Sunday, July 06, 2008

Humidity, and Heirlooms

First, I want to assure Peg that 5% humidity is not the daily norm. Today, it's 23% outside, and closer to 40% indoors (thanks to a new vaporizer). The 5% level only happens when we have an extreme heat wave with an inversion layer that keeps the ocean breeze from creeping inland. We're less than 10 miles from the coast at Morro Bay, with a range of mountains between here and there. There's a gap through the mountains, so usually we get some marine influence that ups the humidity level to something more tolerable than 5%.

I tried the drier sheet trick to tame the static in my 100/2 silk weft yarn, and it worked a charm. My sincere thanks for the suggestion! Once upon a time, I did try this approach, but only while winding from cone to pirn, and it didn't quite do enough to kill the static. This time, I held the yarn between layers of drier sheet both while winding from skein to cone, and again while winding from cone to pirn.

The spray-on Static Guard will never come into the same room as the loom - I've got a stainless steel reed that was damaged by a chemical reaction that occurred the last time I tried Static Guard. I wouldn't have believed SS was prone to that kind of damage, but I won't try it again.

On another note, I promised to show a picture of the low-altitude seating I use when I need to adjust film canisters holding replacement warp ends. This is a footstool made by my maternal grandfather, who was a master cabinetmaker, and covered with a needlepoint made by my grandmother.

Here's a better view of the needlepoint.

The light-colored parts of the house are stitched in some places with finer thread than the background, and altogether unstitched in others, allowing the canvas to show through, which makes a nice contrast in textures. Isn't it sweet? And very handy behind the loom! My grandmother and her older sister lived next door from the time I was about 5 until I went away to college, and they were the type who never tolerated idle hands. There was always knitting, crochet, needlepoint, sewing, embroidery - you name it, they were doing it. Must be contagious...

On the other side of the family, my paternal grandmother was a creative person, too. She made still-life arrangements using pine cones, nuts, seeds and other natural materials. Sounds kinda hokey, I know, but she shipped them to customers all over the world. I've no idea how people found out about her (this was back in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, long before the Internet), but she had orders from Germany, Italy, England, etc., as well as the US.

Here are a couple of examples:

I have these in my studio, and every time I look at them I'm filled with fond memories of my grandmother.

In the meantime, Fire Series scarf #4 is woven, and I'm dithering about the treadling for #5. I had a design prepared, but have decided I don't like it well enough to weave, so it's back to the drawing board for the last of the series.


Peg in South Carolina said...

Whew! Glad you are not living in 5% humidity! The dryer sheet is interesting. I don't have the humidity problems you have but still, when I hemstitch with the silk the thread does insist on misbehaving. Thread Heaven does tame it very well.

Dorothy said...

I read other weavers blogs to learn about weaving, but am learning so much more than that, about other people and places. I was fascinated when Peg wrote about keeping the humidity in her home between 40-50%, and how summer can be 30-35%, and now I learn how much lower it is where you are, in spite of the sea.

I've been monitoring humidity in our home since Peg mentioned it, in Derbyshire, England, we seem to be between 60 (low) and 80%. So, I guess I should make the most of it and start weaving silk!

By the way, also wanted to say that I love your Grandmother's pictures, thanks for showing them.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Humidity over 55% is a great environment for creating mold. Sounds like you need a dehumidifier, Dorothy!