Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Looming Changes for Cariboo Handwoven - Part 3

The new loom is up and running. But boy, what a process for me and what a change from the old one. There are some significant design changes in the Leclerc Colonial v2 compared to the original version although it's still the same model. However, if you've ever become very physically comfortable with some sort of machine or process, and then make a change like I have ... well, I had some doubts. But my doubts are over.

As I've already noted, the v2's back beam is higher, so warping with the sectional and moving the tension box for each section is easier with less bending over. There is less room between the back beam and harness block though, and the raised treadles take up a lot of that floor space.  Confession: I've been threading at the back to the front, which I was taught long ago, and now I have to learn to thread from the front. There's another looming change for me ahead.

Once I started weaving, I quickly found that the handle on the beater bar helped reduce every little stretch to grasp the top of the beater and pull it back into the cloth, which keeps me more upright in the process, too. My back thanks Leclerc for that improvement.

The treadles - wow, quite a difference. I often used the front base to rest my feet but that base is no longer there. The whole treadle mechanism has been improved but that takes some adaptation. I need a lower bench because when I press down on any treadle I am almost sliding forward.

Has anyone been through this, too? Maybe you're smiling to read about my little trials and tribulations, and thinking of your own ones. But it's just that habitual thing that we get so into - then we change some significant part of it and have to relearn some of the muscle processes.

I'm weaving a set of towels to get to know the new loom.

And those are enough looming changes for me for awhile!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Looming Changes for Cariboo Handwoven - Part 2

Following last week's Part 1 post, the new loom is assembled and ready to go. The old loom in its new location has already pumped out 12 bath towels, and I'm looking forward to continuing on it. Many of the bath towels are custom orders, the most I've ever received at a time.

The loom assembly went pretty well. Leclerc had included all the required screwdrivers and a wrench, but some of the assembly really needed an electric drill - and drill operator. Thank you so much to Pat for all his help. Final stages were done with Jon's help and his natural ingenuity with the important brake system. Thanks, guys!

You can see the differences between the older version of the Leclerc Colonial loom below:

... And the v2 model shown in the next two photos. It has the treadles mounted at the back, not the front, and a totally revamped jack loom assembly with nothing in the centre of the warp. The old loom has always worked well for me but I'm very curious to find out how the new version works.

Winding first section onto new Leclerc Colonial v2 loom

The Colonial v2 has a completely different harness assembly from the original model

I've already noticed that the v2 has a higher back beam which means less bending over to fuss with the tension box when warping. Already a good start.

What a great time for me in my weaving career. To those who have asked if I'll use the two looms - you betcha! Or at least that's the plan now. I hope to stagger projects on each, so when I need a break from warping one loom I can weave on another. I rarely want to go from weaving to warping, but that will be necessary at times. Or, I can have a really long towel warp on the old loom to pick at when the urge strikes. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Another Set of Bath Towels

Weaving cotton towels has been a longstanding mainstay of my weaving life and now my business. I'm weaving and selling over 200 towels/year, so add up the years and it has to be well over one thousand by now. My towels tended to be sized for the kitchen or bathroom until last year when two friends almost simultaneously asked if I could weave larger towels for bath towels. Hey, great idea!

This was my third or fourth set of bath towels. They finish at about 130 cm x 100 cm, a good size to use, and are also very absorbent and practical like the original ones. I'm selling lots of them and I appreciate all the positive feedback I've received as well as some downright rave reviews.

Three people contacted me about bath towels recently and so I happily embarked on this project. A new weaving friend helped me beam part of the warp and it came out almost perfectly evenly at the end.

Only one section (1 inch wide) came out one turn too long. But this is FINE - my motto is "If in doubt, wind another turn." If that turn was one short instead, the rest of the warp would be that total weavable length and all the other 41 sections would have a wasted turn.

One set of bath towels was to match a set of hand towels. The buyer chose from a December project of hand towels and from there I wove roughly matching bath towels in the warp but matching in the weft. The horizontal stripes will match up after the bath towels are washed, and they will look great together. (Another great idea - thank you!)

Here's the bulked-up front beam towards the end of the warp with 12 towels wound on.

And here's the warp stretched out with parts of two towels on display. The total length is about 18 m. I think non-weavers see the process better this way.

I'm into the hemming now, then washing, pressing, checking over and shipping out.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Caribbean Waves Mohair Blanket

I think it's safe to blog about this blanket, as I gather the Valentine's Day gift just couldn't be kept another month longer ...

Two friends came over in late December and were really interested in my studio and all I had out on the blanket racks. One blanket really caught their attention. It's wool with hand-dyed and handspun turquoise mohair that gives the wider stripes a beautiful array of shades from the different dye strength. I alternated mohair with wool so that it wouldn't be too fuzzy overall. So that was a two-shuttle weave, which of course takes more time to alternate shuttles and make sure the two weft threads overlap consistently on the selvedges.

I called this blanket Caribbean Waves ...

If I may say so, this is one of my best blankets ever. I used my own handspun mohair and it's almost 2.20 m (86") long. The handspun mohair (pre-washed before weaving) has kept the width relatively wide at 137 cm (54").

My friends drove off and soonafter the passenger was texting me for the price. The next day the other one emailed me the same question! I had to reply with a bit of a go-around that time, which I hate to do and I'm not all that good at.

The blanket was presented this weekend, and I think it was well-received and appreciated.  Thanks to my friends, and warm regards to you both. :-)

Monday, 4 January 2016

Looming Changes for Cariboo Handwoven - Part 1

Last year, I blogged about ordering a new Leclerc Colonial loom. Oh, how exciting! It arrived in April, all 11 boxes. The UPS delivery guy, Mark, helped me with the heavier boxes up the stairs and I'll never forget his kindness.

Plan "A" was to set up the loom fairly soon; however, Plan "B" was the one that went into effect. Doesn't matter now, it is finally going to happen.

I have a large, south-facing studio with windows on all sides and French doors to a narrow deck to the south. I am really fortunate to have this beautiful and spacious workspace. My current loom was in the southwest corner, kind of the prime spot for natural light, and the first part of the studio to be spotted by anyone walking up the stairs and looking straight ahead. But that loom has moved across the studio so that the new one has the prime spot.

How will two people move a 100 kg bulky item across the carpeted floor? Easy, said Pat - just put crazy carpet pads under all the critical spots. And did that ever work! Remember that idea, readers - just stick down some masking tape for a little friction (sticky side down, not even up) and slide away over the carpet.

Now the prime corner space is free for setting up the new loom.

It took me a fair bit of time to open all the boxes of loom parts, carefully unwrap everything and hope that nothing was damaged, and check off each item on the booklet of parts and set-up steps. The parts list had already been reviewed and checked by a Leclerc person, but my first step was to go through everything myself. Some parts I had no idea what they were or where they went, but through the process of elimination at the end I think I have everything figured out.

All parts are present and nothing was damaged - phew. I have to give full credit to Leclerc for the expert packaging - they really know what they're doing. They didn't scrimp on cardboard lining, bubble wrap, strips of styrofoam, or shrink wrap holding styrofoam or cardboard padding around any protruding parts that could be damaged in transit. I now have some upcoming trips to the recycling depot - big rolls of bubble wrap can go to the share shed, and cardboard, styrofoam and small bits of bubble wrap will go to their respective recycling bins.

Along with the instruction booklet, Leclerc included a memory stick with a movie showing how the loom is set up. I will have to improvise for the sectional warping rakes and extenders as well as the overhead beater, but I think we can do it here.

Totally exciting, and hats off to Leclerc!

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Products and Prices for 2016

Thank you for clicking on this post to learn more. All prices below are in Canadian dollars and do not include additional taxes for Canadian purchases (PST/GST in BC, HST or GST for provinces and territories).

Please note that specialized design work may be priced higher than what's listed below.

Cotton Towels

100% cotton, machine wash and dry

Hand towels are usually about 65-70 cm (26-28") long and 57 cm (22.5") wide. Different patterns are usually available in many colours. These towels last for a long time and look great throughout, while being very absorbent. $34

Bath towels function similarly to hand towels, but are larger at about 130 cm x 80 cm (51" x 31"). $90

Cotton Blankets

100% cotton, machine wash and dry

Small cotton blankets are usually about 150 cm x 100 cm (59" x 39") and they're perfect for baby blankets, lap blankets or anything else you can think of. $125

Large cotton blankets are approximately 180 cm x 135 cm (70" x 53"). They're great for summer use, or people who just don't like wool. $170 hemmed, $200 fringed

Wool Blankets 

Dry clean, or hand wash carefully

These are Cariboo Handwoven's classic blankets. Most are Shetland wool and approximately 180 cm x 130 cm (70" x 51"). $275

Deluxe wool blankets are made of Shetland wool with handspun wool or alpaca, and usually 180 cm (70") or longer x 135 cm (53") or sometimes a little wider. $325 and up

Any questions, requests for photos, need ideas for gifts - just ask! I enjoy email correspondence that often begins with questions or ideas.  Email me at jane "at" cariboohandwoven "dot" ca, or to my cariboojane "at" shaw "dot" ca address.

Thanks for your interest!