Spicy Napkins

These napkins were inspired by the colours in my kitchen/family room, and remind me of spices: turmeric, cayenne and nutmeg.  I intend to weave luncheon size napkins and they are 18” x 18” on the loom.  I saw the colour and weave draft on Pinterest, and the source of the draft for the colour and weave section is found on Handweaving.net: Figure 108, A Manual of Weave Construction, Ivo Kastanek, 2 shaft, 2 treadle.

For these napkins I used the colour and weave draft for the first half of the warp, and for the second half of the warp I used the same number of threads of each colour to create colour blocks.  When woven, I treadled in plain weave following the colour order of the warp.  (I added a one inch hem on each end of each napkin).  This gives me a square napkin with one quadrant showing the colour and weave pattern, one quadrant with horizontal stripes, one quadrant with vertical stripes and the final quadrants with colour blocks.  Although I wove all four napkins the same way, the changing colours kept it interesting.

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Technical Details:

Measure Warp: 18” wide, 20 e.p.i., 4 yards long (320 ends)

Colour order:  Cayenne 2, Brown 1, Cayenne 2, Brown 1, Cayenne 3, Brown 1, Cayenne 2, Brown 1, Cayenne 2, Yellow 1.

repeat above 9 more times, then

Cayenne 110, Yellow 10, Brown 40

Size on loom: approx 18” wide x 20” woven (includes 1” hem on each end)

Finished size: 15” wide x 15” long after washing and hemming

Reed: 12 dent reed

Sett:  18 ends per inch

# of warp ends: 320

Sley: 2/1 in a 12 dent reed

Picks per inch: 18 p.p.i.

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Spinning Fun

As the snow continues to build up outside, I have been snuggled down and spinning.

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The fibre is titled “Unsung”and dyed by Kinfolk in blues, pinks, greens and purples.  100% organic Polwarth wool.  It became a soft, heathery yarn, almost 500 yards of 2 ply from 4 oz of fibre.  A dream to spin, it did not take long at all.

Next, a very fine 2 ply of 50% camel, 50% silk.  This colour I called petroleum because the colours reminds me of looking at a gasoline slick, and the finished yarn has a silky hand.

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I’m looking at knitting patterns to see what will become of these yarns.

Meanwhile, a favourite knit of mine, is this wedge-shaped shawl, I knitted from the previously spun “Spinning the Blues” yarn spun earlier.  The pattern is a mash-up:  the shape taken from one pattern, the lace from another and the picot edge from somewhere else.  The shawl is a joy to wear, and to touch.

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Goodbye January, Hello February

My mini-quilt for January is completed, and here it is shown both front and back.  I have included on the front a piece of every thread that passed through my hands and used in some capacity throughout the month of January.  Hand-stitched in straight stitch, back-stitch and French knots.  My theme for this year is to work from my stash as much as I can, and this is reflected in the quote from Arthur Ashe.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

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As I am stitching I am reflecting and meditating on my world and the world around me.  Using the resources that I have at hand without causing further damage to the environment.  Extending a hand to others in friendship and welcome.   Thinking about what I can do to make my home, my community and my my world a better place, then doing what I can to make it happen.

And a sneak peek at February:


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Paper and Linen

The navy and green scarf is completed, off the loom and finished.  I love the crispness of the scarf, but it is definitely scratchy and straw-like.  It will work as a scarf if it is tucked under a jacket lapel, but not something you would want next to your skin.  The yarn floats are not noticeable, and plain weave won out overall in the weaving.  I like the texture of the paper/cotton yarn and I love the way the yarn scarf scrunches like linen.  I do hope that it will soften up over time.

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Another scarf off the loom really is linen.  It is woven from a fine 40/2 linen, from Silk City Linen,  in a subtle bird’s eye twill threading.  I really like the transparent quality of the weaving, and again, hope that it will soften up with repeated washing and wearing.  It feels very elegant.

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In Praise of Threads

For me, creativity is taking a simple length of thread and creating something marvelous from it.  Or, if not something marvelous, then at least something useful!

Now, my attempts to manipulate thread can be as messy or as beautiful as my life.  It can be boring, exciting, calming, stimulating, even painful.  But sometimes the joy of playing with thread simply takes my breath away.

I decided to commemorate my progress by capturing pieces of threads in pictures for my journal.  Here I celebrate the entrance of 2017 by using thrums from the turned twill napkins just completed.  This picture will be added to throughout the month as more threads flow through my hands:  thrums from the weaving looms, folded samples from the spinning wheel, cut ends from the knitting needles.


And so, in celebration of life and threads, I give you a glimpse of the threads I am playing with this week.

On my spinning wheel, it is back to basics with 100% Organic Polwarth wool, hand-dyed by local indie dyer Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre.  The colour combination of blue, purple and green has been named “Unsung”.  I’m spinning a nice, soft singles in worsted backward draw, just letting the colours come as they may, later to be combined in a two ply yarn.

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My looms are freshly dressed, and weaving will be happening.

I have three looms dressed in my weaving studio, with three projects in process.  One of my priorities this year is to shop from my existing inventory (OK my stash) as much as possible.  I have some “more expensive” yarns that have been on my shelf for a number of years, so what can I possible be saving them for?

On “Loomella”, my eight shaft Schacht baby wolf loom, I warped this fun blend of cotton and paper yarns from Habu textiles, in navy blue, apple green, and brown.  The textured yarn, is a linen and paper blend.  The yarns feel a little like raffia, and are very springy.  I thought plain weave with some supplemental yarn floats and an open, airy sett would be the best way to show the yarns off.  This is intended to be a scarf, but may turn into something else, depending on the drape of the finished product.

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On “Amy Ashford”, the eight-shaft Ashford table loom on a stand, I have a lovely double weave patterned cloth that I have wanted to make for a long time.  The pattern is from an old issue of Handwoven magazine.  I am nicknaming this piece “The Newspaper” which is the answer to the old riddle, “What is Black and White and Red all over?”

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And being wound onto  “The Queen”:   I raided my handspun stash to combine all the turquoise blue yarns into a mixed yardage for a jacket.  The boucle is a commercial yarn, but everything else is my own handspun.

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Finished!  This morning I finished hemming this set of nine napkins, made from organic cotton and woven in a turned twill pattern.

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As I am working this week I am enjoying the sun pouring through the windows of my studio and bright blue skies.  It is cold outside as the temperatures remain below freezing.  I am so grateful that I no longer have to commute into the city, and can work in my warm, cozy studio.  I appreciate the calmness and space of this week, after the rush and bustle of the holiday season.  The creative process, combined with a burning curiosity remains central to my being.  After enjoying a glorious day, I leave you with this picture taken from my studio window as the sun was setting last night.  Peace to all.





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I Never Felt More Like Spinning the Blues

So the 1950’s song by Guy Mitchell (I never felt more like singing the blues) was running through my brain as I was spinning this beautiful fibre: a luxury blend of 60& Merino wool, 20% Yak, and 20% silk, Hand painted by woolgatherings fibres.  www.woolgatheringsfibres.com


I first split the roving in half lengthwise, then laid each half in a lazy S to determine the way it was dyed.


I then split it where each piece “turned”, splitting at the lightest and darkest ends.


I spun each half of the roving, using all the lightest fibres first, then the next colour, then the next, ending with the darkest colour.  Spinning was a fine short backward worsted draw.  The two bobbins were plyed together and the colours matched up nicely.

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Resulting in a beautiful gradient cake of gorgeousness.


The cake is 484 yards of two ply luxury.   It’s going to make a very pretty shawl.

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My JST Napkins

Here are the napkins I created for the Jane Stafford Textiles napkin exchange, and a little story about how they came to be:

Annie and the Starfish

Annie was both nervous and excited.  Edward had asked her to accompany him on a walk on the beach on Sunday.  Edward, of the handsome face and strong arms, had asked her!  I’ll pack a picnic lunch, she thought, and I know, I’ll make some new napkins.

She planned a masculine window-pane plaid to reflect the colours of the rocks and grasses on the beach.  She planned and measured her warp.  “I’ll make fat window panes intersected by thin mullion lines echoing the colour of the adjacent pane.” She planned.  “The napkins will be sturdy and strong in classic plain weave.”  She sleyed and threaded and wound her warp tightly.  She wove a sample, carefully measuring to ensure the same number of weft picks as warp threads, following the warp order.  The sample was washed and pressed and hemmed.  “Ah”, she thought, “the take-up for warp and weft is not the same, and the sample is longer in the length than width.  She adjusted, reducing the number of picks in the fat panes by two to square the plaid.  Now it was perfect and she finished the napkins just in time.


On the day of the picnic, she packed the hamper with fresh bread and cheese, fried chicken, tomatoes from the garden, cake and lemonade.  She added a blanket to sit on, and with great pride, packed the new napkins at the top of the basket.  She put on her best summer dress, picked up the hamper and her sun parasol (to prevent freckles and sunburn of course), and was ready to go.


Edward carried the hamper and held her hand as they strolled along the beach.  Enjoying the warm summer breezes they walked and talked of little things.  They looked for pebbles and shells along the beach and stopped to investigate the tide pools.

“Oh look,” said Annie, “Starfish have been stranded here when the tide went out.  How rich and pretty their colours.”

“They are beautiful,” Edward agreed, looking at Annie, “and delicate.  But they need to be returned to the ocean to survive.”  Edward reached into the hamper and took out the napkins.  Cradling the starfish in the cloth he carried them back to the water and gently released them.  That is when Annie fell in love with Edward for his strength and compassion towards all living things.  And Edward fell in love with beautiful Annie, the maker of such fine and sturdy cloth.

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And that is how the starfish became part of these napkins forever.


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