Monday, January 31, 2011

"Assembly Begins on My Oxaback Lilla Floor Loom"

After arriving home from Woolgatherers on Thursday with my new loom, I unloaded the boxes from the car and brought them into the house so they could begin "warming up". The unassembled loom had been in a storage locker, so I wanted the pieces to warm up prior to assembling them.

I opened the boxes that evening in preparation for beginning assembly on Friday morning.

I couldn't resist assembling the weaving only had a few pieces, so why not, eh?

The assembled weaving bench. It is VERY sturdy, which is good, considering my "size". ;)

Friday morning began assembly in earnest. The loom frame went together easily and quickly (quickly being relative for my speed of work).

A side view of the loom.

After the frame was assembled, it was time to attach the upper and lower lams. These wooden bars, after being connected to the shafts with texsolv cords (seen in tomorrows post), are what will move the shafts up and down when a treadle is pressed down.

The coupers, locked in place with a metal rod, are another part of the system which connected to the lams, bring the shafts into or out of action. The pulleys keep the texsolv cords organized and in place (again, seen in tomorrows post).

The treadles are installed underneath the loom. I was originally planning on only installing 4 of the 8 shafts, connecting them to 6 treadles, but I changed my mind on Saturday when constructing the shafts and decided to install all 8 of them instead, so I went back and added the last 2 treadles, too.

This is where Lilla's assembly was when I stopped work on Friday. Saturday's plan was to construct and hang the shafts.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Woolgatherers Ltd, Fond du Lac, WI"

I drove up to Fond du Lac, WI yesterday, to buy Lilla, my new Swedish Floor Loom. By the way, Lilla means "The Small One" in Swedish. Wouldn't you know it......the weather decided not to cooperate and it began snowing earlier in the morning so by the time I left, around 8 AM, the roads were covered and somewhat slick. That is to say, here in town they were snow covered and slick. It seemed to take me longer to get from our house on the near west side, through downtown, and the east side, than it did to finish the drive to Fond du Lac! Once I got on the other side of I39/90, it was smooth sailing for me.

Woolgatherers is located right on Main Street in downtown Fond du Lac, so it was easy to find, thanks to Goggle maps. ;) As you can see in the reflection on the windows, I was able to get a parking place directly in front of the shop, having the backend of the car right where a path was shoveled to the street, making it perfect for loading the 5 boxes which contained the unassembled loom.

The view from right inside the shop door. Physically, it isn't a large shop, but the variety of fiber materials/equipment offered is huge! Owners, Sara (an avid and VERY knowledgeable weaver) and Hans (engineer and woodworker), both run the shop.

This is a smaller Lilla Floor Loom [Lilla is offered in 24" (60cm), 32" (80 cm), and 40" (100 cm) weaving widths].

This is the Lilla 40" (100cm) which has been converted into a drawloom. For me, it was overwhelming to see all of the cords and weights.....I couldn't imagine weaving on one. Truly amazing!

This loom, a 16 shaft (!!!!) Toika Floor Loom, is computer driven (small box located on the top and controlled by the black step on the floor). Another amazing innovation that is so beyond my comprehension.

A view towards the front of the shop.

I was at the shop for easily 2 hours receiving instruction on how to assemble Lilla. How much I've retained remains to be seen, eh? "Thankfully", Sara and Hans have translated the written Swedish instructions for assembly into English, and also include a CD with step by step photos of how to assemble Lilla. As some of you know, I am a visual learner, so this CD is a good thing. :) Don actually printed out the entire CD for me last night, so I will punch hole the pages for a binder and have the "Loom Assembly Bible" with me as I begin to assemble Lilla today. Wish me luck!!! ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"My Harrisville Floor Loom Goes Into Storage......"

Yesterday, I folded up my 36" Harrisville Floor Loom so that it could be put into storage. Does this mean I am through with weaving? means I am getting a NEW LOOM! YEA!!!!! :)

I am not going to try and sell my least not at this time. I hope that someday I will have a large enough space that it, too, can be set up and be a part of my studio (maybe to teach my granddaughter, Abigail, to weave?). It is a little small for me, but I've "made do" and have woven many pieces that I have been happy with, so I'm just not ready to part with it.

Here is a photo of the "fiber" room, minus the weaving bench. I'd already taken it downstairs before realizing I hadn't taken a photo of the room "before" the new loom. Yep, I was too lazy to go back down and bring it back for the photo.

When I'd brought the Harrisville home, it had been folded up, but only partway. I wanted it to be as small as it could be since it was going to take up storage space and there is little enough of that as it is. Also shown in the photo is the wooden platform that I built for under the loom, so that it would raise it up enough to allow my legs more comfort. The beater and harnesses had already been taken downstairs, too.

A better view showing the slimness of the folded loom.

The fiber room awaiting my new floor loom.

Pictured below, my new loom will be a 40" weaving width (100 cm), Oxaback Lilla, a Swedish 8 shaft (harness) vertical countermarche floor loom. It has a slightly larger footprint than my Harrisville, about 4 1/2 " wider and 12" deeper, but will probably seem much larger in the space due to its height. A countermarche loom is a totally new experience for me (not that I have a lot of weaving experience to begin with) and I am very excited to have a loom that will challenge me to go beyond what I know. This "old dog" is about to learn some new tricks. ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Bioneers Conference"

Last Friday/Saturday, Don and I, along with friend Barb, attended the 2nd annual Wisconsin Bioneers Conference.

For those of you not familiar with Bioneers, rather than my trying to explain, I will instead, copy/paste the "About Bioneers 2011" from their website:

"The Badger Bionners event is so much more than a conference. It is a two-day event, filled with ideas and inspiration, and with speakers and friends. It is a time to learn about leading ideas and innovators, and a ripe opportunity to generate projects for schools, businesses and cities. Although the event occurs over 48 hours in January, it is hardly fair to call it a “two day event,” as we follow up with workshops and participants are inspired to modify their lifestyles, business models and school’s curriculum.

Badger Bioneers is inspired by a national event which has been held for the past twenty years in California. A hybrid between “biology” and “pioneers,” the original idea was to examine how individuals and institutions could foster more resilience by adopting successful models from the natural world. Each year, the Bioneers event brings together dozens of innovative and inspirational thinkers to talk about what it means for cities, businesses and individuals to live and work sustainably; and, over the years, Bioneers has become a critical touchstone in the national dialogue about sustainability. Sustain Dane was pleased to bring an associated event to Wisconsin for the first time last November. We are excited this year to expand the scope and impact of the event."

Don and I Friday morning, patiently waiting for things to begin. Time set aside for arrival, registration, and "breakfast" allowed us to peruse the agenda to decide which "break out sessions" we wanted to attend.

Don took another photo during that time to prove Barb actually was with us. :)

"Raging Grannies", one of the "entertainment breaks" between live or recorded speakers. They sang "activist" songs (I think that is how I would describe them) that had been written to old, familiar tunes.

All of us enjoyed the conference overall. It is a great way for local people and organizations to connect, plus strengthen ones faith, hope, and resolve to help positive environmental changes take place.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"What I'm Working On....."

About a week and a half ago, I told Don our iMac made a strange noise when I woke it up one morning. The next morning, I made sure Don was there to "listen" when it was time to wake up the computer. All he said was "uh oh.....the hard drive is about to die".

Thankfully, he ordered a new computer that same day, because our computer began struggling more and more to "wake up". So much so, that we finally stopped putting it to sleep at all. This past weekend, Don completed the shift from the old computer, to our new 27" iMac. After moving the old one to his office, he tried to restart it. The first try....nothing. It took 2 tries before it turned on. Yesterday, he tried once again, numerous times, and nothing. He did order some parts and is going to see if he can fix it. If so, he will then be able to use it for his piano computer.

Here are a couple of photos of our new computer.

It is taking a little to get used to........but I'm coping. ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Fiber and Light....."

I wasn't aware of these photos until I looked in the photo folder that Don had added to the computer. I was expecting to see only photos from our 2 day Bioneers conference (soon to be posted), but found these among them.

Don had liked how the morning sunlight coming through our front windows created the sharp contrast between dark shadows, colors of fiber, and the fiber equipment. He couldn't resist taking these photos.

Since these photos were taken, I have knitted socks from 2 of the cones, and have them boxed/packed and ready to ship to their recipients. Not only that, but I have dyed more skeins of yarn, wound it on cones, and am ready to knit more.........I LOVE being retired!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Special Weaving Information Post"

I once again registered to attend a weaving workshop, with well known rug weaver, Jason Collingwood, as instructor. The workshop will take place this coming May at Vavning Studio, in Shopiere, WI. I thought I would pass along this information, in hopes that some of you "might" be interested in attending, too.

I went back in my blog's archives to find photos of the workshop that I attended in 2008 (that seems so long ago!). Here are 2.......

Juanita Hofstrom's Vavning Studio. The studio is in the lowest level of the old church. Upstairs, the pews are still intact and are used for lecture seating. Behind that are former offices that now hold Juanita's abundant yarn stash. :)

Class photo........

Friday, January 21, 2011

"A Quickie....."

No photos today. Unfortunately, I had planned on posting some about yesterday's dyeing demo with a couple of friends, but I totally forgot to take any.

Renice, Pat, and Barb came over so that I could show them how I dyed sock yarn using the dye technique I posted about earlier this week. I had dyed a ball of yarn on Wednesday night, so that I could have it ready for one of the later steps in the process, then dyed a ball yesterday morning, so that would be done for the re-skeining process, plus I had one ball ready to be dyed when they got here. I had Renice choose 3 colors for us to work with and we went on from there.

I will post photos of the finished skeins when I take them.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Plant Phase........."

This week must have been my phase for taking photos of some of our plants. I'm sure there will be more later, too, since I just brought up a couple of pots of amaryllis bulbs that have been hibernating down in the garage. Hopefully, they will be sending up growth shoots, preferably flower stalks, soon.

Yesterday, edible fruit, today, food for the spirit. What is more wonderful than having a plant begin flowering in the middle of winter?

This plant was a tiny cutting that we'd received from Don's cousin Kim, when we'd gone to his family reunion (on his mothers side of the family) back in July 2008. Seriously, it was nothing more than a few sections of "leaves" that had been rooted in a little paper cup. It stayed in that cup for a few months growing and setting good roots, until I transplanted it into this small plastic pot (seen here in the photo). Kim had taken numerous "cuttings" earlier that summer so she could offer them to everyone at the reunion. The cuttings were from a Christmas Cactus that belonged to their grandmother, Grandma Anderson.

This is how the Christmas Cactus looked at the end of October, 2008.

When it was big enough, I was transplanted it into the ceramic pot. This photo was taken in February, 2010 because it was our FIRST blossom.

I took this photo yesterday of it once again beginning to bloom. Truthfully, I am surprised that we get it to bloom at all. According to what instructions I have read, we're supposed to make sure the plant does not get more light than natural daylight, so it either is supposed to be placed in a room not used at night, or a "box" is supposed to be placed over it as the sun goes down. THAT is going to happen. ;)

The wonders of plants.......they work for us! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"How Does Our Garden Grow? Our Aero Garden, that is....."

Our Aero Garden is growing very well, thank you. Once I decided to push/pull the growing cherry tomato plant stems to the sides and back, they grew better. Any leaves that get too close to the grow bulb will burn, so I figured if I'd left them "as is", they'd burn and that would be the end of it. The other possibility was the plants would get too little light when pushed off from directly underneath the bulb. My solution seems to have worked and they're thriving, so evidently the strong light available from the bulb works fine with the supplementary weak, natural winter light that they get.

A close up of the "Red Heirloom" cherry tomatoes.......

And one of the "Golden Harvest" tomatoes.

More Red Heirloom tomatoes developing slightly "outside" the stronger influence of the grow bulb.

I'd hoped since the main plant was spreading out and getting more leaf surface exposed to the grow light, any stems which reached outside the main growth area would still produce. Thankfully, that seems to be a reality.

Especially in this case. These Golden Harvest tomatoes are the furthest away from the grow bulb and also the furthest from the window with its supplemental natural daylight, but seem to be developing nicely.

Truthfully, our Aero Garden isn't a big producer of fresh vegetables, but it has brought so much enjoyment to us......a daily "bright spot" of growth. ;)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"From Yesterday......"

As promised, here is the post which shows the pair of finished socks using the technique of "dyeing a double stranded wound ball", instead of a loose skein.

Although, my intention of knitting them while at the CSM gathering fell through due to the weather. I drove as far as the other side of Verona, not sure that I should continue as the roads were snow covered, the wind blowing and creating drifts, when the decision was sort of made for me. The big SUV that was in front of me went into the ditch, but continued its forward motion, and came back onto the highway again.......that was enough for me and I took the next exit, turned around, and drove home. ;) So this pair of socks was knit in the comfort and safety of home.

I posted this photo of the dyed yarn yesterday, but thought it would be best to have it again to remind you of the colors.

The colors show a bit bled out due to the lighting, but I wanted to show you the inside of the mock rib. It is stretched out due to the weights hanging on it. The weight creates tension on the yarn so it can be knit, keeping it on needles, rather than popping off.

A side view showing the knit leg of the sock and the hung hem, which seems to flare out at the end. When it is taken off of the machine, the hem will lie flat.

The finished pair of socks. I believe the blending of color intensity was more subtle in my 2nd attempt using this dye technique, creating a smoother blend and less dynamic patterning than the 1st pair of socks using the dyeing technique, which I posted once again below for comparison.

Obviously that even while using the same dye technique, it allows some variation in how the pattern of color will work. I like the results seen so far from using this dye technique and will explore its possibilities further. :)

Comments or suggestions?

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Dyeing Another Ball of Yarn.....

I dyed another skein of yarn using the new technique of a double stranded ball. This photo shows the difference between the outside dye intensity compared to the inner ball.

After re-winding the lighter cone to have the darker dyed yarn to begin the sock, both cones are now ready for knitting on the CSM.

I am going to a CSM gathering at a friends house outside of Mineral Point, WI, today. I will be using these cones for knitting a pair of socks and will post them tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Dyeing Yarn in Ball Form....."

My thanks to Shirley, from whom I buy my undyed sock yarn, who told me about this dyeing method. This is my first attempt using this method.......and I like the results. I hope you find this post interesting and informative. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions. I had more "fussing" with the yarn using this method, but I so like the results, I feel it is worth the extra effort.

The sock yarn that I buy comes in skein form, so I had to wind it from my yarn swift onto my Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder. Coming from the skein, I could only wind it "single strand", so after it was done that way, I had to re-wind it again, pulling the single strand from both the outside AND the inside, so I ended up with a double strand ball of yarn. I needed a double strand so that when it was dyed, the 2 strands dyed similarly, which would give me socks that looked similar. If I'd dyed the ball as a single strand ball, the 2 socks would have been VERY different, as you will see in a later photo.

The ball is then laid on its side in the dye pot. The dye bath water level was brought up to the center of the ball. I started out with the darkest dye bath, Black, but I think next time I use this method (probably today), I will begin by using the lightest of my chosen dyes.

The dye bath was heated and allowed to simmer until the dye was "exhausted" or taken up into the yarn and the water returned to clear.

Next dye bath used was Brown. The yarn ball was turned to allow the brown to dye another section of the undyed yarn.

After following the same process as the black, and the water was clear after the brown dye, I added Sky Blue dye and turned the ball for the last time, covering the rest of the undyed yarn.

Here is the dyed ball draining in the sink. I did let it drain until it was cool enough to handle without burning my fingers, then "lightly" squeezed it to get some of the excess water out. I wanted it dry enough to be able to wind it back up into skein form so that it would dry easier and quicker.

My skein winder ready wind the ball back into skein form. The ball still held a fair amount of water, thus the towel and it sitting in a bowl.

The dried skein. As you can see, there is a wide range in dye intensity. What happens is the yarn closer to the outside of the ball soaks up more of the dye than the inner ball, creating a blend from dark to light. The "blend" will be easier to see in the following photos.

Once again, the skein had to be wound into ball form. It was still double strand and had to be divided into 2 balls of single strand, prior to being wound onto a cone for knitting on the CSM (circular sock machine). The following photo shows how light the colors were from the center of the dyed ball.

My set up for unwinding 1 ball and turning it into 2 balls of similar size.

I had to sit and pull a length of yarn from the lower ball, separating the 2 yarn strands, then wind those singles into ball form. It was a slow process but surprisingly, it worked quite well. As the yarn was pulled from the lower ball, it twisted and could have been a problem, but patience was the key to my success. The twists relaxed as they were pulled higher away from the ball, and any yarn that twisted back onto itself, only needed a slight pull to undo and separate. As I said, it was a long process, but an uncomplicated one.........done slowly. Hopefully, history will repeat itself when I next do it. ;)

The 2 single strand balls, still connected. I left them connected as I planned on weighing them to get a total weight, then singly, so that I could unwind some yarn from one to the other, if needed, to even them out.

Total weight was 94 grams.......

When weighing each ball, they each came to 48 grams. They had separated evenly so I did not need to do any adding or subtracting of yarn. Yes, I know that 94 divided by 2 is 47, but neither ball showed any variation when weighed. I'm sure a better scale would have been more accurate, but this is what I have.........

After cutting the yarn, I then used my Silver Needles Cone Winder to transfer the yarn from ball form onto a cone. I wound 1 cone, beginning with the outside yarn of the original dyed ball, and the 2nd cone, beginning with the inside yarn from the original dyed ball. As I mentioned earlier, there is quite a difference in how much dye got to the center versus the outside of the ball.

I decided that I wanted to have the darker yarn as the top of my socks, so re-wound the lighter cone.

The finished pair of socks shows the blending from the outside darker yarn to the less dyed center. As I said earlier, I am pleased with the results and look forward to trying this method again. Hopefully, I will be as successful with the process as I was this first time, and not have to say it was all "beginners luck".

If you can think of any way that will make some of this process easier, please suggest it. :)