Things I Like

  • Game of Thrones

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Handwoven Towels

I am weaving some bath towels from 1000 ypp cotton chenille. They are coming out very well but I'm not very happy with the selvedges. They aren't absolutely horrible but they aren't really nice either. I think it's the chenille which is taking up the yarn much more than I thought it would. I'm using a set of home made temples and am watching the edges carefully but every now and then the edge threads tend to want to start scrunching up together and making a smooth area once in a while. But all in all, I'm pretty happy with them.

I walnut dyed the contrasting color in them.

Mitchell's Sweater

Only one piece to go! Mitch wanted a red or blue sweater for Christmas. I settled on a manly looking rusty dark red color. Jim thought the bright red sweater wasn't the right color for a little boy. Who am I to argue since I'm not a male? The only piece I have with me is the sleeve so I'll post a photo of it. You can oooo and ahhhh here. . .

Fiona's hat. The pattern and yarn came in a kit from a website. Can't remember which one right now. But it's called the Ultra Violet Hat by Debbie Ware. Isn't it cute? I love the happy colors. It's as happy and fiesty looking as my 4 year old grand daughter Fiona.

Finished Knitting Project

It's been a while since I posted and I'm feeling a bit guilty, especially since have no excuse whatsoever except laziness. I've been working on several projects lately. I finished a sweater for my grand daughter Kendall. It's a purple bulky wool/mohair with a sort of cowl neck. She's ten and still likes Tinkerbelle - so I intend to do a Tinkerbelle like embroidery on the front in a contrasting pink color before I wrap it up for her for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Windows!

We had 60 yeard old windows in the house in aluminum frames that were loose and the calking holding the window in place was falling out. If someone had pushed real hard, some of these windows would have fallen out they were so bad. So this year, I decided to get new windows. We chose to do the install in two segments due to the congestion of stuff in the house - which has to be moved 3 feet away from the windows - inside and out - for the installers to have a place to work. The first installment was about 3 months ago before the hot weather. The last 3 windows installation took place yesterday.

It sure took a lot of work to get the house ready for both installations! We have been home organizing to install new windows in very congested areas of the house. We have been organizing the office for about 2 months. My live-in cannot throw anything away and we get into a huge fight every time I try and get him to get rid of anything. So rather than fighting - I allowed him to make the office so untidy that I could hardly get in and out anymore. It's funny that you have no idea what it is going to be like to live with someone until you've been with them for a while. We've been living together for 10 years and it's slowly gotten worse over the 10 years. It's a serious problem when you live in a small home.

So anyway, this weekend was spent moving the computers and computer tables away from the windows. There was a LOT of stuff in there and it's now sitting all over the living room. And the outside was bad too. We had a woodpile to move, tables with dye pots, microwave, etc. on them. And what added insult to injury was that it was about 100 degrees outside when we were doing this stuff. But it's done, yay! Now all we have to do is get the house back together. There has been some really good things come out of this whole mess. I will not allow him to get the office in that state again. We will get rid of paper and equipment that is unused and just piling up. I can finally clean the carpet in there! And the windows look superb. Clean white and lovely.

BTW, this brings me to Home Depot windows. The windows themselves, of medium grade, have a lifetime guarantee on them which can be passed on to the next owners. The installers were meticulous, cleaned up after themselves and did a wonderful job on the windows. My complaint is with the scheduling department. On both window appointments they double booked in our time slot. And although we had our appointment for about six weeks, they still booked over us. I was so mad yesterday morning I was ready to spit bullets at the girl. This is the second damn time they have done it to us. When I called her to confirm our appointment, because they neglected to do that (AGAIN), she says "I'm so sorry Ms. Brunston, but it seems we have double booked your appointment and we have no one to do it today. Would Wedneday be a good day?"
That's when I blew up! I said "No, it will not be a good day. You cannot do this to us again! We both stayed home from work today for this install as well as spending 2 days getting ready for it. You WILL fix this." And she did. She wound up cancelling someone else I assume. Which I'm really sorry about but damn it, serious time and money effort was involved here and I was not going to be put off. Jim was insistent that if they didn't keep the appointment yesterday that we would cancel our order and get the windows elsewhere. Luckily it didn't come to that. I did not want to wait for another eight weeks to schedule the order with someone else. They have to custom make your windows and it takes them quite while to make them. Anyway, it's all done now and we have all new dual paned windows in the house. There's only one window left and that's a garage window that faces the street. We might do that one ourselves one of these days just so the glass and lines within the glass match the rest of the house.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bobbin Lace Making

No, this is one craft that I don't do. But Margaret More does. She's a music teacher, dancer, harp player, spinner, bobbin lace maker and all round good sport. Here are some pictures of her lovely bobbins and lace making set-up. This one's a bit blurry but it was really hard getting a good picture. Plus my camera isn't doing closeups very well right now, even the macro doesn't seem to be working.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pretty Handcard Covers

I had some leftover overshot from a weaving project I did last year so I put it to good use by making handcard covers. It was really easy to make, just took a bit of time. I bought some cotton fabric at fabric store for the lining, laid the handcards on the fabric to determine how large to cut. I overlapped one side and cut a slit in the middle of one side, sewed the lining on, sewed some velcro to close it and voila!

Here's what they look like without the cards:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Finished Fiber Trends Felted Clogs

I just realized that I hadn't posted the finished pictures of my finished knitted, felted clogs. Here is a picture of them with my feet next to them for comparison. Felting is sooooo much fun! You keep throwing them back in the wash and checking them every 5 minutes until they are the size you want.

Catching Up and August Dye Workshop

O.K. I know it's been a couple weeks at least but I've been busy! My daughter and family are here from the U.K., around London, and we are putting new windows in and everything has to be cleared away from the windows for 3 feet. That's a major project for us. Anyway, even though I don't have any of my own pictures to post, here are some photos that a friend of mine took of a dyeing workshop that we took last Saturday, August 9th. What fun! Anni Redding was the lady's name and she was amazing. She can get amazing brilliant colors from natural dyes, like I have never seen before. Here are the pics:

The multicolored skeins are the skeins and colors that came from only 4 dye pots, just by using different mordants. I can't wait to do more experimentation! We had the dye workshop on Mt. Hamilton at a friend's house. She and her husband work at Lick Observatory for the last 30 years. The view was absolutely spectacular in all directions from her mountain top home. It was a really great day and now we have a huge card of samples and 8 pages of dyeing notes to do more experimentation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Giant Felted Clogs

I knew these felted clogs would be large but you can't get scale unless you see my feet next to them (below). According to my friend Frank, who has done quite a bit of felting, the length of knitted garments shrinks 50% and the width shrinks about 30%. Attached are the photos of the clogs.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Felted Purse

Here is a felted purse that I did a couple of weeks ago and then crocheted and beaded onto. The felted purse is purely felted wool, no knitting. Bits of string and color made it a little more interesting. For a handle I spun up some purple wool (2 plies) and plied that with 1 more ply (3 all together) and then knitted them into an I-Cord over the shoulder handle. This morning I attached it to the outsides of the purse. I think it's rather effective.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Updated Fiber Trends Felted Clog

O.K. I mostly have the first clog done with a little angst. I chose the version that has a bumper on the outside but the bumper is sticking straight out at the moment. I'm hoping that this bumper thingie is going to curve under toward the sole when it's felted. I'm questioning why I need it at this point. I might have to rip it out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fiber Trends Felted Clogs

This is the first time I've knitted one of these clogs and I'm having a bit of difficulty with the first clog. There are two soles and when you knit the two soles together, you have the option of what they call a bumper which is a contrasting color around the bottom of the show, looks like a thick sole area around the bottom. The picture below is how I have the first sole attached to the show, getting ready to knit the 2nd sole onto the inner sole. Anyone know if this is the way it's supposed to look so far? I know it's a little blurry but as you can see, there is a little extended plain knit area attached to the gray. This is where the bumper would go, except that the bumper will now be upside down. It's supposed to face down, not up. I'm in a bit of a dilemma right now until I know if this part is right.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sheep to Shawl

We had our annual sheep-to-shawl at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, Calfironia on Sunday, July 6th. As usual, it was a lot of fun. I can't believe how fast the day passes! Nancy Weber, the lady who is modeling it, won the shawl in a drawing at our last spinning meeting. She deserves it because she does a lot of community service and she's a very nice person to boot. That's me, the one on the right with dark long hair. It always scares me when I see pictures of myself. I'm working to get the excess weight off, but it's taking more time than I had hoped.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

2nd Overdye Indigo Piece

Well, the first dyeing of the indigo piece wasn't dyed enough. I may not have soaked the fiber enough for the dye to migrate to the inside layers. Also with the latest dyeing, I folded the cloth around a smaller pipe (about 2-1/2"). The first pipe was about 4", and twice the size which made the design bigger. So, what I did with the 2nd dyeing was to fold the cloth so that the lightest fabric was on the outside layers. Each time I dye it, I get more color and it's looking prettier and prettier.

The 2nd project here is the painted warp piece. I took a class at CNCH in Sacramento with Betsy Blumenthal earlier this year. It was a fun, hands on class, and I got to take home my own painted warp from it. It didn't turn out very big because I wanted a warp faced weave and a weaving that started out being over 10", actually turned out to be only 5 or 6" because I had to thread the loom so close. The colors are subtle and they look like they kind of undulate. It's prettier than I thought at first. It's about 72" long and about 6" wide.

The last thing I did was the crocheted blanket for my grand daughter Fiona for her birthday in August. She lives with my daughter, her husband & 2 other siblings now in England. I saw this blanket on the Lionbrand website and thought it was pretty as a picture, just like her. And so colorful and cheerful. I will be able to give it to her in person when they come visit in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Indigo Piece Unwrapped

Here is a photo of the indigo dipping we did a couple of weekends ago. Indigo stays on the surface of the cloth but I really thought it would go a bit deeper. This will definitely will need at least one or two more dippings.

Shibori Unravelled

Well, here is the finished arashi shibori piece unravelled. It's pretty but I thought it would be a LOT darker. I might overdye it - we'll see. . .

Monday, June 16, 2008

Shibori Dyeing

We had a guild dye day on Saturday and I did an indigo dyeing experiment which was with arashi shibori style which is tied on a pole with string and then the fabric is all scrunched to one end of the pole and then dyed. The parts under the string and the folds resist the dye, especially with indigo (which apparently sits on top rather than entering into the fabric.)

Anyway, I don't have a picture of the indigo one yet because only one side of the fabric is dyed, the rest pretty much stayed white. I think that I had too many layers of fabric. The indigo penetrated maybe 2 layers of fabric but it couldn't get inside the mass of fabric.

This picture is also pole dyeing but this time the fabric is folded in about 3" folds, wrapped and tied around the pole. The fabric is then soaked in a soda ash solution for about 30 minutes and then the fiber reactive dyes are squirted onto the fabric. I will be letting this sit on the fabric for a minimum of 24 hours (up to infinity) and when I think it has sat long enough, I'll unwrap it and see what I got.

First Toe up Sock

Well, I completed one sock on my first toe up pair of socks. It went pretty smoothly after the snafoo with the square toe. The heel went fine all the way to the top of the sock. No problems. I like toe up alot.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shibori Dyeing Experiment

I've been wanting to try arashi shibori dyeing for a few months now but it took some preparation. I needed some chemicals and a pole to use for wrapping the cloth around. I found a 2 foot plastic pipe from Home Depot that is about 4" in diameter that I thought would work well for this. This kind of pipe doesn't melt in hot water like PVC. So, I had this bolt of cotton fabric that I had bought at a garage sale a couple of years ago. Since the fabric was already dyed a rose color, I thought I might be able to do a dye discharge technique. So after I had tied up the cloth around the pipe with string and scrunched it down as far as it would go on the pipe, I boiled it in Rit dye remover. Unfortunately it worked too well and it took the color uniformly down to a light pink color. I had hoped that the dye remover wouldn't get down inside the string all the way to the pipe - but it apparently did. So, that was last weekend's attempts. I rinsed out the dye remover with clear water and let it dry over the last week.

This weekend, I decided to try adding dye to the fiber, instead of taking dye out of it. So I wet the fiber again, let it sit for about 1/2 hour or so, letting the water soak into the inside of the wrapping. I got out my ProChem fiber reactive dyes and chemicals and mixed up some urea water, alkalai powder and some dye. I mixed the urea water into the dye mix and added a teaspoon of alkalai powder which had some soda ash in it. I then poured this in little sections around the pipe. When all the light spots were covered in dye, I wrapped the pole in plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours in 70 degree or above heat (inside the house). It took several rinsings and a couple of washings with Saranthapol to get out the excess dye but it stopped bleeding after the 2nd washing with Saranthapol. It actually looks quite nice I think. It's only a yard of fabric. The fabric is very heavy and appears to be a double layer so it wouldn't scrunch on the pole that much. But I'm pretty pleased with it all in all. I need to try some different techniques now - smaller pole, more fabric, different kinds of fabrics. I would be able to get more fabric on a pole if the fabric was thinner: silk, thin cotton, cotton sateen?

I've been getting some books lately on fabric embellishing which look quite interesting. Also silk painting looks like a lot of fun. Painted silk would look really pretty inside a handwoven jacket.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Windows!

Finally, new windows! We had the oldest, ickiest, windows on the plant. Metal framed, 60 year old windows, loose, no heat/cold/noise protection. Dirty window tracks that would never come clean.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Two New Things

Well, here are the latest two things in my life as of today: new green and white shawl woven on the new Weavebird loom (all 32 shafts of it).

The white shawl was woven in a Judith MacKenzie weaving workshop back in February 2008 at Point Bonita near Sausalito, California. There are pictures of the location on my flickr picture account. It took place in a YMCA camp on a point, overlooking San Francisco Bay. Just a lovely location. And Judith MacKenzie is, as always, a wonderful teacher. If I can remember even 1/4th of what she told me, I'll be 1000% better weaver.

Friday, May 23, 2008

OK - I think I got it!

After speaking with a couple of people on the Yahoo groups sock list, we figured out where I was misreading the pattern. It was sort of implied that there was a knit row in between the increase rows so I wasn't increasing gradually enough. Added to that, I needed to go down a needle size to be more in gauge. They look pretty good now, don't you think? I'm pretty pleased with them so far. We'll see how the rest of this first toe up sock goes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Problem with Toe Up Sock Toe Shaping

O.K. I have no idea what the problem is but I've started these danged socks twice because the toe shaping was too square. I figured that if I used smaller needles, I'd be able to get the size small enough to square they would shape around the toe, even thought they were square looking. The smaller needles didn't help that much and they are a bit loose but even if they were smaller, I think the square toe would not be pretty. Any suggestions on how to fix this problem would be appreciated.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Stash Enhancing & Weavebird

Spinning Guild Meeting
Saturday (5/17/08) was our monthly spinning guild meeting. Summer is the beginning of our light attendance part of the year. We sit out of doors in a really beautiful space, under a very large oak tree. Several people were at a planning meeting for the 2010 (CNCH) Northern California Handweavers convention and several people in our guild were at a planning meeting on Saturday.

Stash Enhancement Opportunity (like I needed more stash!)
A lady brought about 10-15 large boxes of stash that she needed to get out of her house. She has been spinning, weaving, knitting, etc. for many years and has put an appropriate amount of time, money and effort into creating this very large stash. She had another 10-15 boxes at home still and had left an equal amount to all this back in England 25 years ago. Just walked off and left it. I just can't imagine what that would have been like. I believe she sold it like a fire sale. Anyway, I walked away with about 5 pounds of incredibly lovely 80's merino/silk top, 5 balls of some really wonderful black yarn with shiny specs in it, 1 very large skein of white yarn that still had a tag of $58 on it and about a pound or more of bombyx silk top, all for $80. I also came home with a large number of cones of free yarn that one of our guild members, Frank, gave me. A lady he knew who was getting rid of her stash, gave it to him, and he thought of us since Frank knew we had this very large loom which is going to eat yarn like crazy!

Weavebird - 5/18/08
Sunday we worked on the new Weavebird loom. We did some testing of it and it wasn't pulling up all the shafts. So I sat at the loom while Jim was upside down looking at what was happening underneath it. Eventually he determined that the cables needed tensioning and that seemed to fix it. That stuff took several hours. Eventually he determined that it seemed to be working correctly and we could finally wind a warp. Hallelujah! However, by the time we picked a 32 shaft pattern, and the yarn, and determined what size the initial warp would be, the day was just about shot. After 1/2 the warp was wound, we decided to give it up for the day. We were hot and tired and we weren't going to get the rest of the warp done anyway so we had some dinner, watched a movie and then went to bed. It was quite a successful day at the loom and it sounds like way now.

Oh, I forgot, we also spent a couple of hours putting on the finishing parts on the loom. Jim had to string rope through the eyes on the front of the loom apron and put a metal rod in it. Then we had to put the sectional extensions on the warping beam on the back, it took both of us quite some time to put these parts on. I forgot to take a picture of this procedure.

Oh, another thing that took quite a bit of time. I have been pondering and puzzling at how we are going to manage warping 32 shafts. I have spoke to some expert weavers who have 24 shafts and they told me their methods which helped my thinking alot. However, in the end, what we did was to make tabs, very much like folder tabs that stick up in a drawer, to mark each one of the 32 shafts. The tabs stick up about 2" above the shafts so that when we were testing the patterns to make sure all the shafts came up when called, that we could see easily which shafts were coming up. The shafts are engraved with a discrete little number on the right side of the top of the shaft but when they are coming up, you can really only see the number on the first shaft. I'll take a picture of what the tabs look like later.

Well, that was my weekend and it really went very fast. Plus it has been hot hot hot this week here in San Jose, California. We have had maybe 2 weeks of scorching 90 - 100 degree heat starting about one week into May. Weird heatwave. Much too early for this kind of heat. We usually don't get this kind of heat until late July and August. Global warming?

Friday, May 16, 2008

First Blog Post - Yay!

Where to start. . . I have been doing all kinds of needle crafts for many years. I actually knitted skirts with matching tops when I was a young woman. I was never into the traditional knitting of sweaters and such. At this point in my life, I was too busy working and living my life for any kind of needle or fiber arts. I went back to school, got divorced, had lots of fun (lots of outdoor sports - learned to ski and play tennis, etc.) and then began to settle down again in my late 40's to early 50's when the grandkids began coming along. So I started knitting and crocheting again when my grand daughter Kendal came along 10 years ago and the fibery obsession has really grown since then.

A work associate, who later became a friend, was talking one day about 4 years ago about spinning on a spinning wheel. That really intrigued me. I joined her at her spinning guild meeting the next weekend. Someone offered to loan me a drop spindle and I was instantly hooked. The possibility that I could make my own yarn was an instant draw. I think, at that time, I believed I could save money by making my own from raw fiber. I HAD NO IDEA how addicting this fiber obsession would become nor how much money I would invest in tools and fiber! The next thing I knew, I had bought a used Ashford Joy spinning wheel from one of the guild ladies and off I went. Next thing I knew, I had bought a fleece and a drum carder. And that was only the beginning. Before that first year was up, I had a room full of fiber, another spinning wheel and lots of little tools to help me along. OK that's the spinning part. My friend Vicki, who got me in this whole thing in the first place had been traveling in the Northwest on a vacation and had brought a loom home. I remember distinctly thinking she was crazy. I felt I was over my head in tools and fiber already, I couldn't imagine getting into another fiber craft at that moment. After watching her make some beautiful shawls on her loom, eventually, I started thinking about getting a loom, in the back of my mind.

In the meantime, my husband had been talking about getting into weaving for some time and I just poo-pooed him. Eventually I started looking around for a used loom. I found a Schacht Mighty Wolf loom in Redmond, Washington, several hundred miles away from us for about $1000 - which was a fantastic deal since new, they cost around $3000. We took a 3 day trip to Washington State and picked it up. It was a great trip and the loom was fantastic. O.K. this was my first loom. I did several projects on it and since it was so large, decided to get a small workshop loom. I found one on eBay for about $120, which I snapped up. It's a LeClerc Dorothy loom and weaves 15" wide. I think I did one project on it. At the end of last year, my friend Laura decided to get a Gilmore, 8 shaft, 22" weaving width loom and decided to sell her Baby Wolf loom so I bought it for $500. I have woven one project on it so far and taken it to one workshop.

The latest thing that has occured in my weaving world is my husband's company got bought and he exercised his options and came into some money. He figured this might be his last chance to buy a large computer controlled loom since that money wasn't accounted for in anything yet and was kind of free money in a way. We did quite a bit of looking around at dobby looms and he felt that the LeClerc Weavebird was the loom that fit the bill the closest - so he ordered it at the end of 2007 for an early 2008 delivery. Well, it was a bit late in getting here but finally came in total last week - 22 boxes, 750 pounds later. Wow! It is fantastic.

Notice, I have omitted the whole part of having to clear out a room, getting rid of furniture and having to put in attic stairs and moving all the fiber and tools up into the attic. Just this part took 2 months. Poor Jim. I don't think he realized how much work it was going to be to revamp that space! He had to first put in attic stairs (no small task) being is he had to buy a hoist to install in the roof to haul the 200 pound attic stairs up to the ceiling. And before he did that he had to re-frame that part of the ceiling so that the attic stairs would fit across several joists. He then had to bring electricity up there so he could see in the dark - then move air ducts around, put in flooring, etc.

So now, skip forward, where we have cleared the room and put all the fiber and tools up into the attic and it looks pretty good at this point. The loom is coming the next day and Jim takes out the rug cleaner to make sure the rug is clean before putting this monster loom in the room. The danged rug cleaner is broken. Before he could start putting the loom together the next day, he had to go out and buy a rug cleaner and clean the rug and hope it was going to be dry the next day (it was by the way).

Long story short, Jim stayed home the rest of the week so he could get the loom put together. By Friday, he had it entirely put together but we had no computer. I wasn't sure what we were going to do for a computer in there. I thought in the back of my mind that we would buy a laptop for it but had no idea where the laptop would live while we were weaving on the loom. Something very interesting to me is when you see these looms in the shows or in a workshop, a laptop is strapped to a beam in front of the user's face so she/he can see the screen while weaving - usually AVL looms. But on the Weavebird, there doesn't seem to be any built in place for a computer. Now does that seem like a really good design to you? If you were designing a brand spanking new loom that is designed to be computer controlled, and if the best place for a computer screen is in front of you so you can see the screen (so you don't get a neck ache from looking to the side) wouldn't you think someone would have thought of putting a shelf in front of you for a laptop computer or at least a monitor? I don't know, maybe it's just me. Oh, and there is another interesting thing about this loom. They haven't upgraded the port to a USB port. Do you not think that is strange? We had to go out and buy a serial converter so the computer could talk to the loom. Weird! It's like LeClerc wanted to get into dobby looms but had outdated information when designing it.

Anyway, Jim has gotten the loom and the computer on speaking terms. Yay! We got a 32 shaft pattern from and tested the loom on all 32 shafts. Sally from Weave-It is amazing. In no time at all, she had fixed the 24 shaft program to see the 32 shafts and we were on our way. We have yet to put a warp on it because it still needs a bit of adjusting. The cords to the shafts have a bit of slack in them on certain shafts.

O.K. this is a first 'catching up' post. From now on, I will probably post at least weekly, if not more, depending on what fibery thing is going on in my life at the moment.