Friday, February 27, 2009

Back to Weaving Taquete

I resleyed from 20 epi to 15 epi. I was a little apprehensive about it, since I warped sectionally, and this makes the warp wider in the reed than on the beam - something I never ever do. So far, though, so good. Now my little sheep are nice and plump. There's also one other difference - I only used the black pattern weft in areas where there were black squares on the row. Interesting to compare this to the elongated sheep here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Hummingbird Photos

I found out why I couldn't see little eggs in the nest any longer - there are little babies! I didn't want to touch the branch, so I held up a mirror. Unfortunately, I found it almost impossible to get a non-blurry picture with my little camera and no tripod.

It didn't take long before the mom tried to chase me away. This photo is blurred, too, but mostly from her wing movement. You can see that flash of bluegreen that wasn't visible in the photo of her sitting on her nest. Isn't this cool?!

I promise to do a weaving non-hummingbird post soon - I've resleyed on the David loom and will give the taquete images another go with a looser sett.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Got Her!

There are times when I really wish I had a fancy camera, or at least a magnifier attached to my little Canon Powershot S330 so I could see the icons. Anyway, I slowly opened the front door, stood there quietly, and was able to capture this shot of the hummingbird sitting on the nest. Isn't that cool?! It would be even cooler if the image was in focus, but I must have disabled the autofocus when I was hitting buttons to make sure the flash wouldn't go off. Sigh... naturally, she took off soon after this shot was taken. I'll try again soon, but I'm trying to be very careful not to disturb her or the nest.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Magical Things

First, a not so good photo of something truly magical. We have a potted tree on our front porch, and a hummingbird has made three little nests on one branch. You can see two of them here, and the middle nest has several little eggs in it. Isn't this cool! I'd love to remove the dead leaves and twigs, but I don't want to disturb the nest or the parents. We discovered this recently when we noticed that everytime we walked out our front door, we could hear the hummbuzz and noticed the hummingbird was strafing us - dive bombing close by in an obvious attempt to get us to move on and get away. I'm wondering how long it will be till there are little baby hummingbirds?

I've been interviewing for a job the last week or so, and after two face to face interviews, I'm sitting with my fingers crossed waiting. It's a fantastic company, great people and fascinating work and I really really hope I get the job. While waiting, I spent some time yesterday afternoon listening to the latest Weavecast, hemming my taquete towel experiments. Mental note - use sewing thread for the hems even if they are experiments. Surprisingly, I like the first one best - the thinner pattern weft - it has a sort of lacey look. I like the body of the second one - the plain taquete with 3/2 pattern weft in the same color as the warp. I may do that for the next one.

In the meantime, I'm resleying to 15 epi because..... my sheep design came out somewhat elongated. I used 3/2 cotton for the background color, black chenille for the faces and feet (that should have been thicker, IMHO) and handspun for the bodies. Here are my quasimodo sheep...

In addition, I have a little bit of warp left on the Megado. It's a 32 shaft straight draw threading, so I'm going to make a lift plan that will give me taquete. That warp is very loosely sett - only 12 epi - so it will be interesting to compare 12 vs the new 15 sett on the David vs the previous 20 epi sett I was using.

No end of fun! And delighting in little magical things.... if I can capture a picture with the hummingbird sitting in the nest, I'll post that. Amazing that they sit still long enough to sit in a nest, but they do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

All's Right With the World

The thing I like most about organizing is that "All's Right with the World" feeling that you get, for a little while, anyway. The thing I like next most is that doing a little organizing makes you want to do even more.

A couple of years ago, a good friend and neighbor gave me some lovely vases as a birthday gift. They are blue ceramic - one with the word "harmony", one with "serenity". I love them, but unfortunately discovered that they don't hold water very well - not sure if they leaked or sweated, but I put them on the shelf to use as bookends, until the day when I would remember to find and buy some plastic inserts.

That day didn't come, but.... as part of my organizing, I decided they would be a perfect place to put my collection of bamboo knitting needles. Voila!!!

Before I put them in their new spot, I used a permanent marker to mark the sizes on the ends. That way I won't have to find my magnifying glass to check the tiny print on the sides of the needles with the sizes. I really like these needles, though they are cheapies. I bought them on ebay from a seller in Hong Kong - got a full set with all sizes for ~ $20 including shipping. I liked the first set I got so much that I ordered another in the shorter size.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Organized Stash

I have limited space in the house for my fiber stash, and last year purchased a small storage shed to put in the backyard. I shoved boxes of stuff in there, but found the result unsatisfying for a variety of reasons - first, it didn't look very nice, and second, I found some spiders in there - I figure if spiders can find their way inside, so can some other bugs. I contemplated renting a storage unit, but those are expensive here in San Diego. It dawned on me that if I transferred stuff to clear plastic storage bins, my stash might be safe in the storage shed.

So... I purchased a bunch of bins at Target on Sunday. Unfortunately, I eyeballed the lids rather than trying them, and... you guessed it ... I had the wrong lids. We had torrential downpours on Monday, so yesterday I went and exchanged the lids for the correct ones.

I printed labels for each bin and put them in page protectors and tucked them in the sides of the bins. Since we're expecting more rain tomorrow, I decided today was the day to clear out the junk stored in the shed, and move my bins in. I'm exhausted, but got it done! Here you can see stacks of bins with spinning fibers and weaving yarns.

And here you can see the stack of bins with knitting yarns.

This means that next time I'm looking for a specific item from my stash, I should be able to find it fairly quickly, and it should be pretty safe in the shed. Luckily, I don't have a lot of wool, but I do plan to check from time to time and see if my scheme is working, and if not, move the wool out.

It's amazing how much energy getting organized frees up!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Taquete Texture

I'm still on a roll with this taquete warp, and learning a lot.

For the second towel (which I just finished weaving), I decided for the body of the towel to stick with taquete rather than summer and winter. the weft is 3/2 cotton, and I just wove a 4 pick sequence of
1 + 3->8 down
2 + 3->8 down

On a regular jack loom, this is equivalent to
2 up
2 + 3->8 up
1 up
1 + 3->8 up

Very easy to treadle, and so very comfortable to weave, all with the same weft, and I like the fabric texture that resulted.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why the David Loom is Great for Taquete

First, to describe the Louet David loom - mine has 8 shafts and 10 treadles, and it is a reverse jack loom. What's a reverse jack? Well, with a regular jack loom, all your threads are at one level, you press a treadle that lifts some shafts. With the David loom, there are springs that pull all of your warp threads up. Instead of tyeing the treadles to LIFT some shafts, you tie the treadles on the David to pull shafts DOWN. This gives an excellent shed, since some threads are pulled up and some down, as you have with a countermarche loom. When not weaving, a post fits through cams on all of the shafts, lowering the pulled up threads so they don't have unnecessary tension when the warp is at rest.

As for taqueté - it's basically summer and winter with no tabbies. For each row of your pattern, you lift 1 and all of the pattern shafts that don't have color A in your design, and then throw a pick of color A. With 1 still lifted, you lift all of the pattern shafts that don't have color B and throw a pick of color B. If you've got three colors, well, you get the pattern. Then you repeat with shaft 2 and the pattern shafts. So if you have three colors, each row in your design will be woven with 6 picks.

Since the David loom is pulling shafts down, it's even easier. I've got the treadles tied up so the left four treadles each have one shaft tied to them, 1 2 3 and 4 in order. The right four treadles have 5, 6, 7 and 8 tied to them, in order. The middle two treadles are tied up for tabby - the left one is tied to 1 and 2, and the right is tied to 3 through 8.

Say the first row of my design has Color A for shafts 3 and 4. Now, I can press the treadles for 3 and 4, insert a pickup stick, then treadle 2 (so shaft 1 stays up) and then throw a pick of Color A. If my feet are long enough, I can actually press treadles 2, 3 and 4 at the same time and throw the pick, and I don't need the pickup stick. So the sequence becomes

2 + pattern shafts for color A, throw the A shuttle (= lift 1 and shafts not for A)
2 + pattern shafts for color B, throw the B shuttle
2 + pattern shafts for color C, throw the C shuttle
1 + pattern shafts for color A, throw the A shuttle
1 + pattern shafts for color B, throw the B shuttle
1 + pattern shafts for color C, throw the C shuttle

And you just repeat that sequence for each row. If one of the colors doesn't appear on a row of the design, you throw a pick of that color with just 1 or 2, whichever step you are on. If a color appears in all of the blocks, you can use the second tabby treadle plus 1 or 2. To me, it's much easier to think of treadling for the shafts where you want pattern to appear ("I have pattern on shafts 3 and 4, so I'll treadle 3 and 4), rather than having to do a mental translation "okay, I have pattern on shafts 3 and 4, so I need to treadle shafts 5 through 8."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Taquete Second Try

So why am I playing with taqueté?

I first learned this weave structure in a workshop given by Lillian Whipple, sponsored by San Diego Creative Weavers Guild, back in the 90's. It was a fun workshop, and I remember really enjoying it and playing quite a bit with making bitmap designs to weave. I wove the shuttle and spindle below after the workshop, using pickup for the spindle since the design wasn't symmetrical, but have never woven with this structure since.

Well, Lillian was back in San Diego in January, but unfortunately, I was not able to take her workshop. It got me thinking of taquete, though, itching to play with some of those old designs I had made. I didn't feel up for a sewing thread warp, though, and wondered what it would be like using a heavier warp. Hence the current experiment.

After finishing the first towel, I also decided to try something else I haven't used much. Kati Meek was here last year, and her method of live weight tensioning is magical! Since this particular loom has ratchet and pawls rather than a friction brake, I decided to try the live weight tensioning. Weaving is so much more fun when you don't have to get up to advance the warp.

This picture shows a few things - first, I've got my bobbin winder attached to the back beam. The electric bobbin winder is in the other room near the big loom. It's handy to keep this one here, and space efficient to have it on the back beam since I'm not weaving the full width. Second, I had an odd-shaped rectangular grass basket and was wondering what I could use it for. Since this loom is in the corner of our family room, I decided it was perfect for holding the cones for my weft yarns. Keeps the area looking not quite as chaotic as usual. Last, but not least, the weight pole I've got is too wide for this area, so rather than using it and risking someone gouging a shin, I just hung the weights on rafter hooks. For this warp, I've got 15 lbs of weight on each side of the loom, and I used the collettes from the weight pole as counterweights. It's working really well.
I decided to try a little fatter pattern weft - so I wound three stick shuttles with some chenille. This does give better coverage, though I think I need something still a little heavier. And... I'm still having fun.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Taqueté Experiment

First, a Doh! When I warp sectionally, I push each section into velcro mounted on a stick, and use that stick to advance the warp for threading. I hang cords from the built-in raddle and use pegs to make loops for the stick to go through. This works very well, except when I goof as I did here. The warp sections should go over the back beam and then go over the stick from the other direction. Duh... oh well, at least it was fairly easy to fix, and I realized it immediately.

This warp is 8/2 cotton sett at 20 epi. It's a summer and winter threading, blocks in point order with 7 pattern repeats. My plan was to weave the towel in summer and winter, but a design band in taqueté.

It will be interesting to see what this looks like off the loom. In the photo, it looks like I have a treadling error - at the same point in both repeats. I could swear I didn't skip anything - I'm wondering if the pattern wefts that aren't weaving pattern will even out when the tension is released. We'll see. Right now, it doesn't look much like what I was shooting for - I suspect I need fatter pattern wefts.

At least I'm having fun.