What I did on my vacation, by Kate

The last week of March, I was on vacation.

And what a vacation it was! No one called me, I had no obligations to anyone, I had a pile of DVDs*, a pound of tea, plenty of milk for it, and nothing else but time and a lot of potential and actual in-progress projects.

Up at 6am, boil water for tea, proceed to Designated Project (whatever I feel like doing), pour boiled water over tea leaves, return to Project, pour tea when steeped, return to Project. Drink delicious, life-giving tea. Add food when necessary. Go to bed when exhausted, probably 9pm. Wash, rinse, repeat. For NINE GLORIOUS DAYS.

Okay, I did get some other, non-crafty things accomplished too: car’s oil changed, car inspected, garage/basement cleaned and tidied up, laundry, dishes, bills paid, some groceries purchased… but that all amounted to hardly any time at all in the scheme of things. (Still hugely glad to get it all done.)

On to the pictures (which I did not take enough of, alas)!

The latest dishtowel project was finally washed, dried, cut, and hemmed, along with the hemming of the second blue/green bathmat. I love these towels so much, I have plans to make at least 8 more, and matching napkins.

On the way home from one of my errands, I swung by the local fish monger’s for clams. After making the diz from the mussel shell, I’ve been thinking about other shells I could use. I bought some mahogany clams a few weeks ago, but am not thrilled with those shells (the idea of needing to use bleach to get the mahogany part off does not appeal), but I really did want to eat clams and when I saw there were regular old clams, I jumped at buying a couple of pounds. They were delicious, by the way, and the shells are mostly gorgeous, no? I’ve not got around to applying the drill yet.

Possibly on the same day, while running some sort of errand, I found myself in Hadley, where there’s a dairy farm that sells raw milk. And I thought, oh, I could make cheese! So I bought a gallon. But, because I really want to avoid things like listeria, I pasteurized it, which is something I had to learn to do (above: left, heating to 165F, right, cooling to ~80F). Don’t get me wrong, I loooooves me some raw milk, and I don’t really drink milk at all (it’s just for tea). But raw milk is like the Elixir of Life – I don’t know what it is about it because it doesn’t taste all that different than pasteurized milk, but MAN. I could drink a half gallon in one sitting. Really, though, listeria would have ruined my vacation, yanno?

CHEEEEEEESE!

See, next door to the fish monger’s is the local Beer and Winemaking Supply Shop that also carries some cheese making supplies. In this case, rennet. So, heat milk, apply rennet, wait a bit, cut the curds, keep cutting until they’re small, heat the milk a bit until more whey comes out, drain off whey, add salt to the curds, put in the fridge to drain some more, and PRESTO! You have the best tasking cottage cheese ever. Really. That crap in the grocery store that has 17 ingredients? You don’t need that. You need milk and rennet and salt. And maybe a little cream to mix in at the end to make the curds creamy. Honestly, it’s not hard. Also, rennet is wicked cheap and a gallon of milk makes a lot.

I tried cooking the whey to get ricotta, but it didn’t quite work out. I’m not sad, though. I’m not a big ricotta fan. At some point, I will figure out what to do with the whey.

A couple of days later, I did buy a half gallon of 2% pasteurized milk from the store down the street to give that a try. And it worked! Sometimes dairies pasteurize their milk at a higher temperature than is strictly necessary and that destroys the proteins enough so that the rennet won’t actually produce a curd, just a sort of slurry. You can’t get cheese out of that. But this particular brand I had high hopes for, and I chose wisely. So much cottage cheese on my vacation. So much deliciousness.

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OMG dreadful. This is embarrassing.

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Sort of better.

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This is acceptable. Especially since I know it will absolutely be fine after washing and drying several times.

I also practiced weaving plain weave. Every single weaver I’ve spoken to has been shocked that I avoid plain weave because my edges suck. And they do! Or they did. A lot. You can see in the last picture that it got much better. I needed the practice for the napkins I need to weave, so I chose my least favorite yarn, warped on 4 yards at 24″ wide and got to work. I had it done in a couple of days, I think, from start to finish amid doing a few other things. Then washed and dried the snot out of it. I experimented with shuttle throwing, beating, and whether or not to use a temple. There were mistakes, but for the most part, I figured I’d end up with a piece of cloth I could cut up and use for something else if it got really ugly, and I’d gain More Experience. In the end, I did get a piece of cloth and more experience, and both turned out better than I thought they would! The cloth is going to serve as a bag with which I’m going to fill with clean, carded wool, then sew up – I need a new bed pillow. There’s a bit of cloth left on the good end that I’m going to hem up to use as a sample napkin (likely, it’ll get sent to Dan in Vermont who is sometimes my Industrial Tester. Also, he is one of the napkin requesters, so sample.)

And hey! I learned how to make nice plain weave selvedges! Huzzah!

I also went to a local Mineral, Fossil and Gem show. It’s small, annual, and extremely close to where I live, and I forget about it every year. Except this one! (World’s Cutest Lobster Fossil – yes?) I got to hold a wee baggie of mammoth hair, and the upper back portion of a mastodon jaw complete with molars!

And also, of course, I worked with wool. A lot.

I washed wool – finally got 421’s fleece done! – combed wool, spun wool, and plied wool yarn. I lurve this wool so much, and cannot get over how much I love it. Combing, it turns out, is sometimes the funnest thing ever. When you’ve got the fibers free of dirt and vegetation, and they just shine in the light – oh man. It’s gorgeous. The spinning is actually slightly difficult, but this is because, it turns out, I learned to spin slightly incorrectly. Or rather, when I first started, I had figured out on my own how to spin a good yarn, then someone steered me slightly off-course, and I didn’t know any better but thought it was my fault that I couldn’t make good yarn… well, long story. To cut it short, I’ve had to re-learn what I’d taught myself years ago. But hey, yarn! That two-ply is completely suitable for weaving! WOOHOO! (Okay, I’m not totally convinced that that picture is of the weaving-suitable two-ply, but it is a sample of yarn spun from 420’s fleece. I’ll have to dig around for more pics!)

And that pretty much concludes my vacation!

The wool is going to be a Project for a while – I’ve only just made a noticeable dent in 420’s fleece, 421’s fleece is a bit heavier and will be spun separately, 801’s fleece is going to be part or all of my new pillow as a lot of that is really too short to comb and kind of weak for spinning (also second cuts! Argh!), and 409’s fleece (the North Country Cheviot) still needs washing. AND, I found my very first fleece ever, which was apparently somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5lbs and was not all washed at once. Looks like ~3lbs remain (6 years later – argh) unwashed, so that’s on the list for processing too.

Stay tuned for progress on the pillow and napkins!

*For the record, the DVDs play in the background in the same way an audio book might. The advantage to this is that I can play the same DVD two or three times and get something new out of it because I’m not really paying attention the whole time. The disadvantage is that I have to play the same DVD two or three times to get the whole plot because I’m not paying attention the whole time.

Stripey Goodness

This is a commission that I’ve started on, which I realize now I’m a smidge more than halfway through.

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I had a hard time coming up with this color pattern, and at first I was not entirely happy with it. But man, I love it now.

 

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This weft made me love this warp even more. I love it so much, I want to wind another identical warp. Because the stripes are pretty bold, I kept the woven pattern simple to balance things out.

 

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I’m still fascinated and surprised that you can put yarns on this contraption and get cloth out of it.

 

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This was the second towel – purple warp.

 

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Beginning of the third towel: green warp. Still in love with this project, and I still want to weave more of it.

 

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It’s always interesting to see what a weft color does to the warp. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to predict the results, which is delightful.

 

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Closeup of the transition between the purple weft and the green weft. Looks like I didn’t beat quite as hard as I should have in the hem, but once washed, it’ll be fiiiiine.

 

I can’t wait to see how these will turn out after they’ve been washed!

 

If anyone is interested in buying towels like these or have any questions, please let me know in a comment. These are $45 each, and should last many years. I can also weave runners to a specified length, and soon I’ll have napkins available.

Moar wool.

This past weekend was so full. (Except for sleep, alas.)

There was so much tea, snacks, wool combing, spinning, tidying, weaving, and washing wool. (And there were the usual weekend chores too.)

Here, have some pictures:

I may have mumbleboughtanotherfleecemumble….this one’s a North Country Cheviot, a breed I know nothing about, but this fleece is huge, so I’ll find out. So hey, learning! The wool is soft and very springy, and as you can see, very white. I washed a handful just to see what it was going to be like, then flicked a lock to see what that would be like. I think spinning this is going to be very different than spinning 420.

And speaking of 420, I gave in and slapped a fresh bobbin on the ole spinning wheel, and started spinning up some of those nests:

I got a little rambunctious there and didn’t move the yarn winding on, so it buckled a bit, but that’s okay. Both colors are from the same fleece, which I adore! I can’t wait to weave with this yarn – I think this might be like knitting socks with a variegated yarn in that you end up with a surprise in the final color pattern. So many more nests to spin! (So much fleece yet to comb!)

This is a diz. Homemade. I think this shell came from Long Island Sound, but it might have come from Maine. Or Nova Scotia. Totally unsure. In any case, I pretty much always have the odd shell around just in case I figure out something to do with them. I love shells, and have always thought that surely there must be some use for them! This one is now a diz. There was about 15 minutes of sanding on the top, then, wearing protective eyewear, I drilled three holes. I think I probably should have sanded the edges of the holes a bit more, but it works now.

After you’ve combed your wool into submission, and you’re ready to get it off the comb it’s on, the tool of choice is a diz. You can do this without a diz, but the diz makes things more even and consistent. You thread a bit of the wool through one of the holes in the diz, and then gently pull. The wool, naturally a bit sticky to itself, will draw off and bring other fibers with it, and you end up with a long snake-like piece of wool with all the fibers going in one direction, ready to spin. To store this, you wrap it around you hand a bunch of times and pull a loop near the other end through the middle. There’s a good tutorial for combing and making a nest here, though she doesn’t use a diz.

I also, at some point, went grocery shopping, and found a bag of mahogany clams that were calling out to me. I figured, hey, good food, and then a pile of shells with which to experiment and maybe make more dizzes. Or practice making dizzes. They were delicious, too.

And I finally got started on the next dishtowel project!

Stripey goodness!

Stripes, it turns out, are a PIA if they don’t follow any sort of per-inch pattern. So, this one has a pattern something like .5″, 1.5″, .75″, 1.5″, .75″, .5″, wash, rinse, repeat until you’ve reached 600 ends across, or 20″. But hey, more learning! Also, they’re going to be really pretty.

Next weekend, I’ll be driving up to Burlington, VT to visit a friend. I’ll try to bring the hat to work on. I’ll also try not to buy any fleeces, yarn, paint, ink, wood, tools…well, anything. I have FOUR bags full now and need to make some headway on that!

So. Much. Wool.

There’s been a lot of crafturgency going on lately. Frankly, it’s been difficult concentrating at my day job, especially when I work in front of All Teh Internetz, basically. I mean, weaving drafts, knitting patterns, colors, dyes, how to make [insert thing here]… I’ve been fortifying myself with tea and chocolate, quietly determined to cross things off my work diary list, but man. Just… man.

Maybe I should just post some pictures. That should get things started.

The week of Valentine’s Day, I wove two bath mats, washed and dried the cloth three times for maximum shrinkage, hemmed one, and gave it away just last week. The other is for sale! When I get a chance to get some more blue thread, it’ll get hemmed and can be packed up and shipped. It’s 20″x 30″ almost exactly. (If you’re interested, please leave a comment!!)

Sunday, February 19th, I went to visit a shepherd friend of mine with another friend and I bought two fleeces, fresh off the sheep 24 hours earlier. The one on the chair turned out to be huge – that’s from sheep 420. The smaller fleece is from 807. I started washing 420 right away, and you can see the lovely grey locks I got! I was sort of hoping the yellow tips would come off with carding, but they mostly haven’t. Of course, as soon as I had some dry wool, I spun up the tiniest bit – so shiny!

So, this wool. This particular fleece from 420 was large to begin with (5 or 6 pounds?), but after I washed it all, it pretty much doubled in volume:

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The bag in the back is only a tiny bit less full because I combed some.

Which means I had to buy combs so I could comb the wool. Which was fiiiine. I’ve been wanting a pair of combs for a while. For some reason, I’d been taught that a flick carder was all you needed, and I hated that stupid thing so much. No one told me about combs until kind of recently – it turns out that combing not only lets you produce a greater quantity of ready-to-spin fiber, it also gets more of the crap out (you thought your wool was really super clean? Comb it and watch what else falls out!), AND you have much better control over the quality of yarn you’re spinning.

But before I get to the combs… last weekend, I had to go back to see my shepherd friend and buy 420’s sibling’s fleece:

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Yes, 421. 421’s fleece is perhaps slightly bigger, but also greasier, so it was heavier – 7 lbs. I love it so! It’s still waiting in the queue to be washed as I’ve started washing 807:

The fleece on the floor – darker brown, but there were some surprising greys in there too! I am currently very carefully working out of buckets. Two cold soaks, then a hot soak in slightly soapy water, then a hot rinse, and dumping all the water outside so dust, dirt, and dissolved lanolin don’t affect the septic system. I read something about someone using a dash of vinegar in the rinse water to restore the pH to the fiber, which I thought was a good idea. I think it also makes the fiber shinier and softer, which would make sense according to other things I’ve read about shampoo and conditioner for humans. And my experience dyeing silk, which is also a protein fiber, includes a lot about a mild acid restoring the pH. In the same place, I also read that adding a few drops of clove oil might repel moths, though there’s no proof. I liked this idea too, so I’ve been doing that. I love the smell of wool – raw, clean, wet, dry – but this new smell is really good too, if extremely subtle. And hey, if it repels moths, I’m all for it. Plus, I just happened to have clove oil from a previous project. So.

I’m not done washing 807 yet – I’m about 2/3rds of the way through. Hopefully, I’ll have it done by the weekend! There’s still so much to get done, but I really would love to have 807 off the floor at last.

Last weekend, I also started a hat (finally). This hat had a very long start. I think I cast on four times and had to rip it out, threw the pattern in the corner for a while, pointedly ignored the hat, then had to finally get a new set of double pointed needles because OMG the circular one I’d tried using, the one recommended in the instructions, was too long. I nearly gave up. I’ve knitted two sweaters, countless pairs of socks, even cabled socks before I learned to read a pattern – I just made the cable up, and fingerless mitts. A hat shouldn’t be difficult. It’s a hat. I should be able to bang one out in a weekend, but noooooo. Murphy and I have a very special relationship. Easy? Then for Kate it will be difficult. I persevered. There’s a mistake in it, but I’m not ripping it out. I didn’t notice until about two inches past it, and this hat needs to go to it’s intended recipient (where it should have gone two months ago, dammit). I have strong feelings about this hat. Strong feelings.

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It’s coming along. I’m calm. Honest. Calm. I’ll knit two or three more after this.

So THEN…

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…there were pancakes. I had a bunch of things that were going to go bad, mostly buttermilk. But also some eggs. And I had the dry ingredients left over from a cake that wasn’t to be (the wet ingredients didn’t make it, but the dry ingredients were set aside for a couple of weeks). And there was a half of a container of sour cream left. And hey, oh, hmm. Here’s some almond meal that’s been in the fridge for I don’t want to think about that. Smells okay. What else? Orange flower water. Sure. Oh! And some fresh blueberries that somehow made it through the week without getting eaten or going bad. Huh. Better use those up. I might have added a bit of cornmeal too.

I literally poured things into a big bowl, added more baking powder, and stirred, then ladled it out onto a buttered sautĂ© pan, and voilĂ ! Pancakes. Some with blueberries. Two with chocolate chips (turns out, I’m not much of a chocolate chip person when it comes to pancakes). There are still quite a few in the freezer. They’re delicious!

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Yeah, so while the hat was happening, this is as far as I’ve gotten on my cardigan that I really wanted to be done for April. Yeah. Um.

Then there was the local Orchid Show! I finally, finally remembered this year and got myself down there nice and early. Alas, I did not buy a single orchid (such restraint, don’t you think?!), but admired all of them, and checked prices for next year. I have three phalaenopses that I have not only NOT managed to kill, but they’re actually growing (one has decided to bloom again from the same stalk it put up last summer without me having to do anything). I think another orchid or two would not be out of place at my abode one day. However, I’m saving to buy a house, and that comes first. sigh

In the meantime, I did a little more spinning. I think this was while 420 was still drying and my hands were just itching to spin some wool. (What about weaving? I know! I wanted to weave too! Such is the curse of crafturgency!) Last year, I bought a couple fleeces – Scottish Blackface, in fact – from this same shepherd, and having done some pre-purchase research, had decided to spin yarn to weave a hearth rug. See, wool doesn’t burn well at all. Linen and cotton go up like crazy (and honestly, you should try dryer lint in the fireplace or woodstove one day – just try it, it’s mostly cotton, it’s pretty and makes you take those warnings about dryer fires a bit more seriously), but wool just smoulders and goes out, which is why traditional hearth rugs are made of wool. (YAY WOOL!) Sparks can fly on them all the want, the wool will save your floor. (Further experimentation is required to see if a burning stick or log can burn the wool, however.) Plastic fibers will melt. Linen and cotton, as I said before, will very happily burn very brightly and quickly. Wool won’t at least where sparks are concerned.

Anyway, weaving. So, this particular breed is special because it has three particular types of fiber: tog, thel, and kemp. The tog is the long hairs, the thel is the fine undercoat of squishy, soft wool. The kemp is dreaded by all spinners: it’s a weak, crunchy fiber that doesn’t really contribute (that I’ve found) to your yarn, breaks and gets everywhere while you’re spinning. You can sort of see a bit of it sticking out from the yarn on the bobbin in the picture above, but some of that is also tog. Some spinners separate the tog from the thel and spin them separately, but you can also spin them both together, which is what I decided to do. I experimented spinning both ways last fall, but ultimately decided that any rug I wove would be nicer with all the fibers incorporated into the same yarn. (I might do a whole post on this breed and a bit of history…)

Mostly, I kind of thought I’d try to get this wool spun up before starting to spin 420, but OH! I want to spin 420!! Crafturgency!!

But first? I have to comb the wool. With those new combs I went on about earlier. Behold!

They’re really sharp, and really good at getting all the fibers lined up nicely! I’m so very happy with them! Yes! I did already stab myself and bleed all over them! Here are the results of combing:

The top bag of nests is 420 – I can’t believe how full that bag is and how little of a dent I made in the fleece. The bottom bag is of 807. Because I’m still not done with washing that fleece, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Though, this morning, I decided to spin a little 807 just to see. That wool is just so soft. And isn’t it beautiful?? I’m surprised at how dark it came out and how shiny and soft the resulting yarn is, though 807’s fleece is a bit softer than 420. Did I mention that 807’s wool is soft? I’m so very happy with it! I’ll take that yarn off and probably Navajo ply it so I can see what a three-ply yarn looks like. Then I’ll likely carry it around with me, taking it out to see it in the light, petting it, oh yes, my precious…

Ahem. Yes. Wool. We loves it.

So, Projects Also Planned!

These four cones are of mercerized 10/2 cotton, and they were purchased for a commission. I am to weave some dishtowels for my friend Lee who needs a gift for someone later this month. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to arrange the colors or what sort of twill I’ll do, but there’s enough yarn that I could likely do another three sets of four (I think), and that will give me Options. The weaving draft next to it isn’t necessarily related, though it might be interesting to do this pattern (Gothic Cross) with these lovely pastel colors. Otherwise, I’m definitely weaving this pattern with WOOL. I think it would be really beautiful in a single color wool, not fulled as much as that sample from my last post so that the pattern is super subtle, but wows you when you see it. I had thought that Gothic Cross was only for 8-shaft looms, but came across this (the voice in the back of my head said, no! Surely a 4-shaft loom can weave this! It’s diamonds!), and quickly saved/printed it out. I. Can’t. Wait. I want a shawl in a medium to dark spring/willow mixed green. Right. Now.

I told you. Crafturgency has set in pretty firmly these days.

Oh! I nearly forgot! There are a bunch of black birches in the yard where I live. Up until yesterday, I had thought there was only the one huge, tappable one, but once I wandered around in the woods a bit, I discovered at least two more. Three black birches! I have one tap and bucket. I shall buy two more taps and buckets, and just maybe I’ll be able to get some sap and boil it down and make birch syrup. Maybe. Cross your fingers!

 

Wool Success!

When the opportunity came up to learn to weave, my first thought was that I could weave cloth from which to make clothing. Very quickly, I decided the first such project would be wool for a coat, but of course, I needed to actually learn to weave first. Which meant cotton, because that’s easy. (We’ll forget the linen experiment for now.) I did try wool once at the very beginning, reading that it was a forgiving fiber, but there was no instruction how how to to treat it, and I hadn’t any experience weaving much of anything else yet, and there was no real advice on what kind of wool to buy, so that didn’t go well. The result was a stiff, brillo pad-like scarf-shaped thing. The next time was more recently – last September maybe? – but I did plainweave with Jaggerspun 8/2, and beat it a bit too aggressively still not understanding how that was supposed to work, so the result was a stiff, though softer cloth. I consulted with my weaver friend who works at Webs (I am SO LUCKY to live 4 miles from Webs!), and upon seeing the stiff, plainweave cloth, she immediately advised, “You can’t beat it like cotton! You have to squeeeeeeze the weft in place. Treat it gently – just kiss the little lamb with the beater!” I take her advice very seriously.

And so, this past Sunday, I decided to take a little break from cotton and wove another sample. This time with wool, in a bird’s eye twill with very careful beating:

The above pictures are from before fulling – this cloth was fresh off the loom. The purple is 100% wool (Jaggerspun 8/2 Heather), the lighter color (pale, dull pink) is 100% baby alpaca (Hatfield from Valley Yarns). The multi colored yarns are just some handspun bits that were kicking around. I quickly knotted some fringe and continued to the fulling process!

This fulled cloth is SO SOFT. You just want to squish it and hold it and squish it again. I wish it were blanket-sized! You can see after the yarns bloomed that the pattern is now a lot more subtle in the purple warp and weft – I’m not sure I like that. In any case, I think more experimentation is required. The end result will be a shawl for me, and perhaps a shawl or two to sell. Or more. I need to make a couple to test.

Last night I went to the local weaver’s guild meeting and became a card carrying member! (Well, I’m a member – I’m not sure if I get a card…) The benefits are many: a pretty extensive library I can borrow from pretty freely, people I can thrust my latest experiment at without signs of flinching away, wisdom from other weavers, and cookies once a month at meetings!

In other news, this morning I had to shovel a bit of the porch. There are icicles on the roof of the second floor that are dripping onto a section of the porch under which I park my car. Icicles were forming on the underside of the porch right over the car and that was worrying. So I shoveled a bit.

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Since I couldn’t get out the back door to where the problem spot was, I had to go out the front door (which is normally not used in the winter) and shovel a path to around the corner.

We have a lot of snow right now.

Also, it’s going to be 40F today. And I hear 50+F on the weekend. It’s going to be a lot of water.

Also, Monday is a holiday for me, which means MORE WEAVING. I hope to have more cotton stuff woven (bathmats) and another wool sample, possibly a competed shawl. And rip out the 3″ of the cardigan I started knitting so I can do it up correctly. And knit up another hat so I can get that in the mail. And finally just fix J’s sweater so I can give it back to her. But also, housework should get done at some point, and sleeping should also happen, so we’ll see…

 

 

Bath mats

Yesterday was a snow day for me. Finally, it seems winter has come here in western Massachusetts! The snow started about 7am, and I took this picture at about 9:45am. By about 11:00am, there was a foot of snow on the railing. It finally tapered off and stopped by about 4pm or so, and two hours later, the wind started howling.

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So what do I do when I am not at work? Why, I get up early, make tea, and get right to work on a project. In this case, the bath mat warp was on the loom, and all that was left was to sley the reed and tie on. This went pretty quickly (hour and a half?), and then I started throwing the shuttle, which always really exciting. You spend all the time to get the warp just right, and it has to be absolutely perfect, but the only way to be absolutely sure is the when you start throwing the shuttle. So much suspense. Deep breath, throw, beat, throw, beat, throw, beat. And if everything is as perfect as it should be, you see the pattern come alive!

Alarmingly (and perhaps predictably), I’ve got a weaving-related injury: my right foot does most of the treadling, and since I’m treadling for several hours at a time, the muscles in my foot decided to rebel and cramp and be otherwise very unhappy. The remedy is ibuprofen, rest, ice, then gentle stretching and strengthening, which meant that all treadling yesterday had to be done with my left foot. I am not left-footed. Things went very slowly. But I did finish!

So. Two bath mats, all woven, hemstitched, washed, dried, and ironed out (for accurate post-wet finish measuring). I hemmed this morning.

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I am so in love with this green!

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I’m not 100% sold on the edges, but I have Ideas for more mats! And just look at that fringe!

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Can’t decide which I like better: fringe or hem…

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The reverse of each.

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Here you can sort of get an idea of how thick they are.

I tested the fringed mat out this morning – it worked really well! It’s absorbent, and I find the size to be just about perfect. The fringed one came out to be 20″ x 30″ (incl. fringe), and the hemmed one came out at 20″ x 27″ (3″ worth of hem total). I’ll measure again after each wash/dry for two or three weeks to see if there’s any more shrinkage, and to note how they wear. This yarn is mercerized, which means it’s a bit stronger, shinier, and takes dye better than unmercerized, but it also means it’s slightly less absorbent. Mercerized cotton (I believe) should hold up better in the long run.

I am going to try a different treatment to the selvedges (edges) in the next run, too. Should be much neater.

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Which I did. I totally did get all the things (or nearly all the things) done:

  1. Vacuum the house – check
  2. Wash and dry all laundry – check
  3. Finish weaving the six yard warp, wash and dry twice, cut apart into towels, iron hems, hem. – check
  4. Sewed a pair of pants for my friend, from start to finish. – check
  5. Knit with friends for a few hours at LYS – check
  6. Cook lunches for the week – (almost check – 3 lunches made, need 2 more)
  7. Grocery shopping for the week – (almost check)

So, the house is squeaky clean, and I still got other stuff done! WOO!

Behold!

This was the MOST DELIGHTFUL cloth to work with – cotton denim, very dark blue, with some stretch – but it’s not clear who made it. The suspicion is that it’s Robert Kaufman stretchy denim, but I won’t know for sure until I order some more and compare. If all works out, I’ll order enough for two more pairs of pants for my friend, and some for me! Made on Saturday, hemmed on Sunday.

Its kinda hard to see, but the white one is actually two-toned: white warp, natural weft. My favourite one is the green one, of course! I don’t know what happened with the green/pink/yellow one – maybe I was just really tired? It’s not my usual color palette. But I’m really starting to love bird’s eye twill.

img_1801See what I did there with the hem? It delighted me to no end that I could get a design element just by folding the cloth over. Isn’t it pretty? The details can be so interesting.

I also came up with another Plan: weaving a bath mat.

Okay, okay. I hear you: why not just buy one? Isn’t that a lot of work?

But that could be said for pretty much everything I make. 3/2 mercerized cotton was on sale, I wanted to play around with it for possible future endeavors, and I’ve never in my life actually owned a bath mat. I use a small towel that I hang up after every shower. I don’t like those fluffy, rubber-backed rugs for bath mats because they end up soaking water and everything else up and tend to look ratty after a couple months of washing, and they end up smelling funky. So, I’m not looking to make a rug, just a mat. Or two, so I could rotate them. Or make one and sell one. I’m not sure.

In any case, I bought two cones of 3/2 cotton, one willow green and one white, enough to make at least 2 bath mats measuring 20″ x 30″ finished. At first, the plan was for stripes, but using the colors evenly would be insurance against running out of one color if there was a mistake in my math, so they’ll be twill, probably bird’s eye. Yes, there probably should be a ton of floats in there for extra absorbancy, but an even twill will probably be fine. (It’ll be fiiiiiiiiiine.)

Also, this is an experiment to see what the resulting cloth will be. For perhaps future blankets. Or other mats. So, really, it’s a sample, hopefully fairly useful when all is said and done. And then, if it all works, perhaps there will be actual bath towels. And washcloths. And hand towels. OOH! And then, maybe curtains! And if I could weave yardage, there’s a bathrobe in there somewhere…. Guys, who wants to buy stuff from me so I can fund all of this?

Today, we’re having Weather: snow to start, then freezing rain, then maybe some plain rain provided it gets warmer. It could be exciting driving today.