Time for a New Wait List

I apologize for the long, long wait since my last blog post.  When I started weaving the Caitriot Tartan last fall, I added  a lot of weaving to my week but did not give up any of my existing responsibilities, and they have been time-consuming lately.  I have several volunteer positions with local and regional weaving organizations, One of them is Seminar Registrar for a biennial conference scheduled for this July.  We implemented online registration for the first time this past February, which required some training, hours of set-up, and a rather frantic 20 minutes when it started and the credit card interface wasn't working (!).  I also serve as Dean of the Weavers' Guild of Boston and on the board of the Nashoba Valley Weavers' Guild.  Many of my New years' resolutions this year center around balancing those obligations with weaving at least 20 hours a week.

With the return of Outlander to TV, inquiries about buying a Caitriot Tartan scarf or stole have increased recently.  Therefore I am opening two new wait lists, one for scarves and one for stoles, next Wednesday, April 15, at 2:00 pm Eastern time.  Please be aware that these new wait list spots won't be woven and shipped until the fall.  When the loom has been warped for your batch and I start weaving, I will contact you for full payment.  

Now that spring has finally arrived, here's a look back at our house outside of Boston after our record-breaking winter:

Just kidding.  This is at the Ice Castle in Lincoln, NH last February.  I have now packed away the parka and the boots, despite the fact that it snowed again today.  Yes, today.  April 8.  Hope you're all having a nicer spring where ever you are!

Ready to weave again!

The holidays are over, the kids are back in school, and the yarn for the next set of scarves will be delivered tomorrow.  Time to get weaving!  (I confess, I don't have kids in school, technically, but I do have a daughter who's a college instructor and a husband who didn't go back to work after the holidays until Monday the 5th.)

When I learned there would be a delay in getting the custom-dyed yarn to me, I took advantage of the break to rearrange my studio.  My older loom, an 8-shaft Harrisville Designs, was sitting unused in my upstairs studio/office space, while the 16-shaft AVL I was using for the scarves was in the living room.  So I moved the Harrisville out and did this:

These things weigh around 300-400 pounds, so disassembling it first was a must.  I cleaned and waxed all the wood, tightened the bolts, and replaced the worn cables.  Now I have this:

It's light, bright, and roomy.  I can't wait to start working there!  

As I've mentioned before, I number my studio projects.  I have notebooks going back about 16 years with descriptions, technical details, and even samples from my previous work.  The next batch of scarves is studio batch $151.  

Before I could even order the yarn for it, I had figure out how much to order.  I filled out a spreadsheet with the number of items on the warp, the ends per inch (number of warp yarns in each inch), and the finished size of the scarves.  I am going to be weaving 16 scarves at 36 epi, 12.6 inches wide (shrinks to 11") and 78" long (shrinks to around 70"), with 7" of fringe on either end (shrinks a bit and then trimmed to 4").  After accounting for shrinkage, take-up, and loom waste (the stuff at the beginning and end of the warp that can't be woven), I decided I need a 42 yard long warp with 454 ends.  That's 19,068 yards of silk yarn just for the warp.  I also calculated I need 17,304 yards of weft yarn, for a total of 36,372 yards of yarn.  The 30/2 yarn I'm using has 7500 yards in each pound, so that's 4.85 pounds.  It comes in 100-gram skeins, about 3.5 ounces each, so that's 22 skeins.  Of course, both the warp and weft have 5 colors in them, with a proportion of 38% dark gray, 25% medium blue, 22% dark blue, 11% medium gray, and 4% white.  As you can see, weaving can involve a bit of math.  

My yarn supplier custom dyes all orders, which is the only way she can offer 100 colors in a number of different yarn sizes and types.  This order took a bit longer than normal because she devised a new shade of dark gray for me.  Now that that's done, the next one won't take as long.  To be safe, I'll order it as soon as I can, once I do the calculations for batch #152.  

Happy 2015, everyone!

- Susan 



And now, the news you've all been waiting for...

The recent publicity about Cait naming the tartan as her favorite fan gift has brought a new set of requests for the next opportunity to pre-order a scarf or stole. So, next Saturday afternoon the website will accept orders for three additional stoles on the existing wait list and eight more scarves. The website Products page will be available beginning at 2:00 pm EST (Boston time) on Saturday, December 20. Delivery won't be for about four months or more, I'm afraid, but I'm getting faster and may be able to improve on that estimate. 

Nine scarves have shipped as of today, and the last three from this warp will be out next week. Being a borderline OCD control freak with a 100-page To Do list, I give my studio projects sequential numbers.  The current batch is #150. I originally planned on ten scarves per warp, but was able to weave twelve on the first warp and will wind a 15-scarf warp for #151, the first wait list set. Since only ten wait list slots were sold for #151, several of the people on the second scarf wait list have been bumped up to project 151 and others from the third scarf wait list have moved up to the second one, opening up the eight slots on the third wait list. This is the same reason that three new stoles will be offered on the #152 wait list.  No matter which batch your scarf or stole comes from, all orders are being filled in the order that the wait list spots were purchased.

One of the nice features of the loom I'm using is that I can do this:  

Scarves can be cut off and removed while I'm still weaving at the other end of the loom.  I'm finishing and shipping the scarves in sets of three.  

As soon as the last scarf is finished, I'll begin warping the loom for scarves #151.  But first, if there's any warp left (and there'd better be, or I'm not being conservative enough on my calculations), I will weave off fabric for use in making some small things.  Any ideas?  The fabric is a medium weight silk twill, very drapy, suitable for covering blank books or perhaps making travel jewelry bags.  I would love to hear your suggestions for what to make (and sell!) with a piece of 11"-wide fabric.

The only hitch in starting the next batch of scarves is that I don't have the yarn for it yet.  My yarn supplier offers 100 colors, but dyes them on demand, so I have to give plenty of notice.  The darkest gray she had for #150 is not as dark as I would like, so she is custom-dyeing a darker shade that will be called "Scottish Charcoal".  She's been incredibly helpful during the process, but it still takes time.  The estimated ship date is next Friday, the 19th.  As soon as I get that shipment, I'll turn around and order the yarn for the next batch, to get ahead of things.  Each order is over $700, so it's not something I can easily stock up on too far in advance.

Just to whet your appetite for the wait lists, here's what a shipment looks like:

2014-12-13 10.03.42.jpg

I'll be chronicling the process for scarves #151 step by step, so stay tuned and Happy Holidays!

- Susan

The first scarves have shipped!

Happy Thanksgiving!  (For the Americans in the audience, anyway.)  

It's later than I had planned, but I finally shipped the first scarves on Monday.  Three more have been woven and will be finished after I return from a Thanksgiving trip to visit family in Indiana.  No more cables have broken on the loom, but I have ordered another 20 feet of coated wire cable and extra ferrules just in case.  

Thanks to an unusual feature of the AVL loom I'm using, I can remove a scarf from the loom as soon as the one behind it is woven:

This lets me finish a set of three scarves and ship them without having to wait until I have woven all twelve scarves on the warp.  

Each set of three scarves is washed to shrink the yarns together into a stable cloth ("fulling").  Silk shrinks 12-15% in each direction when first washed, so I had to allow for that when I calculated how big to weave the scarves.  

After washing, I trim the thread ends from the edges, where I changed colors as I wove the scarf.  I then steam press it and trim the fringe to 4" long.  

Having now woven six scarves, I have a more realistic idea of how long it takes to make one.  I have recalculated the expected finish dates   The best case scenario is three scarves a week until the last of the current twelve is shipped on December 15.  Then I'll spend a few days warping the loom for the next batch of 15 scarves before weaving can begin again.  I know some of you were hoping to get your scarves from the second batch by Christmas, so I'm going to try to up that to four scarves a week, but I can't promise it.

If you compare the original stole to one of these scarves, you will see that the colors differ slightly, particularly in the dark gray that makes up 38% of the yarn used.  The supplier of the stole's yarn does not make the lighter weight I needed for scarves, so I had to find a different source.  For the next batch, my new supplier is custom dyeing a darker charcoal for us (to be known in her product line as "Scottish Charcoal"!)  She carries all weights of silk yarn, so I will be able to produce the same look in both scarves and stoles.  

I need to go finish packing now.  In the morning my husband, our daughter, and I are flying to Indiana to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  I wish you all safe travels and a peaceful Thanksgiving.

- Susan 


And Now We Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Weaving

What a couple of weeks!  In the past month I have had three kitchen appliances die; first the dishwasher, then the microwave, and most recently the refrigerator.  All three were replaced in the past two weeks.  Last week was the Weavers' Guild of Boston monthly meeting and a two-day workshop on weaving fringes, and I hosted the teacher for four days.  Now the craziness is past (I hope) and the next couple of months should be an orgy of weaving.


2014-10-14 19.44.00.jpg

That's seven skeins of 30/2 silk yarn to be added to the thirteen skeins of the other four colors for the tartan.  If you're a knitter, you probably wind skeined yarn into balls, but that doesn't work too well for yarn the size of heavy sewing thread.  I will be using my electric bobbin winder to wind it from an umbrella swift onto spools.  Cones would work, too, but my cone winder is manual.  For the next couple of days, I will alternate winding spools with weaving off the last four yards of the skirt fabric.

Meanwhile, here's a picture from the fringe workshop.  Wouldn't it look great in multi-colored yarn, sewn onto the ends of a rayon chenille throw?  (Future project #854...)

What's On the Loom... And Why It's Not a Tartan... Yet

Welcome to the inaugural blog entry/newsletter from Susan Targove, Handweaver!  I plan to publish no more than once or twice a week, so you don't get totally tired of me.  I will keep you informed of my weaving progress, since so many of you are interested in getting a scarf or stole in the Caitriot tartan, but I will also talk about such quotidian and narcissistic things as what I'm reading and my struggle to lose weight and get more exercise.  And cat pictures, of course!  So, on to today's topic...

A short two and a half months ago, the leader of a Facebook group contacted me for my opinion on how they could design a tartan as a gift.  Today I have a business weaving and selling that tartan as scarves and stoles.  Not exactly what I had planned to be working on, as you might expect.  

Every two years, twelve local weaving guilds join together to put on the New England Weavers' Seminar.  We have two judged shows, a Gallery Show and a Fashion Show.  At the 2013 Fashion show I looked at the vast array of scarves, shawls, and a few boxy jackets and decided that I would weave and sew an outfit to show that handwoven fashion could be more sophisticated.  I found a Vogue pattern that appealed to me:

Vogue V2810

The skirt is going to be a navy and teal iridescent silk in what we call a fancy twill.  The top will be a hand-painted silk in teals and blues woven in a satin weave.  I choose a skirt fabric weave structure from a book of 18th century weaving designs by Jakob Angstadt, with eight-petaled flowers in a diamond grid.

I had already started warping the loom for the skirt fabric when I decided to weave scarves and shawls in the Caitriot tartan and offer them for sale.  So here's my plan:  I will weave the skirt fabric, then two batches of tartan scarves, then the top fabric, then two sets of tartan objects again.  

Here, then, is what is currently on the loom:

To meet my aggressive schedule for weaving the fabric, sewing a test garment in commercial fabric, and sewing the handwoven fabric, I need to finish weaving the skirt fabric in the next week or two.  After that, I go straight to the first set of Caitriot scarves, assuming the ordered yarn for the scarves comes in by then.  I have four of the colors, but the dark gray is backordered.  

It's 9:00 pm and my cats are waiting semi-patiently for their dinner.  I have a weaving study group in the morning, but after that I'll be back at my loom while a repairman installs my new dishwasher and, I hope, fixes my freezer.  Everything in the kitchen is the same age and appears to be trying to break at the same time!

- Susan