Vernal Equinox, Woad and Weld Started, Small Tapestries and my Flaming AMC


We passed the Vernal Equinox a week or two ago, which I think means beginning of Spring. Days are getting longer with a bit more light later into the evening. Some of the Weld and Woad that weren’t washed out of the flats in the last rain storm are nearly ready to move into the garden.


This one is neither Woad nor Weld, but one of the California Poppies blooming all around my street.

On the subject of weaving, one piece is off the loom and another one started

Lastly, an automotive postscript: My neighbors have taken to calling my AMC (aka: the-brain-that-wouldn’t-die) the “flaming amc”…

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Cat Supervised Weaving


Pictured above is TR*, aka the little ball of fury, behind my LeClerc tapestry loom. Nice thing about table/portable looms is the ability to haul the whole business outside when the weather is nice and of course back when it’s not. It’s even possible to manage this with the loom in one and and a small, loud cat in the other. Of course, by the time this posts the weather is back to rain again.


In progress: recycled sweater yarn – wool – dyed with woad and miscellaneous yard trash.

*TR: Where her name cames from: TR was rescued in a TRW industrial park.

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Seasons Greetings and all that

I have this theory that the  best to start a new year, or move to a new home, is with newly begun (or even unfinished) projects. Then there is something ready to work on immediately. My way of making myself feel at home while the cats no doubt are sniffing every corner.

That in mind there’s a dressed loom and a simmering dye pot waiting. Not a bad way to start the new year off.

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End of the Year and Off the Loom

Nothing like finishing off the year with a purring cat. TR pictured here is named after the TRW industrial park where significant-other and I found/rescued her some 15+ years ago.

One group of “mug rugs” off the loom.

Small tapestry also finished and in tidy-up phase. This one is fairly small 9×10, free-form design woven with years of accumulated dye samples: Woad, Indigo, Madder, Fennel, Hibiscus, Oxalis.

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Currently On the Loom

With all the loom adjusting finally finished I feel like I am able to enjoying the weaving precess again. Lately working on “mug rugs”. The current batch with wool warp and weft, weft dyed with my usual combination of madder root, woad (powder) and yard trash*. Pictured above the yellow is most likely Fennel, red is madder root and the greenish-brown, Fennel with iron after-bath.

*Yard trash here being local plants including Fennel, Oxalis/Wood Sorrel, Eucalyptus leaves, Onion peels, Hibiscus, lawn grass to name a few.

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Loom Upgrade and My Moment of Duh

I’m not sure how other people spend their weekends. Recently I was under the loom, sitting on the floor with pliers and such making some adjustments. All this bringing back childhood memories of holding a flashlight for my father while he worked on the car.

I’ve blogged in the past about upgrading my LeClerc Minerva loom from 4- to 8-harnesses. Everything fit correctly but the 8-harnesses seemed to be floating or not dropping down as smoothly as 4-harnesses. I tried adding some weights to the harnesses but this wasn’t really a satisfactory solution.

In all fairness the original loom was build perhaps late-1960’s and the new parts were ordered in this century – something like a 40+ year interval. So this is not a complaint. In fact I’m grateful that LeClerc continues to sell parts for models no longer in production, continues to keep documentation available (online) and are generally nice people.

It finally dawned on me that over the intervening years there might be minute differences in the size of the Lams – the things that connect the jack-harnesses and the treadles. Link to Minerva Loom parts. And that the older Lams might have accumulated some slight warp which would also contribute to the problem.

I unhooked the Lams from the harnesses and the treadles and observed that there was a slight difference. By alternating the Lams – one old – one new – one old, etc – the harnesses drop smoothly (again), and I think that the floating harness problem is solved.


Lams unmixed – slight difference.


Mixed up the fill the spaces more evenly.

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End of summer, Woad vat, cotton, corn and beans

I don’t know how official this is but most people I know consider “Labor Day” – which in the US falls on the first monday of September – as the end of summer. I ended my summer with a Woad vat. The wool is my SCHG challenge recycling/upcycling project.

Starting from the left: Woad overdye Hibiscus (yellow); Woad overdye onion peel (orange-yellow); Woad multi-dipped; Woad one dip.

I had hoped to grow my own Woad but as it turned out I was growing Weld. (Oh don’t ask, so much for my plant identification skills…)

This Woad was purchased in powder from from Woad Inc in the UK. The All About Woad site has really excellent directions and also sells Woad dye and kits.

Besides the dye plants (my project) there is the family vegetable garden. Most years we get a supply of dried tomatoes and soup beans. This year we tried growing corn.  Besides what was eaten fresh and given away we have dried corn (soup, cornbread, etc.).


[dried -> ground -> corn bread]

And the first boll on my cotton shrub just started opening.

Eat corn bread, contemplate the Woad vat, not a bad ending for the summer.

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SCHG Guild project

The Southern California Handweavers Guild , my local weaving guild, has an annual ‘Guild Challenge’. This year it is “to take something unwanted and give it a second life”  – a recycling challenge. So I have been recycling a 100% wool machine-knitted sweater from my local Out of the Closet thrift shop’s $1 rack.


[unraveled wool before washing and dye]


[from a previous post – same wool after onion dye.]

Keeping in the recycling spirit I’ve been trying out my usual array of yard dyes – Fennel, Onion peels, and most recently Hibiscus flowers (dried).

Interestingly and annoyingly I get a consistent yellow to yellow green with dried hibiscus while other people get a rose-red color. The dye bath is a lovely rose color and yellow wool pops out. So I’m still looking for ways to coax it to red that don’t involve harsh mordants.  More about that later…

As an aside – it turns out that dismembering a machine knit is not exactly like frogging a hand-knit.  There are extra stitches at the seems. A few good web sites explain the process:
a) How to recycle sweaters for yarn,
b) Cashmere Connoisseur: How to take apart a sweater for the yarn

As you can see just Google on something like ‘recycle sweaters for yarn’ and you will find plenty of helpful suggestions.

New weaving and windows (the ones in the wall not on my computer)

UprightTapestryLoomWindow01_300

I’m not the most enthuastic housekeeper but have never minded dish washing. As a youngster I never minded dishes because no one else in the family wanted to do them and so I was pretty much left to my own devices when my hands were in a sink. I would keep a notebook on the window sill and scribble ideas as they came to me. Some 40+ years later I still find dishwashing – particularly with a window to look out – is oddly relaxing.

 I also like a window in view where I’m weaving or painting.

BW_01 

This piece is really smaller then it might look here. These are being woven on my Mountain Loom table loom. (picture also, window behind.) It’s one of those 12” sampler looms which are nice for working out ideas. 

 BW_01b

The warp is wool and the weft if Bartlett yarns, 2 ply, black and while.

Some years ago I was lucky enough to take a workshop from Michael Rohde and later a HGA Learning Exchange (#27) that he evaluated. I’m revisiting the patters from that workshop. Boundweave, weft-face rug weaves.  (See HGA magazine “Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot”, Summer 2000, p.40–43 for LE#27.)