The Exercise Continues: Two Color Plain Weave Samples

So, I repeated the four weaves (plain, basket, rib and twill) with two colors. I thought I was adding grey to the black & white mix, but the yarn is really more of a taupe color.
Here is the two color plain weave - black & grey weft, white warp. I like it better than the plain weave in just black and white.

And here is the basket weave with black & grey weft - for this one I like the single color weft better. ;)

Two color rib weave - with white and grey weft and white warp (as Chandler recommended). This one is interesting...

Finally, a two color twill - black & grey weft, white warp.

I'll pull this off, finish it and re-sley the reed by spreading out the warp. Stay tuned as the loooongest sampler exercise in the whole world continues! ;)

Sampler Surprise

The pictures in the book didn't excite me, the assignment didn't call to me, and I didn't like the look of the plain weave.

But I forced myself to keep working on my sampler, and I'm so glad that I did! Because I really like the basket weave! And it turns out, I even like black and white yarn in some patterns. :)

Next up, I'm supposed to repeat this with two colors in the weft. Then, finally, I repeat the whole sequence a couple more times, with a tighter sett and then a looser sett. I'm curious to see the impact of changing the sett.

When I was younger, if something didn't appeal to me, I would have just skipped it. Now however, I am smart enough to realize that maybe the author of the book - you know, the woman who has taught thousands of beginners how to weave in person and who has written the (apparently) definitive book on learning to weave - just maybe she knows what she is doing and it might be worth my while to follow her instructions... ;)

There are some advantages of age... :)

Not Making Much of a Dent...

Sadly, not much progress to report on the weaving front. I did start my sampler and noticed almost immediately that wider is a bit more difficult – I have already made many more mistakes than I did on either of the two narrow pieces that I’ve done previously (as is painfully obvious in this photo).

I have also discovered something that is apparently as true for me with weaving as it is with sewing – I'm less motivated when I do not find my materials aesthetically pleasing. I am just not loving this black and white yarn combination, and I think that is contributing to my lack of progress.

Not to say that I don’t have lots of other excuses available as well! ;)

But I am going to try to remember this and make an effort to select colors and textures that I find attractive whenever possible in the future.

I have had a couple of happy mail days since my last post. My subscription to Hand Woven started up and I got 2 issues within the space of about a week!

And the yarn for my grandmother’s scarf came in. As you may remember, I ordered JaggerSpun Zepher (4/8) DK Wool/Silk blend from Halcyon and complained a bit about the price. But, wow, is it soft! It feels SO luxurious between my fingers that I almost feel guilty fondling it! ;)

I’m going to finish my current sampler before warping this yarn. I realize that the weather is warming up, but the temperature outdoors is pretty much moot, because she rarely leaves her house and is not likely to wear it very many times anyways. Just receiving it will make her happy, and that will be the point of this particular gift. :)

Never Again!

Please remind me to never again show my first sampler to anyone!

I showed it to David, and he thought I was offering him a scarf - next thing you know, I felt obligated to make one for him.

Then, showed it to my Grandmother. You can guess what happened... She hinted and hinted and hinted about how much she would like to have it for a scarf. Next thing you know, I was promising to make her a scarf! Yikes! ;)

I ordered some nicer yarn for her - part wool and part silk - I hope it feels softer than the pure wool I've used so far. It sure was more expensive!

While I'm waiting for it to arrive, I warped my loom to do the next exercise in the Chandler book - one practicing plain, rib and basket weave, and experimenting with changing the sett.

I used the yarn I got from Halcyon. It seemed more tangly than the stuff I have been using so far:

But I finally got it sorted / combed out and the loom is now warped. :)

I made it wider than my first two efforts. I considered that it might be a waste of yarn, but I wanted to see what it was like to work with something wider...

Having a loom warped and ready to go feels so good! :)


My yarn came in!

Well, most of it... Some of it is on back order. Sigh... :(

These are the yarns that I ordered for the 5 exercises at the end of the chapter on "Plain Weave Variations" in the Chandler book. You can see that I'm still sticking pretty closely to thicker wools - the thought of moving to thinner cottons and silks makes me nervous. But the yellow is thinner than anything I've woven with to date! Baby steps... ;)

The exercises have me practicing a plain weave, rib weave, basket weave and twill while changing sett, in a plaid, and using yarns of different weights and textures. I'll also be trying a log-cabin pattern. That looks really cool in the pictures!

I'll try to get the loom warped for the first exercise in the evenings after work this week. I'd love to be ready to go next weekend! What are you working on this week?

Carrying an Umbrella to Prevent the Rain

Well, people in central Florida have me to thank for the end of the "cold" spell and the return of our typically temperate February weather.
"How did she do it?" you may be wondering. Well, it was simple, really. I just finished the toasty warm scarf that I was making for David! ;)

It went amazingly quickly. I purchased the yarn last Saturday and finished weaving after work on Monday. As advertised, the wool was very forgiving with my far-from-perfect tension and settled itself into nice parallel stripes after being washed.

I had been wondering what the term "felting" means for a while, and I learned the hard way - by putting the scarf in my washing machine. I did select the most gentle cycle, but there was definitely felting along the fringe. Lesson learned - it's hand washing for me from now on. ;)

I was worried about the weft tails from each color change. I tied overhand knots, but many of them came out - in the washing machine... So, I used my sewing machine to stitch along each long edge. And I took that opportunity to put in my label.

Eventually I hope to get a photo of David modeling the scarf, but a friend at work offered to be the "stand in" for now:

The yarn for my next series of samplers in the Chandler book is due to arrive early next week. Unfortunately, I've got a trip this week and through the weekend, so it's going to be a little while before I can get back on the loom... :(
Oh, I'll be working with something other than wool - kind of like going without a safety net! ;)
Wish me luck! :)

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...

Oh yes, I'm going to continue doing the exercises in the Chandler book and postpone any "real" projects until I've finished all those samplers... Right... Was anyone taking bets as to how long that would last? ;)

If so, the results are in: less than one week. But, wait, I have a rationalization. Oops, I mean, an excuse. Er, rather, a good reason.

You see, I decided to order the yarn for the next set of exercises via the internet. And it will take about a week to arrive in the mail. So, what was I to do in the meantime?

Clearly, I had to do a project. There was simply no alternative. ;)

Actually, it was a miscommunication that spawned the project. I wanted to show my first sampler to two Hispanic friends of mine, Ana and David. They don't speak English and my Spanish is pretty minimal. In my mind I was showing it to them, however my intention apparently wasn't clear. There was an awkward moment when Ana wrapped the sampler around David's neck and they both thanked me, as I realized what they thought. This was followed by an even more awkward moment as they realized that I hadn't been giving it to him for a scarf. Yikes! :(

In any event, after many apologies all around, I promised to make him a scarf. He rides a small, red motorscooter, so I decided to make him a red and black checked scarf out of the same wool I used for my sampler. It's not particularly soft, but hopefully it will be warm.

It's going quite quickly and I should be able to finish early this week. Then, when my "real" yarn arrives in the mail, I'll get back to the book and the exercises! Honest! ;)

One Sampler and Many Samples!

On Sunday, I took my first sampler off the loom. I simply made overhand knots - while it was still on the loom under tension - to tie it off:

I washed it in cold water with shampoo to finish it. It probably doesn't look like much to anyone but me, but I'm happy with all I learned on this project. :)

Okay, not to mention relieved that it didn't all collapse into a huge tangled knot the minute it left the loom! ;)

I still need to scrutinize it carefully and make note of things like the amount of (weft) draw-in, etc. I did estimate almost one yard of loom waste in the warp! Yikes! :(

As for the "many samples" - I took Susan's advice and ordered a bunch of yarn samples. More specifically, I ordered Halycon's Yarn Store in a Box ($40 + shipping).

Here is the complete set of cards that came in my box:

Here is a close-up view to give you a better sense of the variety of yarns that the cards cover:

Each card gives a lot of useful information, such as how to care for the yarn and the tabby and twill setts.

This is absolutely perfect for me, as I know nothing about yarns. :)

Part of me wants to jump in and start on a "real" project. However, Chapter 6 of the Chandler book has 5 weaving homework assignments at the end, focusing on practicing plain-weave variations.

One of the nice things (for me) about getting older is gaining some patience as well. So, I'm going to work on her exercises. (Well, some of them, anyways - I might not be THAT patient!) I know that I'll learn important things and gain practice that will contribute to the quality of my first "real" project. :)

Advice Column: Ask Experienced Weavers

Thank you so much to Lynette, Shannon, Jane, Sue, Cally and Amelia for offering up advice last week! I asked what people use as warp separators.

Three variations of brown paper were called out - rolls from the Dollar Store that are cheap but sometimes rip, the parcel wrapping brown paper readily available in many locations (including the post office), and carpenter/builder's paper available at Home Depot. :)

A couple of people use lease sticks - Jane made hers out of yard sticks, cut to the right length and sanded smooth.
Amelia warned me that fabric doesn't work well! (She knows that I have a stash of fabric just looking for a use!) ;)

Cally explained a bit about yarn for me. Her comment, combined with information from here, helps clear up my confusion about "knitting yarn". It seems that there are (at least) two types are yarn:
  • woollen spun yarn - which is made of shorter fibers going every which way, and thus is soft and fluffy (and recommended for knitting)
  • worsted yarn - which is made from longer fibers aligned in parallel, making it stronger and better for weaving

Finally, Lynette passed on a hint to periodically give the paper a good tug, to help tighten the warp, and Jane explained how she made her own raddle with some simple supplies from Home Depot.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of you taking the time to give me some advice and encouragement! Thanks! :)
Dear EW,

The Chandler book is great and I am really learning a lot! In many instances she presents several ways to do something and encourages the beginner to try them all. I appreciate this perspective and intend to do just that.

But still, I'm curious to hear from other weavers... For example, how do you warp your loom, from front-to-back or back-to-front? And why?

Similarly, when do you beat your weft - before closing the shed, while it's closed, or after opening the new shed? And why?

Were you taught these methods explicitly, or did you experiment with several different ways before settling on your current approach?

I'd really be interested to hear your stories!


photo credit:

Some Nibbles from my First Sampler

Well, the "slight hitch" extended beyond the reed to the heddles, but I was able to sort it out and fix it, and then the weaving began! :)

The most fun bit was diving into The Handweaver's Pattern Dictionary by Anne Dixon and trying some of the patterns! The thing that made me especially happy was that I was able to "crack" the code myself. (Although, later I read the chapter in the Chandler book that explained it beautifully.)

I even experimented with different tie-ups:

Man, I have to say that the Chandler book is EXCELLENT! I tried some weaving before reading the relevant chapter, and experienced a few issues - such as the twill packing more tightly, having difficulty rolling the fabric forward, and getting little loops of yarn along the selvedges.

THEN I read the chapter and found out that she had covered EVERY single one of those issues! It was like she was psychic! (Or possibly, has taught hundreds of beginners and thus knows exactly what problems we typically have...) Note to self - from now on, read first! ;)

So, my selvedges are pretty crappy, I certainly do NOT have control over my ppi, and who knows how well I've maintained the right tension in my warp - but I'm having a blast and I'll learn! :)

Do you remember your first piece? What was it and how did it come out? Did you save it?