Sunday, October 05, 2014

Color Work--Photo as Inspiration



The new hat in use with the brim turned up.
 This past spring I taught a color blending class at "The Fiber Event" in Greencastle, IN.  The first part of the class was mixing a 12-color color wheel from three primary colored wools (red, blue, & yellow).  The second part was blending colors taken from a printed/photo source.


My inspiration was a postcard from Kenai Fjords, Alaska.    After identifying the various colors in the photo (I ignored the text colors), I discovered that there were too many colors and narrowed my focus on the seals and the rock where they are sunbathing.

At this point, my notes become extremely sketchy!  The basic process is that I used the colors I saw in the photo to choose my rovings, blended the rovings into rolags and spun them into the yarns I used.  My choice of knitting patterns (this is based on the "Golden Pear" baby hat from ravelry) adds some extra blending as two colors are used to knit a transition area between the single color segments.

Going mostly by memory and what I see in the yarn, the rocks at the bottom of the photo are represented by the dark brown at the band of the hat. They are a combination of a natural brown wool, Romney wool dyed black, and maybe some grey wool. The mossy rocks above the seals were interpreted by blending the same natural brown wool used for the previous rocks, but blended with some green dyed wools (and maybe other colors...I really don't remember the details as well as I would like!).  The seals in the sun are represented by the copper and cream band of the hat.  I blended copper colored mohair top with cream colored fibers, probably undyed Romney.  I intentionally limited the amount of blending so that the resulting yarn has lots of color variation, mimicking the dappled effects of the light on the seals


 
For me, letting go of the literal imagery of the photo was a challenge.  I wanted to create seals and rocks!  It was hard to let go of that and I know that no one else will see the seals on the rock in this hat, but when I look at it, I remember the source for the color combination and I can see the seals. 






Sunday, September 28, 2014

Polymer Clay, Reenactment Costumes, and Weaving

Here's a hodge-podge of photos from this month:

My friend at Needles and Knots here in town hosted an Altoid Tin Decoration Contest.  It was lots of fun trying to come up with a way to use the tin and then to decorate it.  The end result is basketweave in polymer clay baked on the tin.

 I started and finished a corded petticoat.  I've found that they did a great job of keeping long skirts from winding around my legs when I wore them at Conner Prairie.  This one is for the 1700's costume I'll wear at the Feast of the Hunters' Moon in October.  I'm not sure if it is period, but I don't intend to show it to anyone while I'm wearing it!
This is my latest set of handwoven towels.  They are woven on a 20/2 cotton warp, use a 20/2 cotton tabby weft and a very fine, handspun cotton weft.  The purple/blue towel uses three strands of the handspun together to create a thicker yarn.  The multicolored wefts are all single strands.  There are three towels missing from this photograph.  They were woven on the same warp, with the same tabby weft, but used a brilliant blue, handspun cotton.  Much to my dismay, the blue cotton bled and discolored the towels.  It was so disappointing!

Working with the fine (to me--I usually use 10/2 cotton) cotton was, well...fine.  The biggest challenge was that I put on a longer warp than usual and tied on to the previous warp, making for more weaving to be done.  I was very happy when these knots came back up over the back beam!  Whew!



And lastly, a very sad farewell to an old pair of potholders.  I got these through an exchange at the Wabash Weavers' Guild---years ago!  They were well used and well loved.  I've replaced them with some wool ones I made, also quite some time ago, but these old ones that I think were made by Helen will have a special place in my memories!

Monday, August 25, 2014

18th Century Bed-Jacket

The Feast of the Hunters' Moon is going to be here soon (Oct. 4th) and I needed a bedjacket as part of my costume.  So, I made one!

The pattern is available for free (here's the link) and is straight forward to follow.  The fabric is handwoven.  It's a bit of yardage that I wove with a network drafting design I made.  The warp is 10/2 cotton and the weft is a dark blue bamboo. I had just enough yardage to make this short bedjacket.  If I had more yardage, I would have extended the length another 4-6 inches.


The arm construction includes gussets.  Look at the mess of threads unravelling on this gusset.  It was awful!

I used one of Daryl Lancaster's finishing techniques from her monograph "Seams and Edge Finishes", and the edges covered in tricot binding not only look better, but feel more sturdy too!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sheep-to-Shawl Contest

This year's Sheep-to-Shawl contest took place on Aug. 17th in the sheep barn at the State Fair.  The teams of spinners and weavers have four hours to transform washed wool into a woven scarf or shawl.  This year there were four youth teams making scarves and two adult teams making shawls.

As judges, we look at the drape of the piece and how it looks on a person.  That meant that we got to try everything on!  This shawl was from the "Serendipity" team and won first place for the adult teams.  The warp (pre-spun and warped prior to the contest) and weft are both Shetland wool.  The shawl was lovely and wonderful!

 Here is the entry from the "Dream Team".  This is a group of younger adults who had previously been on some of the Conner Prairie youth teams.  The undulating twill and warp colors were lovely!  They won second place.  Someone commented that the amount of work required for the shawls is soooo much more than for the scarves the youth teams make.  It's true.  The shawls are twice the width and about ten inches longer than the scarves. That takes a lot more yarn!

 the "Dream Team" (and a "Pirate" head off to the right)



 "Serendipity" with many of the youth teams visible in the back

 This spinner from "Serendipity" has a flick carder in her lap.  The "Serendipity" team all used the flick carders; the other teams used hand cards.


 This is the moment where the scarf is off the loom.  Any errors in the weaving need to be found and fixed.  The fringe finishing needs to be done and then it is turned in for judging.

The finished scarves from the youth teams.  From the left is the "Lady Bugs" (2nd), then "Silent Spinners" (1st), "Pirates of the Treadle" (4th), and "Wonder Wheels" (3rd).

One of the amazing things to me about this contest was the amount of process engineering that is required to know how to make this woven piece in a short amount of time.  As a spinner and weaver, I often fill a bobbin or two one week, ply them on another and weave with the yarns a few weeks (or years) later.  This contest requires all that to be done in just four hours!  The spinners never filled their bobbins.  They spun enough to fill a one inch section on their bobbin, and then changed bobbins so the plier could use the little bit they had just spun.  With four spinners, a plier, and a weaver it didn't take long before everyone was busy, busy, busy!  And, everyone was busy until the end!  Whew!  What an amazing process!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Indiana State Fair

 I entered four items in this years' Home and Family Arts "Open Class" in the Indiana State Fair.  This is the first time I've ever entered items in the fair.  In fact, it's only the second time I've ever been to this fair!  Today I finally had the opportunity to go and see how I did in the judging:

My handwoven towel in crackle weave earned second place. My friend Donna's towel got first place!  

The hat I felted for my daughter won first place and Sweepstakes!  Wow!! (The snow in the photo is just the reflection of dust on the glass of the display case.  It looks pretty though!)

My handspun, handwoven blanket with handspun knit trim won first place in its category.  I love this blanket!  It went with me to the pioneer day demonstrations and kept one or two children warm when the weather turned unexpectedly cold!  The grey yarns are wool/mohair blends and the greens are 100% wool that I dyed.

And, item #4, the sweater I knit for my youngest.  It's done in a top-down technique called "contiguous knitting".  I was really pleased with the style of knitting.  I must admit that I had to ask permission from my daughter to be sure she was ok with me borrowing her things to show at the fair.  Luckily, she granted that permission!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Butterflys and Other Things

It is officially butterfly season around my house.  The zinnias are in bloom and the butterflies love them.  This amazing butterfly has beautiful yellow and black tiger stripes on the other side of its wings and this amazing black and yellow pattern on this side.  I wasn't fast enough to catch a photo of the wings closed!



I follow Laura Fry's weaving blog. She is an experienced weaver and has lots of wonderful insights about weaving and the life of a weaver.  This week she had a post which included a phrase or two that sent me on a mission.  She said, "Now that I've twigged how to easily convert overshot patterns into twill block designs, I may explore that a bit more.  I like the large graphic nature of the the overshot translated into twill blocks."

So, I've started looking at using twill blocks to weave overshot patterns.  I think I understand the basic idea.  I've used twill blocks on 8-shafts before and like way  4-thread 1/3 twill vs. 3/1 twill shows up in a woven piece.  But, as I've been looking at this, I've wandered into an interesting bit of twill weaving knowledge.  

Crackle weave is just one of many advancing twills.

How's that for a random connection? I've done two presentations this year on crackle weave.   Thinking about twill blocks lead me to my copy of "The Best of Weaver's Twill Thrills" where I found articles by Bonnie Inouye (Fancy Twill Extravaganza on Four Shafts, p.102) and Ingrid Boesel (Advancing Twills, p. 38).  Bonnie presented the idea of non-independent twill blocks where "two blocks must always weave pattern together".  Ingrid's article included the line "twills can be straight or point or other twill orders..."  And she discussed the use of incidentals to allow for weaving plain weave.  My notes include the comment (in capital letters, no less!) Why is crackle not an advancing twill?"

What do you think?  
Why do we handle crackle weave separate from advancing twill?


I love how there is so much to learn in the weaving world! 



Monday, August 04, 2014

Current Projects

These towels just came off the loom today.  10/2 unmercerized cotton for the warp and weft.  Warp sett is 30 epi.  The weave structure is M's and W's with tie-ups and treadlings from Strickler's 8-Shaft Patterns (I think it's #158).
Finding the right weft color for this warp was challenging.  The reddish-burgandy weft shows up well as did some pink wefts--as long as they were not identical to the warp colors!



Three little monkeys.  These are drier balls that have been needle felted, but not wet felted yet.  I did one of these monkeys in all grey and it was cute, but I like them so much better with more colors!


Special "Twin" project:
Marching band camp had "twin day" for their spirit theme today.  Last night my daughter and I made an outfit for her doll (that I made for her years ago!).  It was fun to draft a pattern and make the clothes together.  The doll's t-shirt is from the same program (but a previous year) as the one my daughter is wearing!