Thursday, August 22, 2002

August 14, 2002

After a harrowing ordeal of untangling a seven yard warp, the heddles are threaded.
I'm going into school for a couple of hours this morning, and then back to sleying
and weaving!

I think this blog is allowing for some introspection that I never usually give
myself time for. I delivered the hooded baby sweater to its recipient and the
two grandmothers were ooing and ahhing. They asked me if my mother knit and
talked about their family members who worked with fibers. It got me thinking
about families and how lucky I am.

There is so much hurt and pain suffered as a result of the families that people
are raised in. My family and childhood was so blissful that I don't think I
realized the magnitude of problems that can occur until I had children and began
observing and talking with other parents. The thought of not wanting to see
your parents or siblings was just so foreign to me. As my husband was transfered
and we moved around, I missed not being able to jump in the car after breakfast
and be at my parents before lunch. And here I was talking with women who lived
10 minutes from their family and made it a point to NOT see them. How does this
fit into a fiber blog? Except for one aunt, no one in my family did anything
in the way of fiber playing. Yet, when this bug hit me at the age of 8 or 9,
my family did everything they could to support me.

My first real fiber present (potholder kits not included) was a Barbie knitting
kit. I got a pair of red plastic needles, yarn, and instructions to make a coat
and pillbox hat (ala Jackie Kennedy). Can you imagine a first time project making
a coat, in pieces, for a skinny (well, not everywhere) doll? I was supposed
to make a tapered set-in sleeve for a first project. After many attempts I was
discouraged, but my mother came home with the green Coats & Clark How to
book, and I was rolling. I never made the coat, but I knitted things, ripped
it apart and knitted more, just to knit. After the yarn was shredded beyond
hope, I found out you could just go to the local 5 and 10 cent store and BUY
MORE!!! That little green book was my only source for a long time. I made hats,
mittens, and learned to crochet from it.

Aroung 10 or 11, I decided I wanted to sew. Dad went out a bought a Singer
treadle machine. He sold and repaired Hoover vacuums, and his salesman told
him to start me on a treadle (can you imagine a 25 year army veteran, turned
vacuum repairman, discussing his daughter's fiber interests?). Then he had it
converted into an electric, ( I know, but didn't know THEN) then upgraded to
a new machine, complete with cams that could do "fancy" stitches.

When my youngest sister married in 1983, my two daughters were flower girls.
I made them dresses to match the bridesmaids and my father was so impressed
with my talent that when he saw the new computerized Viking on the Today show
a week or two after the wedding he called me. Now my father HATED the phone.
When I called from college he

would say, "How are you? Here's your mother". So a phone call from
PA to Michigan was unusual to say the least. He told me to find that machine
and buy it, he would pay for it. Maybe that doesn't sound so extraordinary to
you, but he died a week after I picked up that machine. I never finish anything
early (you know, hemming in the car and the way to the event), but that year
I had a new machine, and all the Halloween costumes (for 4 kids) were done a
week before they were needed. That machine is will be 19 years old this fall,
and I still feel so close to him when I set it up.

This reminiscing started with a comment on ST about different machines, but
really got me on a roll. I was going through old pictures and found a picture
of my father
, with one of my first crochet projects. I was very impatient,
and never bothered with gauge. I thought I was going to have a hat for my little
sister and stayed up all night working on it. He got up around 5:30 and we decided
it may be a little TOO big for her. Sort of like the sweater I knitted for my
husband (to-be) which was too big for my 275 pound cousin! As I look back, I
realize that some things stay the same, as others change. I am much more patient
with the sampling, gauging, etc. in fact, that is sometimes as far as I get,
because it's the most fun!! BUT, I'll still stay up to the wee hours if I'm
really into a project. And I'm still the happy recipient of fiber support, only
now it's usually in the form of gift certificates and magazine subscriptions.

First Towels

I cut my losses (literally) on the towel project and took it off. The warp
was twisting more and more as I went on, leading into tension problems. The
right fourth of the warp was loose and spongey, while the left fourth was extremely
tight, and the middle was good. I have the Peggy Osterkamp's books and I'm going
to try a shorter warp, and use the kite stick like she suggests.

I lost 3.5" in width which puts them a little too narrow for the exchange,
which really isn't a problem, since I want to keep these first three. I made
two green (8/2)with one treadling and one rust(8/2) with another. The warp was
natural(6/2). I folded them over partially so that you could see the two patterns.

There were a couple of problems (but I'm still pretty proud of them). One side
of the rust towel is about 1.5" longer than the other. But I figure it's
because the warp was so loose on that side by the time I got to the rust. Another
problem was the hem. I've read that people use sewing thread for the plain weave
part. That seemed so drastically thinner that I just used the same 8/2 cotton
for the plain weave - but even before I hemmed it you could see how the plain
weave portion was wider (by about .5"). I tried to make sure the was very
little pressure on the foot so that it wouldn't increase the width any more.
I guess the next time I'll try the sewing thread.

Now for the next warp. This time I'm doing broken twill. I'd love to put a
four thread plain weave on each side, but can't figure out how to do that so,
looks like I'll be trying floating selvedges.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Rosepath Towels

By Jove, I think I've got it
I got the warp sleyed and tied on and began sampling. I didn't notice any mistakes
at first. Then after a few rows of patterning it began to look wierd. I realized
that I hadn't hooked the heddle bars back up and two harnesses got hooked together.
Fixed that, and then saw that I made a threading mistake. I thought I was going
to have to tie a string heddle, but Chandler said to snip the side of the top
and bottom heddle opening, take it off, and put it where it belongs. I couldn't
seem to get in there to snip it but I unthreaded 5 threads, took an extra heddle
and snipped that and popped it on the correct harness and rethreaded. Everything
is looking good (so far)

click to see a full size image

I am a little worried about the amount that it is drawing in. It went from
21" in the reed, to 19". Oh well, if it shrinks too much for the dishtowel
exchange they can be, what was that Claudia
said? Oh yeah, "fraternal sextuplet" placemats!

Spent the morning at school again. Rearranging, filing, etc. I think I'm going
to paint my filing cabinets tomorrow. I have six, yes a little packrat - but
an organized one - and they are pretty beat up and all different colors. As
much as I don't want to give up all my fiber time, I'm always excited at the
start of a new year. Clean slate, fresh pencils... I even have my assignments
and schedules posted for the kids.

Now on to grafting the wallaby hood and back to the loom.