Monday, 23 September 2013

Pink Surprise!

Spurred on by our visit to The Weaver's House as part of Heritage weekend, I finished my first attempt at weaving on a peg loom, hereby dubbed 'Pink Surprise!'
Finished first effort on the peg loom.
This was a collaborative effort with my three year old daughter M, who helped thread the warp, chose the weft threads and helped pull the warp through the weave when the pegs were full. M tried to weave, but didn't have the dexterity to do it just yet, although she had a lot of fun trying.

I used string for the warp, double threaded and three acrylic DK yarns woven as one for the weft.

A close up...
I've never woven on a peg loom or any kind of loom, so this project was a learning experience for me. I had a quick look at the instructions, then decided to just have a go to see how it turned out. I don't think the piece turned out too badly and I did learn a few things.

First up, the weave grows very quickly, much quicker than a comparative size piece of knitting or crochet but is very yarn hungry. This first test piece measures only 20in/51cm but used nearly 300g of yarn. The weft had to be bunched up fairly snug to conceal the warp, which will have contributed to the amount of yarn used and also how thick the finished piece is. While it does drape, the fabric is rug or heavy blanket weight.

It was difficult to keep the starting edge neat and from fraying or unravelling. In the end I used hair clips to hold it in place as I worked, removing the clips when it was time to pull the warp into the weave.

Keeping an even tension was harder than I expected it to be, with a natural tendency for the yarn to be very tight on the end pegs. I don't know if this improves with practice, but the result was the weave 'springing in' a couple of inches once released from the loom giving a finished width of 14.5in/36cm.

Taking the piece off the peg loom and tying off, revealed there must be an art or a hit of experience involved in keeping the tension even along the length of the warp too. Even though I tried to keep it level and Dave read to M so I had minimal help, it still came off with a definite curve at each end, with it very obvious at the starting end.

Once the piece was completely free and tied off, I discovered a snagged yarn on the underside near the beginning. I think it must have been caught when pulling the pegs or possibly when putting them back into the loom once the warp had been pulled through. It only happened once, but this will be something to look out for in future.

Finally an observation about my choice of warp. While I'm happy with string in this instance it isn't very pretty, so unless I intend to tuck it in, I might need to use something else in future projects.
I'm very happy with how the colours worked together.
Overall though, given that this was a first attempt I'm happy with the result and the colours chosen by M compliment each other giving a pleasing pink. We enjoyed making this piece, although I confess I have no idea what to do with it now!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Heritage weekend

We took advantage of the Heritage Open Days at the weekend, although we weren't as ambitious last year when we did a grand tour of Coventry's Priory, Guild Hall, Blue Coats School and the old Cathedral. This year, we reined ourselves in, partially out of consideration for M's interest levels and secondly because of the weather, which was cold, cold, cold.

After some thought, we decided to keep it local this year and by that I mean a twenty minute walk to The Weavers House.

I've been aware of this building for a few years, but have never actually visited it. The Weavers Workshop, who are based at The Weavers House, were at The Herbert's craft fair last December, which is where Dave picked up my peg loom. It was a flying visit for us as I was feeling rough and M was poorly too, so I only chatted to them briefly at the time but they seemed friendly enough.

In short, we had an enjoyable hour and half in The Weavers House, which comprises a terrace of houses which were originally built in the 1500s and have been continuously updated since then. I believe they were occupied until the 1940s, indeed the gentleman working the front door said there used to be pub opposite which exploded due to WW2 bombing, but the terrace was left mostly unscathed.

The terrace had the feel of a work in progress, with one house restored to represent how a working class weaver might have lived in the 1500s, with a few additions for modern convenience (such as glass in the windows, a chimney breast and a tiled floor). Sadly, I didn't get to see past the hall (main living room) as M wasn't too keen on the dark, gloomy room or listening to the tour guide's (very interesting) talk. Dave stayed though and reported back that he had enjoyed it immensely.

We didn't pay too much attention to the garden, but M and I were drawn to the weavers themselves who had set up under a shelter. M played with the stick weaving samples and I had a long chat with one of the weavers about using a peg loom, getting a few tips about choice of warp as well as a few ideas in terms of projects. M was very taken with a giraffe woven onto a wire warp and a woven doll, both made with weaving sticks. I meanwhile was very intrigued by the idea of circular weaving on a normal peg loom.

I didn't get a chance to talk to lady who was spinning next to the hearth in the main reception room, but her presence, along with the whole visit has made an impression on M who has talked about it a lot since the weekend. The lady at the wheel was the only one in costume, which as someone with an interest in costume I found a bit disappointing but that's just me, I like costume. M does too apparently and was particularly taken by her hat (bonnet or cap) which M thinks was very pretty.

M came away with a few colouring sheets that she has put on her easel and has been working on for the past couple of days. Meanwhile, I picked up another set of weaving sticks and a small weaving disk. Following on from the inspiration of our visit and M's enthusiasm, we've started another braid, finished the piece on the peg loom (I'll post about that later) and started a project on the weaving sticks.
Weaving on two sticks
I really can't fault the place or the people there who were all very friendly and I certainly hope to visit again. 

Sunday the weather took a turn for the worse, adding a cold wind and rain to the mix. We had already decided to visit the Walled Garden in Allesley Park just as we did last year, but gosh it was cold.

The cold and rain kept a lot of the traders at their market away and forced the organisers to close early, but we made the best of it. M taught us how to play Hoopla, we did a bug hunt, I bought some veg grown on the site and M ran around a lot. We huddled in a tent for while, enjoying a very welcome pancake (and coffee for us adults) before heading briefly to the playground for a swing before coming home, but by then the drizzle had turned into heavy, cold rain, so we called it a day. Rain and cold weather however did not stop us from having fun, M certainly had a whale of a time.

And that was our Heritage Weekend.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Planning ahead

Today has been decidedly on the soggy side, leaves are starting to fall and I'm stalking M sized snow or ski suits in readiness for this year's Snowmaggedon.

In the meantime, I have started the lace project intended to be a summer shawl for next year as swatched for a few weeks back. I decided to use a 2mm hook, opened a new ball of Clea and made a start.

Here it is after three weeks of sneaking in a row here and there.
Main panel after three weeks...
Trellis with shell pattern, currently relaxed and straight off the hook
I'm still undecided on the final form this shawl is going to take. I'm thinking a big rectangle of trellis with shell, but don't know whether to add a border or two end panels. Currently I think I'll let it get a bit bigger and see how quickly it uses the available stash Clea, then decide dependent on appearance and whether I think I'm going to run out of thread. If I do need to buy more, I'll want to use the new thread for the border or end panels rather than risking a change in dye lot on the main panel.

Happily, M is finally accepting that Mummy might crochet because now the piece is started, I can work it while giving her a cuddle. Slowly. Very, very slowly, while M holds my hands and fingers, which she says is fun. M also tells me this scarf is for her Daddy, who needs it to be a bit bigger first.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Tied off

I am happy to report that we finally finished the kumihimo braid we started in July. I've worked on this one with M, only weaving when M was in the mood and for as long as it held her attention which is why it has taken a while.
Braid taken off the kumihimo disk
We ended up with 20 inches or 50cm of braid for our efforts and only stopped because we ran out of threads to work.

The cardboard 'disk' held up fairly well, but was beginning to separate and split towards the end of the project. M was very enthusiastic, which in three year old terms translates into heavy handed when it came to moving the threads so nearly (accidentally) pulled the whole thing off the disk several times. It was easily fixed though; I just re-centred the braid, tightened up the tension and we were off once more.

M was very dismayed to see the braid off the disk so undoubtedly were going to have to make more in the near future.