Archive for 2011

I’ve been pretty busy finishing up my things to take to the Seattle Weavers’ Guild annual show and sale at the end of this week.  I will take and post pictures of the new “peerie blankets”, hopefully by tomorrow.  Meanwhile, here is the information on the annual event for any of you out there who are near Seattle and would like to drop by!

These are images from the sale postcard – but it was quick and easy for this busy gal today!  I’ve also added a link to my sidebar for more complete information.

I will be there Thursday morning for set-up (the sale opens at 5 pm on Thursday) and also on Friday late afternoon into evening.


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Lots happening here lately, family stuff and getting ready for having hardwood floors put down on the main floor of the house.  The couple who built the house divorced partway through – he was the builder – and some things never were finished.  We have been living with painted subflooring for the last year and a half.

But I digress.  I have been weaving more blankets, not yet through the fulling process, and also finished up these plaited twill scarves in a new warp colorway I am calling “Aquarium”.

Aquarium with "Blue Ming" rayon chenille weft


Aquarium with "Blue Ming" tencel weft


Aquarium with Black tencel weft

Aquarium with Navy tencel weft

Aquarium with Teal tencel weft (made 2 of these)

I also made one with Teal rayon chenille weft, but a friend of mine saw these while I was still braiding the fringes, and snapped that one up before I even had a chance to take a picture!  I have been using the tencel more than the chenille lately, because it shows the pattern so much better, but people do seem to like the weight and feel of the chenille ones.

We decided to take up the larch flooring they had put down in the main floor bathroom (which is now newly done with linoleum) and the guest bedroom, so that all the flooring would be consistent on the main level.  Turned out to be an awful job for Rick.  The boards were about 6″ wide and maybe they were worried about cupping, because they glued them down with construction adhesive, as well as nailing them.  He had to cut them into 2-3″ pieces with a saw then chip the pieces up with a hammer and chisel.  Gag.

This left an uneven surface which had to be sanded and filled in the bedroom (new underlayment in the bathroom since that floor had to come up in height a bit).

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Rug Weaving with Judith

I’m back from the rug weaving workshop with Judith MacKenzie at the Rainforest Art Center in Forks, WA.  I brought my little workshop loom, a 20″ Macomber “Baby Mac” (model CP).  I wasn’t sure it was sturdy enough for the tight tension and strong beating for rugs, but it did OK, especially as we were just making samples.

The first thing we tried was flokati, a technique for making a rug that looks like a fleece without having to kill the sheep/goat to get it!  You weave distinct locks from a longwool breed with curl (not crimp), or locks of mohair from a goat, into a background web.  So we put the locks in every 4th shed, then wove 3 shots of plain weave between, with a warp and weft that were soft enough wool to felt (in this case, some of Judith’s 70% Rambouilet/30% mohair yarn).  Then you full (partially felt) the piece to make sure the locks of wool/mohair can’t pull out.

Here’s my sample underway on the loom:

We had three fleeces to choose from:  a Wensleydale sheep, a Lincoln sheep, and a mohair goat.  I wound up using all three, randomly mixed in on each row.

You can see what a beautiful, light-filled room we had to work in.  It was upstairs in what had originally been an Odd Fellows Hall.  We had help (strong men) carrying the looms and all of our other stuff upstairs the first day, and back down when we left.

Here are some of the flokati samples laid out on the floor:

The next day we put on a 1-yard warp of Judith’s bison yarn.  This is 50% bison hair (not the soft downy expensive undercoat) blended with wool.  It is kind of rough feeling but very tough for a rug.  The bison weft yarns had been dyed by Judith so we had a number of colors to work with.  The technique was pick-and-pick, which means you come up with pattern bands that form by alternating colors in the 2 sheds of plain weave.  The goal was to make a limited selection of colors (6-8) look complex by the way they were combined (optical blending) and the various patterns used.

Judith had 2 sample bison rugs, a small one hanging on the wall:

and a larger one she had on the floor at her house for several years.  This one was a lot softer and she said that was just from being walked on, not from washing!

I had some trouble maintaining even tension on my sampler.  I decided this was because my “shoestring method” of tieing on to the front apron rod just wasn’t holding under the tight tension and heavy beating needed to pack the weft down so it completely covers the warp.  So my sample was all wonky towards the end – curved and angled.  This can’t be fixed after the fact.  But at least I got to try the pick-and-pick technique.

Here is a shot of everyone’s bison samplers laid out on the floor (mine is bottom right):

The last warp we put on was 2 yards of a white 4-ply wool warp. This time I tied on to the front apron rod the conventional way (no shoestrings), with a surgeon’s knot that could be tightened until the tension was even across, then a second square-knot type tie.  It worked a lot better!

The idea was to try a number of techniques.  The first one was clasped wefts, a way to get 2 colors in one shed by “clasping” one around the other and then pulling that point through to where you want the colors to meet in the piece.  So you are beating a double shot of each color in each shed.

clasped wefts in a random pattern

Oh, we were weaving with the softer and less bulky Rambouillet/mohair blend yarn that Judith had dyed for us.  Still pretty sturdy but softer feeling on the surface.  I was enjoying this so much that I continued with some pick-and-pick patterns and will repeat the clasped weft pattern at the other end, making a square piece for a pillow top.

This is about as far as I got before we had to pack up and leave on Monday.  I’ll finish it at home.  Judith did demonstrate soumak and some knotted and pile techniques, and I may try them on the rest of this warp, but we’ll see.

On the way home I spent 2 nights with my friends at Lake Quinault (Lochaerie Resort, see sidebar).  The weather was gorgeous and Chris and I went for a hike in the rainforest on the South Shore on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I met Rick in Seattle and we spent the afternoon and evening with our dear friends who are currently living in Redlands.  Then home again after 8 days and 1000 miles on Thursday, back to the Methow!

We were supposed to go camping up in British Columbia with my Dad, but his Rialta RV developed an engine problem when he took it into Anacortes to have the tires checked.  So he had to have it towed to an RV service place and things were up in the air.  But now he is coming over here tomorrow (in his Prius with the cat) and we will just have some good times in the Methow Valley and surrounding areas.  So that’s my story for now!

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Fair results

I will be gone from home for most of the rest of September, so blog activity will be scanty at best.  But, I will take pictures!  First up is a rug weaving workshop with Judith MacKenzie out at the Rainforest Art Center in Forks, WA (on the Olympic Peninsula – yes, that Forks, with the vampires etc.)

Meanwhile, I got some nice recognition for my 4 entries to the Okanogan County Fair:

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Rick’s daughter and son-in-law drove up from Medford last Thursday to visit us and see our new home at Wolf Creek.  It’s a long drive, about 12 hours if done straight, so we really appreciated them making the effort.  We didn’t “do” much, just took it easy and had a nice visit.

But it turns out Duane loves to split wood.  Who are we to argue?  Now all the firewood is split and stacked neatly away for winter!

On Sunday we drove up to Hart’s Pass – actually beyond, to the base of Slate Peak.  From there is it a short walk up to the fire lookout at 7488 feet.  Gorgeous views all around of the North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness.

on top of Slate Peak, Mt Baker in the background



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Peerie blankets

I’ve been reading a series of mystery novels by Ann Cleeves which are set in the Shetland Islands,  a place we visited 11 years ago.  They have reminded me of the use of the word “peerie” which means little, or small.  I am used to hearing it in association with the small filler-type patterns in Fair Isle sweaters, but it has more general use, as “when I was a peerie boy…”.

So here are the peerie blankets or lap robes I have been weaving during July and August.  I finally got around to the finish work last week (braiding the fringes, then fulling them in the washing machine).  For the most part I am still working my way through my vast stash of 2-ply Shetland knitting yarn – I have it down to a science how much I need of 8 colors for the 3-yard warps!  Sometimes I have supplemented with Harrisville Shetland on cones, or other wool knitting yarns.

This one is different, though.  I was given 2 skeins of hand-dyed, hand-spun Romney yarn in shades of purple at knitting retreat last year.  Not the softest yarn for knitting, but she thought maybe I could “do something with it” weaving.  Indeed!  I used the hand-spun for the warp but did not have enough for the full width of the blanket/throw, so I supplemented it with Satakieli (a wool yarn from Finland) and also some Harrisville Shetland in the center section.

#6 with hand-dyed, handspun Romney yarn

This one was done with 2-ply Shetland left over from a kit I bought many years ago from Tomato Factory Yarn Co.  It was for the Alice Starmore design called Luskentyre, which is also found in the pattern book called The Scottish Collection (long out of print).  They must have given me a lot of yarn in the kit, because I had a lot left over.  I did supplement it with other similar colors I had in the stash.

# 7 Luskentyre

Here it is with the sweater.  The blanket was woven with a purple weft so it isn’t nearly as light in color as the sweater, which also included a lot of cream colored wool.

Here are two more. One was done in shades of black to mid gray with a light gray weft, and the other in shades of brown with a cream weft.

#8 grays

#9 browns

And finally, another blue one:

#10 shades of blue with teal weft

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Lochinver finished

It’s done, the hand of the knitted fabric feels great, and it fits as well as you can expect from a drop-shoulder design.  The extreme taper to the sleeves seems a little odd, but I will wear it for a while before deciding if any adjustments are needed:

I found these 3 buttons in my stash and they are perfect.  I don’t plan on buttoning/unbuttoning as it pulls over my head just fine.  But they make a nice decorative finish to the neckline:

I’m entering it in the county fair next week in the “Fleece to Finished Item” category.

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