Two in one weekend, it was a busy week…

Huge apologies right up front.  I have never posted two blog posts back to back in the same weekend.  Yesterday’s blog was a story of triumph, but there was lots more to tell on my week of extreme productivity. So indulge me this one…

I worked hard to get all of my floor looms filled with something interesting for the virtual HGA studio tour that we filmed back on October 8th.  That meant that every loom had something going on, and my daughter, who is madly prepping for this lecture next week, needed a floor loom or two to be empty, and I’ve got ideas of what I want to put on a loom that isn’t available.  

So the only thing to do, is to just weave.  I had a couple cranky mishaps with a couple of looms, parts get old and worn, especially cords, and I’ll need to do a bit of repair work, or had to repair in the middle of a large piece of yardage, when the front crank broke in two in my hand…

Despite roadblocks, I managed on Monday to clear one of the 4 shaft floor looms, of yardage that has been there for a couple of years.  It was a welcome site when the knots came over the back beam!  

I pulled 7 yards off the loom, and popped that baby in the washer.

The end result is really pretty.  A flower garden.  I have ideas for the yardage, but nothing set in stone.

In case you want the details, I wrote up the yarns and the draft back in a post in January of 2019, scroll way down to find the information here…

So Tuesday I had to set up a complicated Zoom class, which I was to give that night, the night of the election here in the states, for a group in Toronto.  I spent the morning getting the camera and lighting right for the live demo on the loom.  The topic was “doup leno”, a structure I wrote about in a lengthy article for Heddlecraft Jan/Feb 2019 I believe.  

Once I was set up, I decided to kill a few hours until showtime, by weaving on another floor loom.  And pretty soon, the knots were up and over the back.

This yardage was one of the ones I put on the loom to play around with one of the new yarns from Silk City Fibers.  I combined the Nile cotton tape with their traditional Skinny Majesty Variegated, in a simple plain weave.  And after some extensive testing, which I talked about in an earlier post, I ended up using Silk City Fiber’s Deluxe Wool Crepe.  Which is Merino and rayon.  This is my new favorite weft.  Highly recommend.  I can’t wait to do something with this fabric.  It feels amazing and the wool crepe weft keeps the rayon in check.

Anyway, because the yarns came from Silk City Fibers, I wrote up the specs and the draft for what I’m calling Antique Jewels and it is available in my eShop for free.  Click here.

Wednesday was a tough day.  I had to teach again in the morning, after a very successful, at least I thought so, class Tuesday night.  Because no results were declared Tuesday night, and I didn’t expect them to be, I didn’t sleep all night, and I suspect neither did most people in the US.  So bleary eyed I logged onto my class Wednesday morning, and I believe all went well, and this time no landscape crew came by to blow my leaves like the class the week before.  Wednesday night was my guild meeting and we had a terrific program with an old weaving friend of mine, Sheila O’Hara.  I’m blown away by how easy it is to bring a guest speaker from 3000 miles away for an evening lecture.  She was fantastic.  We are only about a year apart in age, and studied the fiber arts in college about the same time in the 70’s, it is amazing how different our paths took as weavers.  She was one of the first to truly embrace Jacquard weaving.

So Thursday, prior to the debacle I covered in yesterday’s post , I managed to clear yet another loom.  This one was also the result of a challenge with yarns from Silk City Fibers.  An odd combination, but I took their new poofy Cotton Bambu, and combined it in a light/dark 8 shaft shadow weave with their old standby chenille, in a variegated color.  The two worked perfectly together, and I soon had the knots over the back beam as well.

The fabric was a bit coarse when I pulled it off the loom, kind of what you would make a carpet bag from, but never the less, I went to the washing machine and tossed it all in. 

What came out is the most gorgeous, glorious fabric you’ve ever felt.  Cotton Bambu doesn’t have any body weight behind it, but in this context it became gorgeously flexible and mixed with the velvety feel of the chenille, I can’t wait to weave more in a larger piece of yardage.  I wrote up the specs for this fabric as well, which I call Shadow Tapestry, and again, the PDF download with the draft is free.  You can find it here.

I’m off to the studio to weave another scarf on one of the other floor looms, and then do stupid stuff like clean my bedroom and bath, annoying Sunday chores, though I can’t wait to remake the bed with the new sheets I just got from LL Bean.  Portuguese organic cotton flannel.  Looking forward to a good night sleep tonight. I had a set from the last couple of years, but when I went to change my sheets with the change of season, from linen to cotton flannel, I discovered that my daughter had swiped them.  They were on her bed.  So shopping I went for another set!

Stay safe everyone, one of my closest friends was just diagnosed with Covid.  These are scary times…  Stay tuned… 

 

Everyday feels like a year…

This is the weirdest year I’ve ever experienced, and there have been a lot of them.  You’d think by 65, especially having lived through the 60’s and 70’s that you’ve seen it all.  Hahahah!

I’m not going to comment on any of the current world situation.  You don’t need one more voice in the cacophony of voices and events and situations screaming at you for attention.  Because you all know or should know that the world is imploding like some sci-fi novel and that we just all have to buckle our proverbial seatbelts and hold on for the ride.  A bottle of wine or something more powerful would help for fuel.

That said, my last couple of weeks have been wild and crazy, and that has nothing to do with all the drama and sturm und drang happening in the world.  

In case you missed it, I did finish my Confetti vest, lined with a vintage leopard coat.  It makes me smile in so many ways when I look at it.  I’m ready for winter, this will be warm as s**t!  

So this week is Spinning and Weaving week.  It is a big deal in the fiber community, usually full of events, and gatherings and all sorts of fibery happenings.  The Handweavers Guild of America is giving it the valiant try of doing a bunch of fiber related events virtually.  While not ideal, in essence it allows participation by anyone, anywhere, in the comfort of your own home.  I know our homes are getting too comfortable and we are looking to get out and go anywhere, but inspiration comes in odd packages, and basically all this is free and all you have to do is register for a specific event.( I think it helps if you are a member, because everything is free, but there are modest fees if you aren’t a member.)  All this coming week, the HGA is sponsoring studio tours of various fiber artists they have selected, whose studios they think might be of interest to the fiber community at large.

And guess who is featured Thursday at 4pm EDT.  Yeah, so there is that hanging over me.  In preparation for a virtual studio tour, I mistakenly said, when they inquired if I would be willing to be a part of this, that sure, I’ll even have something on every loom that I can talk about and explain, and fill up space for an hour.  I need to learn restraint!

So, in anticipation of Thursday’s live virtual studio tour, filmed by my daughter who will be tethered to the laptop, camera and sound system, we will walk through my wonderful new garage space, and then on to the basement where I have my cozy sewing room.  But all the looms had to be warped…

So, my 8 shaft 36″ loom was unwarped and very lonely.  I still had a couple of cones of Silk City Fibers yarns to test out, one was a Cotton Bambu, in Silver, and the other was a Chenille Tapestry variegated called Japanese Red Maple.  I envisioned a light dark shadow weave, something sett well enough to keep the chenille from doing silly things like worming out of the structure.  Some day I’ll recount my early experiences with chenille, but with a lot of experience behind me, I thought I’d give it another go.

I used the Powell book for inspiration, but since I’m aiming to publish the draft and specs for this fabric, I needed something that was mine.  I started out with this 8 shaft version, and wasn’t completely happy.  (Actually I started out with 24 epi, alternating the CottonBambu and the Chenille.  Resleyed to 20 epi, and then resleyed again to 16epi.  Don’t ever be afraid of changing course mid stream.)

The change might not be obvious, but I redesigned it to reverse in a more pronounced way, and to better square up with the sett.  I’m pretty happy with this.  Now I just have to weave it off, but not before Thursday…

And my big loom, the 45″ 8 shaft Tools of the Trade, my first loom and first love, still with me after all these years, purchased in 1977, delivered in 1978 was also naked and really not happy.  Since every fall I put on a run of dishtowels for holiday gifts, I decided that that would be an appropriate thing to put on the loom, and then at the end of October into November, I could weave it off and have my holiday gifts.

Social media can be really challenging and full of untruths and misinformation and a lot of passionate people on both sides of the fence no matter what the subject.  But the social media sites dedicated to fiber and specifically weaving has some very dedicated moderators and some very talented contributors and every morning when I wake up I feel like I have just been to a fantastic inspirational gallery opening.  

The Facebook site Strickler in Color has been a tremendous source of inspiration.  Carol Strickler wrote a lovely book, now considered essential for every weaver with 8 shafts on their loom, full of patterns, all black and white, and you could spend a lifetime with this book and not make a dent.  So this Facebook site has talented contributors who post what they’ve woven, but in color, with a nod to the draft.  Strickler 728 keeps coming up, and if you looked at it in the book, you would have just turned the page.  It really is rather boring and not very inspiring.  But I’ve seen so many people use this draft in eye catching ways that it was on my list to try.

In keeping with the need to stash bust, because I’ve acquired a lot of 8/2 cotton in the last year or two, I pulled a length from all of my cones and sat with weaving software until I was happy.  I decided to put 15 yards on the loom because turns out, I can never have enough dishtowels.  I’m always needing one as a gift, and I’m tired of running out in July. (I still have two left from last year because I haven’t been anywhere since March, but hey…)

My table top warping mill technically holds 10 yards.  I’ve successfully pushed it to 14, but I decided that my AVL warping mill, now 20 years old, would probably serve for this purpose.  I rigged up way to make a cross, and I wound 15 yard bundles in 2.5″ widths.

I threaded the loom.  My ott-lite magnifier has changed my life!  

I beamed the 15 yards.

And I started weaving.  I am completely in love.  This is why we do this.  I am so thrilled to have been forced to fill up my looms, because now, after Thursday, I can walk in my studio and just weave.  A lot.  I have a whole fall’s worth of looms to clear.  Which will mean, except for the dishtowels, a lot of sewing this winter.  I can’t wait when we reemerge from this protective cocoon to wear half the stuff I’ve made this year.

Speaking of…

In addition to studio tours and virtual vendor halls, the Handweavers Guild of America is also sponsoring a virtual fashion show next Sunday.  Not the same as sitting in an auditorium at a conference and watching cool handwoven garments strut across the stage, but they are trying to put together a virtual fashion show.  That would be next Sunday at 2pm EDT.  Of course I’ll have a piece in the show, but I hear they could use more participants.  WHERE ARE ALL MY STUDENTS, AND WHY ARE THEY NOT SHOWING OFF THEIR WONDERFUL GARMENTS!  This isn’t like where you have to be juried.  Just sign up!  You need the ability to Zoom, log in and they will tell you what to do.  The rehearsal was today, but I think they still want more participants!  Come on guys, you have some great work!  The link to enter is here.  I know the deadline has passed, but I believe they are still looking for participants.  The link to view the virtual fashion show next Sunday is here

And finally, there is my new Youtube site.  We now have four episodes of The Weaver Sews.  Every Friday we film a new episode on something related to sewing handwoven fabric.  Four are launched with Closed Captioning, which my daughter writes, so it is accurate and synced.  Two more are shot and I’m planning the topic for next Friday as I write.  I will create a script, which makes it easier for my daughter to write the Closed Captioning, and then I work all week on creating the samples and supplies I need for the video shoot.  We are having fun with this and I hope it is helpful and informative.  Sales of my patterns are certainly picking up!

So my head is spinning with all that is on my plate.  I’m old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show, and the guy from some Baltic country that did plate spinning.  He would keep 10 or 20 plates spinning all at the same time.  I remember watching with fascination and thinking, “How does he keep them all going at once?”  Well now I know.  Somehow that skill managed to rub off on me and I’m doing that every day.  And I wouldn’t wish for anything different.  My days are full, I have plenty to keep me busy.  I am lecturing virtually almost every other day, somewhere in the country.  It is so great to log in and see familiar faces.  I can do this… (though sometimes I wish I could redesign the plates).

Stay tuned…