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Archive for April, 2020

What a warp for pebble weave should look like…

I started a new band today, meaning I started on the actual weaving part today. I’ve been working on the warping part for two days already.

Let me explain.

I wanted to try a patterned band with two close colors, in this case gold and a reddish-brown. I’ve seen fabrics done that way before. You can see the pattern that’s been woven in, but rather than popping out at you, it’s understated. If you’re standing thirty feet away, you might not notice the pattern, but as you get closer, it first starts to look like texture, then, closer still, and it resolves into a pattern that you can see. It strikes me as elegant that way; I don’t know why. But I wanted to try it.

The problem I had was that I didn’t want to do it on my inkle loom. I’ve been working my way up to wider and wider pebble weave bands…I had forgotten how much I love pickup weaving, and I’ve learned so much more about it since picking up the books I mentioned in the last post. So the width I was going to try was a good bit wider than what I had been doing before, and I knew the inkle pegs weren’t really long enough for it. It would take the warp, sure, but the threads would be running close to the edges of the pegs, and the second I had to advance the warp, I would have to contend with threads falling off, which I did not want to do. And Moya still has a warp on her, so that wasn’t an option either.

Work finally in progress

But my Big Wave didn’t have a warp on, and was more than capable of what I was planning, so I got started creating the warp. As I’ve been working in the living room, not the studio, in order to spend time with the family, I didn’t want to deal with the warping board. Not even the smaller one. My solution was to use the dragon inkle to create the warp. On the surface, great idea. In execution, not so much. For one thing, I warped it as an inkle, which means I didn’t have the warp cross, so when I took the warp off to put on the Wave, what I wound up with was a mess. I was still optimistic though. It wasn’t a huge warp, only 48 ends. I could fix this, right?

Uh…no. I could not.

After several hours of rather inventive cursing on my part, I called it quits. I was just going to have to use the smaller warping board and start over from scratch.

Having to throw out perfectly good yarn without ever even having used it makes me angry with myself. And maybe “perfectly good” is really the wrong way to think of it, because by the time I gave up on it, it was a snarled up mess. I cut it off the loom, very gently placed the loom on the hearth in front of the fireplace, very gently placed the inkle in the studio, very pointedly did not swear or hurl anything against the wall, and walked away till morning.

In the morning, I pulled out the small warping board and proceeded to create the warp properly, and then moved it to the Wave. Here’s where things became more adventurous: I had never warped the Wave for inkle weaving before, only for tablet weaving, wherein the heddles are the tablets, and where the warp doesn’t go straight from the front beam to the back, at least I don’t do it that way. For me, tablet weaving on the Wave involves the warp going from the back beam, over the castle, and down to the front beam. For inkle weaving, though, actual heddles are required, and they’re present on the loom, which carries two harnesses. Well, I also didn’t want to use both harnesses, since this wasn’t going to be a plain weave project. Most of pebble weave seems to involve a high amount of pickup weaving, or warp manipulation. Before each pick, I spend a minute using my hands to sort through the warp strings. This one comes up from the bottom shed, that one drops down, that one gets skipped…It’s a challenge!

I decided one harness was enough. 24 strings went through heddles, the rest went between the heddles. Hooray! Tied on and ready to go. I started weaving a couple of plain weave rows, and then realized I had done something wrong.

In pebble weave, with certain sheds, the shuttle should enter from the left, and with the second shed, you should be entering from the right. Somehow, I had it reversed, which might have actually worked for a left-handed weaver. And while I am left-handed, one thing you come to grips with as a lefty early on in life is that almost nothing is created with left hand instructions. As it happens, Laverne’s books do give an explanation for lefties, but I’ve gotten so used to following directions for right-handed people that sometimes, it’s easier for me to wrap my head around doing things that way than trying to do it in mine.

This was one of those times. For lefties, the pattern is read from right to left. For everyone else, left to right. And after years of reading left to right, for me, it’s impossible to read text normally, switch to reading right to left, and back again for more text. I could not do it. In the end, I adjusted my warp with popsicle sticks and finally got it right. This morning, I was finally able to get started!!

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Working through different motifs in the book

As I mentioned last time, trying this new technique has helped my brain to focus more than it has been since the quarantine started. I haven’t been bouncing off the walls, mentally, nearly as much. So when I’m not crocheting or playing Animal Crossing, I’m working my way through Laverne Waddington’s book Andean Pebble Weave.

Laverne does her pebble weave on a backstrap loom, which makes it really portable. My house, currently, is not fit for backstrap, because I’d be sitting on the floor, and all four of my Arctic dogs are well into a summer coat blow. There is no escaping the fur, but sitting on the floor is just asking for trouble. Especially since the younger dogs take that as an invitation to jump all over me, which is not very conducive to weaving. So, I’m using my inkle loom. I have no idea if the way I have it set up is proper for pebble weave, but it seems to be working. As my dad always said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I had started with the first project in the book using a very thin weaving cotton I’d bought several years ago. Long enough ago that I no longer have the tags that told me what brand or size it is, so it could be as long as nine years ago. Who knows? But though it was going well, I quickly cut the strap off. It was so tiny that I was having trouble with the weaving of it. I warped the loom again, with DMC satin floss, which you might remember from previous posts being used for tablet weaving. I doubled each warp thread and got to work. And though it can work, satin floss is very fiddly. It’s slippery, for obvious reasons. It might have worked better had I used some other material for the weft, like I did with the tablet weaving experiment, but my weft this time was also satin floss.

What is woven on the front, is woven on the back in the contrasting color

That warp went away too.

I went back to the original weaving cotton, and decided that to make it easier for me to see, I would simply double the warp threads again. Then I realized, the inkle loom I was using wasn’t wide enough to carry the warp comfortably. Every time I had to advance the warp, I’d have strings slipping off the sides.

I brought out the big guns: Moya, my beautiful first inkle loom from Northwest Looms. She’s nine years old now, and still as beautiful as ever, and more than capable of carrying this warp. What I didn’t count on was the fact that for the first time, I would have to remove her right side in order to put a warp on her. I’d always used those tiny skeins of embroidery floss on her before, so warping with both sides on made sense. It couldn’t be done that way with large cakes of yarn. Off came the side, and I got a warp on her while video chatting with an old friend.

Once I started weaving, I realized that, though it works almost perfectly, I’d forgotten one thing to make it perfect: I didn’t double up on the weft thread.

Oops.

With the weft thread being half the size of the warps, there’s less separation between picks, which means that the little dots, the “pebbles”, are all but impossible to see. Since they’re such a huge part of the pattern — it is called pebble weave, after all — it won’t be right until I double up that weft. For now, the warp remains, and I returned, once again, to the smaller inkle loom, which I proceeded to warp for a wider band. Although I didn’t double up warp threads this time, for some reason I seem to be managing better, even though the yarn is so thin.

The big guns: Moya. You can see that she’s bigger than the piano stool!

This is the slowest type of weaving for me, because almost every bit of it is warp manipulation. I am not fast with that, in part because the yarn is so thin and the lighting in my living room isn’t fantastic. It reminds me a lot of fingerweaving (yes, I do that, too), because you basically hold the warp in both hands and transfer the needed strings from one hand to the other, keeping some and dropping others. I’m sure other weavers are a good deal faster than I am. I don’t mind being slow with this. I kind of just…enjoy the journey, and watch the pattern appear. It’s fun. And I certainly have time right now!

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Warped for the third time!

I’ve given up counting the days. Well, okay, I never really started counting. There is simply Q time, and BQ time (Quarantine and Before Quarantine).

I find ways to keep busy and make up for my lack of focus. I’m pulling out things that I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t gotten around to. I finished, sort of, the Dragon Breath strap on my smallest inkle loom. I say “sort of”, because it’s more like I called it and cut it off after the gazillionth time screwing up the turning sequence and being unable to figure out — for hours — what I did wrong. Then I chose to actually warp the loom for inkle weaving, which I haven’t done in a long time. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to inkle weave, and how portable it is. I ended up warping it three times. The first time, I completely messed up the warping and had to cut it off. The second time, I made a mistake in the pattern and threaded it incorrectly, but I soldiered on anyway. Further on, I discovered that I had also mis-warped it again, slightly, and all forward progress on the warp was frozen. At that point I cut it off, and re-warped it a third time. Finally, it was perfect. But I was using a heavier yarn than I ever have before, which worked out well, but also worked up fast. I finished the strap within a day.

Finished strap, finally!

I’ve now warped it for something new. Six or seven years ago, I ordered a book about Andean Pebble Weave. The weaving is beautiful, but I never got around to actually doing anything to learn it. The author then published several more e-books that were on Patternfish, and I ordered all of those, but I really don’t like having digital craft books. For crafts, I much prefer hard copy. It’s much easier to flip back and forth.

Then Patternfish closed its site, so I contacted the author to see if the rest of the books were available in hard copy, and they were, so I got those a year or so ago. Still didn’t do anything with them. Well, as of today, they’re in use. I warped the inkle for the first practice project in the first book, using some fairly thin mercerized cotton. I’m kind of wishing I had opted for a larger size of yarn, because as I’m doing this, the strap in progress is tiny, as you can see from the picture. The penny is for scale.

The pebble weave is dependent on warp manipulation, like pick up weaving, which is why I wish I’d used a larger yarn. But I’m actually starting to get it now, and by the time I actually finish with this strap, I should be ready to try another one. I’m actually going to try to stick to two projects right now: the crocheted blanket, and the pebble weave strap.

The pebble weave is actually helping me to focus a bit better, too. It’s just challenging enough to keep my brain from overloading. Of course, I say that now, when it will probably become a good bit more challenging as time goes on. If it keeps me grounded because I’m learning something new, that’s great!

First Andean Pebble Weave project. Tiny!!!

The nice thing about it, too, is that the books are so well written and photographed at each step, which has helped so much. I read another tutorial on pebble weave that was less detailed, and it was like reading gibberish. I couldn’t wrap my head around it at all. Five minutes with the other book, and I was warping up.

If you’re interested in learning pebble weave, I highly suggest Laverne Waddington’s books. Since Patternfish closed down, she moved them to Taproot, and you can buy either the digital copies, or the paper copies. I can promise you won’t be disappointed, and Laverne is very accessible too, being in weaving groups on both Ravelry and Facebook.

Well, it’s time to get dinner on the table, and then I’ll be back on my loom! Have a wonderful evening!

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As this shelter-in-place saga continues, I find myself in an almost surreal place, and it is playing merry hell with my head.

To begin with, everything is different since we moved, and almost a year later, it’s all still new to us. It’s a different environment, climate, populace. So completely not Colorado. I don’t say that as a complaint, simply an observation of fact. We left pine forests for magnolias and sweetgums. We left cold for hot. It is different here, and we have yet to really become comfortable here.

Another difference is that hubby is working now. It’s been seventeen years since he was last in the workforce, so that feels odd too. And now the kids are home, and homeschooling, and we are all forced to stay in. And that has suddenly become an issue.

You might say, “Yes, but you’ve been home for the last year”, and you would be right. But I didn’t realize until now, when I’m not doing it, how much running around I did on a daily basis that made being home less of a problem. Between taking kids to school, going for groceries, picking kids up, various little errands here or there, I was actually out of the house almost as much as I was in it.

Now, however, I find my focus eroding. I. Don’t. Have. It. I am bouncing from project to television to book to different project to sleeping. I can’t stay with any one thing for much time. I started the blanket, and I have been working on it. I crocheted masks yesterday. I pulled out my tablet weaving loom and managed to do that for only one full repeat. For two days, I have been completely unable to play Animal Crossing, and I love that game. But it’s too slow for a brain that is bouncing off the walls. Even blogging is affected. I can’t get through a whole post in one shot. I’ve already had to go outside in my driveway, on a windy, rainy day, just to breathe. Twice.

I don’t know if this is my BPD manifesting a manic episode, or if it’s just being forced to stay still, or both.

Then you add in life’s normal little annoyances, and there’s an extreme desire to either scream, or just sit in a corner and cry.

My tooth started to ache two days ago, as if infected. Naturally, this happens in the middle of a pandemic, just when you don’t want to go near anyone, particularly a dentist, who has to get really up close and personal with your mouth. There’s no telehealth appointments with a dentist. If he can’t get his hands in your mouth, he can’t help you.

I know there are people who have it worse. We are lucky that none of us have contracted the virus yet. We’re lucky to have a home with a backyard that we can go to when we need air. Rationally speaking, you know when you’ve been lucky. You know you’re playing Russian roulette, and you’re going to keep playing until the virus is stopped or your luck runs out, whichever comes first. And you pray, every night, that you and yours will be spared. And you sit in your house and quietly lose your gorram mind.

I can’t focus. And if this is what my ADHD child’s brain is like, then I need to be more sympathetic.

How are you coping with sheltering in place? What things are keeping you from losing your mind?

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It’s coming along!

I honestly don’t know how long the quarantine has been running now. I think we’re two weeks in, but I’m not sure. Having the kids home and constantly arguing with each other or with me has made the time feel much longer, especially now that hubby is working. He primarily works third shift, so in many ways I feel like a single parent, because when the kids are up and active, he’s asleep, and vice versa. Of course, Aneira is now a full-blown teenager, which means she would prefer not to roll out of bed until 4 pm, and there is a ton of drama and angst. I swear, I don’t remember my teenage years being quite this Daytime Emmy. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they were.

My only sanity has been yarn and all things fiber arts. Life has just changed so much, so quickly. Never did I envision a time where ordering groceries would net so little. I’ve been to every grocery store within twenty miles, and can’t find meat of any kind, unless you count the expensive crab legs and shrimp that are currently quite plentiful and quite impractical. Snack food I can find in plenty as well, but beef, chicken, and pork are in fairly short supply, not to mention the ongoing toilet paper hoarding that just boggles the mind.

And currently, we have our dogs blowing their coats out. Sif started a week ago, Valkyrie is starting now, which means Vanir and Thor will also be starting soon. There is hair absolutely everywhere. There is nowhere safe. Even the leather sofa is covered in the stuff. This is why I overruled the hubs and bought leather furniture in the first place: easy to brush off.

The blanket is coming along very well, and I’m actually enjoying making it a lot. It’s three inches tall now, which doesn’t sound like a lot, and ordinarily it wouldn’t be. Usually, when I crochet something like a blanket, it’s in double crochet. This blanket is done in single crochet, which means it’s going to take longer to make, and it’s 322 stitches wide.

I initially thought that all of the yarns in the box were gradient oriented and just started out to do the blanket that way, picking up the little skeins in order of how they were placed in the box. I quickly found out they weren’t all boxed that way, but I’m continuing to pick them up in order. It works for me this time around. Next time–and I’ve already decided there will be a next time, because I’m enjoying this too much not to do it again–I will take all the skeins out of the box and put them into a gradient order. I think I’d also like the 3D strips to be closer together as well, so I’ll try a different multiple then. But I might also experiment with doing it in a different way so that it goes a little faster. Single crochet is going to take forever. I’ve been at it for several days, and, as I said, it’s only about 3 inches in height. This, though I’ve been at it for several hours at a time while supervising Bryony through online schooling. Well, at least it’s fun!

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