Friday, July 18, 2008

Take Along Toys

As a mom of 2 active kids, I find myself "sitting" in the parking lot often. Waiting for school to get out, waiting for lessons to end, waiting for meetings to finish, etc. And with the cost of gas these days, I'm much more inclined to park and wait for the one hour lesson to finish instead of dropping off, going home for 40 minutes, and coming back. So I guess that means even more idle time in my future.

At the same time, I've been wanting to find something new to try. I wanted something that was small and easy to bring along for those idle times but I didn't want to go back to things I've tried in the past: knitting, crochetting, tatting. I thought about doing some embroidery but couldn't find something that inspired me.

Then I read in Tien's blog about the beaded beads her mom does. Now THAT sounded interesting. So I checked out the links to the beading sites that Tien provided and I was hooked! I was thrilled when I found the free bracelet pattern! Now I could try this new interest for a minimal outlay - since I already had beads and needles from other ventures, it only cost me a mere $3 for some beading thread.

I started the pattern last night. I knew I wouldn't have enough green beads to make a whole bracelet but I'd figure something out as I went along. I always do. About 4 rounds into this, I stopped and looked at the lovely beaded bead I had made. It was gorgeous! I could use something like this on my next designed garment. Heck, I could have used something like this on my final project a few months ago. I decided I'd continue and use up the green beads I had and then use the final piece in a simple necklace. The next hurdle would be in figuring out how to string a necklace together. I've never done jewelry before. Oh, but then I remembered I have some purple rat-tail leftover from my Draping Class's final project. That would work perfectly!

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Trouble in Mac-land

Weaving of the towels is nearly done. But I've run into a glitch with the shafts. It's not a new problem - I've experienced this on every warp with this loom. I'm hoping someone out there can help. To recap - this loom was previously owned by a local weaver who passed on. I suspect the loom was either never used or rarely used. I was given the original invoice - it was manufactured in 1990. If it was sitting idle - that's a lot of years of deferred maintenance.

The problem is that sometimes when a treadle is pushed, one of the shafts (it varies which specific one) that ISN'T supposed to lift will partially lift. I can hand push the offender down to where it belongs - it feels "tight" like it was squeezed by the surrounding shafts into lifting. In other words, it's definitely not a case of something catching and lifting it. It's probably best to show you.

This is what I should see.

The black bar in the background is the top of the shaft that's partially lifting.
The black bar in the middle is the top of a stuck shaft.

When there's a sticky shaft, the shed looks like this. You can see strings from the stuck shaft hanging out there in the middle.
bad shed

I suspect the loom needs some lubrication. When I first got this loom I asked about that. Some suggested WD40; others suggested actual oil; and one suggested paraffin. Since my loom sits over carpet, I went with paraffin. I suspect it didn't work so well. It's the metal parts that I suspect need some help; I'm not sure wax was the right choice. Or maybe I just didn't do it right.

I have both WD40 and oil. In fact, I have some spinning wheel oil in one of those long needle bottles. Which do I use? And where do I put it?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wide Warp

The current project on the Macomber is a 40" wide warp of 5/2 cotton that will use UKI Bamboo (roughly 5/4) in the weft. They're intended to be beach towels for dh's co-worker. The pattern is a modified 5 shaft huck lace. I say modified because I had to put some of the threads from shaft 4 onto a spare shaft (in this case, shaft 6) because I knew I'd run out of heddles. I also put a plain weave selvage onto shafts 7 and 8.

One fear I had with this project was possibly having trouble with throwing a shuttle on such a wide warp. Luckily, I had treated myself to a Bluster Bay end feed shuttle at the recent CNCH conference. Before going to the conference, dh had given me $100 to treat myself. Oh boy, what a treat this pretty thing is!

The shuttle feels so incredibly soft - the craftsmanship is impeccable! And look at these selvages - they're perfect. Another benefit is that weaving goes uber-fast! I'm able to weave up a bobbin's worth in the same time it takes to wind both of the empty pirns I have for this shuttle.