Thursday, June 25, 2015

From cone to cloth: weaving tweed yardage with Harrisville Shetland yarn

Hello, friends. Happy summer!

I finished my first length of wool yardage this week and am pleased with the results so far. I used Harrisville Designs Shetland yarn for both warp and weft. I chose Harrisville yarn partly because I like their palette and partly because I wanted to support a local New Hampshire mill!

I'm going to use this blog post to share some of my findings about the yarn and how it turned into cloth, partly for my own records and also to pass along to my weaving friends.

Warp: I wound a warp of 4.5 yards long and threaded 1 per dent in a 15 dent reed, using "Ginny's Coat" pattern from Davison. I wound 360 ends + tabby selvedge threads. This warp measured 24" in the reed.

Harrisville Shetland, "Silver Mist"
The weaving proceeded smoothly. Adding the tabby selvedges was a big time saver, allowing me to throw the shuttle efficiently (no poking the shuttle under or over floating selvedges). When I came to the end of a bobbin, I allowed the "tail" to hang out of one of the sides of the cloth and started a new bobbin in the next shed in the pattern, also with the tail hanging out of the side selvedge, to eliminate a bulky weft in the cloth. There were only two warp threads that needed repair throughout the weaving.

I had very little loom waste on this warp. Weaving a cloth that had no long repeated pattern allowed me to squeeze out as much as I could out of the warp. All told, I used all of one 1/2 lb cone of pine green for the weft and just about all of the 1 lb (2 cones) of silver mist Shetland yarn for the warp.

Here is the cloth after cutting it from the loom. See the lovely pine-y colored cone? I love this yarn; there are flecks of yellow and light green throughout the darker shades of green.

Finishing the cloth...I placed the yardage in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, cool water, and washed with a mild detergent. I then decided to "full" the fabric a bit by placing it in the dryer, along with a small terrycloth towel, for just 10 minutes on the delicate cycle. I removed it after 10 minutes and while still slightly damp, the cloth had softened and fluffed up and felt really nice. I hung the cloth to dry the rest of the way.

Finished cloth dimensions: 21" wide x 104" long or 2.9 yards. Wool shrinks up quite a bit but that's part of what makes it so cozy, right?

So now I have to be brave and stop looking at the lovely small folded bundle of cloth that is resting on the table and start thinking about cutting! The men's vest sewing pattern pieces are cut and ready.

I think that this cloth would look really pretty in a heathered purple or blue in the weft, right along with more of the silver mist in the warp. Maybe someday.

Thanks for reading, friends! Happy weaving.
Be well,

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Scarves for the 82nd Annual NH Craftsmen's Fair

Hello, friends. It is summertime. How do I know? I know because the loom is sticky and the woodchuck has started to gorge himself on the vegetables in our garden. Yes, we have a fence. Yes, we have raised beds. Alas, the varmint is cagey and crafty and has managed to ravage the broccoli, kale, peas, spinach, and parsley.

And all the while, I'm trying to focus on weaving. I'm really excited to be weaving for my first NH Craftsmen's Summer Fair (Sunapee, New Hampshire). I have a dozen scarves to weave (3 different patterns/styles) plus the exhibition piece. (More on the exhibition piece in a future post). Here's my first scarf style:

I'm using mercerized cotton (5/2) in the warp and alpaca/silk for the weft. I've got several color variations on this scarf and will do a herringbone scarf and a shadow weave scarf. The shadow weave scarf will use no mercerized cotton, just the alpaca/silk blend.

The wool for the men's wool waistcoat arrived and I'm very excited about that.

Happy weaving. And if you have any woodchucks near your garden, do not underestimate their intelligence and determination. At least they don't have thumbs. Yet.

Be well, friends.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Weaving to wear

Hello, friends. I'm taking a leap this summer and entering a one-of-a-kind piece in the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Summer Fair. Instead of a scarf or shawl or other loom-controlled wearable piece, I've decided to weave fabric yardage and then cut it all up and sew it!

I've cut my handwoven fabrics before:

and it has worked out okay. (This is one of my little kiss clasp purses, the fabric is a herringbone variation).

My entry for the summer fair is a men's wool waistcoat. Today I started to nail down some of the details (i.e. yarn selection and pattern). I don't want something too visually "busy" for what I hope will be a classic piece but don't want it to be boring, either. Here's one plan, a herringbone plaid variation:

Well. Maybe not.

. Maybe this would be more appropriate:

This draft is from Davison's "Handweaver's Pattern Book," "Ginny's Coat." I think I'm leaning more toward this design. Of course, I could make life easy and just weave a plain weave fabric, using the same yarns in warp and weft:

Happy weaving, friends.
Be well,

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Art in Action" Recap

Hello, friends. I participated in my first show since surgery in the early Spring, "Art in Action," which was hosted by the fabulous Londonderry Arts Council. It was lovely to "get out there" again! I met some very talented and enthusiastic artists from the area, the weather cooperated, and the event was well-attended.

I had the pleasure of having Michelle Landry of Creative Cottage who creates lovely pieces using polymer clay, as a booth neighbor. Do you maintain a fairy garden? You'll have to check out her whimsical creations. Michelle also teaches polymer clay techniques to children and groups.

Photo by Michelle Landry, Creative Cottage.
Creative Cottage booth at "Art in Action"
"Artful Life by Deanna" was another fellow fiber arts exhibitor. Deanna uses wool roving to craft lovely needle felted landscapes, among other three-dimensional pieces. Here is a photo of one of her tree-inspired works:

Artful Life by Deanna at "Art in Action"

Deanna demonstrates the fine art of needle felting

As always, it was a treat to see so many of my Londonderry neighbors at Mack's Apples over the weekend. I did a lot of demonstrating/teaching on "Bug," my Harrisville Designs loom, and I daresay that the work that we did piqued the interest of several soon-to-be weavers!

Now to finish unloading and to start on that next warp!
Be well,
Kate K.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Back at the loom!

Hello, friends. It has been a while since my last post but I am pleased to say that I have fully recovered from surgery in late March and have resumed usual activities. I really, REALLY missed weaving during the first few weeks; it made me realize how much weaving is part of my "everyday" life. It is good to be back.

Some kitchen towels were just finished recently and are in various stages of finishing. This design is one of my favorites to weave -- a combination of Brooks Bouquet, loom-controlled lace, and plain weave.

On Saturday, my lovely husband took me to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Grower's Association Festival  in Deerfield, NH. Here are some of the stars of the show:

I really fell in love with the Angora rabbits. I purchased a nice amount of bunny fiber for spinning from "HoneyBuns" (Lyndeborough, NH) at the fair. This will be a new spinning fiber for me but with any luck it will yield a decent yarn.

I generally refrain from posting family pictures here, but I've decided to break this self-imposed rule and am sharing a picture of my delightful son, Andrew, as he looked on Saturday night before prom. He looked rather dashing, don't you think?

Happy weaving, friends!
Be well,
Kate K.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A colorful tartan

Hello, friends. Springtime in New England is often more about still-wintertime-temperatures, grey skies, and mud. But we artisans can do something about that, right?

Here is a new tartan in some bright colors. This will be a table runner. It's woven from 5/2 mercerized cotton. I sett the warp yarns at 20 epi (yes, this is a close sett for a twill, but I like a sturdy table runner) and have hemstitched the ends.

This is a rather bold fabric for me. At first I thought that the fabric would look like one of those "bad plaids" that turn up every so often:

I'm glad I did not toss the warp. (I've only done this once before - true confessions! It was a rayon chenille warp and was a tangled, unruly, unbeamable mess, mostly due to a failed friction brake). Never judge a fabric based on the warp alone!

Weaving friends, have you ever pitched a warp? (Don't worry. I won't send the weaving police your way).

That's all for now.
Be well,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Four shaft point twill bookmark pattern

Hello, friends. Happy-Almost-Spring. Nutfield Weaver's house is still surrounded by lots of snow but warmer days will show up eventually.

I participated in a small exhibit last Saturday and had a selection of bookmarks available for purchase. These colorful, small textile pretties gathered a lot of attention. From a weaver's point of view, these small projects are a nice way to try out a new pattern or to use up bits of yarn from your stash. Plus, they're really fun to weave! Here is a photo of one of the finished bookmarks:

Handwoven point twill bookmark in colonial blue and ivory

I used 10/2 mercerized cottons for both warp and weft. I sett the warp threads at 30 ends per inch (two per dent in a 15 dent reed). After leaving a weft "tail" for hemstitching, weave a few picks of tabby, about 7-8" of pattern, finish with a few picks of tabby, and complete hemstitching. A 3 1/2 yard warp yielded 10 bookmarks on my loom (a LeClerc Nilus II); a loom that doesn't generate as much loom waste might yield an extra bookmark or two for you.

Here is a photo of the draft that I created on my Fiberworks weaving software:

Weaving draft for a point twill bookmark
If you don't have 6 shafts available to you on  your loom, just omit the threading on shafts 1 and 2 and include floating selvedges.

Happy weaving, friends!
Be well,

Friday, March 6, 2015

On birds and tea towels

Hello, friends. I've been weaving a lot of kitchen towels lately. A few have been farmed out to League of NH Craftsmen shops, a few are listed in my online store, a couple have been purchased, and, (lucky me!) one ended up in our own kitchen (we get the "seconds" in our house).

Tea towels, while simple in appearance and materials, do not make for easy weaving. To craft a towel that is going to hold up to the rigors of serious household tasks, you need to have a relatively thirsty piece of cloth. The fabric should be dense, but not so dense that it feels coarse or lacks any kind of drape. I generally use 8/2 cotton yarn for my towels. 8/2 cotton yarn is thin, meaning that I generally sett the warp at 20-24 ends per inch, depending on the weaving structure. To make a towel that is at least 16-20" in width, you're looking at a lot of threads! Here's the latest tea towel in process on the loom today:

New Hampshire Tartan - tea towel

After the woven tea towel fabric is removed from the loom, I run the fabric through the washer and the dryer. The initial washing/drying action is important because the fabric undergoes shrinkage. After a trip in the dryer, it is time for hemming.

So. Why go through all of this kerfuffle just for a dishtowel?

The kitchen towel is probably the most undervalued textile in the home. Just think about it. Here are just a few ways that tea towels are used:

  • To dry dishes
  • To grab a hot tea kettle
  • To dry off freshly washed fruit/veggies
  • To cover bread dough during the proofing stages
  • To line a bread basket
  • To dry our hands after washing
  • To hold ice on an aching muscle or twisted ankle
I grow so attached to my towels that I have a hard time retiring them from daily use. There is one towel that I've used for the past 10-11 years, and the threads are getting a little bit thin. I think I'll hang onto it for a month or two longer. The orioles will be back soon, and they love threads for lining their nests. Really! Here is an oriole and an Eastern kingbird that visited the pea trellis in search of suitable nesting material: 

Oriole and Eastern kingbird getting nesting material (Yes! I took this picture in our backyard!)

So I'll know that my old tea towel still has some usefulness in someone's housekeeping endeavors. It is a very comforting thought.

Be well,

Friday, February 13, 2015

Counted cross-stitch embroidery on your handwoven fabric tutorial

Hello, friends. I've been making some bespoke bridal dress hangers for summer weddings. The hangers are decorated either with a handmade satin ribbon rose or with a monogrammed button or other small motif (I've done wee shamrocks and hearts). Anyway, I thought I'd share my method for embroidering on handwoven fabric. Counted cross stitch is generally performed on stiff Aida cloth. Handwoven fabric (at least my handwoven fabric) is far from rigid and I also don't have enough of it to squeeze into an embroidery hoop. What to do? Well, read on!

1. Gather your materials. You'll need the following:

  •  Small piece of handwoven fabric (I used plain weave fabric woven at 30 epi in 10/2 mercerized cotton)
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery or cross stitch pattern
  • needle
  • waste cloth
  • pins
  • embroidery scissors
  • tweezers (yes, you read that right)
  • button suitable for covering with fabric (I use the Dritz aluminum buttons, available at most craft and fabric stores)
2. Cut the handwoven fabric in a square to fit the fabric requirements of your button. I use the 5/8" button from Dritz on the hangers and find that a 2-3" square is suitable. Then, cut a piece of waste cloth the same size. What is waste cloth, you ask? Here's a link to a really good description. You can find waste cloth (or "canvas") near the embroidery floss at your craft shop.

3. I pin the waste cloth and handwoven fabric together to keep things lined up and tidy. You could also baste the layers together. Find the center of your cloth and start stitching!

.4. Once you're done stitching, you need to remove the waste cloth from the handwoven fabric. NOTE OF CAUTION: DON'T RUSH! You might be able to tear waste cloth from other kinds of manufactured fabric, but if you start yanking on your waste cloth, there is a very good chance that you will rip your handwoven fabric. Snip away as much excess waste cloth as you can from around your embroidered motif. Then, start removing the waste cloth threads slowly, and, if necessary, one at a time. Use tweezers to help facilitate this.

 5. After all of the waste cloth threads have been removed, cut the handwoven fabric for your button using the pattern guide:

6. Follow the button manufacturer's directions for encasing the fabric around the button. (This is easy, really). Looks nice, right?

So, there you are. Happy weaving and sewing and knitting and whatever else you may find yourself doing this weekend.

Be well,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Whig Rose overshot and a small study in pattern weft yarns

Hello, friends. We've had a record-setting month for snowfall here in our part of New England. As such, it seems as though I've spent as much time shoveling as I have handling a shuttle. Alas! On Sunday I spent the day hand stitching hems on the overshot runners that have been on the loom.

Overshot runner with wool pattern weft (the black yarn)

Whig rose overshot with two strands of 5/2 mercerized cotton in two shades of red for pattern weft

Whig rose overshot runner with 3/2 mercerized cotton for pattern weft

I used 10/2 mercerized cotton in ivory for the warp and for the tabby weft. I don't have a lot of experience with overshot and am by no means an expert but I did want to see how different yarns behaved in the pattern weft. (For those of you who are less familiar with overshot technique, it is basically a design in which a thicker, often color-contrasting yarn skips over designated threads in the warp to create designs. See the nice looking wheels and diamonds?) I had some leftover Harrisville Shetland yarn in my stash as well as some 5/2 cottons and 3/2 cottons. I liked the results of all three of the yarns but did learn a few things:

  • 5/2 mercerized cotton yarn, when doubled, creates a  nice color effect when using two different shades of yarn (I used reds).
  • 5/2 mercerized cotton yarn, used doubled, can make for some sloppy floats if the yarns don't slide off of your shuttle neatly
  • 3/2 mercerized cotton worked up nicely
  • the wool worked up nicely although I found that the black yarn really bled while washing.
  • the cotton versions seemed to have more "heft"
The wool was something I'd definitely use again. It has a nice drape. I'd also use the 3/2 cotton again in an overshot pattern. I'd use the 5/2 yarns again only if I felt I needed a particular color effect and/or if I needed to substitute for the 3/2 or wool yarns for the pattern weft.

So, there you are. I've had enough of the overshot for a while and am working on some dishtowels in a nice twill pattern. Photos to follow soon!

Be well,

Friday, January 30, 2015

Table runner dimensions

Hello, friends. The Whig Rose overshot fabric is still on the loom (I'm just about at the end of the warp). My husband noted that the fabric seemed "pretty wide" for a table runner. It measures about 22 inches across. Most of my runners are not this wide and now I'm worried about it!

I like the design but if I do weave it again, I might limit the roses (circle motifs) to three instead of four.

It is a really uncomfortable feeling when you end up with a length of handwoven fabric that is not what you envisioned or worse, unusable. I confess to having a fair number of handwoven fabric efforts that only ever made it into the "at-least-I-learned-something-about-this" category. What to do with them? It is hard to toss them into the trash - but honestly, are trial-and-error efforts worth keeping around?

Next up are tea towels. I've got a few warps wound and ready to find their way onto the loom.

Be well,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Whig Rose from Davison

Hello, friends. I've woven a lot of scarves and shawls lately and decided to move onto some other projects for the short term. I purchased a copy of Marguerite Davison's book on four shaft patterns a couple of years ago and hadn't really used it. The "Whig Rose" design has always resonated with me and so I decided to give it a go:

I am using 10/2 mercerized cotton in the warp and tabby weft and a 3/2 mercerized cotton (colonial blue is shown here) for the pattern weft. It is coming along. It's pretty wide, so I'm not sure if it'll work well as a table runner or not. But I like the fabric and think it has potential for a lot of applications (pillow covers, in particular).

On Saturday I will be participating (rather last minute) in a local exhibit at the library. I'm taking a couple of scarves with me to display - one for the ladies and one for the gents. The organizers went to great trouble to line up musicians and lots of lovely visual art created by Londonderry residents. How fun! I'll take this new scarf with me:

An early December assessment of the contents of a couple of closets and many plastic storage boxes has led me to the conclusion that I really need to put the brakes on new yarn purchases. It has been almost two months and I have not purchased any new yarn! I'm going to make a concerted and determined effort to use what is on hand. Of course, if someone contacts me for a commission and desires a particular yarn or color, I will accommodate any such request. But until such an opportunity arises, I will try to work with what I have.

Happy weaving, friends.
Be well,

Friday, January 16, 2015

Adapting "Fiberworks" for my needs

Hello, friends. I finished weaving my short run of alpaca and silk scarves today and am very excited to get going on my next project: overshot table runners. I'm using Marguerite Davison's book as a guide to weave a "Whig Rose" design. If you're familiar with Davison's book, you'll know that the drafts, even though they are just four shaft patterns, are somewhat hard to read. I've used my weaving software program to help make better visual sense of the draft:

Now, this photo looks like I'd be weaving a hot mess. But I will use the breaks in colors to help me keep track of the threading sequence and also the treadling sequence.

I will let you know how this approach works while I'm warping and weaving. Fingers crossed for a small number of threading errors!

Do you use weaving software? If so, have you found any other ways to exploit the program to help you simplify any of the challenges that face us? Do tell!

Be well,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

M and W twill scarves

Hello, friends. You may have read about some bookmarks that I made for gifts in December (or maybe you even wove some for yourself!). I received encouraging compliments on the wee bookmarks that I gave as Christmas presents, and so I decided to use the same pattern in a scarf. I selected my favorite alpaca/silk yarn for the warp and weft. Sett at 20 ends per inch, the pattern seems to respond nicely to this luxury blend of fibers:

There is a quite a bit of weaving left to do on this piece but despite the number of pattern picks required to generate the motif, the pattern is rhythmic. I'll be anxious to take the piece from the loom to see how it washes up.

Yesterday I took the tartan blue shawl up to the Craft Center in Concord, NH, which is the headquarters for the League of NH Craftsmen. The multi-media gallery exhibition will open January 9 and run through 20 March. Click here for driving directions and for a list of participants. I got to see a lot of the pieces that will be on display -- wonderful! Here's the lady's wrap that I made:

Time to get back to the loom! And I'm thinking about making some more bookmarks -- they're really a great way to try out a new design or pattern (in miniature, granted). "Bug," my small Harrisville studio loom, could use a new warp so maybe I'll work out something for her. By the way, weaving friends, do you really sample? I confess: I find it very hard to do so but the bookmark avenue is, for me, justifiable.

Be well,