Placemats Finished!

First, let me welcome all the ASG members who have just joined my blog,  following all of my creative escapades.  There has been a flurry of subscriptions for email notices for when I post a new blog, and many of them have signed on after my blog was mentioned in an ASG (American Sewing Guild) posting.  Thanks Marcia Russell from northern California for the mention.  Marcia has written for the ASG publication “Notions”.  For all of you out there who are new to my blog, you may be interested in a podcast I did for Weavecast, about a year and a half ago, though Weavecast is a podcast for handweavers, it crosses over into so many other fiber communities it is worth noting.  I was episode 26, “Sew Your Weaving“, and I approached the podcast, not as a weaver, but more as someone who has sewn for most of her life, and has a lot to share about the body and the spirit and the sewing machine.

After much angst, and frustration, we are finally finished!  A bit of background, for those who are new to my blog.  Exchanges are a fun part of weaving guilds, and they come in many different forms.  Last year, one of my weaving guilds, Jockey Hollow Weavers, which meets the first Wednesday night of the month in Mendham, NJ (Morris County) does an “Exchange” each year, starting it in September, and finishing up in June.  Last year, we did a crackle exchange, crackle is a weave structure, everyone did samples of a specific design in a Crackle structure, and at the end, participants had a notebook of all different designs.

My then 15 year old daughter had just joined the guild, and was anxious to participate.  No matter that she hadn’t really ever woven before, actually correct that, she hadn’t ever set up her own loom before.  There is a difference.  So, being 15, and not knowing how to plan ahead, leaving everything to the last minute, she learned how to wind a warp and set up an 8 shaft crackle the weekend before the exchange was due.  That was last June.  In all fairness, she pulled it off, wove the samples beautifully, and delivered them finished and mounted, and stood before the group explaining her draft and how this was her first warp all on her own.  Everyone, including her mother, was very proud.

Fast forward to September.  My 15 year old enthusiastically raised her hand when a poll was taken to find out who was interested in a  Placemat Exchange for the 2008-2009 guild year.  The theme was “Overshot”, all mats had to be woven in an overshot pattern.  Each participant gave the other participants 2 ounces of 5/2 perle cotton in their pattern color, and all of us chipped in and bought large quantities of 10/2 perle cotton in white for the background.  As it worked out, there were more than eight participants, but not enough for 16 (two groups of eight), so we invited a few members of an adjacent guild, and ended up with two groups of 8 each.  My daughter joined one of the groups, and I joined the other.  So my daughter, Brianna, started the set up, gently prodded by me, during her Winter break last December, and has muddled along, weaving when she could, hampered by school activities, broken warp beams, broken threads, and a major threading error, which she painstakingly took out and re-threaded because in weaving, there is nothing else to do but take it out and re-do it.draft

Bri and I selected the pattern “Dog Tracks” which was from an 18th century weave structure class I took with Barbara Miller in 2000 at Convergence Cincinnati.  I liked the name since Bri works on Saturdays at a local kennel and her clothing looks a lot like muddy dog tracks when she comes home at night.

So those that have been following my blog since lancaster_dogtracksside1January, know I’ve posted a running score, and for the most part, we were steadily neck and neck, I’d weave a mat, and Bri would weave a mat, until Bri got so busy with a major school competitive event (that involved a lot of glitter) that she fell behind.  She was about 10″ from the end of the last placemat, and the warp beam broke again.  I was able to fix it, and Bri finally finished the last mat on Saturday morning, but discovered a mistake about 5 inches back and had to get to the High School for the final production of this all consuming event, so like the kind mother that I am, and wanting to get this bloody thing finished so I could weave all the samples that went along with the drafts for the placemats, I unwove the 5 inches, corrected the mistake,  and finished the mat.  I spent the day today, weaving about fifteen 5″ x 5″ samples, and printing all the drafts for the samples, which will go along with the mat.  The point of an exchange is to have lots of different patterns, having just the finished mats would never satisfy your average weaver, we have to know how it was done.  So there will be a notebook of all the patterns along with all the finished mats.  Each participant will have, if all goes well, 8 different overshot design placemats, all in their pattern color.  Bri chose purple, and I chose a lovely soft celadon green.

knotstexsolvEvery weaver loves to see the knots coming up over the back of the warp beam, this means you’re almost there.  After 12 yards of fine cotton warp, and almost six months of time and gentle prodding of a now 16 year old, this was a welcome sight.  There are two photographs here, the next swing of the beater after I shot the image on the left, the apron rod which holds the knots at the end of the warp, broke clean off the cords holding it to the loom.  The problems I’ve had with this poor loom….  So I turned the loom around, sat down on the floor, my favorite position with this loom, and changed the apron cords to Texsolv, which I’m really hoping will hold for awhile.  Most weavers know about Texsolv, and it is available on rolls through most weaving suppliers.  Not cheap, but it does the job from treadle tie cords to apron cords and heddles better than anything else on the market.

placematsThis is such a cool shot!  I am so excited.  Winding off six months of work to really step back and look at it gives me such satisfaction for a job well done.

I spent the next couple hours, stitching carefully between the mats and cuttingpaperwork them apart, and doing all the paperwork and samples for the drafts (Photo right).   So now we have a huge stack of placemats ready to take to the meeting on Wednesday night.  The next two days will be a whirlwind of getting things done before my mini vacation.  Yep, I’m heading out west!

Continental has a promotion allowing me to fly for double Elite qualifying miles, a great bonus when you are trying to maintain Elite status.  So I decided to hop on a plane on Thursday and head to the other side of the country, specifically Seattle, just for a weekend, to hang with my special fiber buddy Robyn Spady.  We are planning a weekend of fiber adventures, wine, and friendship.  And I get bonus miles too!  Such a deal…

A Cast of Characters

I could not get focused today.  Maybe it was because I got up at 3am to drive my husband and son to the airport.  They are taking advantage of some frequent flyer miles, my son’s spring break, and some new snow in Utah, and off they flew to Salt Lake City for the week to enjoy some guy time on the mountain.  🙂

I did go back to bed once I returned from the airport, and I did manage another four hours of sleep, but the day felt very disjointed.  So I puttered.  I did a little of this, a little of that.  After all, it is Sunday, and most normal people get off a day or two a week.  That would be a foreign word for me.  I did some grocery shopping, cleaned my bathroom, started cleaning the kitchen, the dirt doesn’t stop coming just because I left for a week for a conference.  I tackled a pile of files, deciding that my son’s progress reports and school files from elementary and middle school, now that he is in college, didn’t need to be taking up space in my file cabinet any longer.  They’ve been on my floor for awhile.  So that pile is gone.

Speaking of piles.  loom1

This is what happens when a loom is left unused for a period of time.  Piles start to cover it.  It looks lost amid the debris.  I had a major guilt attack today over my poor naked looms.  I’m in the middle of too many other projects to even think about getting a warp on this puppy, my beloved first loom, a 45″ 8 shaft double sectional back beam Tools of the Trade, I bought in 1978, right out of college.  I love this loom, I will never part with it.  I have woven thousands of yards of fabric on it.  But at the moment, it is looking like a neglected child.

Enter the twins.

twinsThis pair of looms sits beside the big loom.  I never named my looms, not sure why. It was hard enough to name my kids.  So this pair, both from Tools of the Trade as well, bought in the 1980’s at different times, helps me out when my big loom is busy.  The one on the right, 25″ wide, is four shaft, and it is warped with 10/2 cotton for my daughter’s and my placemat exchange we are doing with the Jockey Hollow Guild.  More about that later.

The one on the left, is pretty well equipped, for a 25″ wide loom, it has eight shafts, double sectional back beams, and is a little work horse.  I wove the Arctic Sky fabric on that loom.  It currently has the remaining yard or so of tencel warp from a Bonnie Inouye class I took last October (oh how embarrassing).  It had my only 25″ 12 dent reed in it, which I needed for the placemat exchange loom on the right, so I stole it.  Just pulled the warp out of the reed and moved it over.  So I couldn’t have woven the rest of the warp if I had wanted to.

loom2To the left of that loom, I have a 25″ Tools of the Trade table loom, also four shaft, that I keep warped with a Theo Moorman 10/2 cotton structure, for my art pieces.  I just finished the Big Sister piece, and I had originally needed the 12 dent reed for that one, but settled on a 6 dent reed, though I wasn’t completely happy with the reed marks it left.

So I was pretty embarrassed that nothing was happening on any of my four looms, one without a reed, one with the wrong reed, one with a warp and nothing started, and one with no warp at all.

So I looked through my vast stash of reeds, and found an extra 12 dent reed I had purchased used many years ago, for my 45″ loom, and I had my daughter hacksaw the thing into two pieces.  I decided that I needed to spend the day paying some attention to my poor neglected looms, and I resleyed the tencel warp into the replacement reed, and I switched out the reed on the table loom, tied both warps on the front beams, and they are ready to weave.

dog_tracksI turned my attention to the placemat exchange, and spent some time getting the structure to work right.  I took it from a workshop I took many years ago with Barbara Miller on 18th Century Structures.  It is a four shaft overshot pattern called Dog Tracks.  My daughter and I are both participating in this exchange, each of the 16 participants picks a 5/2 cotton weft color, and winds off a couple ounces and passes a ball off to each of the other 7 participants in their group.  My daughter and I are in two different groups.  So we will each have eight different overshot placemats at the end, all in our selected color.  I chose a grayed green, and I started the whole thing with mine.  Once I reworked the treadling, to give me the placement of the blocks I wanted, it started to weave quite well.  warp

I detest two shuttle weaves.  I know, I know…  But I am use to weaving yardage, lots of yardage, I like my shuttles to fly, and two shuttle weaves just don’t produce the speed of a one shuttle structure.  Part of the problem here is the size of the loom.  There isn’t room for the two shuttles to fit on the web, when I beat, they bounce right off the loom into my lap and onto the floor.  I solved this problem on another warp I did, by taking the unused second back beam from the eight shaft (remember two warp beams require a second back beam), and clipping it onto the front of the loom, with a heavy plastic ruler clipped to the surface so I have an extra ledge to support the shuttles while I’m weaving.

I did manage to get to Morristown today, to practice with my recorder group.  I probably didn’t mention that I play Baroque recorder, I play alto with this group, and we got all new music today, something new to practice, a whole play list of French love songs from the 1600’s.    And I did manage to get down to my neighbor’s house for our Sunday night ritual, a gathering of the women to watch Desperate Housewives.  We hoot and howl all the way through it, and will be really sorry when the season ends, it is a long way until September….

It turned out to be a productive day after all, and the looms (all except my big one) look so much more happy.  I think tomorrow I will clean off the big loom so it doesn’t feel so burdened with my junk…