Saturday, June 30, 2007

Yes, I Really am Leaving

I thought this was a particularly interesting section of warp. I've been experimenting with form and freedom in this warp and in The Big Commission blanket. Some areas have a controlled pattern with adjacent sections wound randomly. I haven't decided if I totally like it, but I intend to experiment some more before I make up my mind.

Where many folks are challenged by using lots of bright colors, I struggle with pastels and light colors.

Here it is just cut off the loom. I flipped it over to take this picture because I didn't want any of the lose threads to show.

I won't be doing any of the finishing now. I will take it with me on the trip and work on it as I go. I'll be interested to see how much it shrinks and if I will be able to get 2 towels out of the warp.
I did have some problems with my edges, but I won't go into that now. I want to mull it over a bit.

What's true is there are always little glitches to work out when you switch to a new fiber. At least that has always happened for me.

OK, is this the official goodbye?
No, I'll be back in a few hours. I have more to say.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Must ...Not ...Weave... Must ...Get...Ready...For...Trip

I never thought weaving could be a form of procrastination! I am so jazzed about seeing how this 8/2 unmercerized cotton in turned weft ikat weaves up that I can't seem to turn my attention to getting ready for my 3 cities in 3 weeks trip. (coming up in 5 days!) But now I have to take this piece with me. It is only a 3 yard warp after all...

The weaving light was on, so the color is distorted, but I just had to try a little weaving before I officially start my day. The sett is 24 epi, and I thought I would try using the same yarn (since I have 25# of it) for the weft. I wondered if it would wash out the ikat too much, but I don't think so from looking at this first inch or so.

White (or off white) goes a long way--especially here in the Northwest. But for towels, I think white is an exception.

OK, I really have to make my train reservations now (Baltimore to NC and then NYC to Springfield MA), but I'm sure to hit the loom again before the day is over.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And The Beat Goes On

Once again, I am faced with a weft choice; and once again, I decide to try all the colors. The warp is 5/2 cotton, and the weft is 20/2 cotton doubled. I couldn't stop weaving. It is slower to stop and change colors every few inches, but it also affords the necessary breaks to minimize the impact on the old body.

Another trick I use during the weaving process is to wind an inch of ikat whenever I take a break. By the time I finish weaving the blanket, I have the next warp all ready to go.

I got so excited to see it off the loom! You should have seen me running around the place looking for a spot to hang it or drape it so I could snap a picture.

Oh yes, I was also equally excited to see what 8/2 ikat would look like on the loom.

Two warps with one picture!

I can hardly wait to see and feel the blanket after washing, but I promised myself I wouldn't work on it until I got to Baltimore. I will have some days there before I deliver the blanket to its owner, and it will be nice to have a project to work on. Besides, I now have this other test warp crying out for completion.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Promotional Considerations

One of the things that has slowed down my weaving progress this week was the need to complete and send out a portfolio displaying the Color Horoscope Weaving. I procrastinated on it a couple of months, and finally had to just do it. First I had to locate and order archival quality black sleeve inserts and archival plastic sleeves from Light Impressions.

I poured through my thousands of digital images and selected 60 or so and printed them out myself with my Cannon Pixma MP500. It's been working really well for me this past year, and the learning curve isn't very steep at all. I just checked the Cannon website, and it seems a year old printer is less than half the price is was! (although the ink is still just as expensive)

I know it is possible and probably better in every way to do the whole layout on photoshop, but I certainly have no idea how to do that. I haven't gotten beyond "cut and paste" (cut with scissors and paste with a dry adhesive by Bainbridge). When I finished, I had 23 pages and scanned them all.

These are just a few of the pages that appealed to me this evening. Since they are scanned, they are not as sharp and clear as the originals. Having the scanned copies will make it easier to duplicate by hand or have them printed in the future. The background paper really is black, not the strange dark reddish color.

The good news is I shipped it off on Friday. Funny how that nagging backache that had bothered me these past couple months just seemed to disappear as I walked home from the UPS shipping station. Now I just have to wait and see what sprouts from these digital seeds.


When I got to the halfway mark in the reed, I realized I didn't have enough dents. Ames had written a comment asking about reed size which made me stop and consider how I was going to put a 42" warp in a 40" reed. Although my loom is 48", only my 12 dent reed is 48". I thought by unthreading and removing an inch of the border on each side, I would have enough.

When I got to the halfway mark in the reed for the second time, I realized once again I didn't have enough dents! Did I miscount? Did I make a mistake in the initial winding? Am I crazy?

Then it hit me. Duh! There are 10 planet thread groups which are not doubled in the reed. It is as if the weaving is 19" wide instead of 18" wide. (doubled for the baby blanket makes the warp 38"). I would have to remove the entire border. I did leave 4 turquoise threads at each edge as a selvage, and I will add a floating selvage thread as well. I plan to use a turquoise weft to give a nice look to the edge as long as I don't have a border.

I plan to put the cross back in the borders and re-chain them for use in another weaving sometime. Perhaps I will invest in a 48" 10 dent reed:)

The 3rd threading worked. Weaving to begin later today.

I finally cut the Tree Peony dead heads. I was surprised to discover I had had 17 blooms.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Here is my first 5/2 cotton baby blanket going on the loom. This blanket will be 42" on the loom with a sett of 20 epi. When I use the 20/2 cotton tripled, the blanket is 36" wide, sett 24 epi. My goal is to take this with me when I go back East in 10 days.

The color isn't very good here, but it shows off a little problem I had to solve. You can see the 2 green ends that come together in the center. They are both thread #1 of the horoscope. The baby blanket is actually a mirror image 360 ends x 2. What I had to do is remove one of the green threads (I picked the one on the right) and insert it as thread 360 on the right side. It was easily done, but it stopped me for a day.

Here is a surprise, the cobalt ikat dyed 8/2 cotton all dry. It got much lighter. Sadly I won't have time to weave something with it before I leave. What the yarn lost in depth of color, it gained in softness. I think it will make wonderful towels.

While the cotton was drying on the patio, one of the Japanese Tree Peony dead heads called out to me.

Oh, a piece of good news: I just found out the 50# suitcase containing all of my supplies, slides, and weaving samples for the NEWS Conference arrived safely in Massachusetts and is awaiting my arrival.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dye Day #4

I don't think I ever showed you a picture of how I wrap my skeins for ikat dyeing. I usually make the skeins 60" around. I buy some nice sturdy garbage bags, cut them crosswise in about 2" wide strips and wrap clockwise. It really doesn't matter which way you wrap.

Someone gave me a roll of Japanese Ikat wrap. I had never used it before and wanted to give it a try. It is a lot stiffer than the garbage bags and has a tendency to split vertically. It makes wrapping more difficult, but attaching the end of wrap is easier. The clear shiny is the official ikat tape. All of the ikat tape skeins are 50" around, so I could tell the difference between the two after I unwrapped them.

In this dye pot, we have 8/2 unmercerized cotton and a little bamboo and tencel. In a wild moment of equal practicality and impracticality, I bought 25# of unmercerized undyed cotton. Time will tell if I was wise or foolish. I was curious how it would take the dye having never dyed unmercerized cotton before. Then I got this crazy idea: Hey, what if I dyed a color other than black? Wildly I purchased cobalt!

Here you see me in my official dyeing shirt as I am removing all of the dyed skeins from the dye pot. I have to say this was the least messy and least anxiety producing dye day yet. I never wanted this to happen. I wanted to remain a virtual dyer forever. Who knows, perhaps my days as a virtual quilter and virtual gardener are numbered?

And here they are all unwrapped. The lower skeins are the tencel and bamboo. You can tell already the tencel and bamboo take the dyes much better, richer, deeper. I am sure they will all lighten up as they dry. It's been rather cool and damp, so it may take a couple of days before they dry. I'm not sure when I will get a test warp on the loom since I am in early countdown for my next teaching trip, and both looms have new warps on them already.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Big Commission--Chapter 5

I just cut off panel 3 (center panel)! I had to hang it right up. It has a lighter look than the first two, so I decided to put it in the center for now.

In case you are just tuning in, each panel is 20" wide and will become a blanket 90"x 100". The warp is ikat dyed bamboo, and the weft is un-knitted cashmere sweaters.

In addition to the goal of using recycled cashmere, my plan is to design the blanket without writing anything down. I don't know exactly what I am going to do next, so I will let the panels hang there for a while and wait until they tell me what to do next.

The next time the sun comes out, I will find a place outside where I can stretch out the whole length of each panel to see the entire piece. I hope I like what I see.

If it doesn't rain tomorrow, I will be dyeing some 8/2 cotton.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Looking Through My Photo Archive

Another title for this post could be: PROCRASTINATION

I can't seem to take a good picture of black on black weaving.
The warp is black shimmer chenille (remember shimmer chenille?) The weft is black chenille thrums saved from all of the black chenille scarves I wove in the 20Th century. I took me 4 years to accumulate enough thrums to make a shawl and almost that long to tie them all together.

Weaving black on black is something you want to do on a bright day. Using a white towel to wrap around the cloth beam was a great help as well.

If anyone happens to have any black shimmer chenille they are willing to trade, I am always interested.

Portrait of the Cabbage Goddess. I promised myself I wouldn't post pictures of food, but I couldn't resist.

Remember my Japanese Tree Peony? From time to time I gather up my favorite sticks and dead heads, throw on a natural tussah silk warp and weave up some holiday gifts.

Eggs in a Basket

Logistics: I am teaching at the NEWS Conference July 20-22. I am leaving for the East Coast on July 2, stopping off to visit family and friends in Baltimore. On July 12, I grab a train to New York to visit more friends and attend the International SAORI Weaving Conference on my way to NEWS.

What to do with the 50 lbs. of slides, weaving samples, and supplies, I pondered? Torn between not wanting to ship my samples and not wanting to drag a huge suitcase through New York, I opted for comfort (after extreme anxiety) and Fedex'd my suitcase today.

Back in 1962 when I was a weaving student at RISD, I was working on an original overshot design to be used in a three paneled blanket. I had completed the weaving portion and had begun joining the panels together. I decided to work on it over the Christmas break and shipped it home by bus (along with some clothes). It never arrived.

I had already invested 100 hours into the blanket. The good news (if there was any good news) was I got an "A" on the project anyway. I think the weaving instructor felt bad for me, and she knew I had woven the blanket. Looking back on it, I'm not sorry the blanket was lost because it wasn't fitting together as well as I would have liked, so I am blessed with not having to be eternally confronted with less than satisfactory results. AND I don't have to wonder how I would feel if my weaving gets lost in shipping.

Shipping remains a somewhat nail-biting experience for me, however. I have decided to take a philosophical attitude about it all. If the suitcase disappears, it is a sign that I should take up a new vocation.

I meant to take a picture of the contents of the suitcase, but I forgot in my haste to get it shipped. I did make a written inventory however.

Interestingly, there were a few pieces I just couldn't make myself pack. This is surely a lesson in non-attachment.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another Lesson

Here's a pretty interesting story. Back in January I got a Color Horoscope Weaving commission from Charlene who saw a reference to me and my website on Sara Lamb's blog. I went right to Sara's blog to check out what blogs were all about. I was so taken with the idea I immediately set up a blog of my own. I asked Charlene to tell me her favorite color which would be the color I would use for the weft. In all of my previous commissions, my clients came to my studio and selected a color from the yarns on my shelf.

Color is so very subjective, and Charlene was not in my studio. She sent me an color rendition of a coat she wanted to wear with her horoscope shawl. HERE WAS MY MISTAKE. Instead of sending her a color sample card and having her select the weft herself, I matched the printed color square.
It's funny how a person can feel so good about something that misses the mark. I wove the shawl and sent it off fully expecting email squeals of delight. Silence... I finally wrote to Charlene to see if the weaving had arrived. She wrote back reluctantly and said she was very disappointed. The color didn't match her coat at all!

I said I was glad she wrote and that I would weave her another shawl. This time I would send a color card and have her select the warp. (all the while kicking myself that I hadn't thought to send Charlene yarn samples in the first place. What had I been thinking?!)

I was pretty mortified at first, but eventually came to appreciate a valuable lesson. The second weaving is much prettier, don't you think?

And now I will have another funny weaving story to tell when I'm teaching....

Monday, June 4, 2007

Warp Off, Warp On

I cut this horoscope shawl off the loom today. I will be hand-delivering this piece on Friday. It's so hot off the loom that the threads are still warm.

This horoscope shawl goes in the mail on Friday as well. I'm on a roll.

I just love how the horoscope weavings seem alike and different at the same time.

I've spent lots of time on the loom today and don't have much left over for writing. I do have a good story to tell about the piece going on the loom.

Friday, June 1, 2007

What I Did When the Chenille Wormed

In addition to throwing myself into the 3rd blanket panel, I went right to work on a Color Horoscope Weaving birthday commission (although I have another whole week before it is due).

I used 20/2 cotton tripled and sett at 24 epi.

It is quite relaxing to weave horoscopes.

I recently received an email from a soon to be student. She was trying to figure out from pictures exactly how I create Color Horoscope Weaving and said she was beginning to see how I used this technique to add interest to the tabby weaving.

It’s funny I have never looked at weaving this way. For me it is that tabby weaving holds together all of my weaving techniques.