Jazz Festival

The Dundee Jazz Festival takes place in the middle of November. This year we managed to book early and get a discount on our tickets, so we went a bit mad and opted for three consecutive nights out. We were confident we could cope…Then the studio on the second floor became available, and November became the Month of Moving.

And in the middle of it all we did indeed go to the festival three nights in a row! It was extremely chilly, so we went muffled up in woolly hats and scarves (we have plenty of those) and had a brilliant time. And I felt that my current go-to scarf – which is echo weave in purple, olive green and a pinky-orange – was in some way the perfect scarf for listening to jazz music. The colours are warm and vibrant and slightly off-kilter.

I wanted to see whether I could get the same colour palette from natural dyes and start weaving some jazz-inspired scarves, so that is the first thing I have worked on in the new space and these are the first results.

I’m really pleased with the colours. The structure is twill blocks on 16 shafts, with assorted different liftplans including herringbone, cord weave and others on a broken twill ground.

I’m having fun with this concept and plan to come back to it in the new year. Sadly there is no way round it: my next job is to face my tax return.

Jazz Festival” was posted by Cally on 21 Dec 2017 at https://callybooker.co.uk

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It’s done. The new studio is up and running, the old one is now occupied by new tenants. I posted my key under their (previous) door two days before the end of November, giving them just enough time to shift their belongings along the hall before the month was out. No ladders required!

I’ve taken a bunch of pictures at different angles but also at different stages of setup, so don’t be surprised if things seem to be moving about. They are.

I think I mentioned purchasing a blind: here you can see why. Both studios face south, but the light in here is much brighter than I have been used to. Upstairs the windows are shorter and mine had textured wired glass, which diffused the light very comfortably. Other than the blind, which is mainly for my benefit, I haven’t yet taken any special steps to protect my yarn from the light. I may end up doing more. Of course the sun is almost at its lowest point now, so it won’t always be as direct as this.

The Ashford table looms hang on hooks just above the tables. I am one loom short at the moment as it is out on loan, but eventually there will be four-in-a-row.

Looking back towards the door…

Hey, nice ladder!

The Ashford stands are still leaning against the loft balustrade. One is going to a new home; the other will eventually hang on the wall.

As there is no built-in lighting under the platform I have added my own.

Overall the room feels much larger than it looks, which is a pleasant surprise. I think the height of it overwhelms one’s perception of the length and breadth. But I’m particularly pleased, and slightly amazed, by how spacious this little corner has turned out to be. That warping mill has a 3m circumference. Not only is there plenty of room to twirl it but, crucially, it is standing a good metre away from the back wall so there is also ample space to walk behind it and access the shelving in the alcove. Yes, those are Ashford loom stands. They are quick and sneaky, aren’t they?

You get the best view from the loft.

We had to go to Ikea to get a new end piece for the yarn shelves, which have been split from one long unit into two shorter ones. So I seized the opportunity to treat myself to this little trolley as well (shamelessly copying a friend) and am already wondering how I managed without it.

You may spot that the Delta is not present. It is currently on ice in our dining room, awaiting further developments. More on that in the new year.

Meanwhile, as you can see above, weaving has commenced. There is warp…

…and there is weft.

And a weaver who is very happy to be back at the loom in a lovely workspace. I just have to try and remember what I was working on!

Moved” was posted by Cally on 12 Dec 2017 at https://callybooker.co.uk

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Ladder obsession

I have been slacking on the blog front again, but I can assure you that I have been anything but slacking in the studio. Not that I have woven anything much lately. Since Open Studios a new project has been sucking up my time: the project of moving my weaving life from one Meadow Mill studio to another. The move is part of a larger master plan, but is somewhat out of sequence – i.e. I wasn’t expecting it so soon! But studios at WASPS don’t lie around empty, and when something suitable comes up you have to grab it.

The new space is a long narrow one, so it is not very amenable to my phone camera. Standing at the window and looking back on the first day of my new tenancy, I could see this:

On the fourth floor, where I am currently, the ceilings are high. On the second floor, where I will be, the ceilings are really high. So WASPS have built storage platforms, which are incredibly useful additional space. They aren’t ‘floors’ due to certain building regs not being satisfied, which has implications for access: no staircases allowed, it must be a ladder. However, it is fine to fix a ladder to the platform in order to make it more accessible than this example, as long as you can unfix it again when you leave. I have had many, many ladder-focused discussions with fellow tenants! I ended up buying a loft ladder kit recommended by a neighbour down the hall, and thus most of the evenings of the last fortnight have been spent by Team Booker in the construction and painting of said ladder and a balustrade to go with it.

Now it looks like this:

I am so pleased with that ladder! In the process, we have also repainted the walls, platform and skirting, added a blind to the window…

…and had the heebie-jeebies over the state of the floor. We were expecting to paint it, so I scrubbed it, scrubbed it again and then scrubbed some more. But every layer of gunk I removed just revealed an even nastier layer below. In the end I gave up and ordered a roll of rubber floor covering, of the kind you get in gyms, and we covered the whole mess. What a relief. And it makes everything so stable: the warping mill has never spun so true! I was too cheap to buy the extra three metres I would have had to pay for to cover one extra metre of floor, so we have that one metre to paint (fortunately, it is a nice clean, even bit of concrete by the door), then we can pin the edges of the rubber and all will be lovely.

In the meantime, moving has begun. I have both tenancies until the end of November, so until then I will be shuttling yarn and books between floors in the Booker Yarn Transporter.

More to follow, if I still have the strength to blog…

Ladder obsession” was posted by Cally on 20 Nov 2017 at https://callybooker.co.uk

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Comparing selvedges

As I posted while ago, the one thing I wasn’t happy with in my turned summer and winter experiments was the selvedges. I’m not brilliant at selvedges, which is one reason I like wool so much: it is a very forgiving yarn! But alpaca is not, and I do seem to be making a habit of weaving with alpaca… so before warping up with it again, I thought I would compare a couple of alternatives on the leftover bit of cotton warp I happen to have sitting on a loom.

In fact, my freeform samples on the cotton warp had rather ropey edges too: the process of changing the shed several times for a single pick means that the yarn has less freedom of movement when you are beating, and I think that is a contributing factor.

My immediate thought was to add double weave selvedges, like this:

(I have left out the patterned area to focus on the edges.)

But thinking about double woven selvedges reminded me of an article we published in the Journal for WS&D a number of years ago, in which Satu Hovi described how she wove a Viking-style cloak using an adaptation of their tubular selvedge method. Why not try that too?

Satu’s adaptation was for a twill cloth woven on a four-shaft loom, but I had four spare shafts to use so I set mine up like this:

Essentially you are weaving a plain weave cloth in one direction only, and on the return trip folding that cloth over to make a tube at the edge of the fabric.

Here are the three different edges after finishing. From the top: no special edge, double woven edge, Viking tubular edge.

The straightforward double weave is certainly the most regular, isn’t it?

The tubular edge wasn’t bad, but tended to be lumpy on the same side as my ordinary selvedge. It was slightly alarming to beat, as the weft wasn’t really happy until it had done its U-turn and headed back into the cloth. On the whole though, I think it is an improvement on the plain edge and I daresay I would get better with practice.

Another option would be to go for an extra-dense sett at the selvedge, but I must admit to not getting on very well with that approach… and with the fuzzy nature of the alpaca, I am already conjuring vivid images of future struggles.

However, this was cotton, so the alpaca remains to be experimented upon. I think double weave to start.

Comparing selvedges” was posted by Cally on 14 Oct 2017 at https://callybooker.co.uk

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