Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My Backstrap

The 2nd assignment from Laverne Waddington beginning backstrap weaving tutorial is to weave my own backstrap. Previous post showed a folded towel doing the job.

I was nervous about working on a wide piece (4+inches) so I decided to weave a slightly wider (2.5 inches) tape first. This photo show the beginning of the tape.

This is nearing the end of the warp. I used a heddle stick and a shed stick tied with a shoelace for my two sheds.

A closeup of the weaving. The two sheds created a distinct alternating bump which evens out when the warp is off the loom and has relaxed around the weft yarns.

Finished tape with fringe. I think I'm going to sew a zippered pouch with a rectangular fabric base. Now I was ready to weave a wider piece.

These are the yarns I chose for my backstrap. Plymouth Yarn Fantasy Naturale. It's what Laverne recommends for the project. It's going to be plain weave but with color stripes.

Warp is wound for my backstrap piece.

I used a small square warping board as I have yet to purchase individual pegs for winding straight warps. It worked well enough.

I got ambitious and wound a few warps. Some are 6 and 9 thread ready for complimentary pick up. The turqouiose one is for a really narrow half inch tape. The middle bundle is for the backstrap. I love how easily you can store ready-to-weave warps wrapped around lease sticks (dowels and pencils).

Again I made a heddle stick for one shed and a floating dowel tied with a shoelace for the second shed. I used a plastic ruler with planets on it for a beater sword as I have yet to buy a bigger one in wood. It's on the list to purchase. The ruler was handy because it made measuring for consistent width easy.

I had been anchoring the end of the loom on my TV stand. But found it creeping across the carpet as I pulled and beat with super firm tension on this warp. I needed more tension on the warp for this width. So I moved to anchoring my loom under my dining table. It was very stable. I did have to use a longer tie for the warp bar so I did not have to crouch under the table.

I didn't really like how the yarn colors were mixing as I wove. Not sure if the colors weren't just right or if the large worsted weight yarn was too bulky.

But when I was finished weaving and I saw the whole piece as one I fell in love.  I especially liked how the variegated yarn made a faux Ikat wave of color in the center stripe. Totally accidental with how I wound the warp.

I braided the yarn as per Laverne's instructions. I twisted some natural colored cotton crochet yarn into a cord for the end loops. Because I had color changes in the warp I had a number of knots at one end to weave into the braids. The other end had easy loops to braid with no knots.

My finished backstrap. I have used it and it is fabulous!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The GG Robe

I made a robe for my son Ian a few years ago. That story is told in this blog post. He wore that robe all the time. It kept him warm and toasty for longer than a kid's robe is usually able to. Well, it was finally time to make a new robe.

I took Ian to the fabric shop. We walked down the cotton aisle and the flannel aisle. He picked out 3 cotton fabrics and 1 cotton flannel and said he couldn't decide which was his favorite. Then he asked me to guess which one he wanted. I said "all four?" He said "YES!"

This is what he picked out. Flannel pizza and smooth cotton for the rest.

I know! Crazy right?!? I asked him if he was sure he wanted all of them in the same robe. "Definitely!" He told me exactly where each piece of fabric was to go.

He didn't want a tie so he picked out 2 buttons from my stash. Both are vintage. He liked the metal button because it had military stuff on it and the leather button looked like wood.

Putting all these pieces together...this is the result...I especially like the attitude!

Front view. The hard alcohol print is for dad to enjoy. And the money print gave him buying power.

Back view. He especially liked the pixelated bomb in the print.

 Inside view. The flannel is warm, cozy and yummy.

He calls it his Gangster Gaming robe. AKA, The GG Robe. Everything you need to have a good time...food, drink, games and money. Everything an 11-year old desires.

Side note: I did knit his house socks too. I wrote about his dad's pair of socks in this post. Same yarn, same pattern. I made myself a pair, too. Then I got over my sock craze.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My New Obsession

My new obsession is backstrap weaving.

One of my guild mates weaves on a backstrap at most of our demonstrations and I lurk. I've been following Laverne Waddington's blog for about a year. I have an interest in all things weaving already. Backstrap weaving seems to be the next logical method to explore. It seems so basic and yet so full of variety and technique. It makes me feel connected to history in the same way spinning fiber does. Backstrap weaving is a visceral and tangible connection to humanity and civilization. Where would we be if early peoples had not figured out how to twist fiber into yarn and make clothing with it?!?

Anyway, with help from my best friend and fiber arts enabler, Kathleen, I wove my first tape in November. I'd watched Laverne's intro to weaving lessons online but it was really great to have someone show me in person.

My 3 color warp using 3/2 pearl cotton. I set it up using the complimentary method with 2 colors for pick up potential.

Wrapping my string heddles around my fingers.

Tying off my string heddle bundle.

With a couple of cardboard spacers in place I started weaving. Using my fingers the way Laverne describes on a narrow warp, I really had to work hard figuring out how to manage my body to get consistent tension. I am sitting in a chair here.

A close up of the tape.

I was so obsessed I finished the next day. The tape has no pick up pattern. I just loved how the two colors alternated so cleanly. I had to refer back to Laverne's blog to see how she finished tapes with fringe.

Close up of finished tape.

 I wound another warp almost immediately and finished it within the week.

 Close up of my second tape.

Here is the set up in front of my TV shelving. I attached a clamp on the edge. Folded a towel to use as a backstrap. I even used a bar to do the roll up of finished tape.

My son took this slightly blurry picture of me. I moved to sitting on the floor when I got home from Kathleen's. I found it more comfortable. I can sit in Dandasana (yoga pose) and work my legs! The floor is useful as a work surface too to hold my tools as I weave.

I love the simplicity of the loom being my body and an anchor point. I can hardly wait to start the next warp.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Stuff I Did While On Vacation

At first I thought I wasn't doing much crafting. No real focus. Then I catalogued what I did during the week of Thanksgiving. Turns out I was really productive.

1. Made a new bath robe for my son. Super funny combination of fabrics.

2. Crocheted a small coin purse inspired by something I saw on Pintrist.

3. With help from my friend, Kathleen, I dyed eight 4 oz. bundles of fiber in the crock pot.

4. She also helped me get started on my first backstrap weaving. I've been wanting to do something with a backstrap for a year now. I was so obsessed that I finished the tape the next day.

5. Dyed silk samples for a tie dye class I taught the next week.

6. I demoed how to spin a fun curly textured yarn from mohair locks with my Saturday Spinners.

All of these things will appear in more detailed posts in the coming weeks. Random photo: the big guy below is a resident at a spinner friend's home. He is just about as wide as the sidewalk.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Somethin' Pumpkin

At the SCWSG guild meeting last week, in about an hour, I took these bits of fluff....

And needle felted it into this cute pumpkin...

It's about the size of a large orange. Super fun program. Thanks Robal!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Studio 49 Retreat 2017 Challenge part 5 Finale

The final end to this Polwarth fiber challenge. Lots of pictures below...

Two scarf ends that needed sewing together to make a loop.

I wanted to have a flat seamless invisible join instead of an overlapped hem. I chose to cross opposite ends and loop back to the same side.

Detail of crossed warp end with needle weaving end into fabric.

 Almost done.

Ends all crossed and ready to pull each loop closed flush against the fabric.

The join turned out a little more wonky than I thought it would. It's not as invisible as intended. Instead of pulling two ends in opposite directions at the same time, I should have pulled one side flush then the other side separately. Ah well, lesson learned.

I wasn't confident the crossed ends would be secure, so very lightly, I needle felted the seam.

Then I got to the fun part...beading the fringe.

I chose three tubes of the larger glass beads, put 3 little beads on each strand and started twisting. A bigger glass bead finished off the ends.

After hand washing and air dry, WALLAH! A finished challenge project.

I had lots of little cut ends left over from the warp. I couldn't bear to throw them away. The solution: a pom pom for a keepsake. Which I finished with beads as well.

Finally, I leave today to show off these items at the Studio 49 Retreat.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Studio 49 Retreat 2017 Challenge part 4

I finally wound my hand spun Polwarth yarn onto my 10" Cricket loom and started weaving. Post for part 3 here.

Scarf in progress on the loom. The thick grey line is the BFL hand spun yarn for the weft fringe.

A close up before I took it off the loom. Nice pleasing Fibonacci color sequence eh?!?

Off the loom ready for finishing and beading. I used every bit of the white Polwarth hand spun I had (part 2 post here).

My selection of glass beads to play with.

It only took me a week to weave the scarf. Duh! Now I just need to make time to do all the finishing. Sew in the yarn tails, connect the ends in to a loop, twist and add beads to the weft fringe, and finally wet finish. Doesn't seem like much but I know it'll take me longer than I think.

Lastly, here is a picture from my sister of the yarn I spun for her (see this part 1 post) and the beads she plans to knit into her piece. I can hardly wait to see her finished cowl.

The retreat is next weekend. Gotta finish!