Friday, September 30, 2011


I didn't get too far with my weaving yesterday, although far enough to find out a few things......

1) Using Jazz Strings for my waste yarn area worked well because it is nice and thick....and weaving a large section of it, easily allows enough for a long fringe. Fringe will be another learning experience, too. I bought a little gadget that "twists" groupings of warp ends together and evenly, prior to tying them off. That will be the subject of a future post.......I can assure you of that. ;)

2) I also learned that I did not need, nor want, to beat the weft too hard. You can easily see the difference in the lower photo of when I began using less pressure on the allowed the colors of the warp to show through....barely, and believe me, I wasn't use much pressure on the weft before!

3) I also understand that I will need to find some nice patterns (right now, I am only using "Plain/Tabby" weave) to use if I want solid warp and weft colors to stand out. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, this is an experiment. :)

4) And lastly, I now know, from personal experience, that I can weave with chenille yarn for both weft AND warp.

Even though there won't be "crisp" color variations on this scarf, I do think it will be nice when completed. I will see what happens to this "subtleness" of color, too, after the scarf is "wet finished", which means after it is washed and dried. Wet finishing allows the yarn fiber to "full" (the yarn strands plump up), so the color variations may disappear or stand out a little more, but it also brings out the true softness of the yarn as well.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"New Weaving Project......"

I drove out to Susan's Fiber Shop yesterday to buy some more rug warp. While there, I asked her if it was possible to weave a scarf, having in mind some rayon chenille that I already have in my stash. The answer was yes, and she showed me a sample of one that she had my new weaving project is going to be a scarf.

This is the same yarn I used when I wove some towels that we use for "hot tubbing". Those towels are EXTREMELY soft and luxurious so having a scarf woven from that same material, but doubled (warp AND weft, towels were weft only, cotton warp), it should be spectacular!

I forgot to take photos of measuring out the warp, but finally remembered when I had already thread the warp through the heddles and reed. Susan suggested 12 epi (ends per inch), so I have 96 warp threads for an 8" scarf, plus 4 extras to double the last 2 threads on each side for added strength.

The warp is tied and ready for weaving......

A close up of the warp. "Double click" for an even closer look........

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"From Facebook......"

I belong to "Mackinac Island Insider Tips" on Facebook. The reason.....I worked on "The Island" the Summer after graduating from college....1972. I was a bartender in the Pink Pony at the Chippewa Hotel. It was a fantastic Summer and I had a wonderful time, working from the end of April, to the end of October, as I did not get a teaching job that Fall.

That being said, the hotel employed quite a few people whose average age was 18 to mid 20's, with a few older, experienced persons who knew the jobs and trained the rest of us. Our living accommodations were in "White Cloud", the huge white house on the right, pictured in this photo (located below East Bluff) which was recently posted on Facebook. I commented on the photo as being where I lived while working/living on The Island. Because of that comment, I was contacted by Judy, or Little Judy, as she was then called. My roommates name was Mike also, he, Little Mike, and I was Big Mike, so you can see the pattern, although the other Judy was just called Judy. ;)

In one of our "catching up" Facebook emails, Little Judy mentioned that she still had the ceramic house I had made for her. I hadn't a I asked her to send me a photo of it if she would/could. Here it I remember making this rough little clay house? No, but I do know that it was one of the projects I used when I began teaching art at Niles High School, in Niles, MI. After all those years, who'd have thought she would still have it? My thanks to Little Judy.....

And to think I was hesitant about doing much with/on Facebook. It can bring about some pretty special reunions......

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"My Jazz Strings Runner/rug....."

I wove and I wove, until I felt I should weave no more.....the sheds that the shafts created when the treadles were stepped on were getting narrower and narrower. I stopped when the lease sticks were almost touching the back shaft.

The resulting Jazz Strings runner/rug ended up being a nice long 9' x 32" and truly feels like Berber carpet. I was also surprised to see that there didn't seem to be any take up in the width of the rug. I planned for a 32" and that is what it measured when off the loom and out of tension. Unfortunately, I didn't measure the length as I wove, so I don't know how much length was lost due to tension, but I will keep track of that next time.

This will be a nice addition to my camper, which sits on my sons land as a "guest house".

Monday, September 26, 2011

Remember Those "Jazz Strings"?

I measured out my warp, wound it onto the warp beam, and began threading the loom. This is the first time I have used another color (even thought black and white aren't colors) of warp on this loom. In fact, I "think" I have only used a colored warp 1 other time....and that was on a rented table loom. After not having woven in many years, I took a "refresher course" from Susan, of Susan's Fiber Shop in Columbus, WI. Anyway, all that explanation to say I am using black warp for the 1st time. :)

Half the warp threaded........

Warp threaded through the heddles and reed, tied on, scrap yarn woven to even out the warp, rug header woven, and a few inches of jazz strings woven, too. I started out using the 4 smaller balls of Jazz String, figuring out how I was going to attach the loose ends together. I finally decided to sew them together with needle and thread each time I came to the end and wanted to begin a new shuttle full of weft.

I immediately liked working with the Jazz Strings, even though one has to be quite careful to not pull them too tightly, I thought they looked fantastic woven.....they remind me of Berber Carpet.

Here is a close up of the woven material......

I finished the rug yesterday and will "hopefully" post a photo of the "hemmed" runner on tomorrow's blog entry......

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Recent Abigail Photo's....."

I saw these posted on Facebook by Julie, my daughter in law. Patrick, my oldest son, emailed them to me soon afterwards.

There is something that draws Abigail to shoes/boots of adult sizes. :) Here she is wearing Patrick's work boots.

The last time I saw Abigail on a horse was last December.....14 months old and riding on her Mom's lap. She's come a long way since then!!! Now, 2 years old next month, she is riding in the indoor arena.

And in the great outdoors. It seems our Granddaughter has no fear! :)

I'm looking forward to seeing her ride in person. She sure makes this Grandpa proud! ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"11#'s of Jazz Strings......"

Not having any idea as to what "Jazz Strings" looked like, except for the small photo on Great Northern's web site, I decided it was time to try another recycled material to weave some rugs. "Loopers", which I have woven and posted about recently, are a waste product of the sock industry. "Jazz Strings" are from tee shirt manufacturers.

Little did I know what a "challenge" it would be to untangle the contents of my 11# bag of Jazz Strings. After searching but not being able to find any ends, I just started pulling on one of the strips of material. That did work and I finally was able to come to an end, where I began winding it into a ball.

A closer look of the Jazz Strings. They are available in solids and stripes......I asked for something with blue.....this is what they sent. With such a repetitive pattern in the material, I am anxious to start weaving it up so that I can see what it will look like as a finished piece. The material is also VERY soft, so that, too, should make for a nice "feel" for a rug.

Here is what 11#'s of Jazz Strings look like after being wound into balls. Amazingly, so few pieces! I must say though, untangling the material was not the only challenge......the other was winding these huge balls! They are easily the size of basketballs, but are closer to a medicine ball in weight. It stretched as it was wound, so these are SOLID balls. ;)

I took this photo to give some perspective on their size compared to the dining (my work) table.

I asked for some tips on weaving with this material on Rugtalk, one of my online fiber groups that I subscribe to on Yahoo. I was fortunate enough to receive some very nice responses, and I am very grateful to those who sent them. Hopefully, I will get warp measured out today so I can begin setting up the loom once again to begin weaving a rug of "Jazz Strings". :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Claire's Einstein Coat....."

When attending one of our monthly Circular Sock Machine gatherings, a woman showed up wearing a long, knitted coat, which I found very interesting. I asked her about it and she told me her daughter had knitted it for her and that it was called an "Einstein Coat". When I arrived home after the crank in, I searched online for it, finding several postings about it on Ravelry, an site which deals with fiber arts....and probably other things as well, but I know it for fiber projects. After finding the information I needed, I ordered my materials, and got to work when they arrived, knitting it for Claire's birthday gift (I gave it to her a bit belated, but as she said, August was too hot for her to wear it anyway). :)

Here I am sewing together the seams across the shoulders. The only hand sewing that was needed to complete this coat, was a short distance from the top of each sleeve, across to where the collar would be attached....that's it! I did change the pattern here and knit the sleeves in the round (knit 1 row, purl 1 row), as the pattern gives directions for it being knit like the rest of the coat. If you're like me, and hate to sew finished knitted pieces together, then knitting the sleeves in the round will take much of the finish sewing out of the mix, leaving those 2 small sections only. ;)

I admit, for me, this coat was one of the easiest patterns I have ever followed. The main piece, which means the one that takes the most time to knit, is the bottom of the coat. From that piece, every other section of the coat is added by picking up stitches from along its edge, and knitting. The reason it is so easy, is that the beginning stitch of each row knitted, is slipped, which leaves a stitch on the end which is easily seen and picked up when ready to add another section to the coat. I would certainly recommend this pattern to anyone.....even a beginning knitter! In reality, the only stitch that one needs to know how to knit is a "knit stitch", unless you choose to knit the sleeves "in the round", as I did, then you need to know how to purl. Below is Claire's coat after I finished sewing on the buttons.

And here it is with her wearing it while tailgating at a Redskins game last weekend. She was pleased to point out, too, that the color of her coat matches the Redskins jerseys. :) Once again....Happy Birthday Claire!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Henry's 5!!!!"

How can this be????? I could swear he was just born! Good thing we have photos of him as a one would believe that he is the same child as this little guy unless they saw photos, right? Especially since he has started pre-school this fall, too......where does the time go?

Sure enough, last Friday was 5 years since Henry's birth. Thank you Maniphone, for sending photos! Here he is with his 1st present of the day at breakfast and before school.

Mom Maniphone and Brother Simon look on and read along with him......such energy in the morning, eh? ;)

After school, he was treated to his birthday lunch at the bread store........

And what do you know? A couple more birthday presents!!!! What a celebrated day this is turning out to be, eh?

Here Henry is with Simon and his cousin Sophie eating his birthday dinner. Looks like younger cousin Sammy had been sitting there, too, but was off and running. :)

Can Henry show any more happiness at what he received for his birthday presents? I believe it was a "Playmobil-mania" night. :)

Birthday song prior to blowing out the candles and his wish. Aunt Jody holding cousin Sammy, Grandma, Dad Jonathan, cousin Sophie (with her back to the camera), and "The Birthday Boy"!

A close up of Henry's birthday cake, decorated with Playmobil people. It was a special cake, too.....Red Velvet Cake, at his request. :)

It was definitely a "thumbs up" birthday! His shirt says it all....."Life is good". ;)

Jonathan and Simon helping put together Henry's new Playmobil Castle.

Playing with his presents until bedtime........What a day it has been. Happy Birthday once again to Henry!

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Maniphone's 2nd Looper Rug....."

After I received Maniphone's "true" measurements for a rug, I set about warping the loom to weave her another. I also included more warp so that I could weave a couple more rugs afterwards.

Taking blogger "Karen of the Woods" suggestions, I dyed 4 batches of loopers on our stove top, using Rit dye once again, and am happy with the results. The photo below shows the colors, which I threw together and mixed up, so that when I chained them, they would come into the chain randomly.

The finished rug. I sewed each hem underneath the last row of loopers, but after breaking a needle and having numerous problems (that I did experience on the 1st rug I sent her, too), I have decided not to hem the ends that way again, so from now on, a slight amount of warp will show on each finished end.

Maniphone sent me these photos of the rug in its new home.......

Tomorrow I will post about a new "recycled" material, called Jazz Strings.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"New Warp......"

I measured out and put on a new warp this past weekend......16' of it , in fact. Christmas is coming and I want to be prepared. ;)

Here it is being wound onto the back beam of my Oxaback Lilla Floor Loom. One thing I did to make the job easier, was to measure the distance between the warp beam Texsolv ropes (which is 8" by the way), so I now measure out warp per 8" groupings, or in groups that equal 8", and have marked on the warp rod those same measurements, so I know exactly where the Texsolv ropes should be, and how much each set of chained warp will cover. Such a simple solution! Why didn't I think of it earlier? Not enough consistent practice/ experience warping, I'm sure. ;)

I use my Harrisville Tensioning Device with winding the warp on, too, and am able to keep a nice even tension. I hadn't finished winding the warp on but needed to put things away for awhile so I hung my beater back into place, just to get it off the floor until I could get back to continue work, and "by chance" saw that the beater added a little more tension to the warp, which would be even better for winding it onto the back beam! This extra tension helped smooth the warp out more evenly. I will certainly continue using this "little extra" from now on!

All threaded, tied, and header to begin weaving "looper rugs"!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Sorting Looper Stash......"

While trying to organize some of my weaving materials, I figured it was time to really go through my looper stash and find out what colors I have. I had several bags "stashed" in a couple of places, but truly did not know how many colors, nor how much of each color, I, it was time to sort them out.

After including the few batches that I dyed recently, it seems I have 20 colors of loopers. I should guess they will provide me with a couple of nice multicolored rugs, don't you? ;)

Here is a close up which gives you some idea as to how rich some of the colors are. Due to the variety of thicknesses of the loopers, I think I will chain them as I had done previously, plus it will be easier to accomplish a color sequence, too, since I can chain them up prior to need.........

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Sheep and Wool Festival Purchases......"

Last Friday, I drove over to Jefferson, WI, to attend the annual Sheep and Wool Festival, which is held at the Jefferson County Fair grounds. I go every year, sometimes taking some sort of fiber class, or just going to check out the vendors to see what I "must" have. This year was a vendor year. I knew that Sara and Hans, of Woolgatherer's Weaving Shop, Fond du Lac, WI, would have a booth in one of the vendors buildings, and I wanted to stock up on some more colors of the 100% mercerized cotton that I have been using to weave towels from, so drove over early Friday, to make sure I would have "first dibs" on a good selection. The photo below shows my purchases. The colors are fantastic!

This is my full stock of "Lunatic Fringe" 10/2, 100% mercerized cotton. These will make some great combinations of colors for some kitchen towels.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"A Rug For Maniphone....."

Our former neighbor, Maniphone, who now lives in North Dakota, asked me to weave her a new rug for her kitchen. I was more than happy to do so, and asked for her color preferences and measurements.

Here are the loopers that I dyed in the washing machine using Rit dye....Green Apple. I used Rit dye because loopers are cotton or a cotton blend, while the dyes that I use for sock yarn are meant for animal fiber only.

The process was pretty easy, although I did have a couple of setbacks that made the process take a "bit" longer. It was a first for me....."experience is the teacher". I dyed 2 loads of the 1st load, the loopers were put into mesh laundry bags that I'd bought at the Dollar Store (I'd suggest buying a better quality than that), which worked OK, but a couple of the bags tore during the cycle, allowing loopers to escape and become tangled. Load #2 was done using no mesh bags, but just dumping in the loopers, which of course, tangled, too, but no worse than when I used the inadequate mesh bags. After drying both loads in the dryer, I had about the same amount of de-tangling to do from each load, but in all truthfulness, it wasn't too bad of a time de-tangling them. Patience is the with life, eh? ;)

The warp is set at 12 epi (ends per inch). Maniphone asked for a 3' x 5' rug, which means 432 warp threads, plus 8 extra so that I could double the threading in the last 4 heddles of each side, making it a stronger edge.

This photo shows the warp wound onto the back beam and ready for threading the heddles......

Half of the warp threaded.....only 220 more threads to go.......

I love my new loom! The front beam is removable so I can sit somewhat inside the loom for threading the heddles.......

This photo shows how the heddles of each shaft have been colored to make the threading easier. The texsolv heddles, are easily marked using a permanent marker.

After threading the heddles, each warp end has to be threaded through the reed, which will be placed in the hanging beater. The reed is what "beats the warp" into a nice and firm fabric.

The loom completely set up and ready for me to begin weaving.......

The loopers are chained together and wound onto a shuttle. For this rug, I used another method to chain these loopers together, suggested by "Karen In The Wood", a woman I met when taking my first Jason Collingwood weaving workshop. I follow her blog......

This photo shows the end of one chain and the loopers ready to add to it......

Here is the finished looper rug prior to hemming the ends. I also ended the rug differently this time, too. Instead of just turning the hem, sewing it, and leaving it to show, I turned it, hemmed it, then totally laid it underneath the last row of loopers and attached it by sewing through the loopers, leaving a completely hidden edge ( complete as I could get it, that is). I think it made for a nicer looking rug.

I do need to add this little antidote though......Maniphone gave me the measurement of what she wanted "without" measuring the rug she wanted to replace. The "real" rug size she needed was 2' x 3', instead of 3' x 5'! LOL....Simon and Henry now have a cushy rug at their Lego play table, which makes me happy, too. Eventually Maniphone will get what she needs.......I promise......really, I do! ;)