. I'll blend the colors across the width of the warp in a gradation from dark to light.
So, around and around the horizontal warping mill it goes! I do a lot of cutting and tying here as I change from one color to the next. My thread order is decided here. It takes some extra time (sometimes I'm making knots every third thread), but I like the result. I know some folks just measure out blocks of color in this step and mix it up when they put it on the loom, but I got awful tangles when I tried it that way. This slips onto the loom nice and smoothly, with each thread in its place.
And here's the warp all measured, and ready to go onto the loom!

This project is going to be tricky to photograph, it seems. Purple. Purple is a pain to get correctly in the camera and on the screen. The camera just doesn't want to capture it. My new camera seems to be better at it than my old one, though. My older one would have read this entirely as blue. Trust me though. This is purple, purple, purple! Nice and rich and royal.

Next up will be getting this onto the loom, but that is going to wait for a few days. My husband Eric & I are headed out of town this weekend for some two-time in the northern part of Arizona. I'm thinking of bringing my finished ruanas with me, and doing some product photography for the Etsy shop. Maybe in front of the Grand Canyon. Or in the pine woods up on the mountains. Or.... We'll see where we end up! It will be an adventure.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Shawls and Ruanas

I've been busily taking pictures and listing a couple of months' worth of hand woven shawls and ruanas in the Etsy shop today. I'm feeling all accomplished, and wanted to take a moment to bask. They don't look half bad when you get them all together, do they? The Etsy shop is here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/tangibledaydreams






Thursday, May 11, 2017

Blue green gradated handwoven ruana fabric

Fresh off the loom, and through the wet finishing process! I love love how this fabric softens up in that first wash. I put it through the washing machine on hot, with high agitation, and then toss it in the dryer for a full cycle. Any shrinking or bleeding it is going to do is going to be done, and the whole thing just becomes so lovely to the touch.

Next up: ironing, and snipping stray threads, and looking for any skipped weaving threads to fix. Then I'll get to the sewing part. This is going to be 3 ruanas, which are a poncho like garment. I'm trying to decide if I keep one of these beauties for myself. I know I have one of my ruanas I've kept already, and I do wear it regularly. But, that was one of my stripy hand dyed ones. This is a new design. Shouldn't I keep one to test out? Maybe? Truth is, I'm just so pleased with the way the fabric turned out that I want one. 

The details: 3/2 Valley mercerized cotton for the warp, in three greens and three blues, sett at 12 ends per inch. The weft is 10/2 Valley mercerized cotton, in dark blue, blue-green, and black for the different garments. The weave is plain weave.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hiking in the White Tanks

We had a cold front come through last weekend, so the Arizona desert got one more lovely week of relatively cool (70's F) temperatures before the heat sets in for the summer. So, my sweetie and I took advantage of the weather to go on one more hike at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.


The green of the spring wildflowers and grasses has faded into cream and rust as we head into the baking time, and seed pods are everywhere. I grew up in the Midwest US, and this looks like fall to me. No wonder I can never get the hang of the desert seasons.




The local wildlife was active. Lizards and birds and little fuzzy things everywhere!

The air was clear with the bit of rain that we had, so we could see quite a ways. That is Phoenix in the distance. The two little hills in the top left of the picture are a bit over 30 miles away.

And as we were on the way back off of the trail, we got to enjoy a spectacular moon rise. Gorgeous!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why I love my warping trapeze. Ready to weave!

I am so grateful for my warping trapeze today! (It is just two 2x4s with a copper pipe through the top, that I tie onto the sides of the loom.) If you'll recall my last post, I was really concerned that I'd have a whole bunch of tangles to deal with when I was beaming the warp this time around. I had had to do some rearranging of threads at the reed, as well as pulling some threads out of the design altogether. (I had miscalculated how many of each color yarn I needed, and redesigned on the fly when I was measuring warp chains.)

But, though I took some extra time to make sure to move yarn around to where it needed to be, having that long length up and down for the yarn to adjust itself, and having the constant weight on the threads to keep them from wiggling? Totally did the trick. I was bracing myself for a much bigger mess, and this went on with little trouble after all. Wheee!

And so now the warp is all nicely in place on the loom, and the header is woven. After a couple of weeks of work, I'm ready to 'start' weaving. Here we go!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Recalculating! (Blue and green gradated handwoven ruanas)

I'm working on a new weaving again. I'd like to make another set of my woven ruanas, but instead of doing the hand dyed stripey warp, like this:


I'm going to gradate them from one color to another like I did for a good portion of my baby wraps, like this:



 I like that gradual color change, and I'd like to be able to wear it myself.



So, I did my calculations, and ordered 6 cones of 3/2 cotton from Webs. I figured that would give me about a half a pound over what I needed. And, I have colors of 10/2 here on hand that would go well as weft colors.

Then, I got to winding the chains on my warping mill. To do the blend from one color to another, I break up the warp into sections and play with fractions. For 20 threads, I do 3/4 the starting color, and 1/4 the next. Then, 20 threads that are 2/3 the original color, and 1/3 the new one. Then, 20 threads where the colors are equal in ration. The next 20 threads have 2/3 of the new color, and 1/3 the original. Then, the next 20 are 3/4 the new color, 1/8 the original, and 1/8 the next color further down the line. This kind of using fractions to fade from one to the next has worked quite well for me in the past.

Except.... Oops. I had calculated out how much yardage I needed total. But, I neglected to calculate out how much yardage I needed of each color. When I got to the last bit of fading out the second color in the line, I found that I was 5 threads short. I ran out. (Insert cussing here.)

I took some time and re-figured. I was going to have more than I needed of the first and last colors, but not enough of the middle colors. And, by the time I discovered this, I was already toward the end of the second warp chain. I figured I had two options. I could buy 4 more pounds of yarn, which would add about $100 dollars to the project. Ouch! Or, I could recalculate and make the project a bit narrower, to use a bit less yarn. Which is what I chose to do. I grabbed the calculator, pencil, and paper, and adjusted the numbers to be 18 threads per fraction section.

Of course, I discovered this when I was almost done measuring the second of 5 warp chains. Which meant my first batch was going to have too many threads. And some of them were in the wrong order for this new configuration. I kept going, and figured I'd straighten things out when I was at the sleying the reed stage of putting threads in their order on the loom.

Which is precisely what I did tonight. I juggled threads around to new positions, and pulled some out entirely. I've got the order right now, and it is looking pretty good. But...I am really afraid that I am going to have an awful tangle on my hands when it comes time to pull those threads through the reed while beaming the warp. I am going to have to go slowly and carefully indeed.

But I think I can do it. And, I have my correct calculations for when I do these ruanas again in the future.

Weaving is definitely an exercise in constant problem solving!




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Lion brand Homespun 'Thick and Quick' on the triloom follow up


I finished up the triloom shawl tonight, and I love love LOVE the way it turned out. I have finally found the PERFECT yarn for my triloom. Before, I was using yarn that was either too thin, and the weave ended up 'sleazy' (holy and unstable, kind of like cheesecloth), or too thick and the resulting shawl didn't drape well. But this is just right. I took it off the loom and tried it on, and it was like wrapping up in your favorite cuddle blanket. I had my husband try it on, and he said it was like wearing a hug. Soft, and thick, and warm, and I am sooo making more of these for the Etsy shop because I want everyone to have one!

Yes, I like it. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lion brand Homespun yarn on the triloom for shawls


I saw today that Joanns had the sock yarn I prefer on sale, so I popped over to stock up. While I was there, I found a new-to-me yarn that looked like it would be perfect for my triloom shawl making. This is Lion brand Homespun, but in a 'thick and quick' size that is bulkier than the stuff I've used before. So I grabbed a few skeins to try out.

It is working up beautifully!!! Thick enough to be a secure weave, and soooo soft and cuddly. I'll finish this up tomorrow and run it through the wash to see how it works after wet finishing. But I think I may have found the holy grail of triloom yarn finally!!