Monday, September 7, 2015

I Hope You Weren't Holding Your Breath...

A good year for our apple tree.  We never spray, yet some years the apples aren't wormy!

In the last year I've restructured operations around here, modifying several times. I needed to bring things more into line with the fact that I must stop hurting myself while doing farm tasks and dedicate more time to weaving.  The lovely Pygora goats went to several farms.  Although I do miss them, re-homing them eliminated the constant need for two pastures (one for does, one for the buck) and shelters in addition to the quarters for my sheep.  At this point my livestock consists of three elderly sheep.  I'm able to provide enough grazing with minimum use of the portable electronet fencing.  The electronet has never been kind to my right rotator cuff.

In the meantime, I wanted to get myself to a point with my weaving where I would no longer feel obligated to refer to myself as a Perpetual Beginner.  Basic skills need sharpening such as warping, reading drafts, and creating a quality woven fabric based on what I have in my mind.  I am constantly confronted in weaving by what I call Rude Awakenings.  This happens when I learn something the hard way.  My results aren't what I was expecting or hoping for because I have too many gaps in my knowledge; my reach exceeds my grasp by too many yards.  Examples include embarking on a project with a new weave structure without sampling first.  This could be prevented by cookbook-style weaving... in other words, duplicating a project in a weaving journal with the exact same warp and weft yarns and the same weave structure. With rare exceptions, this doesn't seem to be something I can interest myself in doing.

As a result my blog will be changing.  There will be less posts about sheep, or about yarns or roving for sale. Posts will focus more on current weaving projects, including those that aren't even woven from animal fiber!

That said, I'll laterally arabesque  over to the most recent work.  I've had increasing interest over the last few months in Color-and-Weave.  In her recently-published book, Next Steps in Weaving, Pattie Graver writes: 
Color-and-Weave is not a type of weave structure.  Instead, it describes a pattern that develops through repeating sequences of dark and light warp ends in both the warp and weft.  The design or pattern you see in the cloth is the result of the color alternations interacting with the weave structure.

Several things came together.  First, in the early spring I was offered the opportunity to take a course at Hill Institute called Sewing with Handwoven Fabric which will begin later this month.  The finished item will be a vest.  Lots or work... and I really want to use fabric that will make this endeavor worthwhile.  

Second, in an effort to weave more fabric that doesn't just look like mud when the warp and weft intersect...such as this...

 I had been reading a number of sources about Color-and-Weave.  

Third, a sub group of my weaving guild started a color study group this spring.  I decided that my project for this group would be a Color-and-Weave sampler, woven from the yarn that I intend to use for the fabric I'll be using my sewing class.  I warped and threaded my loom with an alternating dark and light warp and tried several different treadle tie-ups and treadling sequences, based on an eight harness eight point twill on page 115 of Color-and-Weave by Margaret and Thomas Windernecht.


The sample enabled me to make an informed choice when it came to which pattern I would weave for my vest project.  No Rude Awakenings!

I have an abundant supply (more than three hundred pounds originally), un-dyed, of this yarn.  It's sock yarn, 85% wool and 15% nylon, 1700 ypp.  I had it commercially spun here in Massachusetts from wool that I had collected from local sheep including my own.  I've been hand-dyeing it and offering it for sale for a number of years; currently it's available for knitters who like to do lots of color work in small one ounce cakes called Meadow Muffins.  It is stocked by Sheep and Shawl, a lovely small yarn store here in Western Massachusetts.

Meadow Muffins (center) at Sheep and Shawl

At left is the fabric in progress on the loom.

The photo below shows the fabric after fulling and pressing.

I'm very pleased with this fabric.  The colors will coordinate with just about anything.  The pattern isn't so large that it looks... goofy... but not so small that it is mousy like the beige and white fabric above.  I have high hopes!

There's more to say, but I think I've gone on long enough for one day.  More posts soon.

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