Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays to All!

We had to choose a Christmas tree this year that was "Tigger-proof", so we went with the one Sam had in his apartment when I met him oh-so-many years ago!  Rowdy doesn't seem to mind.

It is hard to believe another year has passed and Christmas is upon us.  It is very hard to get excited about the holiday when I don't know when I will get to see my 2 sons next.  I keep thinking how sad it is that no one is counting the presents under the tree on a daily basis to see if any more for him have shown up.  You would think he would have realized that  this only kept me from putting out his gifts until the last minute.  And if I DID put them out he spent all his time shaking them to figure out what they were.  He and all my relatives know of whom I speak.  I don't  think anything will shake in that gift I sent you this year to put under your tree!  And of course, watching 24 hours of a Christmas Story by myself just isn't the same.  

Tomorrow we will spend some time with our neighbors, exchanging gifts and sharing in Christmas spirits so tonight I will be baking rum cakes.  On Christmas, Sam and I will go to his folks' and have Christmas dinner with them and his brother and our niece Jessica and her boyfriend Alejandro.  My mom and niece, Krista, plan to arrive for a couple of days on Sunday, weather permitting since they have a 4 hour drive.

Yesterday Sam and I drove to Dayton and picked up our "new" car.  It is a white 4 door 2001 Chevy Cavalier with 45K miles on itBut it is duel fuel, running on natural gas as well as gasoline.  Sam has already ordered the compressor to allow him to fill the car with gas right from our own gas well.  I have a feeling once he gets this working right we will be acquiring more natural gas vehicles!

Just before I sat down to write this post I finished warping my loom for 3 more rugs.  I mentioned that I would at some time do a post on "warping" (and other weaving terminology) and I suppose there is no time like the present since I have not had time this week to think much about what I would post about this week.

So, to start, "warp" is the threads that are placed on the loom that the "weft" or yarn is woven over and under.  In the case of rugs it is generally a cotton or poly-cotton blend and so far I have only used a natural white color with my rugs, though I have  other colors on hand.  The first step in warping the loom is to determine how many "warp ends" you need, which you do by calculating how many inches wide your rug will be and how many warp threads you want per inch of rug width.  My rugs are 24" wide and I use 12 threads per inch so I multiply 24 X 12 and get my number of 288 warp ends.  I also need to figure how long each of those need to be and for 3 rugs, I need each one to be 4 yards long.  I have a warping board which has pegs on it that I use to measure out 4 yards of warp 288 times, but without cutting until the end.

Once I have my warp counted out, I have to put it on the loom.  This is the time-consuming part.  Each one of those 288 threads needs to be threaded through its own slot in a "reed".  This is called "sleying" the reed.    After each end is passed through the reed, each end must be threaded through a "heddle"  My loom is a 2 harness loom.  That means that there are 2 different pieces that each move up and down when I step on a foot treadle.  Each of these pieces is called a harness and each harness holds metal "heddles" which have an eye in the center through which I pass the threads.  This way, half the threads will be up while half are down and I and pass my yarn in between the 2 (this space is referred to as the "shed").  So half my threads need to go through heddles on one harness and half on the other and they have to be alternated without getting them crossed or mixed up.  
wire heddles waiting to be threaded
This is the part that takes a lot of time.  I have to check and double check to make sure no threads are crossed.  In the photo to the right, you can see the front harness is raised a bit so you can see that half the threads are going through the front harness and the other half are going through the rear harness which is lower.  The black structure in the back is the back beam, onto which all the warp will eventually be wound in preparation for weaving.
Once all warp ends are threaded through the heddles, I have to tie groups of threads onto a rod and them carefully wind all 4 yards of warp onto the back beam.  This back beam will hold the warp as I weave until I am ready to advance it, at which time, I will wind the woven portion onto the front beam and bring unwoven warp up into the weaving area.  To the left is the rear view of the loom with the warp all wound onto the back beam.
To the right is the warped loom with the "shed" open as it would be to pass the weaving yarn through.  You can see the reed to the far left.  It is mounted in a structure called the "beater" which I move forward firmly after each pass of the weft in order to "beat" the yarn into place.  You can see the 2 harnesses (also known as shafts) to the right.  The front harness is lowered and the rear is raised.  
That is warping a loom kind of in a nutshell.  It gets easier each time I do it.  I think next time I will do up a 3' wide rug which will be 36 X 12 warp ends or 432!
I have finally gotten a good start on the Spin-off I am judging.  It is hard with everything that goes on over the holidays to set aside the time I need each week to work on it, but I have managed to get through the 2 largest color classes, which amounts to almost a third of the entries (white and light fawn).  Although they are not quite finished as I still have the last 2 classes hanging on my drying rack in the mud room, waiting for the final scoring and tallying and placing, which WILL get done tonight or tomorrow!



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