Recently in Blanket Category

Current Weaving

In my last post, I mentioned that I was seeking out unfinished projects and creating a list so that I could focus on getting some of my works in progress to be finished projects.  I think I've rounded up all the weaving projects, so I'm starting with those.

I've got three projects in my weaving queue:

  • The big purple blanket(s) project (top left): the fabric is woven, but the ends need woven in and the fabric needs to be washed, cut in half and seamed appropriately into two blankets
  • The "Piping Hot" pillow project (top right): the main fabric for the pillows is woven, but I still need to create the piping, find pillow forms of the right size and put the project together
  • Log Cabin Handtowels for my powder room (center, on loom): this is a straightforward project to weave as long as I can and then separate into towels of reasonable size to be used in my powder room. 
The hand towels will most likely be the first project completed - the weaving is easy and fast given that I'm using worsted weight cotton. 

I'm still torn about the big purple blankets.  After weaving this huge length of cloth, I love the look of it when it is all laid out.  Some of the pooling creates infinity-sign like motifs that I like that will be severed in half if I make two blankets.  That said, it's really too long to be of practical use at that width.   The real issue here with finishing is just that I am lazy and not excited about dealing with the ends.

The pillows have been lingering for a while now because after weaving the fabric I have to also weave the piping and then sew things up.  I don't mind the sewing, but I admit that I don't always like my sewing skills, so I've been procrastinating.

My goal is to get to the point where I've only got one weaving project at any given time.  I have multiple looms... but not enough space to really keep them both set up and active.  Since I've got that great yarn from Habu, and there was a neat double weave scarf project with embroidery thread in the most recent Handwoven that I want to tackle, I'm feeling motivated than in the past to wrap these up so that I can tackle one of those.

Little Socks and Big Blankets

Today there will be pictures.  First, the little socks that Z has been asking to wear all week:

Every time I knit these days, Ms. Z asks me if what I am knitting is for her.  She also grabs random bits of string, hair or anything she can find that remotely looks like yarn and tells me that she's knitting socks for me.  I picked up several balls of Patton's Kroy sock yarn and decided that with the cold weather coming, it was time to make her a few new pairs of socks.  

These socks are delightfully fraternal.  In a totally unplanned bit of good luck, they are very much the same, except the positions of the lime green and bright orange stripes are switched. 

Today she came home from shopping with her dad, noticed me wearing a pair of handknit socks, told me she needed to wear socks like mine (I thought she wanted me to make socks with the same yarn) and then ran upstairs and came down wearing these socks -- she'd put them on all by herself.  That might not seem like much, but she's just beginning to be able to put her own clothes on, so I was impressed!   

There are more little socks on the way.  Little socks may be the theme of my knitting when we head for Hawaii.

I also finished the weaving on my big purple blanket(s).

The fabric is approximately 40" wide by about 12' long.  After I got the loom warped, the weaving really flashed by on the AVL dobby loom I was working on.  The production crafter in me loves that kind of loom..  After bringing it home and looking at it, I'm pretty impressed with myself for making such a huge piece of cloth.  After I get the ends woven in, I'll put it in the wash and divide it in half to make the two throws I envision.  The pooling that occurred from using the variegated yarn is pretty neat.  I'll try to get good photos of it after it's been through the laundry.  In the meantime, a close up of the lace detail:

The same huck lace pattern as Z's color gamp blanket.  I love how in this project the texture is much more subtle but definitely still there.  It gives the blanket extra depth without screaming about it.  I think it also plays nice with the variegation.  It's visible, but subtle.

The next big challenge: deciding what crafting will come with me to Hawaii.  Next time you hear from me, I will be enjoying the ocean breezes of the Hawaiian Island of Molokai.

Big Purple Warp

My big purple warp is finally becoming a big purple blanket.  

Wait a minute, you say.  What big purple warp?

Well, after finishing up my color gamp blanket, I thought, Wouldn't it be nice if I could make another blanket of adult size using the same things I already had set up?    And after that, I thought, If I am going to go to all the trouble to re-warp that big ol' loom, why not actually set it up to make two blankets?  After all, once the AVL is warped, the weaving goes fast fast fast.

For these blankets, I wanted a single color warp and single color weft to make the set up and weaving as fast as possible.  I spent a lot of time looking at my color gamp blanket to determine if there was a color combination that I liked together.  Sadly, perhaps to some, my favorite squares were actually the solid color ones.  But I hated the idea of just doing a completely solid color set of blankets -- I wanted the depth and visual interest that comes from having at least subtle differences in the warp and weft.

Then I started discussing the project with my weaving teacher, Nathalie Boyett*,  and she suggested that I consider a variegated yarn and pointed me to Dragon Tale Yarns at Earth Guild.  I chose the 4/2 cotton in "Purple Haze" because a) I liked the color and b) the variegations involved mostly hue changes in the same color tone range instead of hue changes.  The color gamp was 3/2 cotton, so I had to adjust my original project to work with a finer yarn, so the project went from 12 epi to 14 epi -- which I also hoped would make the lace repeat a bit tighter and more interesting.

I planned for two blankets, each 40" wide and about 72" long, which I thought would be sufficient for two adult-sized afghans.  This project has the "honor" of being the first project that I planned out using solely my iPad.  Currently, the plan is to gift them to people who have provided of their time in an uncompensated manner to make sure that my daughter has been well cared for while I've been at work.  

It took an almost interminable time for me to get the loom warped.  Most of this had to do with the fact that my work schedule changed.  When I took my new job, I also gave up my 4 day work week and the Thursday I had off with Ms. Z -- I also scheduled my weaving class on that evening.  With so much going on at work, I just found it hard to get over to the studio on Thursday nights.  But with our vacation coming and incredible guilt on my part for tying up a loom I wasn't using regularly, I have girded my resolve and got to class on both Thursday evening and Saturday morning this week.  The result was getting the warp completely tied on as well as some actual weaving.  In the picture above, I've probably got almost a yard of weaving completed -- after about 5 hours of weaving.  Now that I have a rhythm down, I'm optimistic that with 2 to 4 more sessions I'll be well on my way to having this project completed.  

It probably won't surprise anyone, but these two projects have really convinced me that if I ever invest in a floor loom, it will probably be a dobby loom.  The geek girl in me loves the "computational" feel of pegging up the pattern and the "product" driven fiber artist in me loves the speed with which projects come together once the warp is in place.  The loom I'm working on is somewhat cantankerous (mostly because it is an older loom) , but I'm even enjoying the problem solving that comes with working out the mechanical bugs.  Fiber girl and geek girl are equally engaged in this one.

And if my husband reads this... no, I'm not really thinking about buying a floor loom.

No, really I'm not.

I'm totally not googling for used AVL looms in Chicago.


Well, at least not until we win the lottery. 

* I feel I need to give Natalie and her Chicago Weaving School a big shout out.  She's been more than patient with me on this project, and has tirelessly worked to make sure the AVL loom behaves itself for me.  She's also boundlessly enthusiastic and encouraging. If you're in Chicago and want to weave, no matter what your level, especially if you're not ready to take the plunge and buy your own loom (or don't have space for a floor loom) she's worth talking too.

Color Gamp Blanket Makes a Friend

20100510_ColorGamp.jpgProof of weaving!  This blanket is roughly 3' wide by 3.5' long.  The warp and weft are 3/2 perle cotton and the warp sett was 14 end per inch (epi).  The pattern is a huck lace pattern that came directly from the pattern suggestions that were sent along with the gamp kit.  I find it fascinating how color works in different media.  This blanket is meant to demonstrate color blending across a rainbow of colors.  Each color was used once in the warp and once in the weft.

20100510_ColorGampLaceBlock.jpg Not my favorite color combinations (I guess I'm outing myself as not being either a fan of the Green Bay Packers or John Deere Tractor), but the weave definition is clear.  Each lace block was separated by a nice region of solid plain weave. 

But the best part of this blanket was giving it to it's recipient.

20100510_ColorGampLaceZ1.jpgShe is now old enough to both appreciate a special blanket made for her (my second ny ny*, momma!) and to want to take pictures with it. 

20100510_ColorGampLaceZ2.jpgRight now it's pretty much perfect snuggle size for a not-quite-3 year old girl -- and it was a required bed fellow tonight (along with about 400 other things that absolutely positively must be in her crib for her to consider sleeping).

This project was so simple it pretty much makes me want to warp up that loom again and make bigger (longer) versions for some special adults I know -- but most likely I will select one warp and one weft color just to make my life easier.  Now, if only I could figure out which colors I really like together!

* ny ny is Polish for "blankie"

Putting the Heddles to the Mettle

Once you have your warp all ready to go, it's time to start this:

20100205_HeddleThreading1.jpgI have now started enough weaving projects to realize that I really don't mind warping looms.  If you need to clear your head and refocus, warping a loom is a perfect activity.   At one level, it's very "lock and load", the tasks are simple and repetitive, hands are engaged.  On another level, you are forced to keep both brain and hands in action, especially if the pattern you need to use when threading your heddles has a longer repeat.  For the color gamp project I am working on, the final product will be a huck lace blanket.  Each section is made up of 40 threads of the same color and the heddle threading pattern is 40 ends wide.  It's memorizable, but you have to pay attention.   I've done the heddle threading for all but the last two color sections (I could have kicked myself when I found that I left my camera at home last night) and I've had to pull the threads out and re-start on three or four of the colors because I found that I was off somewhere.   Whenever I let my mind drift off, it's easy for something to get out of whack.

And that makes this the perfect perfect project for me right now.  There's a lot spinning around in my head these days and projects like this help me put that stuff into another compartment and keep me centered -- not to mention provide me with some color therapy... Chicago has been nothing if not unremittingly grey this winter. 

I'm also making good headway on my Blooming 9 Patch.  All the strips have been sewn and I'm starting on the process of sewing them together.  I got three of them sewn together yesterday and looking at them made me feel so good!  The lines and seams are mostly where they should be and the colors are just blowing me away.   And like the weaving project, this project requires focus now, careful pinning and careful sewing. 

John's Aspinwall is coming together, too.   It actually looks like a real sweater and it is now clear that I won't run out of yarn.   A collar, a zipper, the sewing in of ends and a good blocking are really all that stand between this sweater and it's owner.

I know my blog posts have been a bit infrequent of late... I appreciate those of you who are bearing with me on this.  I do enjoy your comments any your email and hope to get a little better at being regular on posting and responding soon.

Rainbow Gamp Warp

It appears I'm not doing too well with Wednesdays lately.  But at least I can brighten up Friday with the warp from my next weaving project.

20100121_ColorGampWarp.jpgThis is the beginning of a color gamp blanket project.  It will be 40" wide by 50" long and will use a huck lace weave structure.  I'm warping it from the back, and what you see here is inch wide units of 3/2 cotton yarn getting ready to be pulled forward in preparation for threading the heddles.  I'll be doing this project on an AVL dobby loom -- which has me completely geeked out because it's as if weaving and computers have intersected in one project.

Next week I hope to get the heddles threaded and to start sleying the reed.  I can hardly wait to start weaving on this project and to watch all the different color combinations come together !


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