As the summer comes to a close, the stifling heat and lack of rain, makes going outdoors depressing, I just hang in my studio, where they like me, and I have just a bit of control over something, and all is well.
The interesting thing about control in my studio is that, I’m in control if I know what I’m doing and I’ve done it a number of times before. But I’m crossing into some uncharted territory these days, doing things I haven’t done before, trying out structures and theories and even though things go wrong, the point here is to learn.
I designed a draft, to explore turned overshot. I had finished and delivered a half dozen overshot placemats for a friend, and wanted to explore what happens if you turn a draft. For those who aren’t weavers, this means nothing, I’m sorry. But I know enough about drafting and have weaving software that does the job for me, so that worked fine. I wanted just a narrow band of overshot across one side of my body in an easy summer shirt. No problem. Except, since the turned overshot took up 6 shafts, I had two left for the plain weave on either side of the band. And I’m working with 20/2 cotton sett at 30 epi. Which means that each of the front two shafts has 15 inserted large eyed heddles per inch, making things really dense.
So dense that the warp doesn’t separate when I step on the treadle. So I have to manually push down either the first or second shaft, each pick. Tedious and annoying. And I could have just redesigned the draft to have completely fixed this issue, but that’s why I’m in uncharted territory. To learn.
For a brief moment I considered pulling all 700+ ends and starting over, with a corrected draft that spread the heddles over four shafts instead of two, and just decided to carry on and deal with it.
I’m making progress…
Meanwhile, I cleared the loom of the Iris Leaf Mats I’ve been weaving, cut them apart, and hemmed each one.
Then I trimmed all the stem ends from the back.
I washed each mat in hot water to get the warp to shrink, which it did, and then I hung each one to dry. I pressed the first one, the others are in a stack on the ironing board, and I’m so happy with this experiment. I have to decide if I should harvest another batch for next year…
Tomatoes from my garden in a berry bowl made by my weaving buddy Limor Johnson.
Of course now that I have an empty floor loom, I have to put a warp on it. I’m playing around with combining drafts, which I do all the time in my regular fabrics, but I wanted to see what I could come up with on only 4 shafts. The last fabric I did like this was on the 12 shaft… Since I have a ridiculous amount of 8/2 cotton, and this is going into fall, I thought a small run of dishtowels wouldn’t hurt.
So I wound, threaded and beamed cotton warp for a run of towels.
I played around with a draft combination and worked out an easy treadling.
I finished off the first towel and now I’m starting the second one in blue with a different treadling pattern. The draft is part of a potential article, so I am not at liberty to share it yet.
And there is the mohair that just seems to keep on going. I put 18 yards of mohair on my 45″ loom, actually I squeezed out 46″, but who’s to know… I just finished blanket number 6.
And of course I always have an assistant.
So I’m starting blanket number 7, and this will be the last one, and I’m hoping I can squeak out 60″.
The knots…. The sections aren’t all the same because I pre-wound the 18 yard warp in two inch sections and then wound them directly onto the sectional, each section at a time. Some of the loftier mohairs packed slightly differently, so they didn’t all start in the same place. Still, I’m pretty close. I may have to squeak the short sections by adding a dummy warp to them. Not sure how that will work in mohair, but I’m willing to try anything, because, well, I’m here to learn…
I’m trying to get out a bit more, I met with a knitting group this week, and I did give a remote lecture to an American Sewing Guild chapter in Kentucky. Lovely group. And Friday was the final finishing up of some of the most fabulous costumes I’ve ever worked on for a production of Metromaniacs, at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, which opens in 4 days. The costumes are 18th century with an over the top contemporary twist. Lots and lots of handsewing… I hear the production is hilarious. My tickets are in a couple of weeks.
Enjoy what’s left of the summer dear readers. I thought about pulling a couple of my little Structo’s out and taking them outdoors to weave. Instead I just sat in my cozy studio and wove instead. I made some progress on the 8 shaft Shadow Weave on Sisko…
…and the 4 shaft overshot gamp on Riker.
And finally, each morning I grab a small stack of books to enter in my Librarything.com database. My library is called weaversew if you are on Librarything.com. I just hit something like 995 books. I’m working through my dye library and then will start on the sewing books. I look at each book carefully and want to try/do/experience it all. And then I find a gem like this…
Maybe not… My weaving buddies decided that to make a full bust adjustment on this pineapple apron they would probably need five motifs…
Yesterday my latest issue of Handwoven Magazine came in the mail. I had quickly previewed it earlier in the week when the digital version came in, but this morning, I sat at the dining table, with my tea, and started to really look at what was in the issue.
The entire issue was devoted to Cutting and Sewing your handwoven fabric, and of course when I heard the theme last winter, I knew I had to contribute something. I wrote for Handwoven magazine as a regular features editor, back in the day, some 35 issues straight, so I’m no stranger to having my work in print. I knocked out an outline, and sent it off, and was pleased when they accepted it, not as a project though, which was a relief since the materials I had used for this piece were now discontinued, but they wanted it as a feature, much more in keeping with the way I write. I’ve written more than 100 articles and digital content at this point in my career, not including my blog (give or take 900 posts) and the YouTube channel, (80 videos there, not to mention 9 videos for Threads Magazine Insider). I feel like I had a lot to say, and I’m so very very lucky that there are mediums that make that content available on a regular basis.
So of course the first thing I look at when I’m in a magazine, is my article, I’ve proofed it prior to print, but that doesn’t mean things can’t go awry! Handwoven Magazine is usually pretty good, and gets things right.
But this morning, I started from the beginning, read the editor’s opening essay, about learning to sew, and becoming a weaver, and being hopeful that this issue will spark some kind of desire and skill set to combine the two. And then I turned to the letters to the editor. And there, on page 6, is a letter from a reader referring to an article I wrote for Handwoven back in 2011, and how it inspired her to create a scarf based on her trip to the southwest. The scarf was beautiful, shown with a photo from the trip, and a page from my article. There is something very life affirming when you know that you have inspired at least one person to celebrate what comes from their hands.
My article started on page 27, and of course listed my patterns and YouTube channel, The Weaver Sews in the resources. I’m hoping they are helpful for someone reading the article. (There has been a considerable uptick in orders for my 100 jacket, so I’m guessing that’s an affirmative).
I continued to look through the projects, most of them garments. I didn’t recognize most of the contributors, which means there is a new crop of handweavers sewing their clothing and writing about it and I’m so incredibly overjoyed to see this, and all of the wonderful garments they produced. As a writer, it is challenging to make something, and then explain how you did it, including the construction details, all within just a couple of pages.
I came to a project called Stormy Days Jacket, by Annette Swan Schipf. The jacket pattern looked oddly familiar, but it is a basic zip up jacket, so it could have been anyone’s pattern. There is a call out box, where Annette describes sewing tips, and there, the first bulleted item, it says that Annette recommends watching Daryl Lancaster’s videos before sewing your jacket. I started to cry. There is a reference to one of my videos specifically, the one about what to do when you don’t have enough fabric, and then, at the end, in the resources, is the listing for my 1800 jacket pattern. That was my pattern. I cried some more…
Towards the end of the magazine, on page 50, there is a project, a skirt, called Rustic Elements from Peg Mathews. It is a basic A-line skirt, reminds me of one I wore in the 70’s, with very fond memories, and there, at the end of the article, under Resources, is a reference to a PDF available for free on my website, on options to Clean Finish an Edge.
It isn’t that I enjoyed seeing my name in print. I’m long past that. I don’t get that rush anymore when an issue comes out that I’ve contributed to… But seeing others reference the work I’ve spent a lifetime developing, practicing, teaching, sharing and contributing, makes me know it was all worth it. I feel like I inspired others to do what I love most and to do it well. And seeing so many references to the legacy I have left, brings fresh tears. All of it, was worth it.
Which means, my work here is done. I feel like I picked a dandelion, well past the flowering stage, and I blew on it and a thousand seeds took flight in the wind and planted themselves for another generation of weavers! (Remember dandelion leaves are probably the most healthy green you can eat, and dandelions make a mighty fine wine…)
But I’m far from finished. I’ve discovered the joy of handweaving as a hobby and like I’ve said in previous blogs, I want to learn all the things. I want to understand structure and just make stuff. I just finished mohair blanket number 4, and there is still plenty of warp on the loom.
Meanwhile, because I don’t ever focus on just one thing, unless I’m under deadline… (see reference above to the more than 100 articles I’ve written…) I went to my daughter, who will begin her vet tech externship on the 8th, and so won’t be part of my daily weaving adventures, and I asked her to please try to organize the wood shed, before she starts work, which at the moment is impassible. There are some basic wood working tools out there, and right now, you can’t get past the door. She came back at me and said, “Well mom, I can’t really get in there to organize because all the basketry materials you harvested last fall, with the intent of making foraged baskets, are hanging all over the place…”
Well… So for me, them’s fighting words… Meaning that’s the kind of thing that forces me into action.
So I set up one of the empty 4 shaft floor looms with a cotton/linen warp, sett at 10epi. I had seen an article by Rita Buchanan in a Handwoven Magazine, May/June 2009 called Weft from your Yard. It talks about harvesting Siberian Iris leaves, and drying them over the winter. I have an abundance of water Irises in my yard, and the leaves on those babies are often close to 40″ tall. So I filled the wood shed with them last fall, and didn’t do anything, because, well the broken shoulder derailed me from any basketry plans, and actually, I forgot about them.
I laid out a bundle on newspapers, spritzed them with a lot of water, rolled them up and left them overnight in a long plastic bag I saved from a fabric roll.
Once the leaves were soft enough to work, I draped the roll of dampened leaves, still in the plastic, across a couple of adjacent looms, and started to pull them out, one at a time, and wove with them in a 1/3 twill.
For a header, I found a ball of handspun hemp from Nepal, which probably came from a weaver’s estate sale. I don’t really know how half this stuff gets in my studio.
And so, I’m having a blast, making mats from yard waste. I have to decide if I should save this year’s crop or if making a half dozen mats is enough.
Meanwhile, I’m starting to set up another loom with a turned overshot, something I’ve been meaning to play with… Because, having an empty loom makes me stressed… And since I’m up to something like 43 looms, there is always someone needing a warp…
Stay tuned dear readers, there is always a new adventure happening in my neck of the woods…
It has been a dense couple of weeks, lots happening, vaguely reminding me of what my life used to be like. I’m not sure how I feel about that…
I got all of my work shipped out to Convergence for the conference fashion show. The fashion show was this past weekend, more about that in a minute. The cost with insurance, there and back was over $200. I was an invited artist for their fashion show, in fact they asked me probably five years ago. Life was different back then. I declined the opportunity during the Reno Conference, which was 2018, because I was the judge for the show. In the art world, it is considered inappropriate to have your own work in an exhibit that you are curating or judging. So they offered me that same opportunity in Knoxville, in 2020. We all know how that went, or didn’t, because the 2020 conference finally happened this weekend in Knoxville, 2022.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, there are others besides handweavers that read this blog, Convergence is the every two years big deal international handweaving conference sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America. I’ve been teaching pretty regularly at this conference since the one in Cincinnati in 2000. I missed a couple, for reasons that aren’t important, but I’ve been a presence at most of them in the last 20 years. To be asked to show my work as a featured artist is quite an honor.
Lots has happened in the world, and in my professional life since I was asked. I made some new work for this exhibit, what I had planned a couple of years ago, is now old, not my current work. So I sweated over what to send, lined up the images of eight different works, and finally decided on what I thought would work on the runway, hold up while on exhibit, and read editorially in an image in their magazine, Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot. I had lots of friendly opinions to those to whom I reached out.
And so, off my pieces went, at the end of June, they arrived safely. And in addition, Silk City Fibers asked to borrow three works that were made from their yarns. So I was well represented at this conference. But I wasn’t there. For many reasons. That aren’t really that important. Instead, I chose to attend a wedding in Virginia, for one of my oldest dearest friends, someone who had known me since my first craft fair in 1979. Her son was getting married. Family and friends, as we age, sometimes take priority over seeing my work walk the runway.
A huge thank you to those of you who sent me photos and videos Friday night during the fashion show, and afterward when the pieces hung in the exhibition hall. I apologize to those who thought I was actually there, who ran around trying to find me. I was safely in Maryland, having a long overdue visit with my mom, who is 91, before heading down to the wedding. Priorities are personal. I don’t have to explain.
So here are a couple of images from friends in the fiber world, of my pieces. The long vest from the puzzle fabric I did earlier in the year came in as a low res video clip, which showed the model really working the piece. I was unable to extract the video to include here, so there is only a brief screen shot of a moving video, but I included the links for each piece if you want to see more. The theme from what I understand, being the conference was held in Knoxville, TN, was Dolly Parton, Blue Grass, and Country music. I loved the boots.
And here are the works on exhibit.
I wish there hadn’t been a backdrop since the back of each of the works is as interesting if not more interesting than the fronts. I would have been that pain in the ass attendee who went around zhuzhing my work (It is a thing, look it up), pissing off the poor gallery docents, who spend their time yelling at annoying conference attendees that insist on touching everything. In fact, having attended so many conferences I lost count years ago, getting the garments from the fashion show, and installing them into an exhibition space through the night, is a Herculean effort of the highest degree. There isn’t time for pressing and zhuzhing. I’m just grateful to have been asked to participate.
Meanwhile, I had a student fly in and study with me for the week starting July 4th. She was an absolute dream of a student. Sharp, experienced, and actually finished her yardage by the end of the 3rd day. I was able to help her learn some more advance skills, warping with a paddle, and creating a mirror image with a paddle, which is something I hadn’t done in 40 years. I only got a quick shot of her fabric before she pulled it off, so here it is, 7 shaft, combination plain weave, 2/1 twill, and supplemental warps. Her warp sequence was based on Fibonacci numbers so the 2/1 twill made sense.
Once a student is threading and then weaving, I have lots of time to just sit and hang, in case they need me. That’s when I get in trouble…
There is a quote from Peter Pan, that always makes me smile, “Oh the Cleverness of me…” A number of years ago, I attended a workshop with Deb Silver, through my guild, on Split shed weaving. It is a pretty cool technique, and she does have a book on the subject. I documented the class here. (You’ll have to scroll way down to find it). Last year, in an attempt to clear one of my 8 shaft table looms, that had the remnants of the class and a partially finished sample, which only needed 4 shafts, I finally finished the last sample. I cut off the warp, finished off the samples and put them in my book. I talked about that here. Because, who ever remembers what you did in a workshop that many years ago…
The interesting thing is, I still had a couple yards of usable rug warp on the loom, because when a teacher says, put on a 4.5 yard warp, I do what I’m told. Remember the Rainbow Double Weave Workshop? (You’ll have to scroll down for that one as well.) I didn’t want to waste the warp, but I really wanted the 8 shaft loom back. While I was watching my student Sherry, in case she needed me, I got this amazing idea, since I own five of the same table loom, all made by Tools of the Trade, three of them are 4 shaft, and two are 8 shaft. The frames are all milled the same, the only difference is the depth of the castle, and it occurred to me, that I could just swap out the entire back of the loom, with a 4 shaft model, and get the warp on a 4 shaft loom, freeing up an 8 shaft. Oh the Cleverness of me!
I grabbed my tools, and set to work, and within about a half hour, still watching my student who was working about 6 feet away from me, I managed to swap out the two back beam/warp beam mechanisms and I was soon rethreading.
Our handout mostly had the samples worked on a straight draw. But there was one sample, using a different threading, a tied Biederwand, which meant I couldn’t do that sample on the original threading, but I could now since I was rethreading anyway. There weren’t clear directions for what to do once it was threaded, since it was a class handout, but I own her book, which sitting down for a day, I was able to figure it out eventually, design a long cartoon, and gather my weft threads. I did all that part after my student left, but I was pretty proud of myself for having the idea to just switch out the whole back mechanism on the two looms, and then figure out how to do this split shed tied Biederwand. Split Shed work is pretty clever, and I didn’t want to forget how to do it. I made a few errors in the beginning, but I’m well on my way.
So I went to a wedding this weekend. The wedding was fabulous, I saw old acquaintances I hadn’t seen in 40 years. I spent the night at a resort in VA, and then slowly worked my way north on Sunday. I stopped about half way in South Philadelphia, to meet up with a couple of fiber friends from that area for lunch, and to pick up another Structo Loom. They have a way of finding me. I think this is number 20 for my Structos, I’m starting to lose count. And it doesn’t matter now many I have. We all have fun together, and I’m constantly thinking up new things to put on them. They are all named after characters from Star Trek, and this one is Kes. From Voyager I think.
We drove to a corner specialty shop and sat and talked and one of the women brought her knitting and I had my own little conference gathering. I didn’t know that Philadelphia claims that it has more murals on the sides of buildings per square mile than anywhere else in the country. I’d believe it. We saw this…
And to wrap this up, I’ve been slowly weaving off my mohair blankets. I finished up the second and third, and after each one, since each requires long fringe, I’m cutting them off. Less issue with mohair grabbing onto itself with those dreaded tentacles.
I gathered with a knitting group that meets at a neighboring town’s library for the first time in two and a half years. It was really lovely to see everyone again and catch up. I mentioned I was working on this 18 yard warp of mohair and by the time I left, I had two additional bags of mohair to bring home. One of the women had some in her car, on its way to being donated, because the social knitting she does can’t use wools or anything scratchy. I was more than thrilled. It was a profitable evening. Another woman used to own a yarn shop. She periodically brings bins of yarn from storage, and happened to bring a random bin to the meeting, which was half filled with, you guessed it, mohair. I laughed, tossed her some money, and came home with even more.
I’m thinking now that 18 yards is no where near enough warp to use all this up…
So here is blanket number 4…
I’m trying to reestablish a routine, now that I’m back, and still dodge Covid, because there are pretty high transmission rates where I live. I have lots of stuff on my to do list; one is an extensive article for a weaving publication and there are lots of guild assignments. We are soon starting a new fiscal year and I’m the treasurer, so new spread sheets, and budgets and all that stuff I hate but I’m really good at. I said to someone today, I have a lot on my plate, but now at this point in my life, I get to choose the plate.