The weaving has progressed, and it’s almost done – which is nice, because that means we won’t have to bow to my work for too long when crossing the room. The band is fascinating, too – it’s such a simple pattern with just stripes running across it, but the combination of dark silk and the luscious gold make it all shiny and gleaming – it sometimes looks as if it’s glowing from within. Definitely a gorgeous thing, and probably nothing that can be photographed easily.

The tension difference between the silk and gold has become even more noticeable by now, it is not just a few millimeters, but runs up into the decimeter range – I think it’s about 12 cm by now, after about two metres of weaving. Amazing, really, and definitely something to remember with the next warp, and to plan for accordingly.

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A while ago, I got a commission for a gold and silk band, woven on the rigid heddle. Which delighted me no end, since I just love working with these materials, and I love rigid heddle band weaving, and the band itself is totally stunning in its simplicity. So I did the calculations, and the test run, and everything looked A-OK. Green. All systems go.

I even made a boxloom for this, to have something to wind up the long warp, so everything would stay balanced and nice and tidy. You might remember this:


Well. It then evolved a bit (which was to expect)…


…and for the final run, because the laser had not cut all the slits perfectly and some had a rough spot, I decided to use a wooden rigid heddle (way too wide, but who minds, right?) instead.

The warp was warped, the ends were threaded through the heddle, weaving started… and I quickly discovered that while my calculations for the bandwidth were correct and I had plenty of warp (I’d made it a bit longer, just in case), there were problems.

Tension problems.

The threads, both gold and silk, are fine and smooth and slippery. This can cause an issue when not holding the band at the very same angle to the heddle all the time, because then it will curve (or zig-zag). This is not as obvious with the narrower test bands I did, but with 1.5 cm of width to weave? It suddenly becomes an issue.

The threads are also very, very different from each other regarding their elasticity – which means that though the warp was nicely tensioned at first, it very, very quickly deteriorated.

Well. Tools evolve, right? And when something like this comes up, you cope with it as best you can. Which, in my case, meant… unboxing.

See what I mean here:


There’s a white cord temporarily taking my place, holding the woven end of the band (hooray for foldback clips). There’s a red cord tensioning the main warp, through the whole room – twice, actually. This is how it looks from the other side:


Because it is easier to adjust the tension a smaller bit of warp at a time, there’s clamps a bit behind the heddle:


…and you can see here, in the picture taken before I installed the final thingummygadget (made from a piece of string), that the difference in warp tension is really huge, only a relatively little way into the weaving process.

So here’s the coup de grace for this issue:


Silk and gold warp separated, then tied together with a bit of string, and that is used to tension them. Voilà – equal tension for the two.

Next time I’ll make something like this from silk and gold? I’ll handle things a good bit differently from the very beginning!

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Things happening here, in no particular order:

The cat is sleeping. Well, mostly – sometimes she wakes up and goes “meow”. Sometimes she wakes up and has an itchy ear, which results in something like this:


The first seeds from the surprise seed mix have sprouted, and it’s cress:


Also green, but a long way beyond being a seedling? My hippeastrum. It’s blooming.

And just in case you are wondering what I have been doing, apart from taking photos and annoying the cat by waking her with the camera click – I’ve been doing some weaving. Proof here:


That is silk and gold thread, and I can tell you right now that the warp is a nasty thing to handle – the silk and gold are quite, quite different in their elasticity, and the gold especially needs careful handling. I did test runs with the materials, but with a shorter, narrower warp, and it does not scale without trouble, so I had some figuring out of solutions to do (and there might have been “aaaargh” sounds along that way).

For now, though, it seems like I’ve found ways to compensate for the different takeup of the two materials, and should I ever do this again, I’ll definitely be smarter. Well, maybe. Hopefully.

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Sometimes, I could just go “aaaarrgh” for a whole day. That is usually the case when Stuff Happens (TM)… like the current Stuff with the newsletter list for the Textile Forum. Let me share the sigh-worthy sad story with you.

Once upon a time, I thought it would be a good idea to change the website from the old version to a shiny new one… and it was. It also meant transferring the email list for the newsletter to a new newsletter sending thingummy, which I did, and I’m basically really happy about the move. But. But… here comes the big thing.

When I did the change, I accidentally did not set the whole thing to be double-opt-in. You know, when you subscribe to a newsletter or something and you get this slightly annoying email asking you to click the link to confirm your subscription? Well.

Turns out that this is really, really a good thing because it means bots or weird people will not subscribe random innocent bystanders to your random innocent newsletter list. Which, unfortunately, happened to the Forum list. And we’re not talking about just a few dozen here – it is actually… thousands. Freaking thousands. Which is more than a nuisance, since my maximum of emails to send out per hour via my provider is rather small, so it takes a lot of time to get all these out. A honking huge lot of time. Like… several days of time.

It also means that I have, without ever wanting to, turned into a spammer sending unsolicited emails to people who have no idea how they ended up on this list, and feel quite annoyed by the email (as some comments in the unsubscription survey straightforwardly, and in no unclear words, let me know). I have, however, no really good way to find out if the subscription was legitimate or not.

To add to the complications, when I set the thing to “double-opt-in” after noticing, it turned these thousands into unconfirmed users – and again, I don’t know whether they should be confirmed or not. And this happened three quarters through the sending of the newsletter… so I might just have to re-send the confirmation request email for those that did not get the newsletter, and then see what happens.

This is all annoying, and I am rather unhappy about bothering people with unsolicited email. Sigh.

So. Moral of the story? If you do a newsletter, always, always do a double-opt-in. If you get a newsletter that you never subscribed to, you might have been subscription bombed (something I also learned about today – it’s someone else submitting your mail to newsletters). And if the newsletter senders are small fish like me, you might even do them a favour if you unsubscribe.

Posted in and now for something completely different | 1 Comment

Even though we’ve had some snow in the past days, and it is rather cool outside again, I’m all delighted with the garden and how much is blooming there. The day of planting a few tomato plants into nice, large containers in the wintergarden so we can have early tomatoes is also drawing nearer – just a few more days for the small plants to grow before I’ll pick the three strongest and biggest ones to go do their thing.

In spirit with the season of growth, I also had some fun sowing a sort-of-surprise seed package. When we were shopping last weekend, we stumbled across this:


It says “kitchen herb seed mix” and on the bottom, “Sparpreis” means something like “budget price”. At 29 cents, it really was – and I took it home with me, expecting to find something like a wild mix of seeds inside. Like when somebody would have swept up the seeds fallen down from regular packing and tossed them into a paper bag.

Which is exactly what the contents look like:


Now, if I were really good with seeds, I’d be able to tell which plants might spring from them. I’m hoping there will be parsley among them; probably there’ll be chives, and it looks like something from the aniseed family will also be present. Dill would also be nice.

Well, I tossed a generous amount of the seed mix into a pot with earth, and now… I’ll wait for the surprise in green to spring up. I’m already having a lot of fun just anticipating the things to come – which, again, proves that I am really easy to amuse.

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As every year, sometime in the spring, planning starts for that certain week-long event in November that makes me exhausted, happy, incredibly tired, stressed out and full of old-textile-y bliss all at the same time. Oh, and full of coffee and chocolate, too.

I am, of course, talking about the European Textile Forum, which will again take place in November this year, again in beautiful Mayen on the premises of LEA. This year, we’ll be looking at silk as our focus topic (but as always, we’re open to other topics as well). The Forum week will be November 6 to 12, as usually with a mix of theoretical and practical. The Call for Papers is out now, and registration is open, too.

I am really, really looking forward to getting to know more textile people, learning more on different aspects of silk and possibly also getting an experiment or two under way again. Waiting for registrations and paper proposals to come in always feels a bit like waiting to open a present!

So – I’m all happy, pleasant anticipation for now. If you want to know more about the Forum, or (even better!) want to participate, you can read more and register via the links above.

Aaaah, Textile Forum. One full week of lovely textile madness… coming right up.

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If you are looking for something colourful and nice to do on the weekend of May 21/22 and are in Germany, my friend Margit is doing a full-weekend course in dyeing with plants in Cologne.

The course price includes coffee, tea and 400 g of high-quality yarn; in addition, you can bring small amounts of your own yarn, fibre or fabric to dye. If you are quick, you will even be able to get one of the three last reduced-price tickets for only 203 € for the weekend instead of 239 € (which is still a very good price for two full days of dyeing activity).

You can read more about the course and register here at HandHerzSeele.

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