Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Pillow Covers That Will Be Pillow Covers

Although the finished fabric is very soft… no no no. Pillow covers. Not a scarf. I do not need any more scarves.

It took me about six hours over four days to warp the loom. I did a direct warp on it again, but it’s too unreliable and creates crossed threads. This is plain weave. I did consider trying twill for the first time, but I wanted to see what kind of a pattern the variegated yarn made on its own. It’s created a sort of mock plaid, very subtle and organic. I like it a lot.

I really, really enjoy weaving. It’s a pity that three-quarters of the time devoted to each project isn’t the actual weaving part.

Now I’ll wash and block it, then machine-sew two lines of running stitch down the middle right next to one another and cut the fabric between them so I have two squares, and cut the fringe off (that’s not true fringe, it’s loom waste left over from the warp tied onto the loom). Then I’ll need to decide if I want this to be one single cover with the woven fabric on both sides, or two covers with one woven panel for the front and and one solid fabric panel on the back of each. I think I’ll go with the latter.

Next, I think I’ll try weaving a stole or wrap the full width of the loom. I think it has about an eighteen to twenty-inch weaving width, but the problem will be missing heddles on the shafts; on a project twelve inches wide I had only five heddles left empty on the first and fourth shafts, although there were about ten to fifteen each on the middle two. I can order replacement heddles, but I’m trying to stay away from my credit card. Maybe there’s somewhere local that I don’t know about, despite thorough Googling. I think I’m finally going to have to contact the local guild for information.

Weekend Roundup

Yes, another boring recap of my scintillating weekend activity. It’s for my records, after all.

My very sore throat of Thursday developed into a full cold on Friday. I slept badly Friday night but got up at 7:30 to make sure that I had a leisurely morning before heading off for my cello lesson at 9:00. It was a great lesson with some excellent breakthroughs (such as one doesn’t move one’s left elbow forward while crossing strings, one moves one’s forearm, so as to avoiding “breaking” the wrist; I love making discoveries like that), but it was an intense lesson and very draining. Got home, put down the cello, picked up my bag of fibre projects and supplies, and packed the loom into the car, and HRH, the boy and I headed back to the West Island. They dropped me off at Ceri’s, where we were having our monthly craft session, and I got a quarter of the loom warped. The boy and HRH went to Tal’s house to help move some furniture around, and the boy had a terrific time playing with the young lady of the house. They picked me up a couple of hours later, sharing some of the delicious quiche and apples and cheese and cucumber sandwiches we’d assembled for lunch before we all departed. When we got home we managed to get the boy to nap, despite it being almost two hours later than usual. I napped as well, being totally flattened by the morning and early afternoon. When we got up the boy asked to play Lego Star Wars, and played through two new levels of it mostly on his own, with just a little help from us, for which we congratulated him enthusiastically. Evidently my nap refreshed me, because while he did I made my homemade iced cappuccino (slushed milk, cocoa, brown sugar, and coffee in the ice-cream maker), a batch of chocolate-peanut butter cookies (kitbashed together from two different recipes plus cocoa), and I made another homemade spaghetti sauce for supper. I even remembered to put the clocks back on Saturday night.

It was rainy and windy and damn cold when we got up on Sunday. We had our regular pancake breakfast, I mixed up a batch of bread dough and set it to rise, and then I packed the boy up (an hour later than I wanted… we were all rather slow) and we ran errands together in the storm. I exchanged my new red earbuds for lavender ones, we picked up cat litter, and went to the library, where I discovered that I had a late book for the third time in my life. (All three times have occurred in the last year. Hmm.) While the boy napped I warped another third of the loom, got dinner in the slow cooker, and then headed out for our monthly group cello lesson, where I played my lines rather better than I’d anticipated. It’s so much easier when you hear the other lines and figure out where your line fits in (Yes, I realise this contradicts my complaint of last month, where I said that I couldn’t play my line because I didn’t know how it fit in. Yesterday was magically different. Or I practised the new material. One of the two.) We also sight-read two pieces, a cello quartet arrangement of the theme from Haydn’s quartet op 76 no 3 (we sight-read this one last time, too, but we all had different parts this time; last time I think I had the viola part, and this time I had the first violin) and a piece by Rameau.

I was exhausted but restless last night, and slept badly again. My back has been achy for three days straight, and while my cold is almost gone, the boy is home with me today because he now has an occasional cough and has a bit of sinus congestion; we weren’t sure whether to send him to preschool or not, so we erred on the side of caution. We kept him home but when I spoke with his educator she said she had the same thing, and if he was the same tomorrow to send him in anyway. So he is home with me today, and is very energetic (as always; we know he’s really ill when he is listless). If I felt better I’d take him out to the park or something, but I suspect we will do crafty things instead.

Book Announcement

No, not one of mine… exactly.

I am giddy to announce the release of A Modern Cellist’s Manual by Emily Wright. I had the very enjoyable task of editing this book.

A very different sort of cello method, A Modern Cellist’s Manual combines technical information and plenty of photographs with advice on approach. Topics addressed range from the basics of a painless bow grip to injury avoidance, working with a metronome, and tenor clef. Emily’s tone and sense of humor lighten the mood of any practice session. A Modern Cellist’s Manual is suitable for those taking private lessons as well as returning cellists looking to bolster rusty technique.

A Modern Cellist’s Manual can be purchased via for now, and should be listed at major online retailers eventually.

Congratulations, Emily. You’ve worked hard for this. And for those who read it and want more… I have it on good authority that she’s working on it.

Concert Announcement!

It’s that time of year again! The Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra proudly announces their spring 2010 concert.

Date: Saturday the 27 of March
Time: 19h30
Location: Beaurepaire United Church, 25 Fieldfare Ave, Beaconsfield
Admission: $10, free for children under 18

The Wasps Overture – Vaughn Williams
Symphony no. 83 (‘The Hen’) – Haydn
Méditation from Thaïs – Massenet
The Banks of Green Willow – Butterworth
Petit Suite – Debussy

This is a gorgeous programme. The concerts usually last approximately two hours, including the refreshment break. There are driving directions and public transport info on the church website, linked above. I usually encourage people who are vehicle-less to find someone who has a car and share the cost of the driver’s admission to the concert among them. It’s more fun to enjoy the evening in the company of others, after all.

Mark your calendars now! And feel free to share the information with anyone you like; it’s a public concert. See you there!

Weaving Experiment No. 2: The Pillow Covers That May Be A Scarf

The idea for this project was to use the lovely Red Heart Collage yarn in the Landscape Green colourway. Yes, I bought this yarn because I loved it, and then had to think up a project. Since one of the things I have from my grandfather’s loom is a pillow, I thought a pillow cover would be nice.

And yes, I am stunned to make the statement, “I love this Red Heart yarn.” Most Red Heart is scratchy and awful. This is incredibly soft and flowy. It’s a two ply: one ply is green, and the other shades from a pale pink through pale blue through hyacinth blue-violet. It’s spectacular. I knew I wanted to see how it would transition in a woven piece.

I chose an ecru linen colour of South Maid crochet cotton as my warp, and never again. The Royale crochet cotton was bad enough because it stuck to itself and a bundle of it wouldn’t comb out or straighten, but apart from the sticking not-flowing behaviour previously exhibited by crochet cotton, a few of the the South Maid strands shredded before I even got them threaded through the heddles. It’s a good thing I decided to thread floating selvedges; I ended up using those as replacement warp threads. I threaded lengths of the Red Heart through the reed for floating selvedges instead. I know now to measure at least five to ten extra warp threads and have them in reserve on the edges in case of fraying or breakage. Also, I’m just going to stop using crochet cotton. I don’t like the finish on it.

There were one hundred and fifty-two warp threads on this project, threaded through four shafts in rotating order. Gah. Making sure everything was in the right place in the right order took a lot of focus and was really energy-consuming. The good thing is I only made one mistake and it involved threading two heddles in a row on shaft 4, which meant I could just pull one out and rethread it further on, leaving the extra heddle loose in the warp. (It’s not a crisis, like missing a heddle somewhere in the middle would have been. Gah. That would require undoing however many threads I’d gone on to do afterwards, and redoing them all in the correct order. I had a taste of that when I threaded the warp for the sample scarf last week, thank you.) It is a pity that the prep takes longer than the actual weaving. Books tell me to embrace it as part of the process, and I’m trying, but it’s not as much fun. I do find it interesting, just not as rewarding. Also, I can totally understand the whole ‘weavers have bad eyesight and backs’ thing.

The floating selvedges were a very successful experiment, and I shall do this again regularly. Floating selvedges are extra warp threads that threaded through the reed on the beater but not through heddles, so they aren’t raised at any time; they stay in a neutral position. You wrap your weft around them, and they stabilize the edges as well as theoretically reducing the pull-in problem.

Due to a not very thorough thinking-out of the warping process, this piece is much longer than I expected it to be. I’d originally planned for a 12″ x 12″ pillow cover, doubled to cover both sides, so a 12″ x 24″ piece of cloth. The first warp I started measuring on Friday night seemed way too short, what with loom waste, so I doubled it. In the end I realised that while I was measuring the warp I was thinking I’d doubled it, but I was also doubling the loom waste, which I’d overestimated to make sure I’d have enough room to begin with. Oops. If I measure carefully I might get two smaller pillow covers out of it, or I could do one side the woven fabric and the other side in a plain material and get three out of it. There are options.

Of course, because I really fell in love with the fabric when I took it off the loom (so soft! so drapey!) and immediately wrapped it around my neck like a big thick scarf, I may have to weave something else for throw pillows.

I am so pleased with this. I’m going to try a small sample square using the Red Heart for both warp and weft next, to see what happens to the lovely colour gradation. The crochet cotton was fine for test runs, but it’s not the look I’m going for now.

Project stats:

Warping: Nine hours
Weaving: Five hours
Finishing: One hour

Warp: about 300 yards
Weft: about 100 yards

Finished measurements: 11.5″ x 56″

Weekend Roundup

Spring hit this weekend, with a vengeance. I wore shoes outside for the first time in months, and a spring coat on Saturday. The boys spent a lot of time going for walks or trike rides (and oy, the boy has so very outgrown the tricycle) or shovelling snow from banks in the yard and spreading it on the gardens to melt there, because we had below average precipitation this winter and the gardens are going to be very unhappy. (HRH was also trying to put the bulbs back to sleep by piling snow on top of them, but I suspect it’s not going to succeed.) As of this morning, our snow was gone in the front and side yards, and it’s not going to take long for what’s left in the back to melt either…

Also, we suspect the boy is on another growth spurt (we’ve given up counting), what with the multiple meals and two-hour naps.

Friday night I measured the warp for a pillow cover. The first warp I started measuring seemed way too short, what with loom waste, so I doubled it. In the end I realised that while I was wrapping the warp I was thinking I’d doubled it, but with two wraps per measure I was actually quadrupling it. Oops. (I wish I could say that it worked out to two pillow covers, but with loom waste it would only be one and a half. If I did the fronts in the woven fabric and backed them in plain cloth I could have three throw pillows, though. It bears consideration.)

Saturday morning the boy let us sleep in for two blissful hours, playing on his own and watching cartoons. I was supposed to take Ceri to some quilt shops to help her choose fabric for her baby quilt, but I got a call saying that something has come up and she’d have to switch the outing to sometime in the afternoon. So I warped half of the loom instead, had lunch with the boys, and picked Ceri up around two. We spent an hour and a half in the first (and, in the end, only) quilt shop, pulling out different fabrics and laying them against one another and having a wonderful time. Ceri went home with all her main fabrics for the quilt blocks, we had tea and cake, and I came back home. The boy decided that he wanted spaghetti for dinner, so I made a sauce. After he went to bed I finished warping the loom, and then wove while HRH played Dragon Age.

Sunday morning we went out and did our weekly grocery order. We also hit the office supply shop and I finally got a new binder for my cello lessons, as the smaller one was chock full. There were earphones on sale and I picked up a pair of red ones, but now I’m thinking I should have picked up a lavender set because it would be less of a contrast with my black and white damask-patterned iPod skin. I’ll exchange them this week.

Sunday afternoon ought to have been skating with the Preston-LeBlancs, but HRH remembered that he doesn’t have a pair of skates, and even if I’d had the energy I couldn’t take the boy instead because we couldn’t find my pair. I couldn’t weave during the boy’s nap because the levers of the table loom go clunk, so I spun some of the llama fibre Jan picked up for me last month instead. It sheds like crazy and even when I think I’m over-spinning it, it tends to drift apart.

When the boy got up I wove for a bit, then took the cello downstairs to practice because I had a lesson scheduled for that night and I wouldn’t be able to play in my office like I usually do since everyone was home. I regret not practising downstairs before, because the sound is phenomenal down there. And the phenomenal sound went with me to the lesson, which was great. We are moving on from Boccherini and working on Webster’s Scherzo now, which is nice for the change, but is also all about the incredibly controlled bow movement.

Dinner last night was a truly delicious pork roast with baked potato wedges and raw veggies. Worthy of mention, anyway.

And through it all, the weather was spectacular. I am reminded yet again how much of an impact the sun has on my mood.