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Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Ikat Stretched Onto Frame

O.K. this time, I used mercerized 10/2 cotton left over from a previous project. It worked like a charm. With ikat you have to twine 2 times every time you fold the warp and then slide one of the twinings down the warp to the other side. If you have a sticky warp, it pulls and drags on the threads and can stretch the warp. But these mercerized threads were a bit shiny and slippery and I didn't have any trouble moving the twinings down through the threads. So now I'm ready to tie on the resist strips this weekend. Here is the newly warped frame:

Very Cool Weaving Tool

LeClerc has this great little bobbin winder tool that really helps if you have an electric bobbin winder. I got my electric spinner from a guy from eBay a few years ago. I think it's home made using a sewing machine motor and foot pedal. It works great. However, when I got the LeClerc bobbin winder helper a couple of weeks ago, I was dismayed that it was about 4" or more wider than the electric spinner superstructure. I gave the problem to my partner who had some extra hard wood left over from a loom project he was doing, and he just added a piece onto the right side to hook the device to.

This little device is amazing. If you have used an electric winder, you know that they can go pretty fast and if you're not careful can cause yarn burn on your hands - if you keep holding the yarn in the same place. This device also tensions through the little spirals so you don't have to tension as you're winding. You just hold onto the handle and move it back and forth across the bobbin. It moves as smooth as if it was greased with butter. Very cool tool.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Handpainted Bamboo Roving & Handspun

Here is the beautiful bamboo roving spun up. I'm a little disappointed that the yarn is so light in color. It's always a surprise when you see how your finished yarn looks compared to the raw fiber and to see what happens to the colors. I was thinking of overdyeing this fiber in darker colors but I think I'll just ply it with wool. The juxtaposition of the shiny fiber with the matt fiber will look really pretty even if it is a bit light. What I'm spinning now are the warm colors on the right side of the pile. There was a separate dyeing of the cool purples and greens. I'll post those later.

Monday, April 6, 2009

If your blog is in Blogger, do you know how to . . .

reply to commenter's questions? I tried to go onto Blogger Help and I couldn't pose my question in such a way that people understood what I was asking. You know when you make a comment on someone else's post, the program asks you for your email address and says it's not going to post the email address? I always assumed that the email address went to the original blogger so they could respond privately to the person and for security so that you know the person commenting is authentic. I cannot find where I can do that in Blogger, do ya'll know?

The Weekend - April 4-5, 2009

Well, boy did that weekend go fast! As they say, just too much fun! Saturday was our Fiber Artisan guild 1st Saturday craft day. Frank Mikulastik helped me put a warp onto an ikat frame. What a lot of work! It took all told about 3 hours between all the twining and folding - from about 1-4 oclock. The sad part of the whole thing was that when we were done, there were loose hanging threads from the frame. Not good. Not even mildly acceptable really. I looked at it until Sunday night and then decided that I just couldn't live with it or try to make do with it and Jim helped me wind it off the frame onto a ball. Back to the drawing board. What I don't understand here is that the yarn was 100% unmercerized 8/2 cotton from Halcyon Yarn. Believe it or not folks - it stretches (big time) in the right circumstances. No one at the meeting had ever experienced a stretchy cotton warp. But believe me it happens. Ikat has to be completely tight with perfect thread control with no shifting or your pattern will shift. The beauty of ikat are the controlled patterns that you can create but if you have a bunch of hanging threads, obviously your pattern is going to be wonky. So I'll start from scratch now with some mercerized cotton and see if that works any better. From that meeting I had to drive to Sunnyvale and drop off some birthday presents. I then discovered that I had left a project bag at the craft meeting place and I had to go back to that place and pick up the bag and then get the car washed on the way home. I left at 10:00am and didn't get home until 6:30pm. It was a lot of hard work for naught. But I did learn how to wind an ikat warp onto the frame, which was a big learning process in itself. (The above picture is of Phyllis Karsten's ikat coat. It's an amazing piece of work and beautifully put together with the lovely silky lining. I have a new appreciation for ikat dyeing after having gone through the exercise on Saturday.) The picture below this description is an ikat frame with the design already on it. It's a butterfly. Can you see it? There is a complicated multicolor overdyeing process that is involved after this step. This is Phyllis' project and she only uses here handspun cotton for her projects. It is beautifully spun fine natural colored cotton that looks to be about 10/2 weight, maybe smaller.

Sunday I went to the Alameda antiques and flea market which is held at the old navy base. That is an amazingly huge place! It is acres and acres of flea market stuff. My girlfriend and I spent 3-1/2 hours walking through half of it. We got there at 9:00am and left at about 12:30. We couldn't face going through the rest of it. It's on a beautiful piece of land with big ships right next to it, those big star wars looking cranes nearby and a breathtaking view of San Francisco. Well worth your time to go there on the 1st Saturday of the month. They open at 5:30 for early birds so if you are of a mind to get some great antiques and get first choice, that would be the time to go. Unfortunately, you have to pay a dear entrance fee to get in that early - $15! It goes down to $10 at 7:30 and then to $5 at 9:00. We got there right after 9:00. But wow, $15 just to get into a flea market. But this is a good place for dealers to go and get antiques at bargain prices, I guess so it would be worth it for them to pay the $15. So that was my Sunday. I didn't get home until about 3:00pm. Another weekend gone.

This is a picture of the flea market with San Francisco in the background at about 10:00am on Sunday. The temperatures said they were only in the low 60's but it felt like at least the 70's.

More views of the flea market.

That's it for the weekend. More later.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Patio Table Covers

I had off work on Tuesday for Cesar Chavez Day and I took the opportunity to go shopping for oil cloth for the patio tables. They are both wood and have really seen better days. It gets pretty grungy out on the patio and the tables need to be wiped off a lot. I also needed a nice work surface for dyeing and working outside.

Oil cloth - sounds like old people, doesn't it? Well, I guess I am old now - old enough to collect social security. And it does look a bit like maw and paw kettle's place out there, I know. But I don't have enough places to put things so they have to hide from me in plain sight. It's amazing how you forget to see the stuff that is right in front of your face when you have to look at it everyday. After I took these pictures I straightened it up a bit but really, there's only so much I can do out there without getting rid of stuff.

I also had time on Tuesday to handpaint some bamboo roving with ProChem MX Dyes:

Handpainted bamboo roving

Light is a bit flat, last light of the day but isn't this flower lovely?

The light's a little better in this one.