My daughter has a snippy saying, when she has had enough, or doesn’t want to engage further, she will look at me and say in a really dismissive attitude, “It’ll be fine”. Sometimes it relates to I’m being overly worried about something, or sometimes it means, that whatever she is doing, it is good enough and I should stop thinking that she should do it differently.
It is one of those sayings that I have learned to embrace and hate at the same time. Really, in most of life, most things are really fine, they will be fine. But sometimes that statement can be a sort of shorthand for, “I’m really being lazy and don’t want to see what else I can come up with…”
This all started when I went wandering through my yarn stash, just to see what would spark my interest. I found a bunch of hefty cones of a Silk City Fibers Skinny Majesty, a very slippery rayon bouclé, in a color probably long since discontinued, probably part of a stash I purchased from another weaver long ago. There were probably 6 or 7 pounds of it. I really love the color and I had hoped, since many of Silk City’s variegated yarns are engineered with a repeat, that I could get an ombré effect out of it.
Though I usually don’t pick wefts, I always sample first, I had four cones of this beautiful Wool Crepe tweed on the right, which I recently purchased from the same Silk City Fibers during a sale. I like how Wool Crepe washes, it is very springy and does collapse a bit. I thought it would tame the very slippery rayon.
My four shaft Tools of the Trade 32 inch loom was crying for a warp, as of tonight I still haven’t received my shipment of parts to rebuild the Macomber loom (tracking stopped saying USPS was going to deliver it tonight), and so over the past couple weeks or so while I’ve been waiting, I wanted to warp up another loom. My looms are much happier when they are warped.
I pulled my trusty copy of Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and started leafing through and found this really lovely block huck structure called Julia Larrabec’s Linen. There was a lot of surface interest, in different blocks, but all on four shafts.
I tried for a couple of days to find a repeat in the Skinny Majesty Variegated. I gave up. So I searched for other Skinny Majesty yarns, in solids that would coordinate, for the separate block areas where there is a collapsing huck lace weave. I did a yarn wrap. I thought this would work.
I wound the warp in short order, and threaded the loom pretty quickly. At the start of last week I was ready to weave.
I really wasn’t impressed. There wasn’t a lot of contrast with the warp, and I was honestly disappointed, the colors were so gorgeous on the cones. I showed my daughter. She said, “It’ll be fine.”
I sent a picture off to my weaving buddies, and they encouraged me to send a picture of it washed. I really didn’t want to do that because I knew it would collapse, and I really wanted to use this weft, and I really didn’t want to cut off what I’d done and re-tie on, and I was being just really really lazy. It’ll be fine I said to myself.
But it haunted me. I knew I should push ahead and see if I could do better.
I asked my daughter what other colors of wool crepe she had hidden in her bedroom, she has her knitting machine stash up there, and will occasionally abscond with all of a specific type of yarn for projects on the knitting machine.
So there was a beautiful chocolate brown. Sigh.
I started weaving the fabric with the brown, and yes, it did look better. Sigh.
So I just got over myself and cut off the sample and tossed the whole thing in the washer and dryer with a load of clothes.
Yeah, of course it is lovely.
I actually thought that because it is blocky in nature, that I really liked the block with the twill and that might be better fabric, to just weave the whole thing only repeating one block.
So I tried that, and yeah, it was OK, but sort of boring.
So I’m back to the full draft, of two distinct blocks using the brown weft, and now I’ll agree that it’ll be fine. Sometimes ‘good enough’ isn’t really good enough when you were being too lazy to really see what the alternatives are. I should know better…
At least it is really easy to weave and now I know what it will look like washed. It really will be fine…
I’ve been giving a lot of remote lectures the last couple of months. And I’ve done another podcast, which hasn’t aired yet. And there are the questions that come in connected to my YouTube Videos, The Weaver Sews. Lots of opportunities for Q&A. I would say that the one question that I get asked over and over, (other than, how do you cut into your handwoven fabric, now I can happily say there is a video for that…) is, where do I get my inspiration. I think people really care about this issue, they want so badly to produce great work, and original work, and really want to know how others interpret what’s around them into something awesome.
Some of it, actually a large amount of it is confidence. And confidence comes from doing. Confidence means that even though you are in uncharted territory, and you have no idea how this is going to work, or if it will be great, or awesome or really stupid, confidence means no fear. So what if it doesn’t work, it is cloth. So what if it isn’t great or even stupid, you never know if you didn’t try. And whether it is great or stupid, something is always learned, something tangible, that will serve you on the next grand adventure.
So I just started a new project and went through all the steps to come up with something I think is going to be great, but maybe won’t be, but I don’t care because it will serve my purposes. I thought I’d go through my thought processes the last couple of days so you see how I think, and that it isn’t so special or brilliant or inspired, it just is a series of steps that lead me on an adventure. I sometimes can’t decide, so I’ll send a photo to my weaver friends, we message daily, or I’ll ask my daughter, and sometimes she actually gets me to make a decision by allowing me to talk through what I’m thinking and why. And a good portion of the time I don’t take anyone’s kind advice. I just go with my gut.
First, and I’ve said this over and over in my talks and podcasts and videos, I weave when I’m in the mood to weave, when I have an idea and something sparks my curiosity. I never have a plan as to what I’m going to do with it. This just happened with the last warp I did, which I pulled off a couple days ago, tossed in the washer and off it went onto the shelf. There was no plan for what it will be. I weave to weave, and I make fun cloth. What I do with it down the road (probably clothing) remains a mystery. I was determined to finish this off this past weekend. I had lots of help.
I had done a similar cloth for Silk City Fibers, the draft is available here for free. I called the fabric Confetti, and I liked the idea that you could take a fatter yarn and float it over and under two weft picks having a stable ground underneath. I rooted through my hand dyed yarns and found a whole bunch of skeins of some natural colored silk I probably bought from a friend a number of years ago. A fat silk.
So I sat with a draft, and figured out how to make all these skeins work in yardage, and I have no idea what I’m going to make with it. It will sit there and age like fine wine until the mood strikes. Here it is washed and finished. I definitely want to play with the stripes and have them intersect on the diagonal. That would be fun…
Meanwhile, I wove this fabric last year, another one using Silk City Fiber Yarns, the draft is available here for free… It is called Shadow Tapestry and uses their old standby variegated chenille, with their newer yarn, a Cotton/Bamboo combination with a lot of loft, soft and spongy. I combined the two in a Shadow Weave Structure. Apparently my beat was less than perfect and the end result was that each repeat was just slightly off from the previous repeat, which is why I encourage people not to do weft repeats when weaving yardage.
But there is always a way…
So we have finished up the video series making a couple of my 200 jackets, showing step by step how to do some pretty complicated things. The last installment of that series should drop Friday. We have one more in the can, the one for the “Ask Me Anything” segment that should air the following week and then I need a new theme. I figured that the 500 vest and 600 walking vest, were pretty close to the construction of the jacket, with a couple of differences in how the armhole and lining are treated, and I could probably knock them out in a video. And I’m scheduled to teach a three day remote class using this vest as a background for my piecing technique, so it would be helpful to have a video to direct students to areas of construction they might not understand in the printed directions. I should make a vest next.
So what should I use to make this vest…
I looked through the handwoven fabrics I had on the shelf, and a couple of commercial fabrics I could justify using (sort of like a handwoven), and the Shadow Tapestry fabric jumped out at me. So I rolled it out. I’m not even sure at this point if there is enough, but that never stopped me.
I tried on the samples for my 500 vest and yeah, quarantine has been tough, food plentiful, and exercise non existent. Yes, I’m now walking 4 miles every morning and starting to work in the yard, but that doesn’t help me with the 10 pounds I gained last year. So definitely cut a larger size in the lower half…
Once I have a pattern I can play around with the fabric. There is definitely not enough to do the bands. So I’ll have to come up with a plan B for that… And the layout is tough, I’ll have to have a center back seam, and that means that matching these mismatched shadow weave blocks will be a challenge. I actually measured each repeat to see if I could find like areas. Cutting a yoke would help, the lower part could be cut from one area, and a full yoke across the back would fit across the fabric, EXACTLY. Complete luck.
Which means piping between the lower body and upper yokes.
Last month in a disgusted clean out of all of my skirts and pants that no longer fit, there were some treasures that I hated to toss, so I thought of them as new raw material. Surely that skirt had enough fabric for the trim on something. And my beloved leather pants. I didn’t wear them last year, because I never got out of my pajamas, but I couldn’t get them on. So I lovingly carried them to the studio and put them on the shelf. They would find their purpose one day.
I thought I found their purpose, because they went beautifully with this handwoven Shadow Tapestry. I would cut them into bands and piping and it would be gorgeous. I started to remove the lining in the pants, and realized that years ago, leather of course gives and they had gotten too large for me and I had taken them in substantially in the center back. So I let them out. And they fit. And I’m over-joyed. I loved these pants. I could do a whole blog about the history behind them. But largely this meant that I couldn’t use them for my vest.
Back in 2007 I made a vest out of a very small warp someone gifted me, I wove off the warp and turned it into this lovely vest, which I adored, but sold in a guild sale to one of my guild mates. It was called Native Woods.
I lined it with a woven alpaca pile fabric, the kind from a vintage zip out lining in a men’s trench coat. The pile fabric was gifted to me by someone, the card exists in my design journal from 13 years ago, but I always loved that bit of pile fabric trimming the exterior edges of the vest. I sort of missed that vest after I sold it.
I have the scraps. And I think it is enough for a neck band and pair of armhole bands. And the color is good. But that means I have to come up with something else for the piping. In the middle of the night, I woke up with a voice telling me to check if there was any leather left from the Harris Tweed jacket I just made.
In the morning I checked, and I had enough in the scrap bag for piping for the two front yokes and the back yoke.
Which left the lining…
I rooted around in my stash, and pulled out a couple of contenders, one of which is here. A lovely silk print, maybe from the old Waechter’s Silk Shop in Asheville. I mourned when it went out of business. I use to raid their remnant bin whenever I would visit.
And then I spied this silk blouse I had just added to my stash. Back in January, armed with a dozen masks, I drove to Maryland to help my 89 year old mom move to a smaller apartment in the senior complex where she lives, after her husband, my step dad passed in December. It was a busy week, and as we moved her clothing, she culled some of the pieces she didn’t think she would ever wear again. My mother and I are not even close to the same size and shape. But she had in the “to be given away” bag this lovely silk shirt, not anything I would fit into or wear, not my style, but it was silk. And silk is silk. So I took it and added it to my fabric stash.
And so I pulled it out and put it next to the Shadow Tapestry fabric and my eyes lit up. It was unexpected and fun and though my daughter didn’t like it, she liked the first choice, I just thought it was perfectly timed and meant to be…
So now everything is cut out, and I spent the day assembling the parts. Tomorrow I will write the script and Friday we will shoot the complex parts of the construction. I don’t know if the fur bands will be successful or not, but I won’t ever know unless I try. I can always take them off and replace them if I change my mind. Then I can shoot a video on how to rip out handwoven fabric…
And of course I had help, this morning when I came down to start constructing this is what was waiting for me, letting me know that he kept the pile warm and it was all ready to sew. This cat makes me laugh… He is sitting in my lap as I type…
Anyway, this is pretty typical of how I go through the process of deciding what to make. The fabric came about because Silk City developed a new yarn and asked me to test it and see what I could do with it. I asked for a cone of it along with a variegated chenille. I don’t know why when I looked at them I thought Shadow weave. I hate weaving anything with two shuttles. But I did, and so far it is working out. I’ve got so many threads of ideas, like seeds that germinate, and it is a process getting that little seed planted and see what sprouts from it.
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…
The days pass quickly in a routine that is pretty pleasant truth be told. I’m not missing traveling, not missing even leaving the house. I see friends and family enough via zoom, and with all the remote lectures I’m giving, I feel as though I’ve just attended the world’s largest weaving conference. Each day I bounce around to some part of the country, and each lecture there are old friends and familiar faces in those tiny boxes on the screen. I’ve been corresponding with someone in MO, who was supposed to take a workshop with me in August in Kansas, but appeared in a lecture in western MA. We weavers get around…
Having my daughter here, working with her, developing new content, shooting a new video every Friday for my YouTube site The Weaver Sews. It has kept us busy. The biggest challenges are keeping the animals quiet, and hoping the landscape people don’t come through in the middle of filming the way they did last Wednesday in the middle of a class I was teaching remotely. Those leaf blowers right outside the garage doors were pretty noisy.
So the election in the US is Tuesday. I don’t hold hope that things will be resolved by Tuesday night. I don’t hold hope that things will be resolved for a very long time, no matter who is declared the winner. I’m sad for the polarization, I’m sad for the divisive language used by both sides, I wish we could all get along and move forward. We are in the middle of a couple of international crises and I’m a firm supporter of science (having a daughter with a science degree means I can’t even cook without a science perspective thrown into the recipe), and no matter the results, I hope moving forward that we as a nation can come together to solve some of these major issues. I’ve just heard of another weaver who lost their entire studio to one of the fires in Oregon. She took a workshop with me just in March of this year, my last stint before the world shut down. I sent her digital files of everything we could piece together that she lost from my workshop, but that doesn’t replace yarn, samples, looms, weaving equipment, spinning wheels, and a life time of knowledge in physical form. My friends in California, Oregon, Washington, as well as Louisiana have taken the brunt of this year’s climate disasters. I wish the world had a plan moving forward. For me, I voted within 24 hours of receiving my mail in ballot (only mail-in voting in NJ this year because of the pandemic), so on Tuesday night, I’ll be teaching remotely for a guild in Toronto. I can only do my best to keep moving forward, being kind, paying attention to the science, fighting for equality for all, and embracing my countrymen no matter what and who they are passionate about.
Since Tuesday night’s lecture is on Doup Leno, a technique I wrote about a couple years ago for Heddlecraft Magazine, (January/February 2019), I needed to have something set up for a live demo. The warp that I had been using was mostly used up. So I rewarped this week, with a couple of handdyed skeins of cashmere I had sitting around, one a dark and the other a variegated turquoise. The goal is a couple of scarves, the leno structure will keep them lacy, but the structure will hold together.
That said, I’ve been rather busy with my simple days. Simple means I can fill my days up with juggling 40 things at once, because I can’t imagine a day when 40 things aren’t happening simultaneously!
I’ve been working for the last couple of weeks on a new project. The last two vests I made both had welt pockets. It has been on my to do eventually list for a couple of years. I finally sat down, designed a diagonal entry welt pocket and then once I did a few of them, drew illustrations and wrote up the 12 page directions.
Now you can actually purchase the Welt Pocket Variation as a download. The download contains the 12 page heavily illustrated directions, the two pattern pieces full size for the welt and pocket, and replacement pages for the 100 jacket, 200 jacket and 800 vest. By substituting the pages in the pattern digital files, you’ll see where the pocket goes. So if you’ve purchased the 100, 200 or 800 vest, you might enjoy this variation. Of course it will work for any jacket or vest you make from anyone’s patterns, you’ll just have to figure out where to position it.
The second vest I finished is the one I’ve been using for demonstrations during my last few YouTube videos. The fabric was a remnant I bought somewhere, can’t remember, but it was a gorgeous sleezy Chanel type tweed, really challenging to work with, like your worst case handwoven. My handwoven fabrics aren’t nearly as challenging! I made up the 200 jacket but left off the sleeves, bringing the lining to the edge of the armhole. With the shawl collar and welt pockets, it is a much different look than my other vests.
I realized of course that I haven’t updated my gallery on the website with the last couple of pieces I’ve made, the Summer Rain Top, and of course the leopard trimmed and lined Confetti vest shown above. It is much more important to be timely in those updates because my daughter references those details and images when she creates the show notes for each video I do. We took one of our guest rooms, since we aren’t getting a lot of guests (none actually) and turned it into a temporary photo studio. So I popped the Summer Rain top onto the dressform, and perched it on top of the table to take a quick shot of the top. The free draft for the fabric for this top, using Silk City Fibers is available here. The pattern is a combination of my 1000 Swing Dress, very modified to take out the “swing”, and the armhole and sleeve from my 200 Jacket.
Meanwhile, now that all my looms are full, I filled them up for the HGA remote studio tour the beginning of October, I need to start clearing looms because I’m getting more ideas of stuff I want to weave. So I cleared one of the table looms first. This one had a test for Silk City Fibers, their Supermerino yarn, sett in an 8 dent reed, plain weave, to simulate what one would experience with a rigid heddle loom set up. One was a single end in an 8 dent reed, single weft, spaced a little far apart for my taste, but that was the point of the test. I gave that one to Silk City and kept this one, which is two ends together in an 8 dent reed with a doubled weft (I used a double boat shuttle for that scarf). Supermerino is a superwash yarn. It doesn’t say that in the description, but it doesn’t full at all when washed. The result is actually quite soft and lovely, and I’m glad they let me keep one of the scarves. I suspect I’ll be venturing outside a bit this winter, if only to walk the property and pick up dog debris, and I think this will be quite warm.
I did a round robin sort of day earlier in the week, I wove a yard of two on each of the other floor looms, just to get them moving forward. I can probably just sit and weave and finish off a couple of them in a day or two. To have time to just sit and weave is such a gift. And that means I’ll have yardage to sew. And empty looms to rewarp…
There is this one, which has been on the loom for way too long. The yarn is Noro Taiyo Lace, a pain to work with but really beautiful in its gradient effect as the weft. 4 shaft, warp is vintage Harrisville singles Shetland wool and vintage Maypole Nehalem worsted. I’ve probably got less than two yards to go…
This is another test for Silk City Fibers, their new Cotton Bambu yarn mixed with their Chenille Tapestry yarn. I modified an 8 shaft shadow weave draft, it is a bit slow to weave because of the two shuttle complicated repeat but it is moving along nicely.
And this one is also using Silk City Fibers, their new Nile cotton tape mixed with Skinny Majesty variegated. The weft is their Wool Crepe. I can’t wait to weave off this fabric, it is weaving like butter and I want to make swing dress out of it. Over a black turtleneck, this could be fun for winter, something new to wear, even though I don’t go anywhere and only dress for the upper third of my body for remote Zoom meetings. And for the videos, I get to dress up, put on makeup and look remotely professional, but everything has to be 2-piece to support the remote microphone pack clipped into my waistband.
Days are cooler now, we have finally had frost in NJ. I cuddle up with the gas stove in the living room, and a 1000 piece puzzle and some wine in the evenings, or watch late night political satire on the TV with my daughter. We need to keep laughing, we need to surround ourselves with art, humor and good food and drink. And of course animals, there is a cat asleep on my lap as I type, with one paw draped over my typing hand. And yarn and good books. I have all of that, and new flannel sheets coming this week from LLBean. My daughter stole my other set. Life is OK for now in my small neck of the world. I quietly keep making up new stuff, and keep an eye out for important things to know about.
See you all on the other side of this election, stay safe, wear a mask, and don’t forget to vote…
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.
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.
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).