Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ravellenic Games 2014 Report: Day 13

Last time I summarized my Ravellenic projects progress, there was only one left to do: the woven band. I was eager to weave.

I was not so eager to figure out the font. I was surprised to find nothing online. (I did find some embroidery fonts I tried to convert, but it wasn't very successful.) I thought I found a book of woven fonts to order which would solve it for me, but the book only included capital letters in the font I liked. So I realized I would have to draft my own. :sigh: :work:

Neither was I eager to wrap the warp threads on the loom. I only had one ball of one colour so I knew I would have to either cut and wrap the threads for each card separately (yuck) or figure out how much I needed and pull that much off the one ball to make a second ball. Plus I had to consider how to deal with the twisting threads. When you do fonts, it seems to always work out that some warp threads twist in one direction more than another and a lot of twist builds up. You can use fishing swivels to solve this (none of which I own yet) or you can just warp extra length and just "push" the twist out of the way. :sigh: :decisions: :work: (These are the types of decisions that can put me into complete project paralysis.)

I bought some time by asking Troy to complete the loom he made for me by gluing the pegs. When I used the loom in the summer, the pegs stayed in place. Now that it's winter and much drier, the pegs were loose enough in the holes that they weren't sitting perpendicular to the frame (which will cause uneven tension on the band) and slipping out of the holes completely (hopefully why that is a problem is obvious enough I don't have to explain it). While he cheerfully took care of it, I was off the hook for a couple days.

I used the time to graph out the letters in Excel. My first version was very blocky, working off the alphabet provided by my teacher (John Mullarkey) at Squam. His were all capitals, however, so I made up lower case letters. Then I edited them so that they were more rounded and I was happier with the result.

Wednesday evening I decided it was time to bite the bullet, make the decisions for better or worse, and get started. I made some guesstimates about length so I could figure out what path to warp my loom and pull off enough string from the one ball to do a continuous warp. The second colour was some cotton I had purchased in a big bag at the last Red Purl "Green Sale." I had two balls of it so I was set there. One had less on it than the other, but it had enough to finish this project without cutting it so close I had to worry about it.

When it came to the actual weaving, it was very uneventful and I was surprised to have it half done the first evening and finished in the second! I can't decide if weaving is more agonizing than a knitting project for me because there actually are more decisions to be made, or if I'm just used to making the knitting decisions and so they're easier. (Hopefully the latter so I can have the hope that weaving will become easier too.)
It's double faced weaving so you can see the letters on the "right side" (light letters on a burgundy background) and you can see reversed letters on the "wrong side" below.

Here is just some of the twist that builds up on the warp threads.
It was worst on the center cards where every letter has a brush stroke (so to speak).

When it was done, I had a band about 1-1/8" wide and 28" long.
I was particularly happy with my curvy "s"
and fancy "a."
In both cases I smoothed out the curves by borrowing cards from the block above and below. Next time I'll do that on more of the letters with curves. (But one lesson at a time...reminding myself that I'm just starting out.)

And what does it actually say?
These were the admonitions heard from my Oma (grandmother) the most often. They were used as a good-bye and almost any other time she was searching for what to say or how to end a conversation. They summarize her basic philosophy of how one ought to live and it was her hope for all of her grandchildren. And I still hear them often in my mind in her strong Dutch accent.

I am planning to use this band in a "Dream Catcher" like these ones I saw on the Squam website. I think they are beautiful and when I looked closer, I realized they used a doily for the center. The dream catchers I've seen before are woven and look like spider webs (to me). But when I saw doilies I got excited. I have a few that my Oma made and I was never sure what to do with them. I wanted to keep them, but I don't really decorate with them, putting them out on side tables or the backs of recliners. But I thought this was a project I could work with. So this woven ribbon is the first piece I've put together to hang off the bottom. I thought capturing Oma's perennial advice would be fitting.

She was a brave woman. Not courageous, because I think she was afraid or nervous all the time. But she braved her way through what needed to be done. For example, she had a terrible sense of direction and once got off a Greyhound bus in the town she had been living in for decades and got turned around and couldn't find her way to the person meeting her. (Fortunately it was a small town and they found her before too long.) But this is the same woman who emigrated from her war-torn country after WWII to Canada (a land where she didn't even know the language) with her husband, five young boys and my mother (aged 9 to 0). It's crazy if you think about it.

She was never mean, but she could be "direct." Comments that might confront you, but never belittle. But she once told my sister that she really didn't like saying things to confront people and was shy to say them, but they would be important things on her mind and she knew if she didn't say them, she would regret it and feel like she had not fulfilled her duty of helping to raise us kids. So she swallowed her fear and said them. Conviction.

These are some of the reasons I chose her words to weave into a band.

Once the band itself was done, I cut it off of the loom and had all these lovely twisted ends.
I kind of wanted to keep them, but I had to straighten them all out in order to get the cards off. But it planted an idea and so I braided or twisted the strands once the cards were removed. Here are a few examples:
From left, three-strand braid, two-ply twist of
four strands each, two-ply of two strands each,
and four-strand braid.
Then I started to think of beads and looked through my bead box. I found these wooden ones I had picked up who knows where:
The colours, weight, and size were perfect. I have loved them, but never knew what to do with them. I added them to some of the strands:
Then I found a few other beads:
I had a lot of fun working on these ends. At Squam, John Mullarkey summarized weaving as "string management" as a funny punchline, but it has stuck in my brain. I do really like string management. Whether it's knitting, weaving, braiding, or undoing knots! I spent a happy time working on simple braids and twisted strands. If they didn't come out the way I liked, I just undid them and tried another option. I should consider this on some evenings when I'm not up to a capital P, Project. Some people doodle; I could braid. It's not like I don't have the string for it! :)

In the end, it came out a bit of a jumbled mess, but I like it.
The longer strings on the sides are from the selvedge warp threads. I cut them quite a bit longer and weighted them instead of including them with the continuous warp. The selvedge cards are twisted the same way all the time to give a neater edge, but it means a lot of twist builds up. Warping them separately means I can get rid of the twist. And on my last band, the selvedge warp threads were "used up" a lot quicker than the rest of the warp so I thought I would need to make them longer to start. Apparently not in this case! Anyway, I decided to leave those strands long and have just knotted the beads in place. When the whole project is done and I have more bands/ribbons/whatever hanging from the dream catcher, I can always decide to cut them.

And to the left you see the entire band. The fringe is 27" so that gives a total length of 55".

That means medals in Alpine Abode Enhancement (since it will hang on a wall), Labyrinth Weaving, Nordic Colourwork Combined, and Stash Skeleton.

Games Update, Thursday, Feb 20:
1. Rainbow Cowl DONE!
2. Rainbow Hat DONE!
3. & 4. Ravel Sweater 1 and Sweater 2 DONE! DONE!
5. Dye Green Yarn DONE!
6. Spinning DONE!
7. Woven Band DONE!
8. Baby Bib DONE!

And that is the end of my Ravellenics projects. Maybe not as ambitious as my Whistler sweater in 2010, but I really can't believe I got all of them done. In part because knitting is easy (for me) so the only challenge in the Whistler project was the sheer volume of knitting it represented.

This year there were different projects and the weaving and dyeing especially present "mental paralysis" problems for me. But I pushed and got them done. And they were, by and large, successful. And I had fun. I hope you enjoyed reading along.

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