Category Archives: weaving

too hot to quilt

If there are any regular visitors to this blog they might be surprised that there is very little quilting or weaving or just general making going on here. The reason is the heat. Yes, the heat.

Before I elaborate, let me show you what’s waiting to be quilted:

Basting. Isn't my ductape fun? (How do you spell ductape?)

I actually quilted about a half of this one before this current heat wave. I do not really want to change settings on my sewing machine, because I had some tension problems, so the machine is sitting unused until this one is quilted.

Final arrangement?

Then there is this one which was waiting for an appropriate backing. And then it got hot. so it’s waiting. I don’t even have a decent picture of the finished top (which is finished, just not sandwiched yet), just this bad instagram photo. I might have fallen out of love with this one. A little bit.

Top finished

Another crappy pic, but at least of the finished top. I almost quilted this one in the spring but I had no idea how to quilt. I like straight lines, but I just wasn’t feeling it. So it waits.

And finally there is this one. That makes it 6 quit tops to sandwich and quilt. Hmmm

Definitely don;t know how to quilt this one. This one might need some hand quilting.

You might this that’s it but I actually have one more, that I never photographed. It ended up quite big, so I was even thinking of just tying it. I should get off my butt right now and take a picture of it, but you know what – yes, it’s too freaking hot.

So what about all this whining about the heat? 90ish F is not that bad! No, it’s not if you are used to it, if you have air-conditioning, if it happens rarely, or when it’s supposed to happen like during Summer. But here in Southern California, especially on the West Side (read – near the ocean), we are not used to these temperatures; maybe a few days a year but not off and on for months. If you didn’t know, California is experiencing the worst drought on record, coupled with the hottest year to 18 months since late 19th century, when they started keeping records.

Our houses here on the West Side were not built for this kind of weather. Even the new homes usually do not have ac, because we really never needed it. A few days around Labor Day and we were done with the heat. Anybody can take that. But over the last year or so, it feels like the worst of the summer never ended. So, take a person like me, who does not take heat well, who defines nice weather as fog and or drizzle (or at least temps below 70 F) , and conditions like this – and you’ve got one very grumpy and uninspired person. OK, maybe not completely uninspired…

Our house was built in 1912, and then expanded in the 70s, with a two room addition to the back of the house, which faces south. For reasons I do not understand, they did not use insulation in the walls. So those two room would get quite cold in the winter and hot during those infrequent heat spells. The problem we are experiencing now is that the house never really cools down, even if we have a few cooler days. So why not installing an ac? Well, the house was gutted in the 70, but again it was built for the coastal weather. Windows are single pane, a few are glass shutters windows that never really close all the way, and we don;t really have many doors – except for the bedroom, it’s one open space. It would be very, very inefficient and expensive to have ac. So we survive with fans. But let me tell you, I have had enough of the heat, fans giving me a headache, sweating all the time. I did not sign up for this. If I wanted these temps, I would have stayed in Texas – at least I would have ac! I think I might be going heat crazy…

This past spring break we RV-ed through British Columbia, CA. And on a really bad, hot day, I think of all the greenery, rain and fog. That’s my kind of weather. That’s the weather that inspires me, lets me think… Heat is overrated, exhausting and seriously mind numbing. Sometimes I feel like I am a north-west girl trapped in the south.

So can you imagine sitting at a sewing table in this heat, holding a blanket over you? No, I didn’t think so. Also my sewing room is in the back of the house, it has no doors so I cannot cool it off at all. The quilts just have to wait. Weaving will have to wait. Posts about quilting or weaving will have to wait. Until the temps cool off. In the meantime, there will be photos, blackout words, and who knows what else.

Thanks for listening to the rant. Most people do not understand how one can not like sunny hot days, and enjoy fog and rain. But that;s just how I am…

Not a rag rug

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I was so eager to finish this rug, to see how it turns out that I neglected other wips, woke up early and it was off the loom and hemmed before I needed to leave the house. I even skipped lunch. Here it is before wet finish.

First thought: the colors make me so happy and this thing is so soft. Second thought: this thing is so soft! Is a rug supposed to be this soft?

And now the analysis. But before I go there let me just say – I love it. I had so much fun making it, it literally made me smile (and as I was sewing the last seam on the hem, “Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time…” played; can you believe it?)

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The shape: wider at the beginning of the weave, narrower at the top. I am a beginner so what do I expect? I need to learn to keep the weft tension even. The bottom (or the right on this picture above) was done in the evening, after dressing the loom because I “just had to start it”. I did not beat strong enough? The weave is loose and you can see between the strips. Also, those strips are a bit wider than others, maybe 1/8 inch, and the fabric is a little stiffer. Could that be a factor too?  I used a variety of fabrics – from vintage sheets, to quilting cotton to some thin fashion cotton. I believe that all fabrics were pre washed (definitely the sheets!). I thought maybe the spaces between the strips will shrink after wash…

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The closeup above shows the spaces between the strips. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the beginning of the rug where this problem is most visible. Notice that the warp is nicely evenly spaced.

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The “back” of the rug. As I was weaving I laid each folded strip flat before beating, the raw edge facing up, towards the loom. By folding I wanted to prevent the back side of the fabric showing. It turns out most of the raw edges folded down, which is now the back of the rug.

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And this is the rug after washing, drying and lying flat over night (it was damp when I took it out of the dryer). My first though: it’s so wavy and still very soft. My second thought: why did it loose shape, wasn’t it supped to shrink and get ‘denser’ and therefore stiffer? And it did shrink – let me give you the numbers:
on the loom: width 26in, length 40 in.
off the loom: width 25in, length 36 in. (10 percent shrinking just releasing tension)
after washing: width 24in, length about 33 in.

But it did not get much denser. Let me show you…

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This looks good, right? Yes, not bad, but all the other pictures of rag rugs I saw show tighter packing of the strips. But…

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This is the bottom part, the one that was the loosest. You can see how loose it still is and how much warp has shifted, moved because the weaving was not tight enough.

So a little disappointed, but I really want to start another one. The left over yarn is still on the loom so I could just tie the new warp on, so I don;t have to sleigh (is that the right spelling?) the reed to thread the heddles agin. And I think that’s what I will do. But I need to change some things. What? I am not sure right now. I am a little worried that my loom might not be strong enough for rag rug weaving (some googling suggested that). Apparently jack looms are sometimes not heavy enough and cannot hold the high warp tension these rugs need (shed might not be opening enough). That would be quite disappointing. Because they are so much fun! But some people were able to use their looms. I’m hoping.

So… this is not going to end up as a rug. Making a pillow cover? Or cut it up into coasters? Something useful, because – did I mention haw happy these color make me?

 

rag rug

My third and biggest project on this (or any) loom. Slaying the reed was fast, but threading the heddles was… not so fast. 312 of them. Two mistakes I couldn’t figure out for a while and then I just left them as a feature. This is a test sample anyway. But I quite like it. I like how the colors of the strips blend with the warp. And I am glad I went with white for warp.

In case you are a beginner weaver – I learned how to dress a loom from a series of youtube videos posted by Elizabeth Wagner. I also bought a class on Craftsy – Floor Loom Weaving with Janet Dawson. There is of course, much more information in the course then in the free youtube videos, but I find Elizabeth Wagner’s instruction on how to dress a loom much easier and clearer. So that’s what I used for all my projects. I go back to the Craftsy class for other information.

One more thing – if you need tips for rag rug weaving see Daisy Hill Weaving Studio.

Now let’s finish it…

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measuring warp

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I have not been at the loom for months. Busy with other things, waiting for the right moment, right inspiration. Finally I bought some yarn (Maysville 8/4 Cotton rug warp, ordered from the Blick Art supplies – random I know, but they had the lowest shipping cost), and decided on a rag rug. It is frustrating that there are no weaving supplies stores anywhere near me, and even though basically everything nowadays is purchased online, I really would like to see in person and be able to feel the yarn before I buy it. And, these cones are not small, even for a smaller project, so shipping charges are a factor too. I believe the closest shop is in Solvang, CA, which is at least a 90 min drive from our house.

I don’t have room for a warp frame in our house, so I decided to buy these pegs you attach to your table, desk, bench, and they have been working for me so far. You can see them in the photo above and below. I bought them on easy’s theknitstore. They are well made, smooth and attach easily. The only problem is if surfaces you intend to use are thicker than 1 1/2 in, these pegs won’t fit.

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It took a little bit over an hour to measure 312 warp ends, 90 in long. It is not something you would do if you were in a hurry, but it is not too slow either. It is almost like a dance once you get into the rhythm. Very soothing.

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I ended up making 3 chains that now rest on the loom waiting for the next step. Maybe I even get to it today. If I hurry and finish that quilt top I had to rip some rows from…

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baby blanket

Finished. What can I say? Not too happy. Will probably not use acrylic again. Good learning experience.

photo 2
This was my second project, and the first time I did a wet finish. Which I new nothing about. A little bit of googling, and I decided to was it on gentle, warm in my washing machine. Dry on low.  And…

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Right: before wet finish. Left: after wet finish.

Nothing. Well, maybe a little bit – the blanket was much softer. But – the weave did not get any tighter (which I was hoping for), the blanket did not shrink (ok, I guess that’s a good thing) and the little imperfections that I hoped would go away did not (I was especially hoping that the areas where I continued yarn would be less noticeable; but no luck).

photo 1

 

But.. as I said… it was good experience. And you need that, with any craft. And it’s better to learn on some inexpensive yarn, right?

So what to do with it? If I had a baby, I would use it as a stroller blanket (it’s small, about 32 in square). But I don’t. So I might just keep it in the car. For those cold nights (in Southern California. ha!)

photo 3

a few coasters

As I mentioned, I have a new, old loom sitting in my studio (ha!). This was my first project, using some of the stash yarn I bought for knitting long time ago. Warp was white cotton, which I ran out of while measuring the warp, so I added some green cotton yarn. Then I used some leftover tape yarn in denim, or something like that.

I realized I never showed these. My very first weaving project...

This is a little longer piece, a mug rug if you wish. This yarn was very soft; wider than the warp, it covers it completely in the half-basket weave pattern I used. Even the selvedges turned out very nice.

I realized I never showed these. My very first weaving project...

 

For these four, I used the same warp, but different cotton weft, also denim, variegated. This yarn was also thicker than the warp, but stiffer so it did not cover the warp. This is plain weave. Quite a different effect.

I realized I never showed these. My very first weaving project...

I realized I never showed these. My very first weaving project...

 

Not too bad for the first project. I am not going to wet finish these. I like them a little stiffer, good for a coaster.