Things I Like

  • Game of Thrones

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.