Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

It is Halloween but not observed today in Utah because it falls on a Sunday.  Children and their parents were encouraged to trick or treat last night.  There have been no visitors this evening so I will have quite a lot to leave at my voting place on Tuesday.  It's really handy that election day falls so close on the heels of Halloween.  The people who are there all day enjoy the candy and I get it out of the house.  Good for everyone.

I have made progress on the warp today and have photos to post here.  There are none of the warping mill which began life as a Glimakra vertical warping mill and has been customized a bit.  It is permanently installed in the shed.  It is four meters in circumference so it is as big as a revolving door.  There is a heck block, a device that allows me to make a thread-by-thread cross at one end of the warp while I make a cross at the other end that I use in the little raddle to spread the warp out between the pegs in the sectionl beam.
This photo shows the drum wound with the ribbon of warp.  If you look carefully to the right of the Baltic plywood flange you can just see the galvanized pipe that serves as the axle to allow the drum to turn.  The white cords to the left of the warp connect to the castle at one end (via an S-hook on the end of the cord and another on a short cord tied to the castle) and to the sandbag weight at the other.
The ribbon of warp is passing through the raddle you can see here.  The base turns so that the warp can be spread precisely between the pegs on the sectional warp beam.  Once the warp is spread properly, then I turn the sectional beam to wind on the warp.
Here is a closer looki at the warp going through the little raddle.
This picture from the front of the loom shows the sections of the beam filled with 46 yards of warp.I have more than half left to do.   I hope it goes smoothly.  The cords to the right with S-hooks at the end are waiting attachment to the warp ribbons I will install tomorrow.  These extender cords allow me to weave clear to the end of the warp.  The thrums are just as long as the castle is deep.  Once all of it has been beamed then I can stay inside and thread it.

My NPR station is running locally produced Halloween stories acted out as radio dramas.  I recall radio  dramas from my childhood (The Green Hornet, Inner Sanctum, Sky King, etc.) and like them very much.  The pictures are so good!

Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yes, I know.......

Yes, I know I said I would post photos of the sectional warping process here but that was before I ran into a serious snag from which I am (slowly) extricating myself.  I have lost almost an entire day in working on the warp I am making and that is very disappointing.

What an understatement!

The better news was that there was a concert tonight by the Utah Symphony with our new conductor Thierry Fischer in charge.  It was an interesting program with pieces drawn from a broad time line.  There was a short and sweet Hayden symphony (No. 1) played cleanly and with nice transparency.  The second piece was Beethoven's First Piano Concerto played by Ingrid Fliter.  I love the good cheer in this piece and Ms. Fliter's nimble fingers made it seem effortless.  It was so cheerful and quite lovely.  The orchestra was pared down for the Hayden, somewhat bigger with the Beethoven but for the third piece, Shastakovich's Sumphony No. 6--which I had never heard before--filled the stage entirely.   The cellos and violas started the piece setting a somber and almost eerie mood.  The first (of three) movement is long and moody while the second and third are faster and faster still and much shorter.  I had read the the second movement was about Stalin.  From what the composer had to say in that movement, they didn't see eye-to-eye to say the least.  The final movement is fast and requires a good orchestra to pull it off and I'd say and we have one.

All in all, it was a better evening than day.  There is tomorrow, though, and I look forward to that!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The web design class is over

The web design class is over and I am sorry about that.  I met some very interesting people there, including the instructor, Jon Howe, who, in season, is Santa Claus. (You can see him in the Followers list).  I learned a lot and have a distance to go.  I am very close to being able to upload a revised version of my web site and when I do, I will let you know.

I am measuring out the warp (42 meters which is ~46 yards) for the radio grill cloth.  It will take a while and because I do it in an unheated shed, it tends to be a numbing experience these days.  The weather man says it will be warmer, a relative term, so I am hoping I can get that part of it all done during the "warmer" time.

First I measure out a warp "ribbon" two inches wide and 42 meters long on a vertical warping mill.  When I have tied the threading and raddling crosses at each end plus a tie through the loops at each end, I attach a stout cord to a spring connected to the wall so that it takes effort to reel the warp ribbon onto a wooden drum (looks like a spool that is a foot across at the flanges at the ends and 10" in diameter for the body of the drum.)  The point is that the warp, measured out under tension is wound onto the drum under tension. 

Then I carry the drum inside (ahhh!) and mount it on top of my loom by means of a galvanized pipe that serves as an axle by going through the center of the drum.  I wrap another stout cord around the drum twice.  One end is attached via an S-hook to a cord around the castle and a bag full of sand hangs from the other end via another S-hook.  (If I am not the queen of S-hooks, I'll bet I come close.  One day I cleaned the Home Depot out of the size I use the most.  Don't worry, it was years back.)

I do a lot of to-ing and fro-ing while warping the sectional beam going to and from the shed with drums.  I have more than one and generally wind two or three while I am suited up for cold and then divest myself of cold gear to beam the "ribbons" onto the beam using a raddle.

This is an amazing method that I learned from Jim Ahrens.  The warp fills the space between the pegs on the sectional beam exaclty, flat and firm.  I can knock on the warp and of course it weaves off like a dream....although methinks this dream at 42 meters will go on rather too long!

When it is light enough to show a bit of what I have described I will see whether I can get photos to post here.  Stand by.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The in-house workshop, one of my Four for Four workshops (although there were just three participants this time) ended yesterday afternoon and the house is back in its usual configuration once more.  I really enjoyed having these ladies here and showing them how to think of weave structures, invent new ones and how to use colors so that the cloth is far more beautiful than if it had been woven white-on-white, for example.  As is often the case, I find I am missing the Hall sisters (not their last names these days) but I have more than enough to do in re-entry...

The technician from Same Day Heating  and Air came today to inspect and service my furnace.  I had to replace the old one last October so this one is working very nicely.  To my surprise, we got into a discussion about Hindu dieties--who would have guessed that a serviceman would know or even care?  Neither of us are Hindu but both of us have wide-ranging interests.  At one point he had said that it would be handy to have an extra hand and that brought Shiva to my mind whom, as a weaver, I have often thought of.  Wouldn't it be handy to have six arms?!  At least until it was time to buy a new tee shirt or even find a comfortable position in bed.

The people I meet often surprise and delight me.

Today I have to put the fabrics I used to illustrate my class--several hundred in all--back in their proper places so that I can find them next time and then I can begin the radio grill cloth.  I expect delivery of the black and gold cotton yarn today.  When I wove it before it made me think of the wasps that had attacked me as I shoveled out compost from the bottom of the container unaware they they regarded it as their home.  It isn't surprising that they didn't appreciate my poking around and causing general collapse.  I was astonished by how quickly they appeared and stung me and was glad for the Benadryl that stopped the swelling--and me because it makes me very sleepy.

Our weather has turned very chilly and the snow line is quite low on the hills around the city.  I live in a low part of town so we get snow last and often less than people up on the benches.  I shovel it by hand--I seem to do everything that way!--so having 12" when friends up there have 18" works for me!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The court jester

The workshop is now half over.  After all the anticipation that seems surprising to me but things are going swimmingly.  These ladies a bright and catch on fast, even to totally new information.  Being a teacher is such a joy under these circumstances.

The court jester is Bob, my young cat.  Even as a tiny kitten he displayed a sense of humor.  He would wait around a corner when he heard me coming and then jump out, standing on his back feet with his front paws up over his head as if to say "Suprise!"  Then he would scamper away chuckling as he went,  "Got her again!  She's so easy!"  He made me smile and laugh and still does.

In a quiet moment--there are a few here and there--he looks like this:
His eyes are copper colored like most of his coat.  His belly is all white and he loves having it stroked.  I love his round eyes and cheerful demeanor. He is a small cat and very sweet.  His tail is quite long and he often sits with the tip of it curled to make a circle; he is the first feline companion I have had who did that although my daughter reports that her cat does it, too.

Fortunately for both of us he leaves my yarns and loom alone.  A stern "No" was all it took to let him know.  It should be noted that I do not let anything dangle or swing--even a well-behaved cat has his limits!

When this class ends the yarns to make grill cloth for antique radios will be here so I can go to work on that.  I posted a photo of it under construction on Weavolution the last time I made it but will post one here when it is under way.  I have to weave a lot of it.  I welcome the work!

Now to bed so I will be ready for class tomorrow. I have some nifty things to show them and can hardly wait!

Friday, October 22, 2010

the first day of the workshop

Before I write about the workshop I want to mention that the Utah Opera Company's La Boheme was wonderful.  It was set in Paris--as usual!--before WWII a time when times were tough and the sets really conveyed the poverty of the bohemians, enough so that one of my companions found them dreary.  Being poor IS dreary.

Our Mimi, Laquita Mitchell, has a gorgeous voice, true and rich and almost lustrous.  Gerald Powers, as Rudolfo, was also very good although when Ms. Mitchell was singing my eyes were glued to her.  The melodies, familiar as they are, sounded fresh and were very affecting.  The evening flew by.

The workshop began this morning with the arrival of three sisters who are weavers.  One lives north of Salt Lake City in Bountiful, one lives in Idaho and the third lives in Arizona.  They are clearly very good friends as well as sisters and eager to learn.  I am always eager to share what I know and when those two eagernesses meet, it is wonderful.

We started with three kinds of drafting (from structural drafts to profile drafting) and then turned a draft and by the end of class had covered the delights of plain weave, including how to make a structural seersucker and were very deep into twills when the class ended for the day.   While we dealt a lot with structure, color was never very far from my thoughts as I explained in the examples I had pulled to illustrate our work together why I had chosen the colors I did and how they worked with the weave structures chosen to enhance each other.

With their premission I took a photo I will include here.  Left to right they are Dahrl, Terry and Merrily (doesn't her name fit the big smile on her face?).  In the back ground you will notice a doll made by Jennifer Gould and a rug by Michael Rohde.
We are having a good time!

After they left I got my hair cut--I wonder if they will notice?--and then I came home to prepare our lunch for tomorrow.

As it turned out I missed both my exercise time and my web design class last night.  There was simply too much to do and then I was almost too excited to sleep!  Tonight I will do better.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What have I been doing?

What haven't I been doing!  After I finished the second scarf (using a light peach colored silk weft which made it look very different from the first one) and the piece that will become a little evening bag, I dived into getting ready for a class that starts here, in my studio, on Friday morning.

I needed to make and install the warp the class will use and then wove a couple of inches in plain weave so I could double check that all was as it ought to be.  Check.

I had cleaning to do, too.  I have had my head down working and working and needed to tidy up.  I am not entirely finished with that but have a little time left.  I had to plan lunches that would be worth looking forward to and be easy to pre-prepare so that getting them on the table--Iam a one woman band, here, doing all of it--wouldn't be difficult.  The ladies who are coming (three sisters, a first) have no food allergies or strong prejudices that I have to work around which has made it easier.  I still need to make a grocery run for the last things and that will happen Thursday.

Today is Tuesday and tomorrow the vet comes to give vaccinations--don't tell Bob and Lola!--and I need to mow the lawns and still get cleaned up to go to the first opera of the season.  It is La Boheme so it will be a heady night of melody; Salt Lake's Utah Symphony and Opera is a great organization and never fails to please me.  I go expecting to love what I hear and see, open to new experiences and new music.  This opera doesn't fall into the "new" category and is the one I think of first (or second) to recommend to friends who have never been to an opera. 

On Thursday besides a grocery run I have my exercise time (two hours usually) and then go directly to my Web Design class.  this will be the next to last meeting of that class so I am hoping that my web site, newly revised, will be up and running soon.  I will let you know!

If the participants are willing, I will post a photo of them here once class has begun.  This is one of my Four for Four workshops:  a maximum of four people for four days.  This time there are only three so they will have a little extra time weaving, each of them.

It is still pretty early but as my English friends might say, I am well and truly knackered and will head for bed soon.

So that is what I have been doing!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Potential disaster and a very effective cure

I have finished the silk warp today and am happy with the results.  When I was measuring out the warp it made sense to me to make the warp long enough for two scarves, one commissioned and one made on spec since the work of warping is not a lot more for a longer warp... within reason.

I knew that making the warp that long was potentially dangerous but decided to risk it.  The danger was increased with the change I made after cutting off the first 9" after recognizing that I had omitted four threads in one of the stripes.  See "Good news and less good news" of a few days ago.  The change I made after re-threading most of the scarf was to contrast the warp-faced twill stripes with a plain weave ground in place of the 2/2 twill ground.  It was worth the gamble with a 2/2 ground but once that ground turned to plain weave all bets were off.

For the non-weavers among you, the area woven plain weave is used up faster because the warp threads go over-and-under-and -over-and- under.  The twill stripes are over-over-over-and-under.  the more times a warp thread (the long way threads) intersects the plane of the cloth, the more it is shortened.  For plain weave, that happens with every pick but with the twill, every third pick (or pass of the shuttle).  The plain weave threads grow progressively shorter and the others tned to sag.

After a time it was clear that this silk isn't as elastic as I had hoped and sagging was becoming a problem.  The twill stripes are double-faced twill--so that both sides of the cloth look just the same--and are threaded on eight shafts.  I had threaded the ground on four shafts (because it was a 2/2twill initially) so the stripes were threaded on 5--12.  To take up the slack I lifted 6, 8, 10, and 12 and put a very smooth dowel-like stick behind the shafts and then lifted 5, 7, 9, and 11 and put in another stick.  I repeated the even-numbered lift and inserted another stick which took up the slack very nicely.  I used rubber bands--aka The Weaver's Friends--to connect them at their ends and pushed them back toward the warp beam so that they wouldn't interfere with the working of the loom.  Of course, every time I advanced the warp, they had to be moved back but that wasn't difficult.

Once I had finished the scarf, I took the sticks out and made the same sheds and put the sticks in at the front of the loom where they worked as spacers to reserve unwoven warp for the fringes.  I wove two scarves and still had about 20" left (I was right about the length of the warp) so I put in sticks again before I wove the 20" at the end.  It is enough for a very elegant, white-on-white evening bag.  I have some white silk charmeuse I bought from Dharma Trading Company ( that I will use to line it once I have found the proper interfacing.  I might even paint the silk or dye it so that the lining will be a nice surprise....

It may be that weavers are not the most inventive people in the world, but I'd be willing to bet that we are right up there with the best of them.

So, there you have it, a nasty problem and an elegant solution.  Score one for the weavers!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Progress at last!

While it wasn't my preference to re-thread, re-sley, tie on and hemstitch all over again, those tasks are done and the scarf is growing one thread at a time.  I like the way it looks and am happy with the assymetric white-on-white stripes, too.  Here it is in progress:
The silk is smooth and lustrous and I think once it is woven and washed and pressed it will be a winner and very suitable to the man who will wear it.

I spent quite a lot of time yesterday doing yard work, mowing the lawns front and back (I use a mower that cuts and re-cuts so I don't catch the clippings but let them feed the lawn from which they came) and trimming and weeding completely filling the 60 gallon yard waste container which I put at the curb last night.  I am so glad that Salt Lake City has this program because all the yard waste they pick up is shredded and composted for use in city parks and for sale to anyone who wants to buy it.  I compost in my own garden, too, but rose trimmings take too long to break down because I can't shred it and bring it up to the heat level the city composting produces.  Our soil is alkaline here so all my tea leaves--which are acidic although not enough to be corrosive--go into my compost along with fruit and vegetable scraps and help bring the pH of the soil I amend with it to a better level.  The big cottonwood tree in the front garden drops many more leaves than I can compost but of course some of those--run through my power mower--go into the compost bin as well.

The first year I lived here I put all the leaves in the vegetable garden area (where I built raised beds some years back) and layered in nitrogen heavy fertilizer to aid in their breakdown, watering them between layers.  They were thigh deep that fall and still almost knee deep in spring.  I dug them in as well as I could and learned that the old tree (planted in 1859) produces more than I can handle.  Since then I have been more restrained in my leaf composting!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Good news and less good news

Tonight I am going to a celebration of a wedding so I switched my ticket to the Utah Symphony to last night and am I glad I did!  We had a guest conductor ( Mario Venago, Swiss) who began the concert with a lesser-known Sibelius (part of the Kalevalaz) and the well-known Finlandia.  It is no wonder that the latter piece caused the Finns to rise up against Tsar Alexander I!  It's very rousing stuff.

Rhapsody on a Therme of Paganini (Rachmaninoff) was next, played by Conrad Tao.  Tao is just 16 years old, something that wasn't at all evident in his poised manner and wonderful playing.  It is wonderful when the music is played and not just the notes.  When the familiar melody arrived I could almost hear the audience sigh; it was beautiful!  The only thing that revealed Tao's age was the way he left and entered the stage, almost scampering.  The stage was very full of musicians so getting on and off was not easy for him or the conductor. 

When he finished the audience leapt to its collective feet and practically cheered!  There were so many 'curtain calls'--no curtains on the stage of course--that Tao settled down to give us an encore.  He played the Russian Dance from Stravinski's Petruschka which to me sounded devilishly difficult and he did it well.

It is so nice to hear such a talented person who is so young.  I hope we will hear Mr. Tao many, many times in years to come.

Schuman's Symphony No. 4 finished out the concert and was played very well.  The details (returning motifs, etc.) were very clear.  The Rachmaninof was a hard act to follow!

Today I started weaving the white silk scarf.  There are about 700 ends in it and as I went along I noticed something that looked "off" and sure, enough there were four threads missing in a repeat.  I cut off what I had woven (I think the warp was too long so there is no harm in it) and started re-threading.  From what I had woven, I will change the sett just a little because it was pretty crowded, so it is all to the good although disappointing.

Therefore I have no weaving photos to show but I have been so enchanted by the Swiss chard in my vegetable garden, besides being nourished by it, that I took a photo of some just because of the colors.  The veins in the deep green leaves, depending on the individual plant, range from almost blue red, through a yellow red, orange, yellow to white.  It's a good thing I like Swiss chard because this seems to have been its year.  Here's a look:

The colors are so saturated and rich. Do you sometimes feel, looking at a color or a combination of colors that you would like to eat what you are seeing?  It happens to me a lot and this time I have been eating these colors quite a lot. 

 I wouldn't be at all surprised that a cloth will come out of this!

Time to dress for the party!  It is the son of a friend and his bride we are celebrating tonight and I love what I see in the two of them together.  So here's to the beginning of a new family!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Crossing things off the list....

The white silk is measured and beamed onto the loom.  Everything is ready for me to start to thread it tomorrow morning, even my wonderful Hockett Would Works stool is where it needs to be.  I really enjoy threading so I look forward to it.

Today I tackled several things that needed doing.  First I got my flu shot.  I really believe in immunization and don't like being sick nor do I like the part of illness that living alone brings with it.  Then I rented a post office box for business mail and for posting in my ad in Handwoven magazine and on my new web site.  I went to the bank to get documents from my safe deposit box to take with me to renew my driver's license.  I got that done but discovered that the social security card I kept in the box in the bank actually wasn't my card but sort of a receipt.  The original card was torn off from the receipt in 1964 and put in my wallet that was stolen about 30 years ago.  Sigh.  So I made a trip to the Social Security office to apply for a duplicate.  Fortunately, the wait there was mercifully short and because I had my current passport with me for the license as well, it went very smoothly.  Now I have a temporary driver's license which will be replaced with a real one in a couple weeks and my new social security card ought to be here within a week.  Now, that's service!  I have had my dental check up and cleaning and my eyes examined this week, too, so I am crossing things off my to do list at a good clip.  No wonder I am not weaving the silk scarf yet....

I just read in Laura Fry's blog (Weaving a Life) that she finds herself in the position of owing more than she has.  She discussed the possibilities (bank loan, credit card--another kind of loan--or raiding the family finances).  Things are slow for me, too, with more going out than coming in, but that should change in a few weeks if all goes as planned--as I hope it does!  The difference is that I have no family finances to fall back on or raid or anything else....

It's later than I realized.  Tomorrow is a busy day.  I leave here at 2:30 to go up to the Rehab and Wellness Clinic for exercise and directly from there to my web design class.  I usually don't get home until 7:30 ready to eat anything that doesn't get out of the way fast enough! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Odds and ends day

The day began with a call to North Carolina to learn the current price of mercerized cotton (yes, it went up since I ordered it last) and then a message to the woman in Mesa, AZ who asked me to make more grill cloth.  Then I was off to see my ophthalmologist at nine for my annual check up.  I was right, my vision isn't as good as it was last year and may be caused by the cataracts that are developing.  Cataracts?  At my age!?  In short, yes.  So stronger lights and stronger reading glasses will help to make up for the deficiency until surgical correction is required.  So be it.  At least I CAN see.....

The woman I expected on Friday did not come and finally this afternoon I called to ask whether she'd be coming by.  She said she would come straight away and did.  Now there are a lot fewer cotton towels, no linen towels and she took the silk shawl I made in August, too.  It was all trade for something I owed her so I am not ahead but have discharged a debt.  That's good, too.

The cotton from NC is on its way or will be tomorrow and in the mean time I will wind the white silk warp.  I am embarrassed that I have not done that already but it has been a day of cleaning up a lot of things that have been pestering me. 

Tonight there is lasagna for dinner.  There were several vegetarians at the potluck yesterday so there is a little left for me.  It is a dietary extravagance and I admit to looking forward to it very much.

Perhaps I will start the silk warp later.  It is beautiful yarn, so smooth and lustrous.  (Lustrous, that's a yarn that is shiny in the best possible way...and never applied to a "cheap" yarn.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Two warps figured out

I have spent the day figuring out how much yarn, how long the warp must be and what the sett (# of ends per inch) nees to be for the next two warps.

I have everything I need to work on one of them.  It will be a white silk scarf, a gift commissioned for a very elegant gentleman.  A few weeks back I went to his place of business to "scope" him out to see if I thought that what I had in mind would in fact be right for him.  I decided it will be, so now that the calculations are done I can start moving on it.

The other work is for a company in Mesa, AZ that provides parts for the restoration of antique radios.  I will be weaving grill cloth for antique Philco radios.  I have done this before but needed to calculate how much yarn I will need to order to make enough for about 100 radios (about 44 yards).  Who would have guessed there were that many being refurbished?  The order came in after the yarn company (on the east coast)  had closed for the week so I need to call them on Monday morning to start the shipment on its way.  I need to double check the price as well to be sure that the higher price will be covered by a new quote to the company.

I have also done laundry and ironing and shopping for ingredients for what I will  take to a pot luck tomorrow at 1.  I decided to make lasagna.  Fortunately I have an older recipe; these days the package for the pasta calls for commercially prepared jars of sauces and I think my home made version is better.   The house will smell very nice tomorrow but there won't be any left over....

Friday, October 1, 2010

As promised....

As promised, here is a photo of the new towels.  There are a dozen of them and no two are exactly the same; the variations are in the weft direction.
A woman I know is coming by today to select the ones she wants from this batch and those I have on hand from earlier warps.  Here's hoping that she likes a lot of them!

Heidi is shopping for Christmas gifts.  It is October now and probably not too early to think about it, particularly for handmade things. 

Recently someone asked me what is involved in weaving and when I explained that every cloth I make is put together one thread at a time, I thought he would fall over.  In every textile I make, I have handled every single inch of all the threads that make the cloth.   So, I know these towels--and all the others--very well, indeed!