Monday, May 31, 2010

My free Monday

Today was my first Monday off in a long time.  I changed my days off starting this week, and today I had no obligations and nothing to do that I didn't want to do.  It was fabulous!
  What I did want to do today was finish Bonnie's color on the Clinch Valley afghan, and start Pat's color.  Pictured above is the start.  Since then, I've finished the first rectangle and started the second.  I've broken another thread, smack dab in the middle of the break between Bonnie's two rectangles.  There is another weak thread in Pat's, but it hasn't snapped yet.  Flake on flake is a bad idea.  I hope I can get through this project without anymore broken threads!  The pattern doesn't show up as well with Pat's pink as it does on Bonnie's pretty dark red, but it is showing up, quite subtly.
  I also felt like major spring cleaning, and while I didn't accomplish all I set out to do, I came close.  No photos, because the before pictures would be too embarrassing!  I love a clean house, but I hate having to get it that way!
  Miss Etta has become much more sociable, but every time I tried to get a picture of her mingling with the other pets, she took off before I could get the camera.  I will try again tomorrow.
Until then, happy weaving!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Turned Overshot: What I've Learned

The bathroom curtain project in turned overshot is off the loom this morning!  I still had about 18 inches of warp to go, but couldn't get a clean shed anymore.
You can see in this photo that the right side is raised, but the left side is only partially raising.  For the last two motifs, I had to use the shed stick to clear a shed completely.  In fact, a clear shed was a problem for most of this project.  I believe that's from the tabby being on shafts 5 and 6, farthest away, and quite heavy, since the bulk of the project is tabby.
  Turned overshot, for those who missed the beginning of this project, is when an overshot pattern is turned 90 degrees; the weaving is done with one shuttle, the ground thread, and the pattern colors are threaded in the warp.  The pattern is threaded twice the e.p.i. that the ground is, so for this pattern, it was 24 for the ground and 48 for the pattern.  The piece is threaded on six shafts and treadled on four treadles, each treadle tied to three shafts, and each shaft carrying a tabby thread.
  I love traditional overshot.  I love the way the pattern appears before your eyes as you weave.  I can easily get in the habit of throwing two shuttles.  I've woven four overshot projects so far, but only have a photo of one of them.   This is my first weaving on Jenny, my LeClerc Artisat.  It's pillow covers for my living room, Murphy's Diaper pattern from Davison's book.  It was done with natural pearl cotton as the ground and six colors of pearl cotton for the pattern.  The leftover yarn from the pattern in these pillows are the pattern colors in the turned overshot bathroom curtains.
  The ground in the curtains is white unmercerized cotton, which was a little sticky, but I think any yarn will be sticky in turned overshot, since the e.p.i. is so close.  Threading took a long time, too.  The ground was 480 ends, and the pattern was 72.
This was the project I tried to warp back to front and had to switch to front to back halfway through.  The warp was a mess!  How I make myself keep going when I get myself into messes like this, I will never know!  But I did persevere, and get it on the loom.  Many a curse word was said, many a pet was frightened by my outbursts, but the warp did go on!  I will most assuredly warp the next turned overshot project back to front!  Too many threads to wrestle into submission for front to back!
  I will definitely do more projects this way.  In fact, the next project will be the kitchen curtains, with a large daisy pattern from Davison, the pattern I used for the tote bags I made at the center a couple of years ago.  I wish I had a photo, or that one of the bags was still around, because it was one of my favorite weaving projects to date.  I will take many photos this time, as soon as I can figure out how to thread the tabby on shafts one and two.
  I think turned overshot is the perfect way to have a pattern running through a piece without having it be entirely in overshot.  It is perfect for trimming an otherwise plain fabric.  It's a brain-teaser to turn an overshot pattern, but I like the results.  I hope I've inspired others to try it!
  Time to go get my next warp on!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rampacious Behavior

I've written about my new assistant, Abby, and here she is, stuffing ramps into jars this morning.  Adam, the chef in the Barn, ordered 400 pounds of ramps and asked me to pickle them.  We've been working on them for three days now, and today was the big push to finish them.
Dustin, former sous chef at the Barn, is now the Larder Roundsman.  That means if the cheesemaker, the butcher or I need help, we call for Dustin.  Notice the difference in ramp-stuffing technique.  I'd like to say it's a fine art, but it's not.  They smell badly and we wanted very much to be done.
And now we are:  96 jars today, 62 yesterday and 32 the day before.  If anyone ever asks you how many jars of pickled ramps you can get from 400 pounds, you now know.  The first 94 jars were pint jars, and today's were quart jars.  The most important thing is that my monthly pickle production goal is done, thanks to ramps.  If anyone gives you a bunch of ramps, pickle them like this:

4 pounds ramps, greens and roots trimmed
4 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup pickling spice, in a cheesecloth bag
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes per jar
1/2 bay leaf per jar
1 garlic clove per jar

Put ramps in sterilized jars, tightly packed.  Add the spices and garlic to each jar.  Bring vinegars, salt, sugar and bag of spice to a full boil.  Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes.  Pour hot brine over ramps in jars to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.  Close lids tightly and place jars in a pan of boiling water, with 1/2 inch of water over the tops of the jars.  Boil for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the jars.  Let jars sit in hot water for 5 more minutes, then let cool completely before storing.  Allow to pickle for about 3 weeks before enjoying!

Also in my news is that I've finished LouAnn's color and have started Bonnie's.  After the cool, calming effect of LouAnn's color, Bonnie's was a bit intense, but I've begun to like it now.  I'm almost done with the first rectangle, in fact.  Pat's pretty pink is next!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This past week, my cousins Annette and Cheryl came to spirit my mother away to Atlanta to see her sister.  It was the first time I'd seen Annette and Cheryl in 18 years.  We went to Litton's in Fountain City, one of my favorite places in Knoxville.  Mom is still in Atlanta, with no concrete plans yet of coming back.  Good thing I have Miss Etta with me!  We cousins didn't get to spend much time together, but I hope we will in the future, now that they have moved from the northeast coast to Atlanta.
  My sister-in-law, Jeanne is pictured below, weaving in my studio this past February.  She went home to Tempe and took a weaving class.  She  sent me photos of her twill samplers from her class and said I could share them with you.
Very nice for a first effort, isn't it?  She's already a fiber artist, a knitter of amazingly beautiful Fair Isle sweaters, and I know she's going to be very creative with weaving, as well.

A few days after Jeanne sent these photos, my brother sent me a video of Jeanne threading her new 8 shaft Baby Wolf, but the quality of the video is a little hard to see.  I'm hoping for more photos to share with you of the new weaver in our family soon.  Until then, happy weaving, and don't forget to pass it on!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Carol's color, and other Saturday things

I finished my afghan rectangles and started Carol's Saturday morning.  Her color makes the design really pop (sorry, Mom!), just as I thought it would.  It's going fast, and I have LouAnn's beautiful dark lilac to follow.  A couple of fellow afghanis have promised their yarn on Tuesday, and then, it's the CVHG three who should be bringing their yarn next Saturday.  I should get this done well before the December deadline, and then it's on to double weave!  The last issue of Handwoven has me thinking about tubes and double-width things.   I think some crazy double weave tote bags with pick-up designs in hot colors of carpet warp are on the horizon.   And, given my fellow weavers' current obsession with Inkle looms, what about some vibrant tote bag straps done on an inkle?   That would really be fun.
  Speaking of fun, yesterday was the second week of the Maryville Farmers' Market.  It's every Saturday, from now until the weekend before Thanksgiving in what they optimistically call Founders' Square, a parking lot between a row of stores and the CBBC building downtown.  Last year, I worked the Blackberry Farm booth almost every Saturday with Jeff Ross, the Garden Manager.
This year, I had to bow out, because my production goals have tripled or quadrupled--no one has been clear on that point yet-- and I can't give up any more Saturdays.  This Saturday, however, I had my new assistant Abby, and I wanted to touch base with my farmers.  I walked around and talked to old friends, got hugged and placed orders.  When I came back to the BBF booth, the line looked like this:

It got longer, and lasted for 25 minutes, while Jeff, Abby and I did the farmers' market dance.  We line up, the farthest left person asks the first person in line what they'd like and they move on down, while the next of us moves up to the left and the next customer.  It's a dizzying dance, one done with math going on simultaneously.  Bread is $4 a loaf, those cakes are $3, that's $1 each, that one is Jalapeno Cheddar Sourdough, the peanut butter is $5, no blackberry jam yet, sorry.  And at the end of the line, the total is sometimes in my head, sometimes I have to back up and recount.  It's the quickest half hour of the week, and suddenly, no one is left in line.  Last year,  I would stay and help Jeff with the stragglers or go shopping for vegetables to preserve, but yesterday, Abby and I cut out as soon as the line was gone.  I hope we can do it from time to time this summer, but that seems unlikely.
  I hope everyone has an opportunity to visit their local farmers' market.  Farmers need us to support them in what I hope is an ongoing shift from mega-industrial farms back to small farms using sustainable practices to give us the healthy, clean food we need, and an earth we can continue to live on.
Eat your veggies!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Not a fan!

Here is the beginning of my Friendship Afghan project, with the Clinch Valley Handweavers' Guild.  It's white cotton flake in the warp and variegated cotton flake in the weft.  Pat brought her sample to Tuesday Weaving a few weeks ago, and we all commented on how "muddy" the design was, due to flake crossing flake.  It's very soft and will make a cozy afghan, once completed, but you can see in my beginning that the design doesn't show up, except when the dark is predominant in the weft.  It's a simple twill pattern, but I really think plain weave would have done just as well!  Or the simplest of twills, to make it drapier.
Here it is, farther along in the rectangle.  The back side is darker, but just as muddy looking.  When we were planning the afghan, someone suggested variegated for everyone, and I thought that was the plan, but since then, I've received Carol's and LouAnn's yarn, both lovely jewel-toned solids.  I'll bet they show up better than my variegated.  Once done, sewn all together, mine will be okay, I think, but very washed out looking.  It's disappointing, though, to work on something one only thinks is "okay."
  Tina warned me that the flake in the warp will be very weak, and sure enough, my right floating warp has snapped already.  I'm trying to beat only once per pick, as I've somewhere along the way picked up the habit of two beats per pick.
I do like the way the bare naked warp looks, though.  I can imagine it making other wefts look much better!  Something bright and shiny, like perle cotton!  In, um, HOT PINK!

On a more positive note, my friend, the amazingly talented artist Amy Campbell has agreed to my very first Artist Barter!  Amy has been painting a series of small paintings of iconic signs from around Knoxville and Maryville, and said she'd like to do some small food paintings.  I've asked for a butter yellow cupcake painting to hang in my kitchen, and she's asked for a scarf.  She's going yarn shopping this week to design her scarf, very excited about it!  View some of Amy's work at, and you'll be excited for me, too.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dogs? Tricks? How old?

No, Bella hasn't learned anything new.  My pants are always that covered in dog hair, and Mr. Man frequently sits in my lap.  No, my friends, I have crossed over to the back to front warpers!  I hated not being able to do it correctly, and thought about it while I was getting a chicken ready to go in the oven : chopping lemon zest, garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper all together to rub in under the skin.  I pulled out the old back issue of Handwoven that is just about warping, folded it open to the back-to-front page and read the instructions aloud to Bella.  She cocked her head like a Border Collie, but I persisted.  If I got in a tangle this time, maybe she could bail me out.
Here we go!  See the magazine perched on top of the tool tray?  A large mug of black tea is out of the picture, but there to give me focus after a hard day at preserving.  Raddle?  Check!  Lease sticks?  Check!  Heddles slid out of the way?  Yep!
  And off I went.  The Artisat--Jenny--is shallow enough for me to get good tension while I'm winding by myself, unlike the Colonial, Jennifer.  I wound, and wound, and wound.  It's a 9 yard warp of cotton flake, a little sticky, but fairly well behaved.
Hmmmm... the photo didn't rotate.  But there is the end, waiting to be threaded.  Now, after all my disparaging comments about you back-to-fronters out there, I must sincerely apologize.  This was very trouble and tangle free!  I actually enjoyed it!  The real test will come at the Center when I wind the linen warp on this way.  Tomorrow morning, while all of you are still sound asleep, I'll get up and start threading the heddles.  Winding on is my least favorite part of dressing the loom, and it's already done!  Woooohoooo!  And then all of you afghan challengers need to give me your thread!
Chicken's done!
Happy Warping!