…is gloriously full of light, beautiful vistas and stunning creativity…
That said, I made it through my months of back to back teaching, inspiring and guiding others to make some pretty cool garments from their handwoven cloth. If you’ve followed my blog posts for the last couple months, I’m thinking at least 50 students in the last four months, have come to a class with me and taken home something wonderful. Point is, I’m sort of jealous. I know that sounds weird, but watching people work, seeing what they created on the loom come to life, makes me just want to dive in and play too. I did get to a bit, in the evenings at Sievers and at the OBX retreat. I made up some totes and utility bags from scraps and leftover fabrics. I sold a good amount of them at the guild sale a couple weeks ago and since that event isn’t for another year, what I really wanted to do was just design something and get it on the loom. My largest floor looms are naked, and calling to me every time I walk into the studio. I hate naked looms. They look so lonely and forlorn.
Last July, in anticipation of the yardage design class I was to teach at Peters Valley, I started pulling some random stuff from my stash, my shelves, all revolving around a chained warp I acquired in a Kathrin Weber dye class. That’s the one down there on the left.
I carried that basket of odd things, leftovers, to Peters Valley and back, but I knew the execution of this project was going to take a lot of planning and grunt work and there just wasn’t the time or the place to let that happen.
There were a couple of dyed skeins, I use skeins as dye mops after a dye project, just let them soak up whatever dye is left. I had two I must have painted at the same time. The Kathrin Weber warp was only 4.5 yards long, and it was thick carpet warp. So anything I put with it had to also be 4.5 yards long. I wanted the painted skeins to end up in Ombré fashion, and not random in their coloring, so I took a small warping board and wound the skeins in a circular fashion, lining up the colors as I went back to the beginning at the cross each time. Then I counted how many ends I got out of it.
I did that for a second dye mop that sort of went with the rest of the group.
Then I pulled the spools of warp leftover from a sectional warp project, back in 2008, the yardage for the Convergence fashion challenge. I had no idea what was left, but I knew the colors lined up, so again, I wound a circular warp, lining up the colors each time I got back to the beginning. I counted how many ends I got out of that.
I also had some small cones of Cotlin left from Towel projects, and the colors went with the rest of the party so I calculated carefully what I thought was on the cones, and figured out what to do with them based on how many ends I thought I could get. I wound those along with the base ground of teal Bambu 7 paired with a shimmering teal metallic.
When all was said and done, I had almost nothing left of my original cones. I calculated it all pretty damn close, if I say so myself! Though I was surprised I still had some of that greyed brownish color of Bockens cotlin. I usually calculate better than that.
The warps looked just gorgeous together.
At this point, I have about a weeks worth of stuff to take care of at the computer, I have contracts to get out, which can’t be done until I update most of my prospectuses, which are embarrassingly old and inaccurate giving the cost of shipping, printing, and tariffs on goods coming in from China, which most of my interfacings are. Anyway, I don’t usually ignore all that, but I was damned determined to get that project on the loom because it has been way too long, and truth be told, I have to have 5 major new pieces for the Convergence fashion show next summer, since I’m an invited artist. There is no pressure here… Hahahahah! And leaving something partially threaded is suicide when you have a house full of dogs and a cat.
So I sat at my loom, ignoring the office, and the stack of emails in my inbox, while watching out of the corner of my eye for the cat, and started sleying the reed. This was pretty challenging, but warping front to back is about the only way to integrate something like two dozen warp chains. The fabric would come in at 43″ in the reed, so this is a wide but short warp. In case you were wondering, those division lines in the reed keep the warps separated, when I have multiple ends in a dent. This is an 8 dent reed, and I have 3, 4, and sometimes 5 ends per dent depending on the structure and size of warp.
So one of the huge advantages to warping front to back is you find errors before they are beamed on the back, when they are still correctable. Seems I miscounted that Bockens grey brown color, and missed about 20 ends. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I looked at my draft when I was winding and saw three ends when there should have been four. OOPS! That explained the extra, so I went back and made an additional chain of about 20 ends, and ended up with this left.
Once everything was accounted for I went to the back of the loom and settled in for the long haul. Can I tell you how much I love doing this kind of stuff? It absolutely consumes you, nothing else in the world matters and my brain gets a super workout!
Beaming this was a treat, I got to see how it was all going to look together, you can’t really tell in software because the painted yarns don’t show. The glitter yarn just shimmered under the lights as I beamed, and I got more and more excited with every turn of the crank. I’m using a Harrisville tensioning system, they work really well for me. And it was only a 4.5 yard warp, which for me is nothing. Note, I have a digital monograph available on my Front to Back warping process, you can find it here .
Once on the loom, I had to take a break and catch up on some paperwork, and did manage to get a number of prospectuses rewritten and signed a bunch of contracts for 2021. I still have more work to do there, and I have one more contract which is for next November, but I had to take a more serious detour yesterday and do one of my last teaching venues for the year. Only one remains the beginning of December, but this one was intense.
Brianna and I were invited to teach a beginning weaving class at the Lion Brand Yarn Outlet in Carlstadt NJ. Lion Brand owns Silk City Fibers and if you’ve followed my blog at all, I’ve had a long history with them. There were a few last minute cancellations so we ended up with 14 students, we brought the collection of Structo looms, prewound the warps using Silk City Fibers new 5/2 perle cotton colors, and left the house at a ridiculous hour yesterday morning because we were heading towards NYC during rush hour. The trip is about 15 miles but we were lucky to make it in about 45 minutes.
The class was great. The students were sharp, enthusiastic, asked great questions, and the staff and facility couldn’t have been more welcoming. The lighting was great, most of the students were in computer chairs that could drop down low for threading, and they were sleyed, threaded and beamed by lunchtime.
Silk City Fibers/Lion Brand Yarns has asked us back, so we will do this again next year, possibly in February and then hopefully next June as I peek at my 2020 calendar through very wary eyes. Since I just finished booking 2021, squeezing in these little workshops here and there is always a challenge.
Meanwhile if you are interested in a beginning weaving one day class, we are offering it again at the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild, January 25th, 2020, click here  for more information on that class.
I will say that team teaching with Brianna makes the whole process effortless. She anticipates my every need, helps students with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. She can correct misthreadings and crossed threads in record time. She packed me for the class, managed to fit in three boxes of yarn, my suitcase of samples, and 19 looms, including her folding Ashford to show them what an eight shaft full size table loom looks like, all in the back of a Ford CMAX hybrid. She set up the looms, and arranged the samples. She loaded the car after the class, drove us home, and picked up the animals from doggy daycare while I got us sushi for dinner. Then she unloaded the car and put away all the looms. I’m sort of getting spoiled. And that was the goal, that I would eventually assist her, and she would soar with her own brand and let me fade into the background.
So this morning, I replaced the worn out lash cord on the loom apron, tied the warp onto the front apron bar, and chose my weft. I didn’t sample, because I only have 4.5 yards, and I knew what I wanted. I chose a wool crepe weft, in a deep shade of mottled brown and I crawled under the loom to change the tie-up from the previous project, and I started to weave. What a joy. From the first pick this warp just sang. It is magical, and I’m using that for the working title until I come up with something else, and I was a few inches in, Brianna came over and squealed in delight. Of course my daughter who wears outrageous colors and sparkle and has rainbow hair and wears unicorn headbands would fall in love with this yardage. You can’t appreciate the glittery warp in the photos, but it is there. I have no idea what this will turn into but that glitter will sing under runway lights.