Monday, May 21, 2007

Dishtowels are for weavers like socks are for knitters

And socks are like potato chips -- you can't just do one (pair). I started the third towel using the third alternate treadling, but decided I didn't like the somewhat indistinct pebbly texture and un-wove it, then started over using the same birdseye treadling as I used on the first towel. I think I'll either do that or another herringbone towel for the fourth (and final) towel. I've noticed that there are LOTS of towel drafts out there -- booklets, patterns, and Interweave now has .pdf files you can buy online. Also like socks (and unlike potato chips), towels go pretty quickly, the warp can be relatively inexpensive (compared to, say silk -- you're not going to save any money by weaving dishtowels, though, any more than you save money by knitting your own socks, since the yarn is more expensive than what you'd pay for ready-made socks or towels, but that's not the point, is it?) and you can always use more of them.

I ran out of the natural color of yarn, since I used some of that for my overshot runner, but I've ordered more. It should be here tonight. I'm also weaving a strap on my treadle tape loom, but that'll go quickly enough.

Got a bunch of work done in the garden over the weekend -- I've weeded all the beds (which means I have to start over and re-weed the first one), and have most of the mulch down. The bed nearest the camera has newspaper down under the mulch. I think I have the wrong mulch to use over newspaper mulch -- I got pine nuggets, and should have gotten shredded. I also need to put some kind of trellis in the bed where I've planted the cucumbers, since I've got beans in the beds with the trellises this year.

The garden looks pretty good. This is probably as good as it will look all year -- things start looking a little peaked over the summer, and most of the flowers I have planted do best in May/June -- so I'm enjoying it. My mom came over on Sunday to return some pruning tools, and joked that if I ever want to sell the house, she'd be interested, just so she could have the garden. She's quite the gardener herself, so that's a compliment.

I'm toying with the idea of putting in rain barrels and finding a way to capture water from the washing machine so that I don't feel as guilty when I water plants during the dry part of summer. That's been my usual problem -- when we get a dry spell and have water restrictions, I feel guilty "wasting water", but if I can capture water that's otherwise just running down the drain and reuse it, my garden would be a lot happier.

I planted two more white salvia plants and two "Blushing Knockout" shrub roses in the back beds where I have "dead" spots -- areas where stuff has died. The roses (New Dawn and Bonica) and salvia I have elsewhere in the garden have done well, so I figured that more of the same might work in those spots. These shrub roses are supposed to be blackspot and beetle resistant.

I lost a pear tree over the winter in the back right hand bed, so I'm debating whether I want to replace it (I'd better hurry before shipping season ends!) or move the Seckel pear from out in the yard. I'm leaning toward the latter. The tree that died subcumbed to fire blight, but there are suckers coming up from the stump, so I think the soil may not be infected after all. It's an airborn disease, anyway.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Current weaving project: German Birdseye dishtowels

I got my new loom warped up in April, but didn't have time to do any weaving until early in May. The pattern is a German Birdseye from Marguerite Davison's book. The yarn is a cotton/linen blend from Webs, and the pattern is one they give you if you order the yarn. It's meant to be woven in a tabby weave, but I just had to try it in birdseye.

I played around with redrafting the pattern so the colors and the birdseye weave corresponded, but wound up deciding it wasn't worth the effort. I did, however, reverse the birdseye pattern when I reached the center of the warp, so that the pattern is balanced.

The shuttle in the first picture is an old Hammett shuttle that I got with the loom when I bought it. I like the shuttle, but find that the Shacht shuttles (in the second picture) are becoming my favorites. The bobbins hold a lot of yarn, and they float nicely over the warp instead of diving under the occasional thread that gets stuck when I change sheds. I've fixed the "sticky shed" problem I was having when I started the first towel -- the warp needs to be at a higher tension, and I had to tweak the tieup a bit -- but the Schacht shuttle had fewer problems overall.

I'm weaving the second towel in plain herringbone. I may either go back to the birdseye for the third towel or try another treadling of the same pattern.


MD Sheep & Wool

Yes, I did go to MD Sheep & Wool this year. I usually go on Sunday, since I'm not really worried about missing out on anything, and it's always less crowded. I took two friends, one of whom is learning to spin & had never been to the festival before. She quickly loaded herself down with LOTS of fiber (roving, fleece, etc.), and also bought a drop spindle and pair of wool cards. We had a fun, if exhausting, day. Here's the obligatory cute picture -- one vendor stationed her two daughters outside the booth with angora bunnies in their laps.

I bought a couple of books on weaving, three small bags (different colors) of Icelandic fleece, some cochineal bugs, and another weaving shuttle / bag of bobbins. I was very trying not to buy more yarn or more projects, since I still haven't knitted the sweater kit from Philosopher's Wool that I bought last year, but I did buy a punch tool from American Heirloom Rugs, a company that makes rug kits. I might buy a rug kit from them down the road -- I loved the rugs they had on display, and have wanted to try hooked/punched rugs for some time. The tool makes it look pretty easy. I might try punching a few mug rugs first.