When It Rains on My Parade

There is a drought throughout most of the East Coast (US) right now, but it’s raining buckets on my parade of projects. Ugh. I know these are supposed to educational moments, but they are still annoying!

When I returned home back in April my combby (read computerized dobby head) on my Baby Wolf malfunctioned. I assumed it had to do with the dobby head not recognizing my laptop because I have this problem often. I have a notebook for this loom with lots of little tips for what to do when things aren’t working. None of those tips worked. I figured the loom was just being cranky from disuse over the winter months when I was away. It definitely has a hard time starting to work whenever I return home from long periods elsewhere.

I tried weaving on this loom in April when I returned, then in May, then in June. I wasn’t home in July, but about 10 days ago I tried again–in August. I am not a techie type problem solver, so at long last I asked my husband to take a look. The first thing he checked was the plug. Whew! Yes, it was plugged in. Still, he didn’t think there was any electricity going to the dobby head. But I did have a little blue light on the connector to my laptop that flashed every time I depressed the treadle to advance the pattern. Bob got out his ohm meter and sure enough, the plug to the dobby head was dead. Well, huh! He said I shouldn’t have left the dobby plugged in for the winter, even though the dobby head was turned off. I’ve never considered this before.

After a search for the proper plug with the correct fitting that goes into the dobby head, he found one by asking our electronic guru, John Acord, where to buy the thing. The plug arrived and I am now weaving. I was beginning to panic because once September arrives it is a non-stop carnival ride to the moment we head south again on our boat Pandora. I have a lot projects in queue and nothing is getting accomplished!

All along I’ve had doubts about my project for new placemats that is currently on the Baby Wolf. The blue Japanese paper weft is very pale. Will the pattern actually show up in the finished cloth? It’s a Greek key sort of pattern.

Now that my loom is working again, I wove the 2nd of six placemats and I’ve become more convinced that the pattern does not show in my choice of warp and weft. Yesterday I cut off the two placemats and serged the ends. To keep from having to retie the warp to the front cloth roller, I have woven a bit of plain and inserted a bar and more plain weave so I can just cable tie the bar with the rest of the warp back onto the cloth roller. Today I hand washed the two placemats since I didn’t have any clothes or towels to wash with it in the machine, but I did spin the placemats in the machine and then dried them in the dryer. I wanted to see the outcome of the fabric in the method that I will likely wash them in the future.

Boy, I am so disappointed that the pattern does not show up, except when viewed from a certain angle with just the right light! Ugh! I am not in love with this!

And yet the fabric is lovely–just like the Japanese paper towels I wove a couple of years ago, when Tom Knisely first tried it himself and wrote about in Handwoven Magazine.

I don’t want to weave another goose eye project, but the pattern certainly shows up on these. They wash and dry by machine wonderfully, and still have a beautiful hand after regular use for the past 18 months. So one option is to rethread the warp in this pattern and continue.

Or… I could take the rest of my Japanese yarn that is such a pale blue and dye it darker in an indigo vat. I haven’t had much success with indigo in the past, but I have an indigo ‘kit’ from Maiwa waiting for me to get the courage to try again. I could also just try to find a darker blue linen in my stash–I know I have some–but I really wanted paper placemats since I’m so happy with my ‘paper’ towels. I’m in a quandry!

Another current project that is challenging me at the moment is a garment that I’m sewing. Every year I try to make one or two sewing projects because someday I hope to have the skills to sew something to wear out of my handwoven fabrics. I’m still not there. I am seriously bummed that I still struggle to do some pretty basic garment sewing. My most obvious problem in my last few projects is attaching a bias binding to the neckline. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to master this. So, at the moment I have painstakingly picked off the binding and am now hand sewing it in place. I may look up youtube videos to see if I can learn how to do a better job there. Fingers crossed. Whenever I make a garment I think of an upcoming event where I’d like to wear my new outfit. This time that event is on Tuesday! And now I’m hand sewing the binding along the neckline and then I have to hand sew the hem. That’s a lot for me to accomplish by tomorrow. Monday and Tuesday I cannot sew.

The pattern I’ve made is from 100 Acts of Sewing; it’s called Dress #2. I bought the pattern and the fabrics at Clementine in Rockland, Maine. What a beautiful shop! I wish I could go there more often.

The dress is done! I’m not fond of the neckline, and maybe…maybe…think I should shorten the length. Otherwise, I like the fit of this dress/tunic! I still might add the pockets in the contrasting fabric I used on the sleeves and neckline.

Oh! And I never mentioned that I finished my espadrilles. I actually wore them at Convergence in Knoxville and showed them to Suzi Ballenger who taught the technique to my local small group of weavers. She gave me a thumb’s up! I had some mishaps along the way because that’s what happens when I sew, but in the long run I now have a pair of handmade shoes! And they’re comfortable!

The ups and downs of projects. Sometimes things go well on the first try; sometimes they don’t. I don’t like rain on my parade, so I hope I’ll figure out something for my paper placemats.

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