Saturday, July 28, 2012

What I Bought at Convergence

This is the small selection of items I purchased at Convergence. And I'm absolutely delighted with each lovely thing.

Bottom left - a skein of silk - color "ocean" - one of the items you could purchase with registration.

To the right of that - a neat little shuttle from John Marshall's booth. I believe it is designed for saganishiki weaving - I got it to try for brocade wefts with a regular loom. It's tiny, and very flat, with lovely shaped ends.

In the middle is an itomaki, also from John Marshall's booth. I've long been fascinated with these Japanese silk bobbins. They also sold some with a little silk on them already, but I wanted to see how it was constructed (yes, I'm going to see if I can design something and get Eldy to make some for me.)

To the right is a book on Chinese braiding, which I bought at the Braidershand booth. They make the most beautiful wooden equipment for braiding, and I was intrigued with a new attachment for the marudai to do this slightly different type of braiding. The book is wonderful - lots of great information and beautiful pictures.

On top - a basket case that should be perfect for carrying a project. (I laughed to realize I was attracted to a basketcase - like attracts like, eh?)  Last, but not least, I've coveted one of the African baskets, but this time, since we were driving, there was plenty of space to bring one home, so I bought this to keep by my spinning wheel. (Inside is a baggy of fluffy white Cormo - given to me by my friend Barbara as a reminder of a story I told her about fluffy white fleece.)

Oh, and the 2 other things - on the left is a coaster/trivet from a booth selling Mexican weaving - bought that for my boss. (She mentioned that I would be missing her birthday while I was gone. I told her I'd bring her a present. Voila) And next to that is a freebie I got at the Weavolution booth - very neat gizmo - looks like a nylon wallet, but when you open it, it becomes a nice sized tote bag. Very handy for future fiber shopping excursions.

Shopping was an interesting process this year. In past years, I've been in what I call the in breath phase - so many things I wanted to add to my stash! In recent years, due to being out of work for so long, my available funds were too paltry to purchase much. Well, now my stash is pretty full (and my available time pretty slim), and I've got the funds, so I don't feel compelled to buy much - only the things that truly delight me. That's a very good place to be.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh, the Irony

This heddle fascination of mine started with a tutorial on the Braids and Bands Yahoo group. Susan Foulkes posted a wonderful class on weaving Sami bands with a variety of heddles. One which she showed was a pink plastic heddle with shorter pattern slots made in Sweden.

Well... I guess I was cheap, because I thought it was a bit pricey, and didn't want to pay that much for something plastic. That started me on this project. I decided to use my old copy of Illustrator to make a design that I could get Eldy to cut for me with the laser cutter at Maker Place. As you've seen in previous posts, I ended up with some lovely heddles made of birch plywood. The last one he cut for me has been sanded, but not finished - I couldn't wait to give it a try.

But then..... he found a place where he could get scraps of acrylic, so he cut a few for me using a sheet of dark, almost black, acrylic. Voila!
 Here, you can see the small birch one warped and ready for playing. On the left are the acrylic heddles - one in the small 9 pattern thread size, and one a little larger with 13 pattern slots.
Here's a closer shot of the smaller one.
I'm thrilled with them. It was SO satisfying to peel the paper off each side to reveal the finished heddle, and to have it actually be finished - no sanding or extra finishing needed. And, of course, that's where the irony comes in - I love the acrylic heddles, and this all started with not wanting plastic.

I'm still not great at this. Started out weaving backstrap. Right now, I've got a small heddle warped on my Cricket loom, but that's not turning out very well - it's just too short to get a good shed, I think. Plus, the handy thing about backstrap weaving is the ability to shift the tension with your body position, and you lose that with a loom. Hmmm..... I bet I could add live weight tension to the back beam - which might give the same effect. Of course, then I won't want to hold the loom in my lap to weave. :-)

There's so much more experimenting to do..... to try different weights of pattern threads..... to see if I can tweak the size of the holes in the smaller heddle.... and do I want a heddle with 15 pattern slots? It is so very cool to know that I can make whatever I want!  I've also got a learning curve in front of me - I need to explore how to make designs that will work well with this technique. A few of the ones I've tried have not quite seemed right. That's the wonderful thing about weaving - you never ever run out of things to explore.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Smaller Double Slot Heddle

Yesterday was an exciting day for me - Eldy went down to Maker Place and cut some new double slot heddles for me on the laser cutter.  The original design is 5 1/4" tall x 8 1/2" wide, with 13 pattern thread slots.  The new design is for a smaller heddle that is 4 `/1" tall x 6 1/2" wide with 9 pattern thread slots.

I purchased some 1/8" birch plywood from - my coworker Wayne said this cuts better than the previous wood I used - less scorching.  This didn't eliminate all of the scorching, though. In this picture, you can see a heddle before sanding, and one that has been sanded.

With the smaller heddle, the holes are also slightly smaller. Today, I plan to play with them and do some weaving to get a feel for which size I prefer. I'll be sure to post my results. I also think I'll spray them with some Clear Wood Finish to protect the wood. I'm not sure if that is necessary, but the wood does feel pretty "soft", so I think that will strengthen them.

(These pictures were taken with my iPhone. I obviously still need some practice with focusing. Or maybe I should go back to using my point and shoot camera.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lovely Things

Gee, it's been so long since I posted that the interface for posting has changed drastically. I just started a post, only to lose it, so I guess I'll try again.

Yeah yeah.... I don't post very often. I will confess that I mostly use my blog for the bookmarks to the blogs I read, so I can quickly and easily see if there are new posts available to read. :-)  And I've been working too much lately to do much fibery stuff, so I've hesitated to post.

But I've acquired some new lovely things that I thought I'd share. I subscribe to the Braids and Bands Yahoo Group, which recently had a tutorial on weaving Sami bands. Susan, the author, showed weaving these neat bands using an inkle loom or rigid heddle, and also showed several types of rigid heddles - regular, double hole, and double slot.  I posted a while back about a beautiful double hole heddle that I purchased on Etsy. I love it, but must confess that I didn't really enjoy the weaving process. It was too fiddly, even with adding string heddles to help with pulling pattern threads down. So I was especially interested to see the double slot heddle Susan used in one of her videos. She had a reference for a Swedish company that makes neat double slot heddles, but... they are expensive, and they are made of plastic.

Ever since, though, this has been rolling around in the back of my mind. In the meantime, I found out from a coworker about Maker Place - a new company in San Diego that has every tool known to man (including laser cutters and 3D printers.) It is AWESOME, and both my son Sam and my husband Eldy are now members. I decided to use Illustrator to make a design for a double slot heddle, and got my coworker to cut it from eight inch birch plywood. Here's the result.
You can see the size - it's sitting on top of my iPad.  If you look carefully, you'll also see that I didn't count properly. :-) But still, it's pretty cool! I've made a smaller design that has 9 pattern slots instead of 13, and bought a supply of birch plywood from a seller on amazon. I can't wait til Eldy can go down to Maker Place and cut one of the smaller ones for me.  This prototype turned out well, but this plywood scorched a little bit. I've sanded and sanded and think it will be okay, but Wayne, my coworker, told me about the new stuff I bought, and apparently it doesn't scorch.

It's been a fascinating process - both figuring out how to do the design (the lines have to be very thin for the laser cutter to cut all the way through, and the tolerances are pretty tiny. So I was pretty happy that the prototype came out as good as it did. Stay tuned for further progress.

I won't wait so long for the next post - there's more to share. I've got some gorgeous tiny 4" brocade shuttles I purchased from a woodworker I found on WeaveTech. I also plan to post a few photos of this year's big project - I went to NYC with La Jolla Symphony Chorus to sing at Carnegie Hall.

What else?  I'm trying my first Craftsy class (Lace Shawl Design), which is fun fun fun, and those folks are super helpful. I'm working on a design for a table runner with butterflies in Bronson lace for a wedding gift. We've made great progress on the house - the whole downstairs has been painted and new oak flooring installed - new front doors. It's been exhausting, but oh so gratifying.

Be healthy. Be happy.