I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

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Been quiet around here, hasn’t it? Well, I have been trying to keep from publishing until I got these off of the loom.

And they finally are off the loom.

Hallejulah!

There is still a few things left to do before I am completely done with them. But they have gone through the initial cycles of washing and drying for fulling. Now, I just have to cut them apart and sew in the hems. After that, one more time through the washer and dryer.

I think the part that made this project such drudgery was the ironing. One night at knitting, I was talking to Sheila about the rugs and did a quick calculation in my head. While it wasn’t 500 miles, I did do over 300 yards of ironing for just these two rugs. Sheila’s reply when I told here the amount? “You probably shouldn’t have done that calculation.”

On Saturday, I finished up the ironing for the rugs and that night, Mr. Penney and I went to Border’s after dinner. At Border’s, I happened upon Betsy, the president of the local weaving guild. When I told her about the rugs and the ironing that I finished up that day, she was astonished that I did all of that ironing. “I usually just twist my strips so that enough of the right side of the fabric shows.”

Now, ya tell me.

That will have to be something I will have to try the next time. If there is a next time….

Next up, everything else that I have been working on.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Being Boring

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So, when I last talked about the rugs I am weaving, this is how they looked.

I wove in a few more strips since then and decided that I did not like the results. It was boring me to tears. Unlike the warp-face rugs that I had woven before, the weft strips were going to be the main focus of these rugs; and I was going to need a fabric more exciting than a solid quilting cotton whose color is called “tea stain.” (Honest, that is the name.)

So I went back out fabric shopping and came back with these.

I got five yards of the salmon colored one (which is brighter than photographed here) and three yards of the paisley. Rather than get back out the rag cutter, I just cut the strips using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler. The main thing I had to worry about there is folding the fabric correctly so that all of the layers were on grain and that there were no wrinkles in the fabric. That process went fairly quickly.

There is one hitch in using these prints as the weft for weaving, and that is that there is a right side to the fabric and a wrong side, and the difference is fairly pronounced with the ones that I picked. I needed to do something to the strips of fabric so that the printed side of the fabric would show up most of the time. To take care of this, I ironed each strip in half.

As you may have guessed, this is a tedious task. But by taking this extra step, I can count on the right side of the fabric being what shows up most of the time in the final weaving.

And the weaving is underway with the new fabrics. I am liking the results much better, so much so that I have finished weaving the first of the rugs. Unfortunately, for how I am doing the striping in the weft of the rugs, I don’t have enough of the salmon colored fabric to complete a second rug. Hopefully, I can get another five yards of it, otherwise I am going to have rugs that coordinate, rather than match.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Strip

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So, what was I doing New Year’s Eve?

Well, during the day I was cutting strips with my rag cutter. I dug it out so that I could cut up the eight yards of fabric that I am using as the weft to weave the rugs that were being put on the big loom at the end of the last post. Those rugs are my parents’ Christmas present. (My family is used to getting I.O.U.’s for gifts.)

The rag cutter basically works like a pasta maker. You turn the crank to feed the fabric through against the guide to get a consistent width strip cut by the rotary blade that is sandwiched between two rubber discs that press again a large metal cylinder, that is actually connected to the crank. The blurry picture below gives you an idea of what it looks like in action.

This took an amazingly long time. It was close to three hours to do the eight yards of quilting cotton in 1 1/4″ strips. I tried folding the fabric to cut more than one strip at a time, but that actually took longer because of having to keep the fabric together so that all of the layers would press up against the guide. This is probably one of the reasons why I don’t make rag rugs that often. The last time that I used the rag cutter was when I made these rugs about ten years ago.

The cutter was also making an awful grinding noise during a portion of the turn of the crank. It was a concerning noise to me, and an irritating one for Bogey and Mr. Penney.

This tool is probably meant more for rug hookers that rag rug weavers. The rag cutter has the option of placing several blades together, and rug hookers generally use thinner strips (about 1/4″ wide as opposed to 1 1/4″ wide) of thicker fabrics (woolens rather than quilting cottons). I bought the cutter back when I thought I needed every weaving tool ever created. I am long over that period now.

In any case, all of the fabric is cut up.

And weaving has commenced.

 

I am unsure about how I feel about these rugs at the moment. I am kind of wishing I picked a darker fabric as the weft, but that may just be the fluorescent lighting in the basement. I have seven yards of warp on the loom, and I only have to get two 40″ long rugs off of it, so I should be able to try other fabrics without re-warping the loom if I think I can do better. Weave on!

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

We Need a Little Christmas

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Miss me? I have been busy, and the blog keeps sliding down the priority list. As an update, I am still working on the ribbed cable sock in Bad Moon Rising colorway of Dragonfly Djinni.

I moved over to doing these in Magic Loop, as the small 12″ circular needle becomes difficult to work cables in once I get to the leg of the sock.

Since we were having guests over for dinner earlier in the week, I had to do some cleaning up, and the easiest way for me to clean up roving that is “lying around” is to spin it! Yes, for me, spinning yarn counts as cleaning. Doesn’t it for everyone?

In any case, this is what I spun up.

Both bobbins contain four ounces of Dragonfly’s Sea Monster roving, which is 50% silk, 30% merino wool, and 20% Seacell (which is made from seaweed, thus Sea Monster.) The colorway in my had is Oberon and the one still on the wheel is Indian Corn. I picked them both up at the trunk show Kate had at Cloverhill back in November. The fiber spun up super fast. It was the easiest time I have had spinning something with silk in it. I am planning on using the singles together to weave a scarf, but that weaving is going to have to wait a while.

I have to admit, I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit this year. To try and kick start that spirit, I started these:

This is a slip stitch pattern that I heavily modified to fit the stitch count of the sock. The yarn is Sheila’s Wullenstudio sock yarn in Green Tamborine and Witchy Woman. I was wondering whether the red was going to be too strong for the green, but now that I actually have things underway, I can relax because I think they are working out together just fine. And I can happily say that I am in the Christmas spirit.

Good thing, because I have a lot of work to do.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2010 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

House of Blue Leaves

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View from the back door

Ok, so they aren’t blue, but it is beautiful to see this in the morning, with the sunlight filtering through the trees in the front yard, hitting the trees in the back yard.

First, an update on one of my little rants. It seems that there is some information about this subject, or at least parts of it. Some of it seems to be in this book, from what I have read from other sources, and some of it was just recently published on Knitty. This might not be all inclusive, and I can’t vouch for the information in the book, personally; but what I have read from others seems to make me believe that it could be a good resource.

As an update, one half of the pair of socks is done:

One down, one to go

A manly pose, isn’t it? It is not the best of photographs, but it does serve as proof that I am halfway there. But now, the other sock is going to have to wait, because I came to the realization that I am going to have to get a move on some of the other projects that actually have a deadline, be that deadline hard or soft.

A project with the hard deadline is the third baby sweater, which I began on Sunday afternoon.

Back of baby sweater 3

Yes, it is bringing back the 80′s with a shaker knit. Add to that the fact that it is going to be double breasted and with a shawl collar, as we are ready to start playing our Kajagoogoo record (no plural) all of the time. I would never undertake this for an adult, but I think you can get away with just about anything for a baby because, lets face it, most every baby is adorable. Besides, from the last few concerts that Mr. Penney and I went to, it seems the 80′s are back anyway.

While I am still not crazy about the acrylic look this yarn has, and the fact that it is yellow (the one color I just really turns me off,) this yarn really knits up well and is sooooooo soft. It feels so good in my hands. The fact that is it warm water machine washable makes it good for this project.

I even got a little work done on Mr. Penney’s sweater, which has a soft deadline of his birthday in a little more than a month. Unfortunately, it is not enough to tell from the previous pictures, so that is that.

The rug on the loom? Well, that deadline came and went, but progress was made on the threading of that; but seeing the threading of loom heddles is like watching grass grow. I should actually just take a few hours and finish getting it on the loom, as I believe will weave off rather quickly. Time will tell.

Update:

Roseann asked about the yarn for the baby sweater, and I am to please, so here is the answer: It is RYC Cashsoft Baby DK, the stuff that I was sampling with here. Thanks, Roseann.

Work in progress: Warp-face wool rug

Part of the reason for me to change my website over to a blog was to publicly humiliate myself. How? By highlighting projects that have been stuck in limbo, thus giving me a reason to get my rear in gear and get the dang thing done. This is one of those projects.

Rug on loom - front view Rug on loom - side view Rug on loom - rear view

Mr. Penney and I need a rug for the entry of our home, so I decided that I could weave it. I got the yarn for the project from R & M Yarns. All of the yarns are either odd lots or mill ends, and remind me of Rugby yarn.

Since the yarn is odd lots and such, I am using several shades of a color together as one color for a warp-face rug. This insured that I would have enough yarn to do whatever design I wanted, and maybe add some depth to the rug. Joanne Tallarovic does this with many of her projects. I used my Fiberworks PCW to work out the design, which went through several iterations. I will get into that in another post.

As you can see, I have actually gotten to the point of warping the loom. This process always seems to take forever with me, but is taking an exceptionally long time in this case. Here are my excuses:

  1. These things
  2. Home projects
  3. Where the loom is, I feel like I am in a dungeon (and no Tim, not that kind)
  4. I am questioning how I am going to do the hems on the rug once it is finished

Now #1 and #2 are understandable. Priorities and everything, you know. #3 is making me realize that I am kind of claustrophobic. Maybe not to the point that one sees in the movies, but I do feel rather closed in where the big floor loom currently is. Problem is that I don’t feel comfortable moving the loom to a new location until the warp is completely on.

#4 is a strangle little tick that I have that probably isn’t that unusual (I hope.) Once a potential problem with a project comes to mind, that project tends to go into limbo, or at least a slow down, until I figure out how I am going to fix the problem. Part of the reasoning for this is that I don’t want to do something that will limit my possibilities for a solution, which is a good thing. The other part of the reasoning is that I get into analysis paralysis, which is not a good thing. Fortunately, I will be picking the brain of Tom Knisely, who knows a great deal about weaving this type of rug, this weekend.

Cotton ripsmatta rugs

This is part of a set of rugs that I wove in two different colorways:

rose

Rose colorway for rug

and blue.

Blue colorway for rug

I made these rugs as Christmas presents for my family. An additional rug was woven and donated to Maryland Community Kitchen (now known again as Moveable Feast) for auction at their “Fall into Elegance” event.

The warp is a cotton rug warp, while the weft is a cotton broadcloth cut into inch and a half strips, as well as the cotton rug warp.

Below is a close up view of the weave structure. The weave structure for these rugs is called ripsmatta, or warp-face. The pattern requires 6 harnesses, and the sett is 32 e.p.i.

Close-up of rose rug