Friday, December 14, 2007

Macomber loom tool shelf or....

cat perch?

This is Luke. He's my shadow. Where ever I go, he follows. And now, if I'm working at the loom, he's up in the tool shelf. It used to be that he'd jump into the tool shelf, sit for a few minutes, and then move to the back of the nearby couch. Given that it's a bit colder these days, I wondered if putting a pillow in there would encourage him to stay and keep me company. It worked!

The painted warp is coming along nicely. I really like the sage green weft in there. The pattern is a 3/1 twill and lifting 3 shafts at a time. Lifting 3 Macomber shafts isn't so bad. Although, I can see how lifting 8 (once I put more shafts in) might result in a true workout. Frankly, I'd rather workout on my loom than some gym's common-use stairmaster or treadmill. Not that I work out, but if I did....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday Humor

As many of you do, I also read quite a few other blogs. I use Technorati to keep track of my favorites. For the most part, it sorts them by most recently posted.

Today I found this very funny rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas by way of Sara Lamb's blog. It's done by Bonnie Tarsus, a well-known weaver in Seattle.

I could *so* relate.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Painted Warp

I bought this painted warp from Margaret at Heritage Yarns. The colorway is called Tallahatchee Bridge in 80%/20% rayon silk. I've mixed in stripes of unmercerized cotton in beige and sage green. Under tension, the rayon is a thinner yarn than the cotton but hopefully it will fill back out after wet finishing. I've used another of these painted warps for a shawl and the yarn did do that afterwards. For the warp, I used two turns of the skein starting with the pink. I wish now the ends were either the grey or the olive green as I really like the pink and it's going to end up being thrums. This yardage is going to be part of a jacket for me.

painted warp sampling

But before I can get started, I have to sample the weft colors. The first (closest to the bottom but not the white - that's toilet paper to spread the warp) is the sage green cotton I used in the warp stripes. It's plain weave. The next is the beige cotton from the stripes in a 3/1 twill. It's okay but I think the colors in the painted warp get lost. Next is the sage green cotton again but in the same twill. I do like that. The last one is a thin white bamboo. I don't recall the size but it's 4000 ypp (yes, quite thin). And again, I think the painted warp gets lost. I could dye the bamboo but that takes time and I really would like to get this going. Besides, the bamboo would make a thinner fabric than the cotton so I'm sticking with the sage green cotton.

You may have noticed the weft isn't perfectly straight from left to right. That's because the tension in the painted rayon/silk is ever-so-slightly different from the tension in the cotton. The rayon/silk stretches more than the cotton. When I beamed it, I tensioned the rayon/silk on it's own weight in hopes it would stretch to its own maximum. This warp may have been a candidate for double-beaming but I don't have a second beam on this loom. Frankly, even if I did, I doubt that I would have been able to get the two tensions any closer than this - they really do feel very much the same. I'm crossing fingers that the wonkiness will disappear in the wet finishing. And since the weft won't be striped, the waves should disappear into the cloth.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Two-sided Rag Rug

two-sided rag rug - TOPProgress on the rag rug found in the November/December 2007 Handweaving Magazine is slow-going. I think winding pirns is so much faster than cutting fabric strips, tapering the ends, and winding onto ski shuttles. And the weaving itself is also slower. I'm under the impression that the strips shouldn't have a twist in them as they lie in the shed. However today, I'm going to experiment with not worrying about it and seeing if it makes a significant difference in the finished weaving. If not, maybe ignoring twists will help speed up the process.

two-sided rag rug - shot from belowI do like this results of this project. Reversible things always appeal to me. Although in this case, the rug is going to be given to some friends of ours as a thank you gift.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Macomber Update

Thanks to Melodi Hackett of Maine and everyone on the yahoogroups weaving email list who answered my questions in the previous post!

The large silver thing in the first photo indeed is used with the black handle. It's used to push down a lamm while you are setting the tie-up. The smaller of the pins (in the photo with the silver bar) is used to hook the black handle in the down position so that you can use both hands for the tie-up process. Here's what it looks like:

I'm told the same shorter pins are also used in the old lamms for tie-up. My loom must be the newer version because there are no holes in them to insert the shorter pins.

The spring-string-chain found at the back of the loom near the warp beam is to act as a brake when the ratchet system is released for advancing the warp. Without it, the warp beam will spin like the dickens once tension is released. I'm really glad I found out about this before starting my first project.

The first project is in progress! I measured out the warp and have it sleyed in the reed. I spent time last night moving the heddles and will finish dressing the loom today. I'm going to take a stab at that reversible rag rug in the latest Handwoven magazine. It only requires 4 harnesses in a straight draw but the simplicity will allow me to become familiar with this new loom. I can tackle an 8 harness project next time!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Macomber Mysteries

A week ago I bought my dream loom. It's a 45" Macomber 16 harness frame with 8 harnesses. The perfect width (not too big, not too narrow). The perfect number of harnesses. And room to expand should I outgrow 8.

Unfortunately, Macomber doesn't have much in the way of documentation. I have the catalogs the original owner received. And lovely catalogs they are! Someone spent a lot of time and energy creating such beautiful marketing literature. I, and probably many other Macomber owners, wish they had put the same energy into providing supporting documentation. So far, I haven't even found someone with a mechanical assembly drawing.

So I come to the community of Macomber owners with some questions. I am fairly mechanically inclined and can figure out most things on my own. I also have some experience with looms (I own 5 not counting the Mac - 2 tables, a floor, and 2 rigid heddles). Sometimes, stuff just plain stumps you.

First, what are these parts?

Macomber parts

The middle piece is used to connect the treadle to a shaft. I figured that one out because the previous owner left one still attached. I have lots of those which I assume you need to be able to set up complicated tie-ups. But I haven't a clue about the smaller wire-like piece. There are exactly 10 of those. Coincidentally, the loom has 10 treadles.

Next, what does this lever do?
black lever black lever with silver piece

The photos were taken from the back of loom. I think the black lever is used in conjuction with the big silver hunk of metal in the first picture. Threading the black handle into the slot and lining it up over part of the jack mechanism makes it possible to push down on a single shaft from the front of the loom. Is that how this is to be used? Why would you use something like that?

Last question: what is this for? And where should it be attached?

close up of spring, string, and chain spring, string, and chain in natural position

It hangs off the back beam near the warp beam. It consists of a small spring, some thin rope, and a chain at the end. I know it's not the warp beam brake because there's a ratchet contraption on the other end of the warp beam.

I hope someone can help!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Curve Balls of Life

It seems people are always asking me what I've been doing and it seems like I never really have an answer. But I must have been busy with something because I never seem to have time to do the stuff *I* want to do.

This past weekend is a good example of doing things I hadn't planned. Last Friday I was in the kitchen when I heard a crash. It wasn't ....CRASH.... It was more like ....crash, tumble, clink, crash, clink, clink..... Looking around I found the shelves in the pantry had simply given up.

Sigh.... although I've been meaning to reorganize the pantry, I really would have preferred to spend the weekend doing something else. But sometimes life hands you a curve ball. So Saturday the kids and I (remember, dh got on a plane that day so he could visit the Queen) spent time driving around looking at various shelving options. We finally found something that would fit as well as maximize the space. After a few days of reorganizing, we now have this:

Maybe this weekend I'll get to play with the new Bamboo yarn that arrived on Monday. I'm itching to do some painted warps.

Monday, October 15, 2007

JoJo isn't happy

And when JoJo isn't happy, she let's you know. Meet JoJo


So why is she upset? My guess is that she's mad that Ken is gone. He left for London on Saturday. That night JoJo slept with dd instead of at the foot of our bed like she usually does. Last night (Sunday) she went to bed with dd but came out after dd fell asleep and was hanging out with me and Luke (our other cat) downstairs. After awhile I hard a commotion in the downstairs bath and went to investigate.

This is what I found...

She pulled the roll out of the cabinet under the sink, took off the paper cover and proceeded to shred it. She used to shred rolls that were on the tp holder a lot when she was younger; we think she was mad that we left her alone all day.

And to show that she does miss Ken, she went back into dd's room and slept with her again last night. She'd better learn to deal with it - he doesn't come back for a few more days.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Monterey Pronk's Fiber Art Competition accepts Mail-in and Check-in day entries!

Monterey Pronk's Fiber Art Competition accepts all entries containing at least 50% alpaca.

The premiums are $10 for First place and $5 for Second Place. We also have special awards for Judge's Choice and People's Choice.

If you download Monterey Pronk's forms the instructions have all kinds of deadlines that are looming near. Well.... if you can hand-walk your entry to check-in, ignore those deadlines and bring your exhibit directly on in! If you have to drop it in the mail, make sure it'll get to me no later than September 21st and I'll bring it to check-in for you.

The information on the website is mostly correct - we've changed a few things to accommodate more entries at the last minute. Here are the changes!

Modified Fiber Art and Skein Entry Instructions

1) Go here. Download the appropriate forms. Separate forms are used for entries in Fiber Arts, Handspun Skeins, and Mill Spun Skeins. Don't forget to fill out a “Fee Form” as well. In a nutshell, Fees are $3 per entry.

IMPORTANT: AOBA Show Division Membership is NOT required for a Fiber Arts & Skeins competition!

2) Fill out all forms. If you have any questions, please contact Kimberly Louie at (alpacas at

3) Exhibits must be placed in a clean plastic bag, whenever possible. The preferred plastic bag is a one-gallon size ziplock. One item per bag.

4) Fill out the Fiber Arts and/or Skein Entry Tag and place in the bag with the item. If you want the entry mailed back to you, in the "Pickup Receipt" section, please write “Item is being returned by mail”

5a) Place items, forms, and fees in a tyvek envelope or a box. USPS has free shipping materials. If you use a box, make sure that this box is in good, sturdy condition because it will be the one used to mail back your item(s).


5b) Bring item, entry forms, and fees to the check-in on Friday, September 28 between 10am-4pm to the Monterey County Fairgrounds. As of this post, I'm unsure where we'll be doing check-in so ask someone and they'll be sure to direct you. Alpaca show people are very helpful!

6) Pick Up or Return Shipping: Entires can be picked up Sunday, September 30th between 5-7pm. If you want something returned by mail, you MUST include a return shipping label with postage or carrier label in the envelope/box. Since you may win a ribbon and each ribbon weighs 2 ounces, please calculate that added weight for EACH item.

7) Shipping Fiber Art Items To The Fiber Art & Skeins Competition Manager: We recommend that you ship your Fiber Art Item with a carrier which uses a tracking system (i.e. UPS, Fed-ex, etc). Ship to: Kimberly Louie (address found on the forms). The Monterey Pronk ’07 show management is not responsible for packages that are lost in transit or delivered late.

Note for mail-in entries: The actual Fiber Art items, forms and fees should be postmarked to Kimberly Louie no later than September 15th and needs to arrive no later than September 21st. Please make sure that you email Kimberly at (alpacas at to let her know that the items being entered in the show have been shipped to her.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Birth Day!

Today was a long time in coming. 20 months in fact. That's quite a feat considering the gestation for alpacas is supposed to be 11 months. Our first dam, Melody, was bred and set to deliver in September 2006. Unfortunately, tragic events took her from us in December 2005. We acquired a replacement in August 2006 after confirming pregnancy. Her due date, according to her former breeder was May 21, 2007. As you can see, she was nearly a month overdue!

This last month has been incessantly nerve wracking for everyone. There was even a debate this last week as to whether or not she was even pregnant. Um, there's no doubt as of this evening - she's definitely not pregnant! Kissy Missy - aka Kay to us - delivered a 17 pound dark rose grey girl this morning. Textbook delivery; textbook postpartum; textbook newborn antics.

And now we have to give this precious creature a name. I may have mentioned in a previous (very previous) post that we use the alphabet as our naming structure. Our first cria was named with an "A" name (Aria - who sadly died at 29 days old back in 2005). So this one must be a "B" name. We first decided upon Beatrice. While the name does have some family significance, we picked it because my second most favorite 'paca at Foothill Llama and Alpaca Ranch was named Beatrice. She lived a long life and recently passed away. We also chose Baltane (bal'-tan-ah) which is Gaelic for the month of May. Although I'm not a fan of using names people can't easily pronounce let alone remember, I liked the idea of using a Gaelic word because our family has such an affinity for Ireland. But as the May 21st due date came and went, and then so did the entire month of May, Baltane had to be set aside for possible future use. Wanting to keep with the Irish theme, I looked up town names in Ireland. When I happened upon Belleek, I knew we'd have to add it to the list. Belleek is also the name of exquisite Irish Bone China. I have a few pieces from our trips to Ireland and simply love it. But Belleek china is light beige in color so a cria in any other color would have to use another name. As we were crossing our fingers and wishing very, very hard for a grey cria, I became less and less attached to the name Belleek and put it on our list for future possibilities. I also considered Bisbee Blue (a quaint town in southern Arizona - one of the VERY few that I actually liked in that state and "Blue" is another term for grey).

Then just as we passed the 11 month 2 week gestation point (nerve wracking for some; right on time for others - it just depends on how you calculate the due dates for Spring births), a friend of mine passed away suddenly. While I am thankful for the distraction, I'd like to point out to God that there are a million other things he could have chosen to distract me. My friend was a great mom to three wonderful kids ranging in age from 17 to 6. She was only five years older than me and the other day I realized that when I'm 46, I'll have a 17 year old child too. This whole event hit very very close to home for me. As I was thinking back on Kristine one day last week, I was remembering just how open-hearted she was and how happy she always made others feel. She was practically blissful. Blissy Krissy. Yes, I'm being silly - Kristine was fond of doing that too! Ah, but then that very pregnant dam 'o mine's name popped in my head - Kissy Missy. And Blissy does start with "B". (Starting to see the gears turn here?) How wonderfully silly it would be to have Kissy Missy give birth to Blissy Krissy! While I think Kristine would actually get a kick out of having a cria named after, I'm not sure her family would feel the same way.

So without further delay, let me introduce you to Bliss. She may at some point in the future get a more formal name, but she'll always be Bliss to us. In fact, we're quite blissful Bliss is with us and here to stay for a very, very, very long time.

Click on the photo for a larger version