Derailed…

I had every intention of following up my last two posts with two more, because I was only halfway through talking about the 64 named looms in my studio and what’s on them. I had intended to just jump right into the Structos, which I have many, along with the five 10″ 4-shaft Leclerc Sample Looms.

But the universe had other ideas. Right after I posted my last blogs, apparently as best we can piece together, Microsoft did one of their famous security updates, which caused havoc over at Google (don’t ask me how I know this), and the end result was a suspension of my main business email account I’ve had since I could get a domain outside of AOL. Somewhere in the 90’s?

Because I started traveling a lot, and my late husband as well, for our jobs, my husband found a way to reroute my main email, theweaver@weaversew.com, which was part of a hosted platform, to IMAP through Google, allowing me to look at my email in my laptop, or tablet. This is before the invention of Apps. So for years, that email IMAP’d through Google, and all was well. Until about 10 days ago. When it became inaccessible. At first my tech support thought it would come back, that Google was scrambling, and all would be well. Then he tried updating my email program, Microsoft Outlook, and nothing would bring back accessibility.

As I freaked out, people close to me reminded me that no one died, and that I hadn’t lost my files and records, I just couldn’t email anyone and anyone who emailed me, the emails would bounce back as no such address. Some people called or texted and asked, WTF? I gave them an alternative email. I desperately thought about who needed to reach me in the next few days, like the tour company sponsoring my upcoming trip to Japan, I leave in a couple weeks. I thought about all the guilds I’m working with for upcoming lectures and workshops. I spent days trying to change my email address so I could be reached. I lay awake a nights haunted by MFA which is a nightmare, meaning Multi Factor Authentication, meaning each address change I could actual make happen, took 15 – 20 minutes with all the 2 factor authentication, email confirmations, snail mail letters generated, texts and whatever. I get the need for security, but this was ridiculous.

Anyway, I’m not out of the woods yet. I worked with my hosting company Pair.com (which by the way is incredible) and they gave me a multi page step by step on how to redirect the email off Google back to a hosted mailbox through my weaversew domain. Sounds complicated, I can assure you, I’m not so tech savvy and these last couple weeks have been my worst nightmare. (I know, there are a lot of things worse than this).

My tech support, who is probably the best in the state, is not so easy to get, largely because he is the best in the state… While waiting for him, I kept trying to figure out what to do, working with tutorials, working with my hosting company, and I was able to get my email working again, but not in my preferred email program Outlook. I spent hours trying to come up with the right set of settings or protocols to make it work. It didn’t help that two of my three email programs were affected, and that there were 11,000 emails in my inbox on my main email address, and apparently 5,000 emails in my back up gmail account. So I spent hours filling and sorting and deleting until I was down to almost nothing.

I was finally successful in getting the right settings and got both email accounts to work in Outlook, but only on my office computer. I was afraid to even start messing with my laptop. One thing at a time. Turns out that was a good move, because by the afternoon yesterday, all of my email folders I’d created over the years, disappeared. Gone. I’ve never been so devastated, and I’ve had some pretty crappy things happen in my life. “You should have backed everything up” was not helpful, because I didn’t know how. Because my laptop remained untouched by my successful transfer of the emails back to Outlook, my daughter and I successfully spent until about midnight last night, with my tech support logging in remotely, retrieving 33 GB (no that’s not a typo) of email data off my laptop, dating back to 2013? maybe beyond… So I have everything, at least I think I do, and my emails are all functioning. If you emailed me and got no response, I lost about a week of emails, they would have been returned to you. Try again.

I’m waiting for tech support to help me reinstall the 33 GB of data back into Outlook, but I have it. And those 11,000 plus emails? They are all back. I’m thrilled and yet devastated that I have to go through them again and sort, file and delete.

I wanted to title this post For the Win, part 3, but I wasn’t sure if I felt like I won anything anymore. My filling all my looms seems rather anti-climactic. Nevertheless, I’m going to plow forth, and document anyway, so bear with me, because at the time (2 weeks ago) this was a big milestone for me. I’ve already cleared one of the floor looms I talked about in my last posts, so before I clear anything else, here is the list.

The first 13 Structos and 2 Leclerc sample looms are all set up and ready to go for a Learn To Weave program I do annually, and they can be used for any demos my daughter and I should encounter during the year. They live up on shelves around the studio patiently waiting. But they are all warped thanks to the class we taught at my guild in January. Their names, all after Star Trek characters, are “Yar, Worf, McCoy, Sato, Kes, Chekov, Uhura, O’Brian, Bashir, Troy, Scotty, Crusher, and LaForge“. The two Leclerc looms are “Neelix and Phlox“.

I also have a baby 2 shaft Structo named “Rand” that is only 4″ wide. I keep that set up with a handpainted warp, because it is really helpful to be able to explain how a loom works, with one that is set up, and help students identify the different parts of the loom.

The other three Leclerc Sample Looms are “Lursa“, a 4 shaft loom with a Huck sampler from an article titled “Stuck on Huck / 4 shaft Library” by Lynn Tedder from Best of Weaver’s Huck Lace, edited by Madelyn van der Hoogt.

Bettor” has a 4 shaft doubleweave sampler from Jennifer Moore’s Doubleweave, but I used the threading from Ursina Arn-Grischott’s book Doubleweave on Four to Eight Shafts. I don’t know why I did that, for a challenge maybe? It hurts my head…

And “Hemmer“, which I talked about in a recent post, another 4 shaft loom, threaded in a straight draw (I think), intended for intense pick up. I found a booklet from Elizabeth Tritthart, historicweaving.com called 100 Horizontal Stripes. I love this one, and yes, it is really slow cloth, tedious as most pick up is, but you really can lose yourself in it and take pride in seeing the design build. And it uses up embroidery floss!

The remaining dozen Structos have cool drafts and structures on them, and I periodically pull one out and just weave. I can take one easily onto the deck and weave outside! The documentation on each one is important, because I have to remind myself each time what I’m doing, where I am in the draft, and how it even works. I have a guild mate, a relatively new weaver, who comes once a week to explore a different loom. It helps to teach it, and we work out together what a newer weaver understands and doesn’t understand.

If you are still with me on this… in no particular order…

This little 2-shaft loom, “Chapel” was pulled out of the attic for parts, and I decided to set up a simple clasped weft technique after a workshop with Deborah Jarchow.

Dax” has a 4-shaft Theo Moorman threading, which allows me to weave narrow strips of silk habotai, printed with an image in an ink jet printer, on a linen ground, using sewing thread as the tie-downs. I have a monograph on the subject, including step by step how I do this technique. This is a photo of pansies.

Picard” is an 8-shaft Structo, threaded for a 4-tie pattern called Quigley, which I’d woven in a class with Madelyn van der Hoogt, and loved. This particular pattern was designed by Diane Click and is found in Tom Knisely’s Handwoven Table Linens book.

Riker” has a 4-shaft overshot gamp, adapted from a draft by Robyn Spady in the May/June 2014 issue of Handwoven Magazine. Robyn does great gamps! I love Gamps, I define them as a sampler that works like a grid, each vertical stripe is threaded in a specific pattern, and each horizontal stripe is a specific lift plan, and the intersections of each creates stunningly different patterns.

Sulu” has a 4 shaft twill variation on a twill color gamp, again by Robyn Spady in Handwoven Magazine, November/December 2008. Getting the beat correct so the twill lines move at a 45 degree angle is harder than it looks.

Kira” has only 3 shafts. This is an amazing structure on only 3-shafts. It is a rug technique called Krokbragd, which no one can pronounce, but it is gorgeous, and also very tedious. This draft is from an article Vakker Mug Rugs, by Anu Bhatia, in Handwoven Magazine, May/June 2022.

Archer” has a structure called Deflected Doubleweave, this one is on 8 shafts. I drafted this from the Marian Stubenitsky’s book, Double with a Twist. The real beauty of this cloth will come out after it is washed, when the yarns in the structure deflect into each other. The yarns are 8/2 Tencel.

Burnham” has an 8 shaft Rosepath point twill threading. Carol Strickler’s book, A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, has pages of little Rosepath designs, which are so much fun to weave.

Kirk” has an 8-shaft Honeycomb threading, taken from a sampler in Malin Selander’s Weave a Weave. I’ve done three of the five variations, and within each of the variations are even more variations. These are really fun. They are named after operas, the first is Tosca, followed by Aida, and then Isolde.

We are getting there! If you are still reading I’m impressed. Remember I said a couple posts back, this documentary is for my benefit, a place to remember when I warped all the looms, with pretty pictures…

Reed” has a 4 shaft Doup Leno threaded onto it. I wrote an entire issue of Heddlecraft Magazine Issue #19, on the subject. It is hard to see what’s happening in this small of a scale, but the lacy fabric is structurally sound because the turquoise warp threads twist back and forth because of a series of half heddles or doups.

Sisko” has an 8 shaft Shadow Weave on from a draft by Joanne Wood Peters. You can purchase the draft from Webs, it is Valley Yarns draft #199, called Shadow Weave Sampler. The yarns are 8/2 Tencel.

And last, but not least, (because there are ton more “other” looms, like Inkle Looms, still to document), is “Pike“. He has an 8 shaft Summer Winter motif, heavily adapted from a draft I think I got from Madelyn van der Hoogt in her class. I had to rework it to fit the size of the Structo.

I know this is a long post, but like I said, this is my journal and I wanted to document something I was proud of. And I’m glad I did, because I feel like the entire email debacle pales as I look at all these images. The data is there, it will eventually get migrated back where it belongs, mostly. My greatest joyful moments come when I figure out something fun or cool in the studio. They are what keep me getting up in the morning, that and the cat sitting on my face, and I’m so grateful to have this craft, the looms, the yarns, and the library of reference books to sit and pour over while I drink tea.

Stay tuned…

Merrily We Roll Along…

Typically this time of year, I am knee deep in dye pots. Well not really, I don’t dye myself, just yarn, but truth be told, there isn’t anymore room to put dyed yarn, even though I’ve amassed an embarrassing amount of yarn that needs to be dyed. Even last year, with a broken shoulder in a sling, I figured out how to lift heavy dyepots and rinse yarn.

But this year, it didn’t seem like the thing to do, since I have to use what I’ve already dyed, which is in the works…(at least in my head). Meanwhile, I have a large basket of the leftover mohair that didn’t get used for the blanket extravaganza last year. Many of the colors weren’t appealing, a white, bright pink, and a purple that just didn’t appeal to me.

In addition, I had a few undyed skeins of soy Chenille a friend gave me way too many years ago. These are skeins I had already dyed. Too many years ago…

Both mohair and Soy are protein fibers, so need acid dyes, I decided to make use of my crock pot (the one in the studio, not the one in the kitchen) and toss in some of the not exciting colors of mohair and a skein or two of soy chenille with some random acid dyes I have in my small stash. Mostly I use fiber reactive dyes, since I dye mostly cellulosic yarns, but I spent a few mornings winding skeins, mixing dyes into some pleasing color, and having fun.

I calculated really carefully, (well almost, I did make one stupid mistake, but nobody died!) and came up with a warp based on the yarns I had dyed, and some black mohair in the basket.

I wound multiple chains and tied them onto the front beam to get ready to sley the reed.

I threaded the mohair…

And I beamed the mohair, easiest warp I ever put on. I decided because the mohair was so sticky, that I would place the tensioning rods above and below instead of in a shed, which worked swimmingly well, and I beamed onto the lower warp beam which was a sectional. I had the six yards on in about 20 minutes.

This warp is a bit narrower than the blankets, 38″ in the reed, I had thought shawls, but I may just end up weaving the whole thing as yardage. Because that is what I do!

Meanwhile, I’ve mentioned before that I have 49 shaft looms in the studio. 15 are small Structos reserved for an Annual Learn to Weave class through my guild, and anybody local who wants to come hang for the day and try their hand. Another 15 are being restored and prepared with various structures, partly for self exploration, partly because I can take them outside in the summer to weave (which I never seem to do) and partly because it would be cool to do a round robin with my guild where participants rotate through various structures. I’m learning a lot from this exercise, and am prepping another 8 shaft Structo for a Summer Winter study, exploring different surface textures by adjusting the tie-down sequence, something that makes Summer Winter pretty cool. It is a variation on a draft I got when I studied with Madelyn van der Hoogt, but I cut it down and adapted it to an 8″ wide Structo with 20/2 cotton.

Meanwhile, I had a few cones of a painted looking chenille in three colorways, one of my monthly purchases from Peter Patchis Yarns. That place is addictive. Or rather the once a month email. I typically just get one of everything.

And I have about 6 oversized cones of a black tweed chenille from Silk City Fibers bought from their outlet back in the day. Discontinued color? I have a lot of it. It is in the upper left in the photo above.

So I decided to figure out something to do with the chenille, I don’t typically weave chenille yardage, just was never my thing, considering the history of rayon chenille way back into the early 1980’s. It just wasn’t my look. But hey, there were these cones calling to me, that didn’t fit on the shelf, so off they went into calculation land.

I wound the warp…

…sleyed the reed…

…threaded the chenille…

…and then beamed the chenille. I think another 6 yards? Sounds like a nice round number. I calculated carefully to use up the Peter Patchis chenille, using the Black Tweed from Silk City as the dark in a light/dark alternating patterning.

And I started to weave. I wish I could see more of the pretty painted colors of the chenille, but chenille has to be sett dense so it doesn’t work its way out of the fabric, and so the subtleties of the colors are lost. But still, this fabric is gorgeous.

I mentioned that 30 of my 49 shaft looms are spoken for, but that leaves 19 others. My goal this winter, or what’s left of it, was to get what was naked warped up with something fun. 5 of the looms have warps that my daughter is working on, and one of the naked 12 shaft looms is also hers. Now that I have the looms with the mohair yardage and the chenille log cabin set up, I have plans for my 8 shaft Macomber, (some of those dyed yarns perhaps), and one of the naked table looms. (A Zanshi fabric from my tied together thrums.) That will leave only three more looms for me to figure out what to do with, since the rest are all warped up with interesting projects. Then I can just weave… and weave… and weave. (I failed to mention the half dozen or so inkle looms with projects on them, mostly set up for teaching, but I can definitely clear them as well…)

Perhaps I shall clear a loom a week…

Stay tuned for more winter adventures…

Loose Ends…

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.

https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/AutumnPlaidTunicFrontLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/ChaosShirtFrontLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images5/WinterFloralsSwingCoatWithHoodLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/PuzzleFabricWalkingVestLG.jpg
https://www.daryllancaster.com/Gallery_Images6/MagicalBiasDressLG.jpg

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.

Stay safe dear readers, and stay tuned…

Good thing I like hand-sewing…

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. It is a day to remember those who went to war and never made it home. It is a day of reflection of what might have been if young men (and women) had lived and started families and made a difference in this world. Those who went to war in my immediate family all came home. So this day isn’t about them. My son, who is now a Staff Sergeant in the NJ National Guard, who has done two deployments, came home. It isn’t about him. It is a reflective kind of day, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflection.

Next month, just a couple of weeks to be more specific, is the sixth anniversary of my husband’s death. He died a slow agonizing death from esophageal cancer. There is a lot of time to reflect when you watch someone you’ve spent your entire adult life with, raised two children with, move on to another world beyond, without you. I’ve been thinking a lot about my late husband these last couple weeks when the news is just so horrific, so unbelievable, and so painful to watch.

When my husband was in his final months of decline, we went to a therapist, my idea, to help navigate this whole ordeal ahead of us. I was quite shocked to hear him say to the therapist, that he resented that I hid in my studio all day. I’ve been self-employed since 1978, and that means going to the studio all day, every day. I was still self-employed and had workshops to teach, samples to make, travel to prep for, but he never saw any of that, because he went out of the house every day to work, and came home for dinner. He had no idea what I did all day. In the later years of our marriage, he became a global analyst/consultant for a global telecommunications giant, and traveled the globe, spending months in foreign places. I had no idea what he did all day, and he had no idea what I did all day. We trusted each other to do our jobs. Nothing more.

Once he was forced to be home, because of his declining health, he got to see what I did all day, which was to him, hide in my studio. And I suppose looking back, there was a bit of truth to what he was thinking; my studio is the one place in this world where I have control over anything, not everything, but something. And in the darkest times in my life, going through breast cancer, watching my husband die, raising two children with struggles of their own, my studio was my friend, the one place where I could just be.

Now that I’m not traveling anymore, there are no deadlines, except ones that I put on myself, because I can, I don’t need to “hide” in my studio and work 8-10 hours a day. I don’t need to, I want to. The world is frightening, the complete failure of our elected officials to even dialogue about solutions to global issues is very very discouraging. The news is tragic, social media is a travesty. And that feeling of powerlessness, can be overwhelming. My studio once again, is my safe place, where I get to choose what path I take, figure out when there are problems, find solutions, and make stuff with my hands. And yes Kevin, you were right. I’m hiding. And I’m really happy here. Because out there it is hard to find light in such a dark place.

And so this Memorial Day weekend, I spent alone, in my studio, hemming towels and placemats, spending time in my garden, picking fresh greens to eat, and doing what I can in my small world, because that seems to be all I can do.

My last blog post I talked about the summer shirt I made from five huck lace dishtowels from a remote workshop I did through my guild, with Rosalie Nielson. There was still plenty of warp left on the loom, so I resleyed denser, to 20 epi instead of 18, switched to a darker weft for contrast, and proceeded to weave maybe a half dozen napkins. I really didn’t have many handwoven napkins, I still reach for paper at each meal, and that is so silly. My using a cloth napkin instead of paper isn’t going to affect global warming in the slightest bit, but it is one way I can feel like I’m contributing. Plus they are pretty…

I kept weaving… one napkin a day. I kept looking at the warp beam, seeing lots of paper on the floor, but no knots in sight. I kept weaving. Each new design block, I crawled under the loom, and retied the treadles. I got really quick at it.

I finally saw the knots on Saturday. Spurred on, I wove two napkins. When I pulled the finished napkins off the loom, I was shocked that I had woven 12. All for me.

I had finished weaving the overshot placemats for a friend, earlier in the week, but since I hate naked looms, I left them on. I knew I had a lot of hemming ahead of me, so I decided to cut them off as well. I sat in my basement yesterday, even though it was a glorious day, and most people were out celebrating the holiday, I sat by the iron, cutting and folding hems in 12 huck lace napkins and 6 overshot placemats.

And while I was at it, I had this vague recollection of another overshot placemat, part of a set of 8, that was a result of a placemat exchange through my guild, many years ago (2009 to be exact). The 8th one came in a couple of years after the exchange and never got hemmed. Obviously I never used them. I’m not really sure why.

So as of this writing, the odd overshot placemat is hemmed, and 7 of the napkins have been hemmed. The rest are all basted and waiting for me to curl up again on the couch and continue.

Meanwhile, in my quest to learn or relearn all the structures, to really focus on woven patterns and blocks that I could never really spend the time on in my active days of travel, I’ve set up two additional Structo looms, both 8 shaft, one with a Deflected Double Weave, the draft from Stubinetsky’s Double with a Twist…

…and a Quigley pattern, from Tom Knisely’s book on Table Linens. I’ve been in touch with the woman who designed that project, and she generously forwarded on the class notes so I can spend some time really exploring this very cool structure. I had done some Quigley when I was at Madelyn van der Hoogt’s School of Weaving back in 2018. It was my favorite structure of all the ones I wove that week.

As I set up these little looms, and I have a lot of them, I keep thinking of more things I want to put on them. And I pulled the little 10″ Leclerc with the doubleweave sampler and started trying doubleweave pick-up. I’m using Jennifer Moore’s design from her Doubleweave book I didn’t thread my sampler the way she did, so there was heavy brain work to make the translation. But that helps me learn.

And so dear readers, I consider myself really really lucky. I have a place where I can find some bit of control, no matter what happens around me. I have friends, and people I love. As a matter of fact, last weekend was my birthday, and a long time friend invited me and two of our other mutual friends to her house, on a river, and we sat, four friends who have known each other for 30 years, raised our children together, and we ate, and drank, and put our feet in the cold rushing water of the river. I felt safe, and whole. I wish for all of you a safe place, where you have a bit of control over what happens in your life, a river to put your feet into with friends who love you and give you some clarity and perspective in this tough world.

Stay tuned…

The Indestructable Structo!

structosThis is the tale of two looms and a 19 year old who was into me for $300.  The reason he was into me for $300. isn’t important, but as he is trying to work off this rather cumbersome debt, I’m trying to think of things for him to do besides clean my house thoroughly, which he has already done.  I was going to set him to work on the outside gardens today, but alas, it has poured rain steadily through the entire day.  So, that leaves something for me to invent for him to do in the studio.  Enter two small Structo looms I acquired on my travels.  The one on the right is an eight shaft, which had been refurbished, the finish is awful, but all the parts are there and in working order, except the aprons are cut way too narrow for the already narrow little loom.  (For the non weavers, the aprons are the white cloth on the front and back beams that attach to the warp and the finished cloth.)

The second loom was also given to me, and all the pieces to it are sort of there, but many of the cross pins are missing and the loom frame had some creative copper beam replacements.  This loom also had a hex warp beam with four two inch spools that fit snugly on the hex beam, and held a lot of fine warp.  I unreeled one of the spools and pulled off about 20 yards. That’s a lot of warp for such a tiny loom.

PPSpouseI want to set up one of these looms to make more of the little Personal Post series postcards, I’ve had some luck with in exhibits.  The cards themselves are only about 6 x 4″, so having an 8″ wide loom, with a long warp on it should let me weave for awhile and see what I can come up with, without tying up my larger looms.  And the way they were perched on top of two spool racks as you entered my studio made for some dangerous snowball effects when one or both of them caught on someone’s clothing and went careening off their perch.  But I digress…

I technically only need four shafts for the structure for the post cards, it is a Theo Moorman inlay, with two shafts for the ground, and two shafts for the tie-down threads.  The problem is I need a lot of heddles.  And as far as I know, Structo heddles are no longer made.  Someone please tell me if I am wrong on this…  Between the 12 shafts I have on the two looms, I have enough heddles for the job, and I can use 4 shafts for the ground instead of two, because I can.  So enter my 19 year old.  His assignment once he rolled out of bed at noon, was to dismantle both looms, and keep the best parts, and transfer 60 heddles to each of six shafts.  Here’s the thing.  Heddles, those little wire things with eyes, where each warp thread is threaded through, all have to face in the same direction.  Or anyway in the perfect world they should.  Older looms, where heddles have been added and taken away, tend to have a mismosh of heddle directions which is a pain in the neck to thread.  So he worked for about an hour and a half, creating for me a nice eight shaft loom with lots of heddles, all going in the same direction.

avlend of warpMeanwhile, I pulled out the AVL warping mill to see if I could figure out how to wind warp on those little spools that fit on the hex beam.  First the math.  The Structo reed is a fixed 15 dent.  The thread I pulled off the spools, was pretty close to a 20/2’s cotton, which is pretty fine.  And from the quick count I did, they used that thread sleyed double through the reed, at 30 ends per inch.  What I couldn’t figure out was how to put the warp on the spools to begin with.  So I unwound each of the spools, like peeling paint off a house, there must have been about 20 different warps tied end on end.  I got to the end of the spool, and found that the ends of the warp were all glued to some kind of paper tape that then inserted into a metal flange and the way the beam was wound, kept the paper from pulling out.

I dug around in my vast archives of stuff, and found my roll of paper tape, and grabbed the two cones I bought of 14’s linen, (from my trip to Silk City a couple weeks ago), which appeared to be pretty close to a 20/2 cotton, and a small cone of brown serger thread that matched pretty well.  The serger thread is finer than sewing thread, and works well for the tie down yarns.

OK, I’ve never done something like this before, I use my AVL warping wheel for winding sectional warps.  It came with a 20 dent reed, which is really odd, who uses a 20 dent reed, or so I thought at the time.  Turns out that the actual space in each spool is 1 1/2″, and 30 dents in a 20 dent reed is 1 1/2″.  How cool is that?  (If you aren’t a weaver and are reading this, I probably lost you back on the first paragraph.  Sorry, but this is one of those posts that gets kind of technical so you may want to just look at the photos and tune in another time to see what I actually do with all this!)

beamingbeaming2So I wound my 2″ worth of linen/serger thread warp into the warping mill, using the 20 dent reed, which meant the real width here was only 1 1/2″.  Then I beamed one of the spools directly off the AVL mill, right onto the back beam of the loom, which is missing its entire castle housing because my son has it apart on my cutting table.  You can see the band of thread coming through the 20 dent reed.  Each dent has two ends of linen and one end of serger thread.

I used the paper tape and glued it over the ends to start(it’s the kind you just lick, do they even make that anymore?  It’s used for taping up boxes, you can see the little roll to the right of the loom.)  The paper tape held the ends really well, keeping the order, and slipped into the flange of the spool and I just started winding. The warp went on like butter, smoothest thing I’ve ever wound.  The 15 yard warp beamed in about 3 minutes.  I finished winding the warp by putting a piece of the paper tape over the ends coming out of the reed on the AVL mill.  That kept my thread order and allowed me to move on to the next spool.

Everything went well until I got to the last spool.  spools_threespoolsThere was plenty of linen, but the serger spool wasn’t looking like it was going to make it.  Of course it was my only one, and as luck would have it, Coats and Clarks discontinued it’s Tru-Lock serger thread, replacing it with something else, which didn’t come in that color, Chona Brown.

I had overwound the first warp for the first spool by a half dozen dents, so I had pulled it off and tossed it in the trash.  Realizing I was going to be really close, and might make it to within the last half inch of warp, where I don’t really need the tie down threads, I went into the trash and pulled out this mess…

messActually, it was a lot worse, this was what was left after about an hour’s worth of work and having the dog come cruising through the little pile I’d pulled out of the serger thread.  But perseverance is my middle name, after all I am a handweaver and that sort of goes with the territory.  Most weavers I know would take a couple hours to undo a mess like this, and after the serger thread was pulled out and rewound onto the cone, I managed to squeak out the last warp spool on the loom with only the end 1/2″ with no tie down threadsbeaming3.  Which is actually fine.  The problem is, when I wound the last spool on the loom, the 1/2″ without the serger thread was on the inside not the outside of the spool.  So I figured I’d have to do some creative threading, and maybe stretch some of the thread from other bundles, and anyway, it was time to make dinner.

My lovely creative pink haired daughter came into the studio after dinner and asked her usual, “Watcha doin’?”  I showed her my dilemma, and she said, rather annoyed, “Mom, just rearrange the spools on the beam…”

Boy did I feel stupid.  So in about 15 seconds, I popped the four spools off the hex beam, rearranged the spools so the missing 1/2″ of tied down threads is now at a selvedge edge, and all is well.threading

So, now I’m threading my loom, all the heddles are going in the same direction, and life is good.  These little looms are a pain in the butt to thread, but I can put up with anything for 8″.  I tossed out a 1/2″ of tie down threads on the opposite selvedge, so the two selvedges would match.  I’m still not sure that the sett is appropriate for this fine yarn, in what I’m trying to do with it, but I won’t really know until I actually start weaving.  So stay tuned!

If you want more information on the AVL warping mill, the AVL site has lots of information and I also cover it in my monograph, “Warp Fast”, which also covers sectional warping and warping with a paddle.  The AVL warping mill works like a dream when winding the warping spools for the small Structo’s.  And my little Leclerc Structo wannabee, that I’ve been using for the rug samples for the guild seminars, also has an additional hex beam with five warping spools on it for 10″ wide!  Yippee!  And I can more than likely get more heddles for the Leclerc.