So I did this yesterday

As I get more and more into designing, the process of learning seems to inevitably result in I HAVE AN IDEA AND I NEED TO MAKE THIS NOW!

While this isn’t usually a big deal, when there are only (checks calendar) six weeks until Art Fair, it can be pretty disruptive.  Yesterday was one of those days.

It all started when I wove off nearly 12 yards on Wednesday to get the AVL cleared off and ready for it’s next warp.  During the last hour of that stint, my mind started drifting off to plan the next project and I wanted to do something a bit more complicated than plain weave.  In the evenings, I’d been trying to wrap my head around a technique called “Network Drafting” because the notion of adding curves and circles to color blending is something I’d like to incorporate into my work.  So, that evening, a glass of wine and my newly-reborn laptop combined to hatch a crazy plan.  One day, one scarf.

The threading I adapted used all 16 shafts on the AVL and is a combined weave structure – using both plain weave and a 7-shaft satin repeat in the tie-up to weave off a network twill undulating curve.  The end result of that is a blurred circle pattern with two distinctly different faces – not unlike what is created when using turned twill – but with a more coherent structure thanks to the plain weave.  I knew that if I was happy with this adaptation I would use this for my booth, so that was all the push I needed to try and finish it over the course of the day.  Off I went.

The adaptations were focused on turning a large shawl into a scarf, so I needed to adjust the number of pattern repeats and also recalculate how much warp to put on.  I also spent time ensuring that the motifs would be set on the cloth in a pleasing way along both selvedges, adjusted the thread count to fit into my warp beam sections, checked for long edge floats and determined how much to weave in order to get a finished length that would work.  That took an hour or so and then it was time to pull yarns off the shelf and get weaving.  The yarn was the only thing I didn’t change – 10/2 cotton; in this case, organic cotton in undyed and a natural green.

The loom was beamed, threaded, sleyed and ready to go by lunch time (only 200 ends, so let’s not get too excited here) so by 1:00 I was weaving.  By 3:30 I’d finished not only a short sample but also the full scarf length with hemstitching along both ends.  That meant it was cut off the loom, washed and hanging up to dry by 4:00p.  From there it was out of the house for a quick run, come back to shower and then give the scarf a hard press (also to help dry it off) so that I could wear it out to a local taping of “Wait, Wait!  Don’t Tell Me!” that night.  Consider it a trial run to make sure I liked everything about it.

And, it’s wonderful.  A perfect length, soft as butter and the cloth came together perfectly.  You’ll be seeing more of these if you stop by my booth on Labor Day weekend.

Posted in Weaving | Leave a comment

A Small Bump

Last week was a busy week. I wove off nearly 2/3 of the warp that’s on the AVL and the cloth beam started to take on that pleasing plumpness that means progress is being made. The bouts in each of the sections were getting noticeably smaller and I had already gone through three colors of weft (at five towels each color, that’s no small number) and was branching off into the greens and blues. What a great feeling.

Then, yesterday, blammo. Catastrophic hard drive failure on my laptop. For my fellow Mac users, you know it’s bad when there’s nothing but a grey screen on boot (not even an Apple logo to kindle a bit of hope). The computer isn’t new – I bought it as a refurb three years ago – but I didn’t expect that it would all happen so suddenly. And the proof in *that* pudding is the fact that my last backup was on April 12th. Thank goodness it was this year, at least.

Enter the best husband IN THE WORLD and his posse of IT dudes. They gave me (and him) a few things to try and by this morning there was a glimmer of hope. Six hours, two external drives, a SD card and lots of effort later, I’ve got line-of-sight on a few key things that I did between now and that last backup and hopefully we’re performing open heart surgery tonight to put in a new hard drive. Then it’ll be restoring, copying and rebuilding as much of what’s likely gone as I can.

Since I left the tech world, I’ve embraced all the low-tech things that I love – fiber arts for sure, but also cooking, sewing, reading, and just being outside. That said, there’s a not-small part of what I do that makes heavy use of that laptop – writing, designing and keeping in touch with friends who are far away. So, when it all went to pieces yesterday, it was unexpectedly disruptive.

Anyway, now that things are (hopefully) on the way to being ok, I could get back to doing things that are more low-tech:

The warps are wound and ready to paint, colors checked using sample skeins and that trusty calculator was just the thing for working out dye formulas for each color.  And yes, that’s the guilty party just off to the left.  It’s on life-support but just functional enough for me to get this post out.  Oh, and the spindle is there because it’s once again July and time for the Tour de Fleece.  That’s my second spindle’s worth in process (Polwarth, undyed, in case you were wondering) of singles that are destined for weaving.  Another welcome distraction when the laptop is kaput.

So, wish me luck y’all.  Fortunately, the AVL has it’s very own computer and I’ve plenty of other looms to keep me company.  I can wait it out if need be.

Posted in Dyeing, Spinning, Weaving | Leave a comment