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Visit us in the quaint hamlet of Myrtle Station, ON at: 9585 Baldwin St. N. (905)655-4858
(17.8km north of 401 exit 410. Look for the green house with the red roof a few doors north of the Myrtle Station railroad tracks)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

yarn over and over and over

I have been steadily working away at the free  Warmth Stole shawl pattern from Universal Yarns over the summer. 
Although Verdi is not currently active in the Drops line up, we still have many beautiful colours in stock. FYI it has 1225 meters or 1139 yards, enough to make 2 generously sized projects.
The stitch pattern itself is an organic type, it reminds me of branching leaves. I confess however, in all my years of knitting, this is the first time I have worked a pattern with yarnovers on both sides, knit and purl, every row. Plus the usual yarnover, preceded or followed by a decrease is not the way this pattern flows. Good exercise for the little grey cells!
Both Verdi and Revolutions are beautiful soft, mohair type yarns, so the pattern repeat (pre-blocking) nested within the softness, takes a bit of determined gazing to discern. I also added lovely bright green Clover stitch markers between the 10 stitch repeats. There was a small error in my downloaded copy of the pattern on Row 4. The last k2 of the repeat part of the text should be eliminated. I did let the knit guild and company know and hope it has been fixed.
Keeping track of the pattern rows has been challenging, mixed with summer time. I vowed to knit one full repeat per (week)day in order to complete the project. It helped the required discipline to listen to a thrilling podcast series called "You Must Remember This" about old (my) Hollywood history.
However, as the poet Burns says "the best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft agley", so as life happens, I get called away during the repeat, somehow the magnetic line keeper shifts, and it takes time to get back on track.
The fluffiness of the yarn, mixed with the yarnovers, needs increased focus.
I am so pleased that I have finally found a better and simple way to figure it out.
Start a row, then work the first repeat after the border, then, a distinctive part of on of the next repeats, for example in row 9
Row 9: K2, *k3, yo, k4, ssk, k1; rep from * to last 2 sts, k2.
In this case I stopped at the second repeat after the *k3, yo, k4, and since every row of this pattern is unique, I can more easily tell where to pick up after I left off.
For your info, maybe you have already guessed, we are fans of Clover tools and accessories and keep them in stock.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 6

Part 6 already, time to weave!
Pick a colour from the curated yarn card. There are 4 yards each of 5 colours per card to choose. I encourage you to make such a card with your own stuff, it is a traditional and helpful way to preview colour choice.
Mixed colour, texture and thickness. Choose one you find especially appealing. The horizontal yarn or weft is to be threaded/woven over and under the warp threads with the aid of a weaving needle, or simply your fingers.
Cut a length of the chosen yarn 3 or 4 times the width of the warp, say 20 inches.
Put one end of the yarn through the eye of the weaving needle.
Row 1: Poke the weaving needle (and weft) over one warp thread and under the next, repeat across the warp. This action is called a throw, in weaving. In knitting it would be called a row.
For example; under a light thread, over a dark thread.
Arc the weft yarn as you cross to allow for take up in the fabric 
Push (beat)the line of yarn into place with a table fork.
Pull the weft through the warp to the opposite side, leaving a 2 inch tail.
Row 2: Poke the weaving needle  (and weft) under one warp thread and over the next, that is; the alternate warp threads, repeat across the warp.
For example; over a light thread and under a dark one.
Push (beat)the 2nd line of yarn into place with a table fork,

You can tuck the end tail into this row now or leave it or tuck the ends away after the work is complete. Really though, at this point, don't worry about it, rather focus on the colour and keeping the side (selvage) edges from pulling in.

Repeat row 1 and 2, as much as you like, 
or until the 20 inch length of yarn is used up.
Choose a new length of yarn, repeat the above steps, 
adding more weft lines of colour.
A shed stick can be used to create a larger space for the weft yarn to pass through. Weave such a stick through the warp, just as you did with the needle, then turn it on edge to create a wider opening for the weft.
Navajo weavers use a combination shed stick for and string heddles to help in making the space for the weft to cross through the warp.
and a sturdy wooden comb for beating the weft into place.
Technical Notes:
The warp is between 24 and 30 ends (12 and 15 ends per colour), approximately 8 ends per inch 9 (epi). The active middle part of the warp on the 9 inch card is about 6 inches long , allowing an inch and a half, top and bottom for fringe, and not counting the 9 inch lengths of warp on the back of the card. This also means you can put another warp on the loom using about 7 to 9 yards of warp yarn. I highly recommend a medium weight cotton.

The completed work, off the loom will be about 6 inches in length, about 4 inches wide. Coaster size or keep the work on the loom as an art display.

Lots about finishing in part 7.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 5

Time to make the warp for (and on) the loom!
My first weaving teacher, Mrs Bannister of South Landing Craft Centre at that time located in an old hotel on the banks of the Niagara river in Queenston, Ontario, started us young ones out just weaving. Weaving in pattern on a counter balance loom. We made runners for the dresser, I remember following a pattern she called sumac. Then a pattern creating a line of little people, in various dress, made with rug wool in a variation of rosepath. called boundweave. I was enchanted. My hope is that this taste of hand weaving imparts a little of that enchantment to you. My granddaughters sure enjoyed it.
Mrs. Bannister's iron rule for making a warp is:
  • make the warp 
  • all in the one day (or hour)
  • in the same mood 
  • by only one person 
I found through not following the rule once, she was absolutely right. Your hand holds the yarn at a different tension depending on your emotional state, happy or sad, and can cause a slight but troublesome difference in both the weaving 
and the finished product.
Using 2 colours of cotton yarn, light and dark, blue and purple for example, makes understanding the structure of simple weaving easier.
Tie the two colours together with a simple overhand knot and pull them into the top slot of the loom, lump on the back side of the card.
Put each ball of yarn in a box or bowl, allowing the yarn,
 as much as possible to flow freely. 
If you sew by machine you will know how important it is for the sewing thread to flow, the same principle applies here.
Holding the warp threads, keeping one colour to the left and one to the right, continue wrapping, as evenly spaced as possible, with a firm and friendly hand around the loom, until you have 12 to 15 vertical lines of yarn on the loom.
On the last wrap, with the right side of the loom facing, pull the yarn into the bottom slot. Clip the yarn about 2 inches long and tie close to the slit on the back side of the card with a square knot.
If the wraps look too unevenly spaced, skootch the warp threads along the top and bottom so they more to your liking, but no need to fuss too much. As you weave there will be a bit of shifting plus the fabric you are creating 
and the lease sticks will add stability to the warp.
The edges of the mat board are toothy enough to hold the warp in place without making snips in the card all along the top 
as we tried in the former version of the sample loom.
Using one of the 7 inch skewer sticks, weave over one thread and
 under the next all across the warp.
Using the other stick weave under one thread and over the next. 
Push the pair of sticks to the top of the loom. 

The lease sticks that help keep the warp in order. Feel free to slide them down to the last woven row (fell) if you want to check your weaving.

now we are ready to weave, on to part 6!



Friday, January 27, 2017

A taste of hand weaving part 4

Kim uses top quality, sturdy card in her framing practice, and she cut the looms to the 6 inch by 9 inch size using this awesome material. Most of her scrap is double layered. My understanding is that custom framing has a lot of art involved. The needlework that Kim specializes in framing, requires careful and very thoughtful matching with particular layers of colour and texture in order to enhance the needlework. Mats are layered using a special acid free double sided tape.
I used contact cement to double layer mine, and happily avoided the card distortion completely. The small size of the cards made joining the layers really a pleasure. The nature of contact cement usage can make the moment of attachment very exciting as you have one chance to get it right.
The risers were cut from foam and cardboard sandwiches into 1by 6 inch strips.
The borders or margins of the cards are marked in pencil, 3/4 of and inch on the long side, 1/2 inch on the top and bottom. 
Ordinary scissors or wire snips are no match for the mat board. Byron kindly notched the top and bottom (kitty corner) with a fine hack saw.
Due to the thickness of the cotton warp  I changed the sett to 6 epi, marking the inches on the back of the card for clarity when warping/threading.  Another coffee/weaving meeting with Kim and Meagan confirmed the design changes as a great improvement.
I clipped 2 bamboo skewers for each loom into 7 inch lengths and wove them alternately through the warp  to help keep order while weaving. 
On a floor loom these are called lease sticks. The sticks sit at the top of the loom, remaining in the warp during weaving.
Byron fashioned colourful "weaving needles". He drilled a stack of 6 at a time, discarding the top and bottom of the pile because the entry and exit of the drill bit caused them to be rough. I understand this is common practice when drilling a stack. The top and bottom sticks were pretty ragged after drilling so it makes perfect sense to protect the inner sticks.
White glue worked well to complete the looms. Both the mat board and the foam sandwiches are made of very high quality paper, and over such a small surface area resisted distortion. However it is important to bond the risers slowly, over about a 20 minute time period.
Specifically:

  • put  a ribbon of glue on the back of the riser
  • wait 10 minutes
  • place the strips on the mat board just covering the quarter inch mark
  • wait another 10 minutes 
  • clamp the risers in place. I used plastic ruler and binder clip to broaden the pressure
  • lay on a flat surface to dry for 24 hours
  • I was able to do 3 at a time. (because I have 6 rulers and 6 clips)
on to the next batch...
Loom complete and ready to weave. More detail on actually warping coming in part 5