Friday, September 29, 2017

The First Wash

As I've read about the Fox Fibre yarns, they can change (either in minor or surprising ways) in an alkaline wash. Here's my experience with only one wash. I decided not to stitch the hems until the cloth was laundered, so that it would be more coherent cloth running through the sewing machine. I put a small amount of soap, and about a teaspoon of sodium carbonate (soda ash) in with the ten towels.

First, a closeup of the brown stripes down the middle of the towel:

The washed and pressed towel is at the top of the photo, and the unwashed, unironed sample at the bottom. As predicted, the brown yarns darkened a little, and the cloth shrank somewhat. It was 19 inches in the reed, and 16.5 inches after its first wash and press.

The more interesting effect of that first wash is in the green yarns:

They actually changed hue, going from a sort of khaki tan to a moss green, which I like much better.

I think that once the hems are sewn I will launder with soda ash once more, just to see what change will come with a second alkaline bath. Then they will be tagged for the Central Coast Handweavers annual guild sale, coming up the first weekend in November. If I have time, I'll photograph all the different variations. This one has natural cotton yarns in the weft; the ones with Fox Fibre green wefts have a distinctly different effect.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Tale of Ten Towels

Are we there yet?
Almost. Just 5 more inches. Plus a hem. Plus a short sample to compare colors before and after laundering...

NOW we're there!

The benefit of using only the first 16 shafts on a 24-shaft loom is that the apron knots can travel well past those last 8 shafts without affecting the shed.

The final count is ten towels. Each is slightly different, either in design or in weft yarn. Now to begin cutting, stitching, and laundering!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Back to the Towels

Now that the commision for my friend Becky is finished, I am back to weaving the tea towels that I was working on early in the summer. These are warped with Fox Fibre naturally colored 12/2 cotton, and woven with 16/2 natural cotton or 18/2 green Fox Fibre. The hems are woven in natural 24/2 cotton.

This is the current towel:

Since the pattern is nearly indecipherable in the photo, I'm including the draft, in which the twill reverses half-way through the 48 picks of the design.

The blue stripes in the warp are that color only in the draft, to make it easier for me to see the design where both warp and weft are the same color.

I'm not sure how many towels' worth of warp is still on the beam. Because I didn't keep track as I wove, and then took two holiday trips that managed to erase all memory, I can only guess. The current towel and possibly 2 more, but that's just a guess. Only the knots at the ends of the sectional bouts will tell the truth. Then the fun of seeing the colors intensify with an alkaline wash will follow the cutting-off ceremony.

My deadline is early November, when the items for the guild sale are due. More about the sale later!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Back to Real Life

Since we got home in late August, I've been working (aka, "struggling") with the commission for my weaving pal Becky. The jacquard loom really did not appreciate being neglected for so long (most of 18 months, due to surgery and post-op rehab), and showed its displeasure by making as many invisible errors as possible. I say "invisible" because when tension is on the warp, while one weaves, it is nearly impossible to see those little floats that occur when a hook either rises when it shouldn't or fails to rise when it should.

Also, the brocade process (even thouigh it was limited to the middle section of the design) was slow. However, I'm very glad to have learned the design procedure (Thank You again, Bhakti and Alice) so I'm not complaining too loudly! I divided the design into 3 sections, only the middle one of which had brocade picks accounted for in the draft. That meant that sections 1 and 3 were easy, and only section 2 was unusual.

Before I could hand the finished weaving over to Becky to gift to her daughter and son-in-law, much time was spent with needle and thread mending as many of the floats as possible. Becky and her husband leave early tomorrow to visit their daughter, so today was the last possible delivery date from my perspective. Anyway, the deed is now done, Becky loves the piece, and she assures me that the kids will, too.

Here's the finished (as in woven, wet-finished, pressed, and with edges bound) wall-hanging:

When I blogged about this piece last (was it really mid-August??), Janet asked in a comment why I would weave the piece face down, since I have a motor-assisted lifting system so the weight of the lifts shouldn't be an issue. There are two reasons: First, even with a lift assist, I don't want to wear out the motor that does the heavy work faster than necessary. Second, the change of direction of the brocade yarn is best hidden on the back of the cloth, and that is most easily done by weaving the cloth face down.

If you weave the brocade face up, the turning points (especially in a long twill like this) can be messy and I'd rather keep the mess on the back side. If you compare the face and reverse of the cloth, you can see what I mean. On the face, the edges are clean; on the reverse, the long floats are evident and would be kinda icky on the face...

Here's the face, followed by the reverse:

Both of these shots were taken of an un-wet-finished sample, which may make some difference, but not much. The structures I used, by the way, were the ones in the example in The Woven Pixel. The ground cloth is 1/7 and 7/1 satin, white weft on black warp, and the brocade is a 2/30 red wool in 1/7 twill. Well, it was woven as 1/7 twill, but on the face that became 7/1 twill.

In wildfire news, the fires in our area of Montana are now thankfully contained on the west, the side toward civilization. On the part inside The Bob (the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area), the blaze is monitored but not fought. Because of the direction of prevailing winds, our cabin was never really in danger. Monitoring will ensure that none of the hot spots gravitate toward the inhabited areas to the south, beyond the southern boundaries of the wilderness.

Once the rain and snow start in Montana (usually around Labor Day, the first week of September), it isn't long until no wildfire could possibly continue causing damage; we hope that's true of this year!

P.S. The Rice Ridge fire is now at 160,000 acres. We hope that count won't increase too much!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Last Day at the Cabin

We left for home on Friday, Aug. 31. At 8:30 AM, we could hardly see across the lake for all the smoke. The sun was a dim orange globe casting weird, pale orange reflections on the lake.

Now that we're home, and can download the current maps of the wildfires closest to the little lake on which the cabin is situated, we can see why there was so much smoke.

The Rice Ridge fire (see map; click to display the full-size image) is now the worst in the nation,  only 2% contained, having charred over 100,000 acres (a megafire by Forest Service measures) and has over 780 firefighters assigned to it. The Rice Ridge and Reef fires have now merged, and the combined infernos will soon overtake the Monahan fire to the east. The residents of the portion of the town of Seeley Lake east of the highway (red line on map) have been evacuated.

Luckily, most of the burned area is within the Bob Marshall Wilderness, thus has almost no buildings or residents endangered. To give a sense of scale, the distance from the bottom end of Seeley Lake to our cabin is just over 18 miles. Which means the fire was altogether too close for comfort!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Just Another Day at the Cabin

Laundry day. There's an old wringer washer on the porch. Warm dry air will dry the clothes quickly. First photo, brother David on left, DH on right. Second photo, my turn. Third, part of the results.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

We watched the eclipse from the BYU Idaho campus in Rexburg, as arranged by brother-in-law Eric, who teaches high school science in Pocatello, ID.  Rexburg is on the eastern edge of Idaho, near West Yellowstone. The sky was clear of clouds and smoke, giving us great viewing. Here are a few photos I took with my small camera, which had no lens filter, so I could only use it during totality without burning out the sensors. You may need to click to enlarge the images, because this Blogger app doesn't create thumbnails.