Sunday, March 15, 2015

Coverlet repair, Sampling, and Transparency

I received a surprising phone call the other day.  A woman had seen my work at the Athens Arts Gallery and was looking for a weaver's opinion regarding some family heirlooms.  We set up a time for her to come over and this is one of the things she brought--a piece from a coverlet that her great-grandmother had woven!

Even more amazing to me than the beautiful weaving was the repair job.  Do you see the faded blue rectangle in the middle of the photo?  It is a patch that was sewn onto the coverlet. ~The weaving studio at Conner Prairie recently had a reproduction coverlet that needed repair and this type of repair is precisely what we were discussing.  So amazing to see it in person! 

I've been doing some sampling for a blanket.  The weave structure is M's and W's and is from Carol Strickler's Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns.  The cool thing about these samples is that by turning the tie-up, I was able to change where the floats appeared.  In the sample on the right, the floats are in the colorful stripes.  In the middle sample, the floats are in the cream stripes.  On the left, the floats alternate in a checker board pattern from colorful to cream and back.  Unfortunately, I think that the floats are too long and need to go back to the sample warp and try again.  (On the one hand, I'm disappointed.  On the other hand, I'm grateful that I'm learning this now, and not after I put on two blankets worth of warp!)
The pencil is under one of the floats.

And, lastly, here is a transparency sampler that I just finished.  The background warp and weft are 40/2 linen set at 30 epi.  The pattern weft is 8/2 cotton.  I used a cartoon under the warp to help me make the pattern shapes. --Check out all the snow visible through the window.  Spring has arrived since I took this photo and that is all gone and instead, I have crocuses blooming in my sunny front yard!  Hooray!  Hooray! Hooray!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Preparing a Vest...err Shawl...err Cocoon!

Remember this warp?

And these rolags?

It only took a week or two to spin and ply the yarn.  I plied on my Louet wheel, but the spinning was on my Majacrat Little Gem II.  

And here's the weft and warp together.  The warp was woven in less than a day.  I am amazed at the speed of weaving yarn this size!  (~14 wpi and sett at 8 epi).  Once off the loom, I sewed the edges with the sewing machine so they wouldn't unravel and then I fulled the fabric to make it more stable.

The goal now is to make this into a vest....I'll be busy tomorrow!

Tomorrow came and went, but the fabric never did make it to become a vest.  I ended up making a cocoon by sewing the narrow ends of the rectangle of fabric to the top long edge to make sleeves.
The seams are at the shoulders and top of the arms.

Here's the curve of the front.

This one is currently on display (and for sale) at Athens Arts Gallery in downtown Crawfordsville.  I must admit that I think it would be great if it sold... but if it doesn't sell, then it would be mine!  Deep sigh! It's such a challenge to put my work up for sale!

More Warp Twisting and a Finished Vest

Here's a photo of my warp from the last post.  Some of the raddle sections show twisting.  Some do not.  I don't know that I did anything different from one warp chain to the next.  If, or when, I figure this out, I'll let you know what I've discovered!

This is me in a newly finished vest.  I dyed and spun the wool for this piece, then wove it as a plain weave section  and a twill weave. I haven't been able to date spinning and weaving for this.  The twill section had it's ends woven in like I learned in Joan Sheridan-Hoover's finishing class at the Michigan Fiber Festival in 2007.  So I know this fabric was finished sometime after summer 2007...  But when did I spin and weave it?  I tried to sell it as yardage numerous times.  I often thought that the twill and plain weave would make a great vest, but it wasn't until I put the twill on the front (I kept trying to use it as a yoke) that I had enough yardage to proceed.

The inside of the vest is finished with hong kong seam finishings--bias tape over the edges of the fabric at the seams.  It looks neat and clean!  Now I just have to decide if it is really mine or if I'm going to put it in the gallery for sale.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Raddle Woes--Twisting Warp Bundles

Calling all Back-to-Front warpers!  I need help!  I am winding my warp with a 1x1 threading cross at one end and a 12x12 raddle cross at the other.  When I have wound my warp onto the back beam (the raddle cross is now buried under all the layers of warp on the beam) and start to thread the heddles using my 1x1 threading cross, I get twists in the warp.  Why?

Check out this photo.  The warp was wound in small, separate chains--greens, pinks, browns.  Why are they twisted?  The entire warp chain for each color is not twisted, just the threads in each raddle space are twisted.  (Did that make sense?  If the entire warp chain were twisted, I would expect to see threads from one side of the warp chain crossed over both raddle spaces for that color.)

Anyone have any insights?
Thank you!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Rigid Foam Display Board

My textiles (mostly towels) have been displayed on a table at the art gallery.  A friend suggested that I find different ways to display them.  I took in some free standing towel rods that I used at the Farmers' Market, but I also made some display boards to hang like framed art.

First off, a big thank you to Sue Parker-Bassett from the Weaving Indiana weaver's guild.  In November she did a presentation on Leno Lace and had samples mounted on boards like these.  

These boards are made from 1/2" rigid foam insulation (~$12 for a 4'x8' panel at Home Depot).  The foam was cut to size with an exacto knife.  I fashioned duct tape hangers/tabs, then covered the front of the board with a layer of polyester batting and some black fabric.  The batting was glued and the black fabric was stapled.  A piece of wire was strung between two duct tape tabs for hanging.
Here's the backs (that's a stack of three boards).

Here's a front.

And, here are some test shots with towels pinned to the boards at the gallery:

I left the two small boards (18"x24") at the gallery, but brought the large one home.  I'll be taking it back to the gallery in Feb. for the new "hang".  The towels are pinned at the top, but not the bottom, to allow for guests to feel the textile.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Color Wrap Challenges and Happier Things

 Sometimes I find myself struggling to make a project work.  The color wrap to the left is like that.  What I think I want, what I see, and what I understand just haven't pulled together right yet.

With projects like this, I have found that stepping away and letting the project rest is good.  So, while I'm resting I'll share some things that have brought a smile to my face recently.

Kumihimo braids.  These two braids were made by my youngest daughter.  Her instructor was her oldest sister.  The yarns are all thrums.  We spent a fun hour one snow day going through my thrums finding yarns for both girls to use.  Oh, and the "extra" loops on these bracelets are for my daughter's thumbs.  Don't ask me why, but that's how she likes to wear them--on her wrist and on her thumb!

While the girls have been braiding, I have been spinning cotton.  This is one of Robin Edmundson's dyed rovings spun and plied into a 2-ply yarn.  I may even have a project for this instead of just a spot in my handspun cotton box!  I love Robin's colors and fiber preparations.  This was wonderful to spin, and I love the bright, cheery greens especially since we are in the middle of cold and snow!

This next photo is a project in the development phase.  I blended some of the bright pink silk with two colors of alpaca and spindle spun it to see if I would like the yarn....I think they are lovely yarns and I would like to weave a shawl with these.  Maybe it would be mostly brown with three narrow white bands at one edge woven in an all-over crepe twill.  Maybe it will become something else!  I need to make final decisions as to how much silk to blend with the alpaca.  I'm leaning towards 20% by weight silk to alpaca.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Swimming in Color

My colorful warp is off the loom.  It was a wonderful vacation project!  I ended up with a long sampler (~20"), a table runner, and two very different scarves.  Weaving with color has been lots of fun!
The table runner and sampler were sett at 24epi.  The warp for the runner is a black slub cotton.

 The scarves were sett at 20 epi.  Here is the short one on my model.  The warp threads were used as wefts on this piece.

The other scarf used left over yarn from Mountain Meadow Wool.  I won a prize from them in the "Look, Ma, No Sleeves" contest that Handwoven ran a few years ago.  One of the yarns (there are two light brown wools being used as alternate picks for weft) has alpaca and the other has bison blended with wool.  I think that I may get this scarf, but I'm not sure yet!

Franken-Inkle Loom

I have a home made inkle loom that I have loved.  Sadly, it was too small.  I couldn't even weave a full yard of band on it!  So, we franken-ized it.  I found a piece of the original board, we cut apart the little loom, inserted the board, made some connection points, and viola!  Now I can weave over two yards of inkle bands!  Yay!

(And the loom looks much better now that I have sanded it....much less "franken")

PS.  After two hours in the shop with my husband as we planned and he milled the slots, etc, we decided that it would have been easier to just buy a new board and dowel and make a new loom.  On the positive side, this little baby works just fine!

Friday, December 26, 2014


Do you ever feel like you're a novice swimmer jumping into the deep end when it comes to color?  Me too!  I'm on a new color journey (swim?). Here's where things stand:

The beginning.
I went shopping at my friend Robin Edmundson's etsy shop.  I love her colors for cotton roving and finally decided to buy a color I've been eyeing for months!  While looking around, I discovered she had yarn grab bags for sale as well and you chose them by color family:  "bright cool", "bright warm", "earthy cool", "earthy warm".  I don't know about you, but there are times when I want to choose every last color in a piece and other times when I just want someone to fill my bag with pretty crayons and let me play (without having to think about which crayons got put in the bag!).  So, I purchased a "bright warm" grab bag.

This is what I have left after winding a warp.  There are two fine cotton boucle yarns (~24wpi), one cotton with a binder (~24 wpi), a rayon boucle (~22 wpi), and a nylon ribbon.  They are lovely yarns!  I have woven with the fine cotton boucle before when I won one of Robin's give-aways a year ago.  The trick with this group of yarns was how to use them in my color-limited way and have them look fun, nice, and well, awesome ('cause the colors are beautiful!).

So here's what I found:  Celeste Pryde has an article in the March/April 2000 issue of Handwoven magazine where she discusses weaving a Bronson Lace "log cabin" with multiple colors.  She uses silks instead of cottons, but the color use is fascinating!  She winds mini-warp bundles--enough ends for one of her two lace blocks (24 ends in this case)--and each mini-warp has two contrasting yarns.  The contrast can be color, texture, value...or even no contrast!  For a 28" wide piece she wound ~17 of these mini-warps.

So, I'm going to try it.  I had already played around with some of my 10/2 cotton yarns, looking to find similar color combinations as this grab bag from Robin.  I pulled out all the yarns.  I made yarn pairs--most of them were contrasts of color and texture--and I wound 9 mini-warp bundles and hung them over a cupboard door.

Here they are.  I've been moving them around and taking photos of them.  I knew I wouldn't be able to remember which order I liked if I didn't document them somehow!  I pulled my husband into the project and he suggested one of these orders and I really like it.

 But, check out what happens when I grey scale these photos to look at the color values:
The color order in the top left is a gradual shift from a dark value to a light and back to dark.  None of the other value shifts are as smooth.  The middle two have a shift, but there is a more abrupt dark to light shift from the left moving to the right.  The upper left color order is currently hanging on the cupboard door.  I'll look at it again tomorrow and hopefully warp a loom!