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Twining with a little help from my friends

Twining with a little help from my friends

Happy New Year!!

November and December were incredibly busy but I am glad to say things have calmed down a lot in the last 3 weeks. The Christmas markets have closed and I have nearly finished writing the first draft of the much requested tutorial on how to make vessels with feet and lids. The lidded vessel pictured below is the main example I will demonstrate how to make in the new tutorial (with a few others for alternative methods to make lids etc):

A purple and orange felted vessel with a flared foot and a lid with a handle

I just need to write one more section, then edit and proof-read it. I hope to make it available in my Etsy shop in a couple of weeks.

Other than this purple vessel I have only managed to complete one piece of work between the markets, fairs and writing the new tutorial….

Back in September I was core spinning with the intention of using the yarn to experiment with adding twining to ceramic pots, you can read the post about that here.

This is the ceramic pot I made, after drilling out the holes I unintentionally filled with glaze. Drilling the holes has made the edges a little untidy but at least I can now get my yarn through them 🙂

blue and green ceramic bowl with holes around its top edge

I used paper yarn for the warp by threading equal sized lengths through each hole. I really like working with this material for the warp, it is stiffer than wool yarns and you can open it out to decorative effect.

Ceramic bowl with lengths of paper yarn threaded through the holes

Once all of the holes contained a strip of paper yarn, I cut 2 metres (6 feet) of a pretty boucle yarn to use as my weft. I folded it in half with one side longer than the other, this is so that when the yarn runs out while you are twining it only runs out on one side making it easier to add a new length of yarn.

Before looping the yarn over the first warp strip, I twisted the bottom of each pair of paper yarns to help hold them in position for the first few laps with the weft yarn. For the next pot I will try tying a knot in each pair of warp strips to secure them as the twist tended to come undone while I was twining, I really needed an extra pair of hands to hold everything in place while laying down the first layer of yarn.

Floki was only too happy to “assist”….

Ragdoll kitten looking at camera
“What do you mean, that’s not really helping?”
Ragdoll kitten rolling on his back while pulling and chewing on the yarn
“Your tension is way off, let me help…”

Even with Floki’s assistance the boucle yarn proved to be too fine for the space between the holes in the pot. I could have used 3 or 4 threads to bulk it up but it had proved so fiddly trying to hold the warp strips in place while twining the first layer I couldn’t face the prospect of trying to do that with 8 strands in the weft so I had a rummage in my stash and found some chunky grey yarn to use instead.

Same pot but with 5 layers of chunky grey yarn woven between the blue warp uprights

At this point I introduced some of my hand spun yarns, starting with the grey core-spun yarn from September (they are the grey bulges you can see at the top of the woven section) and then a yarn with colourful pink and blue beehives.

Woven part has doubled in size and now has bulges of yarn at the top in pink, blue and grey

Happy with the height and shape of the weaving, I tied each pair of warp strips to secure the top of the weaving and opened up the paper yarn before trimming the ends.

Ceramic vase base with grey weaving above and topped with strips of blue paper protruding from the top of the yarn

It reminds me of a blue cornflower.

Same vase as above but photographed from the other side

How has the start of 2023 been for you?

Weaving a Cowl for a Christmas present

Weaving a Cowl for a Christmas present

Hello!  I am Carlene and a new poster here on the Felting and Fiber Studio blog.  I live in Carp which is part of Ottawa Canada. I am a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild; the same guild that Jan Scott, Ann McElroy and Bernadette Quade belong to.

I am interested in a number of fiber arts including: crochet, knitting, spinning, felting and weaving.  I will admit that spinning is my biggest passion and where I spend most of my time.  I have been dabbling in weaving for a bit, using rigid heddle looms and taking some classes at the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild.

In June 2022 I managed to purchase a used Saori CH50 loom and since then my weaving has really taken off.  I love the Saori philosophy and how well designed the loom is.  Saori weaving is a free form style of weaving developed in Japan.  You can learn more about the history of Saori online from Saori Global.

Here is my Saori loom.  It is a cute little 2 harness loom with a small footprint similar to a card table.  The official specs are as follows: Width: 69cm (26″), Depth: 61cm (24″), Height: 98cm (38″), Weight: 15.7kg (34.5lb), Weaving Width: 60cm (23″).

One of the neat innovations of the Saori looms is using a square back beam that allows you to slide a pre-wound warp onto the loom and speed up the warping process.  You can buy pre-wound warps in a number of different thread counts (50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 threads), lengths (3m, 6m, 12m and 30m) and fibre types (cotton, wool, or mixed fibers such as wool, cashmere, silk).  The most affordable warps are plain black warps in either wool or cotton.  This is a 100 end cotton warp that I recently put on my loom.  The warp threads are taped to the square tube, then wound on under light tension with spacers inserted occasionally.  At the end of the warp the ends are again taped down.

After putting the warp onto the back beam, I lifted the reed and beater out of the loom and set it aside.  Then I untaped the warp threads from the roll and lifted them up over the back beam, over the middle castle of the loom and taped the threads to the loom shelf using green painters tape.

 

Next I did some quick counting and inserted some chip clips as markers.  I wanted to thread from the middle outwards so that I could easily position the warp threads in the middle of the reed and the heddles on the shaft.  After counting out the threads I carefully snipped a single thread from the tape, then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the rear shaft.  I repeated this process with the the next thread and then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the front shaft.  I then skipped a heddle in each shaft and then repeated this process to thread the next thread, all the way across the loom.

In this next picture you can see all the black warp threads have been inserted through the heddles.  I have used chip clips to keep the threads neat and tidy.  There is a spare empty heddle between each of the threads.

I decided to add some supplementary warp threads to experiment with adding a bit of colour to my warp.  I bought these Kumihimo bobbins to try.  I wound cotton thread in various colours onto the bobbins.

Then I positioned the bobbins at the back of the loom and slowly threaded them into some of the empty heddles between warp threads.  The placement of these threads was somewhat random.  After adding in the supplementary warp threads I was ready to thread the reed.  So I put the beater bar and reed back into the loom.

I used my threading hook to thread the reed and I did groups of 4 threads, then one empty space in the reed, then the next set of 4 threads.  Chip clips were again used to keep the threads tidy.

After completing the threading it was time to tie onto the front beam and then start weaving.  The warp threads are knotted onto the front beam.  The blue yarn you see is a bit of scrap yarn at the beginning of the project to help space out the warp threads.  The weft threads (the back and forth weaving threads) is some self striping wool/acrylic sock yarn (Kroy Socks Stripes in the colour Burnished Sierra).  When you look at the back of the loom the Kumihimo bobbins with the supplementary warp threads are hanging off the back.

I wove a piece that was about 64″ on the loom.  After taking it off the loom the piece measured 60.5″ x 20.5″.  After washing the dimensions will shift again and there will be a bit more shrinkage.

After removing the blue waste yarn I trimmed the warp ends, knotted them together, then twisted the fringe.  The result is a cowl for my Christmas gift pile.  I still have one last step to do though.  The fabric still needs to be washed to set the cloth and after washing it’ll need a quick press with the iron to make it look beautiful again.  I have a stack of Christmas weaving waiting for washing and ironing.  Luckily there is still a bit of time before Christmas to get it all done.

I got the stack weaving washed and realized that I had forgotten the step of sewing on labels.  So today I sat down with the pile and sewed on tags.  I have these nice vegan leather tags that I purchased off ETSY from FractalFocusStudios and I carefully sewed one on each item.

 

After putting the tag on I did a quick try on.  Love it!  My stack of scarves and cowls are now sitting in the pile of Christmas gifts.  Soon they will all be adopted by new owners.

 

Weaving (Part 2) a Viking Twill from Birka Sweden

Weaving (Part 2) a Viking Twill from Birka Sweden

I had told you about my original foray into weaving with Overshot done totally wrong in a previous post.  My original goal of learning to weave was to create fragment #10 from the Viking digs at Birka Sweden.

Map showing general area of Sweden that Birka is located. 1 This Map helpfully shows where Birka Sweden is.

BIrka is on Bjorko, an inland past Stockholm.2 BIrka is on Bjorko, an inland inland past Stockholm.

Birka was a Viking trading town founded in the mid 700’s and was an important trade city for about 200 years.  The town was abandoned around 975AD with the speculation, while I was at university, was that the harbor had become unusable (Silted up or glacial rebound) and the town relocated elsewhere. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.  There had been a lot of archeological work done at Birka starting in the late 1800’s.  The Birka Graves provided important artifacts, of both of domestic and foreign origins.  “Grave Bj 582: Female Warrior” in particular has attracted a lot of interest and debate. There have been extensive (4800) textile fragments fines from Birka. Only a small portion of which have been studied.  including the broken lozenge twill fragment labeled #10 when I was originally investigating the fragments.

It was particularly fine and in a high thread count. Therefore, there was debate; “was it locally produced”(how could locals produce such fine cloth?), “was it imported, if so who made it” this was the prevailing thought at the time, I felt it was unfair to think local weavers could not possibly have make such fine fabric.  I thought it was one of the most fabulous fabrics I had ever seen and was determined to figure out how to make it. At the time I could not find a draft for an obscure historical textiles so would have to figure it out from a photo I had been given of the fragment.

Photo of Icelandic Variant Warp-weighted Loom  from Reykjavik National Museum. Shows shed rod supports, upper beam with laced on warp , loom weights and sword beater.3

Diagram of Icelandic Variant Warp-weighted Loom  from Reykjavik National Museum. Shows shed rod supports, upper beam with laced on warp , loom weights and sword beater.4  Photo and Diagram of Icelandic Variant Warp-weighted Loom  from Reykjavik National Museum. Shows shed rod supports, upper beam with laced on warp , loom weights and sword beater.

It was originally woven on a warp-weighted loom. Even this loom is fabulously amazing! Not only is it a vertical loom (there are only a few types of loom that are vertical) but it’s the only one I have found that beats the warp up into the shed. Yes! you wind the finished cloth onto the top beam and the warp hangs beneath and is waited by rocks! Cool! I get to meld my interest in textiles with my interest in geology. Well actually, I measured the inside of my first car, a Pony Hatchback, then scaled the loom to fit the space from the inside of the hatchback to the back of the driver’s seat and wound up with my ¾ size Icelandic warp weighted loom when compared to one of the museum looms. My original loom weights were actually plates from roman lamilar armor. They sounded like wind chimes as I wove, the metal plates tapping agents each other. They “Mysteriously Disappeared”, in the last move. (They were heavy and made a lot of noise when I used the loom.)

I had found a hardwood 4×4 or it might have been a bit bigger as part of a skid (that is also known as a pallet, made of wood that forklifts lift piles of stuff on top of.) I took it over to my parents’ house and explained what I wanted to do trim off some edges, and dill holes down the length of the remaining edge side then lace a starting cord onto it through the holes. Dad looked a bit confused but said he would think about it and come back next weekend and we could finish figuring it out. (I had really been looking forward to getting to use the Drill press, maybe the table saw and of course the power sander!!!)

I arrived and was presented with the completed top beam notched, drilled and sanded ready to measure and make uprights. Oh well, I eventually bot my own drill press and table saw. We discussed the uprights and shed rods supports and got the whole loom done to the 3/4th scale I needed to fit in my little car.

I had been very lucky and purchased the Marta Hoffman book, The Warp-Weighted Loom, in 1990. So had the information she had on the different types of warp-weighted looms. I had chosen the Icelandic variant partly because of the lack of needing a card-woven starting border.

the Warp-Weighted Loom by Marta Hoffmann. This is a Fabulous tome of wisdom that I have been looking for a second copy of for decades…literately… decades. The orange cover shows two Greek woman weaving on an upright weighted loom.5 the Warp-Weighted Loom by Marta Hoffmann. This is a Fabulous tome of wisdom that I have been looking for a second copy of for decades…literately… decades. The orange cover shows two Greek woman weaving on an upright weighted loom.

Marta wrote the book in 1964, studying the archeological fines and looking for people who ether remembered the looms in use or had used them. The book has a number of examples of weavers preparing the warp, set up and weave on this type of loom.  Sadly this book has been out of print for a long time now. I have Very much wanted to get a copy for the guild library since my own copy is in a sad state and some what annotated. (Don’t hate me, the notes are in pencil!!!) but the library budget can not afford it. I keep looking for a light orange book in every thrift store used book section!! I live in hope.

I made a photocopy of the photograph of the fragment and blew it up as large as I could clearly. Next I selected a section that was a twill run and started counting threads, (under, under, over…) to create the  draw down and continue to create the rest of the draft.  From there I assigned each thread to a harness watching for the tread to repeat later in the pattern. Then worked out the tie up for each line and number the treads to figure out the sheds needed to weave the fragment. It worked out to require 3 shed rods and the natural shed on my Icelandic warp weighted loom, so this could be woven on a 4 harness floor loom. I am not sure where my original draft has disappeared to, but there are now various drafts on line labeled broken lozenge twill.

one of my four harness table looms set up to weave at a demo (Carp fair I recognize the tractors) with the broken lozenge twill draft on a paper beside it. The blue and gray blanket in the background is the same pattern.6 one of my four harness table looms set up to weave at a demo (Carp fair I recognize the tractors) with the broken lozenge twill draft on a paper beside it. The blue and gray blanket in the background is the same pattern.

working out from the draw down to find the threading and the treadling. (Weaving draft in black and white, the gray boxes indicate the treadle with the second number being the other harness the treadle engages)7 working out from the draw down to find the threading and the treadling. (Weaving draft in black and white, the gray boxes indicate the treadle with the second number being the other harness the treadle engages)

When I compare it to the ones I see on line, I suspect I had a photo of what has now been decided as the back of the fabric. Since I seem to have subtle changed in the treadling and threading part of the draft but still have the same draw-down.

on line example of broken lozenge twill8 on line example of broken lozenge twill

I have use this draft many times with both cotton and wool. I think the first time i time I wove the pattern was on my rather ancient Clement loom. It is a jack style loom (the harness move up as you push on a treadle (peddle)) and is a direct tie-up style, so there is one treadle per harness. This is a great way to learn how the threads are exchanged to create the structure of a weave. I wove it using grey wool with an accent of blue hand died South American wool (maybe coriadale?) I discovered it was less tightly spun than I would have liked, but it was the exact colour I wanted, unfortunately it broke frequently, so I got lots of practice fixing warp threads.

the grey blanket with the weakly spun blue warp stripe sitting on a chair with my apron in front of the display tables and behind the tip of my road bug spinning wheel. At the Richmond Fair.9 the grey blanket with the weakly spun blue warp stripe sitting on a chair with my apron in front of the display tables and behind the tip of my road bug spinning wheel. At the Richmond Fair.

the carp fair display the gray blanket with blue stripe in the center with other weaving around it. We have used emergency painters drop cloth plastic to make walls for the tent since it was raining.10 the carp fair display the gray blanket with blue stripe in the center with other weaving around it. We have used emergency painters drop cloth plastic to make walls for the tent since it was raining.     

A different Richmond Fair demo, the gray and blue blanket draped over my folding chair; you can now see the rest of my small travel wheel. Yes, that is a woolly winder on a road bug!11 A different Richmond Fair demo, the gray and blue blanket draped over my folding chair; you can now see the rest of my small travel wheel. Yes, that is a woolly winder on a road bug!

I wove another piece at a demo with Philosopher’s wool. It is an Ontario cooperative of wool producers who spun and died there wool without the use of harsh chemicals. While weaving it I got lots of complements on the pattern, “it  was so novel and original!” I did explain that it was the height of fashion for a 10c Viking woman. What is old is new again.

Philosophers Wool in blue and grey, in broken Lozenge Twill, the basket has its overshot in slub-cotton  and a needle felted basket dragon with hand died silk wings.12 Philosophers Wool in blue and grey, in broken Lozenge Twill, the basket has its overshot in slub-cotton  and a needle felted basket dragon with hand died silk wings.

I have taken these to various demos over the years. You may remember seeing them in displays at various demos I have shown you. We have used the larger shawl size to demonstrate the thermal value of wool. It has warmed myself and various others of the demo team as well as the general public who were wondering by the demo and looked particularly chilly.

Fellow weaver and guild member, trying to warm up (Carp fair)13 Fellow weaver and guild member, trying to warm up (Carp fair)

Another Weaver/ Spinner guild member demonstrating the thermal value of wool (trying to keep warm) (Carp fair)14 Another Weaver/ Spinner guild member demonstrating the thermal value of wool (trying to keep warm) (Carp fair)

I have set up the table looms I use for demos with a long cotton warp of lozenge twill and sometime Broken lozenge twill and let the public try out ether following the pattern or making up their own. It has been fun to see what had developed.

feels like miles of demo weaving, this warp took a few years of demoing to finish. You can see the various changes in patterns and changes in enthusiasm of beat.15 feels like miles of demo weaving, this warp took a few years of demoing to finish. You can see the various changes in patterns and changes in enthusiasm of beat.

If you too are having trouble finding a copy of the Marta Hoffman book you may want to look for the more recent book on warp weighted looms. ( I know you are all going to put down your felting needles, just for a moment, and rush out to the workshop to make your own Icelandic variant warp weighted looms!! But, maybe only half size so it’s more transportable)

a new book on warp-weighted looms by Kljasteinavefstadurinn Oppstadveven ( i have found a copy of this for the local guild library but they haven’t had the budget to pay me for it yet.)16 a new book on warp-weighted looms by Kljasteinavefstadurinn Oppstadveven ( i have found a copy of this for the local guild library but they haven’t had the budget to pay me for it yet.)

I want to leave you with one more reason to consider weaving.  This is one of my two harness table looms, its warped with worsted wool. I am doing test weaving for an Icelandic bed covering that has inserted locks of Icelandic tog (the course outer layer of the dual coated Icelandic sheep). It is said to trap the warm air from your body and keep you toasty while you sleep.

sample of Icelandic blanket, on a two harness table loom with wooden shuttle. The cloth looks furry. This was at the makers fair Demo at the Aberdeen pavilion in Ottawasample of Icelandic blanket, on a two harness table loom with wooden shuttle. The cloth looks furry. This was at the makers fair Demo at the Aberdeen pavilion in Ottawa17-18 sample of Icelandic blanket, on a two harness table loom with wooden shuttle. The cloth looks furry. This was at the makers fair Demo at the Aberdeen pavilion in Ottawa

I am trying multiple ways of laying in the staples of wool (Tog). From the archeology, there are multiple ways to add the fiber. The warp is white with two blue stripes.  The weft is white wool in the shuttle and white grey and charcoal tog inserted every few rows woven.

I hope you have enjoyed the wonder into weaving and I promise I will get back to felting tomorrow. I have to finish my notes for the “Needle Felted Thing” Workshop this coming Saturday! I will tell you more about that another time.

Let me know if you bump into a milk crate of lamilar armor that was just perfect as loom weights!

Weaving Overshot all wrong

Weaving Overshot all wrong

Many years ago, I finally got to try weaving. I took the Beginning to Weave workshop through the Ottawa guild. At that time, 1989, the OVWSG did not have a studio space to house what guild equipment we had acquired. (The Guild had an old second-hand 100 inch loom and 6 or 7 table looms. There may have been a floor loom too but I was distracted by the 100 inches of loom, so do not remember). All the looms lived in one of our guild members’ very big basements. On weekends, she either taught weaving workshops or hosted weavers working on the 100 inch loom. It sounded like a busy basement! I remember 4 weekends of driving to a little town just east of Ottawa. I took the table loom home each week to do homework. I still remember the sound of the mettle heddles rattling as I drove down the highway, back and forth to the classes. Then I think there were two more weekends of Intermediate weaving and Dona sent me off and I was weaving!

It all starts with yarn, wind it carefully, attach it to the back beam, wind on, thread the heddles, slay the reed, tie on to the front beam, check the tension and then start to weave. It sounds like a lot of work but it is all worth it as you start to pass the shuttle through the shed and the cloth begins to appear. Weaving was like Magic! From a pile of string to POOF, actual cloth!!!

During the workshop, I found pickup seemed strangely familiar as my brain watched my fingers happily lifting and twisting threads for the various lace and decorative weave patterns. The other thing that my brain went “ooh this is cool!” was Overshot. It is a weave structure that requires a ground and a pattern thread, (two shuttles). One is fine like the warp and the pattern thread is thicker and usually wool. I was still reacting to wool so I used cotton for both.  My original goal was to draft and weave a Viking textile for myself but I put that aside for a moment, I will get back to that later.

The first thing I wove after my instruction was a present for my Mom. she had requested fabric to make a vest. I looked through A Handweaver’s Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison and found an overshot pattern that I thought we both would like. I wove it in two shades of blue (Mom’s favourite colour), at a looser thread count than usual. (Originally the overshot weave structure was used to make coverlets, so were tightly woven and a bit stiff, while I liked the pattern I wanted the fabric to be much more drapey.) Even worse, I did not want it to be as hard-edged in the pattern as it was originally intended so I tried a slub cotton as a test and loved it.

1-3   Cover of Marguerite Davison’s Book, an interior page showing overshot patterns, and a close-up of “Weaver Rose’s Coverlet no.28”

So, for any sane weaver, it was all wrong! Wrong set, wrong fibre, wrong colour choices! It was fabulous and perfect. I kept the sample as a basket cover and at either the end of 1989 or the beginning of 1990, I gave Mom the yardage for her vest. “Oh this is too nice to cut” Mom Said, so it lived on the back of her favourite reading chair as a headrest until her most recent move (2015?) it never did get to be a vest but it has been well enjoyed.

I don’t have a picture of her yardage but I do have pictures of the sample I kept.

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4-7 My demo basket with cover at Plowing match demo, Algonquin demo, Richmond fair, Carp fair and Farm show.

My sample piece, which became my main demo basket cover, has been in the background of many demo photos. This year it was used as an Old example in part of the guild Exhibition. You can see the subtle distortion of the pattern when a slub yarn is used.

Overshot sample of overshot cloth in blue and grey on Left and Inkle woven band in purple and blue with suplemental warp of fuzzy slubs.8 Exhibit from the 2022 guild Exhibition and Sale

In the Exhibition The Inkle band, hanging beside the overshot, I wove much more recently. I used an Inkle loom and a supplemental warp thread. This means weaving with an extra separate thread that was not part of the main warp on the loom.  I used a yarn with a fuzzy caterpillar-like slub.

Close up of Inkle woven band with slubs woven in Inkle band on Inkle loom. suplemental warp is weighted and hangs over back peg, 9-10 close up of Inkle woven band with inserted slubs from the supplemental warp, Inkle loom set up with the supplemental warp slubs.

You may be able to see how I wove the weird slubby supplemental warp. The yarn is weighted and left hanging over the back peg of the Inkle loom. It comes over the top peg (usually labelled B in diagrams) and floats above the weaving.  In the areas where the Caterpillar (Slub) is not present I catch the yarn with the shuttle and weave it into the band. In the area the caterpillar appears I would leave the yarn above the warp and then start weaving it in again as I reached the end of the caterpillar. I hope that explanation doesn’t sound like mud and makes a bit of sense. Using a supplemental warp on an Inkle loom is not quite normal but it is a lot of fun.

Over the years I tried out other two harness techniques that you normally don’t see with an Inkle loom. It turned into an entire 2 day, with a week in between days, workshop (with a homework assignment) and lots of samples!! I think it’s the fault of my dyslexic brain wandering off into odd thoughts again.

I was going to tell you about my original goal in learning to weave, the mysterious Fragment #10 from a Viking excavation from around the year 1000, but  I have likely confused you with weaving enough for one day. So I will save that for another chat. (don’t forget the Inkle loom I would like to tell you a bit more about that in another post too. I promise I will get back to felting in the not-too-distant future)

Weaving with hand spun, again!

Weaving with hand spun, again!

Jan Scott documented the Sale and Exhibition put on by our Guild in early November, kudos Jan.  It was a great success and inspired me to try to answer a recurring question asked by so many of my clients.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t have the information for them.  Will this skein make a hat, scarf, mittens, socks, etc?  The response was always – ‘that depends’ and it does.  It depends on technique, the width of the weaving, stitch size, needle size, size of hands for mittens, and all sorts of variables.  It’s so frustrating to not have an empirical answer, so I decided to use my handspun and make a scarf, standard 14 inches wide by 40 inches long.

I calculated I had 234 yards/215m of brown and 495yds/457m of burgundy and silk.  I would need 106yds/98m brown for the warp and 214yds/196m burgundy and silk for the other part of the warp.  Based on that I had lots for the weft.  We’ll see. Math and I are not on speaking terms.

Just to keep the learning curve vertical, I also decided to use a warping mill along with my sectional beam.  If you have ever watched videos of industrial weaving facilities you will see huge walls of bobbins feeding into the back of looms.  A sectional beam is one step down from that.  All the threads you want are wound onto a single inch of the back beam of the loom.  So if you want to weave something with 20 threads per inch you need 20 bobbins full of thread to wind onto that little 1 inch spot.  You wind on for as many yards/meters as you want, then move to the next slot in the beam, wind on another twenty threads/inch and continue on.

The warping reel lets the weaver measure a single thread for the whole length of the project, change the colour as needed and then keep measuring for the whole length of the project.  It’s perfect for smaller projects. The craftsperson will have to decide when it’s time to move onto a different warping technique to suit their purposes.  This time I wanted to try a hybrid method of warping.

When using a warping reel you must keep the warp from tangling.  It can become the weavers’ worst nightmare.  I know in my early days I did lose the cross on one of my warps and nearly lost my mind.  It did get untangled but I swore it was never going to happen again, so I do double crosses on all my reeled warps.  Tie the cross at both ends of the warp.  Better to be safe than very, very sorry.

I also didn’t want to waste any of the handspun if possible since it was in very, very short supply, so I used a salvage technique of tieing onto an old warp.  This can save up to 24 inches or nearly 3/4 meter of handspun wool per thread.  That’s a huge amount of handspun. It’s also a ridiculous amount of work, so I’ll have to rethink this, but once done I was pleased with the result.

I still had to check for threading errors and there were some.  Don’t thread the loom late at night, don’t thread the loom late at night….and don’t thread the loom late and night.

The next morning, a quick check of the basic threading by lifting the threads at an angle shows that everything is in order, literally, and the threads are ready to be tied up and woven with a test thread.

And finally woven with the real stuff. I wish you could see this in real light, daylight, oh my goodness, it shimmers.

What a load of work, and what a great result!!  I had no idea my hand spun could be so lovely, I’m so pleased, but there is the last bit of finishing that I need to do and hopefully that will be successful too.  This will make a great display piece for the next Sale and Exhibition!

2022 Grape vine altercation (better than 2016 battle)

2022 Grape vine altercation (better than 2016 battle)

It’s been a bit of a sore week, I lifted things I should not have and then got a bit over enthusiastic with the fall gardening (Glenn was very helpful). My brain keeps telling me I am 25 and my body insists I am 90. I would like to find a compromise closer to the lower number but cannot seem to talk my body into that.

Each fall I wander into my backyard and discover the raspberries have made a break for it across the yard heading for the neighbour’s fence. The Grapes have anticipated their troop movements and are waiting for them. Grapevines were draping themselves over the fence, clematis and up into the back neighbour’s tall hedge. This year I found they were also working their way down the fence toward the patio and had stopped to attack my Japanese lilac tree.

Normally I trim and pull the grape vines out of the hedge. Usually, this extraction goes well, except for the one year they threw me on the cinderblock garden edging. I may have been lying partly in the garden bruised, but still won the war since their extracted vines were still clutched in my slightly numb hand.

1- i am clutching the large branch of grape vine I had cut off then pulled from the nabouts hedge, arm is uprased do you can see part of the brews on triceps. The background shows the arber over the compost bin the grape vines are suposto be growing over.1-2016, I am clutching the large branch of grapevine I had cut off and then pulled from the neighbour’s hedge, my arm is upraised so you can see part of the bruise on the triceps. The background shows the arbour over the compost bin the grape vines are supposed to be growing over. (just to remind you that the grapes fight back when extracted!)

2- 2016 War of the Grape vines, I had taken damage but won (this is a close up shot of the brews purple center with blue edges. impressive hematoma. )2- 2016 War of the Grape vines, I had taken damage but won (this is a closeup shot of the bruise purple center with blue edges. impressive hematoma. )

Back to 2022

I do apologize I was not thinking as well as I usually do (I was still quite sore from the garage incident) and did not have my camera ready to document the coming battle and its aftermath.

I was not quite up to that level of physical conflict this year, being already quite sore from having attacked the moving of heavy stuff in the garage. Luckily, Glenn offered his help. With much tugging and a good pair of anvil pruners, the tree was freed from the assaulting grape vines.  Glenn dragged the long pieces of grapevine to the sideyard to await my displeasure.

We (mostly Glenn) filled a yard waste bag of pulled weeds and errant raspberry plants. Then he retreated from the battlefield defiantly the victor of the first battle. (Glenn had a few scratches and I was still aching from previous endeavours)

Now on to the more fibre-oriented part of the day.

For the past few years, I have put my captured grape vines to use by trying to weave grape wreaths. The first few were ok but not substantial enough, not enough vine for the circumference it tried. The last few years have been much better.  I hang the new ones on the gate and on the dog fence. This year the pieces of the vine were longer than usual and I had more of the old stalk as well as a lot of the new growth.  I had a couple of pieces with old stalk last year and had tried soaking it to see if I could make it more pliable. It did not seem to make a difference, but I may not have been patent enough with the time I had left it soaking.

This year I started with the longest piece which had quite a bit of old stalk and slowly started the circumference (bent it to my will- maniacal laughter), weaving in the side and branching parts as I came to it. Sometimes I would have two side branches weaving as well as the main stalk. I would try to wrap them one from the inside and one from the outside as well as routing the main stalk around the growing wreath. I would add a new stalk as I go, to the tip of the old one.

3- close up of grape vines wound into a wreath with leaves left on. The house bricks may give a bit of scale. (big leaves this year 3- close up of grape vines wound into a wreath with leaves left on. The house bricks may give a bit of scale. (big leaves this year)

I know I could get better compaction if I took off the grape leaves but I like the way they look as they dry and the chickadees seem to like the leaves on them through winter.

For this wreath I have only extracted and used about half the errant grape vines from the back yard.  I still have to get the rest out of the hedge. So knowing I will have more I used all the extremely long stocks to make one very big wreath. I did get a picture of the finished project for you.

4 – Large wreath sitting on iron bench and leaning agenst the brick wall of my little house4 – Large wreath sitting on iron bench and leaning agenst the brick wall of my little house

As usual the grapes have disappeared (into the birds, raccoons and the rest of the local wild life), but we did grow very big leaves this year!

5- This is the side of the yard we cleared of the vines. Japaneses lilac beside wooden fence. A pot of Saskatoon berries with red/orange and gold leaves to the side of the picture.5- This is the side of the yard we cleared of the vines. Japaneses lilac beside wooden fence. A pot of Saskatoon berries with red/orange and gold leaves to the side of the picture.

6- hidden by grapevines, the fence the arbor and one end of the nabours hedge. 6- hidden by grapevines, the fence, the arbor and one end of the nabours hedge.

This is part of what’s left to get under control! that hopefully will be next weekend’s work.  There is not much left to do in the garden but harvest the extremely slow growing carrots, the last of the herbs and hope the last of the cherry tomatoes hurry up.

 7- Possibly over optimistic tomatoes it is almost November! Close up of cherry tomatoes the closest to stem is just starting to change from green to orange but not yet red.

But for now its time to head back to bed. Other than ticking off my back last week, I also go my covid shot, was that yesterday or was it the day before? It’s a bit of a blur, which means it’s working.  So I’m heading back to bed feeling like I have caught the flu, give me another day or two and I will be back on line. (Don’t worry, I always react badly to flu shots, covid shots just seems to hate me a bit more. Glenn got his and had no side effects at all!)

So please felt and have fun twice as much to make up for my lacking the last however many days this is/was.

8- Gratuitous marigold flower shot of to inspire you with their Red orange and yellow colours. Even the foliage is trying to inspire with the shades of green and purple where the cold has hit them.8- Gratuitous marigold flower shot of to inspire you with their Red orange and yellow colours. Even the foliage is trying to inspire with its shades of green and touches of purple where the cold has hit them.

 

Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

It’s summer time here in Ireland and the living is, well, slightly more laid back than the norm.  Having decided to metaphorically kick off the shoes for the month of July, I thought it might be nice just to “see and share ” rather than “do” and this forms the basis of my post.

Before I start on the main focus of this post (my holiday in Italy),   I just have to show you a beautiful piece that totally blew me away.  Before heading off, I visited Dublin’s Botanical Gardens.  Founded in 1795, it is an oasis of calm for any visitor and I would highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.  While there, I noticed that there was a patchwork exhibition happening in one of their exhibition spaces.  This piece just caught me, so I want to share it with you.  The artist is Ethelda Ellis and the piece is called ‘Aoife’s View’.  The curator told me that Ethelda is a medical doctor by profession.  If you would like to see more of Ethelda’s beautiful creations check out her blog: http://ethelda.blogspot.com/

Now, to the Italian holiday.  We headed to Como mid-July and, in spite of the heatwave, spent our time sightseeing and eating!  Our base was Como which is to the north of Italy, right beside Switzerland.  Lake Como is totally dwarfed by the Alps – a really beautiful place.

We called into the Cathedral, the Duomo which was magnificent internally and externally.  I reckon that to appreciate all its beauty would take months observing 24/7!  I want to share with you a small area of a tapestry which was made in 1610 and which underwent restoration in 1990.  It was impossible to get a good photo of the entire masterpiece as so much detail would have been lost.  So I settled for a little!

One of our tours took us to the tiny picturesque village of Orta which is situated on Lake Orta.  It was recommended that we visit the interior of the local church which was situated at the top of a steep street.

My journey was interrupted by the sound of a piano recital and when I investigated I discovered a rather special textile exhibition happening in the same building.  The works exhibited were by Sergio Cerini.  The artist merges his early experiences in the Italian high fashion industry with his current artworks, producing beautiful pieces which are in essence a mix of paper mache and textiles.  The description does not do justice to his widely exhibited pieces and he was reluctant to allow me to photograph his work.  He did, however pose in front of one of the pieces and others can be viewed on his Instagram page @sergiocerini

Since the 1800s, the city of Como was historically the main producer of Italian silk.  When ultimately production was outsourced to China, the area was in danger of losing connection with its cultural heritage.  The large factory was bought by the Hilton hotel chain.  These photos show early paintings of the factory, what it became at the height of the industry and where it is now (apologies for the reflection on the glass):

 

Rather than allow the old machinery to be lost to history, a wise decision was taken about 10 years ago to set up an Educational Silk Museum to preserve these beautiful machines.  Along with displaying the machinery, some of which dates back to the nineteenth century, the museum offers interactive videos and exhibits of high fashion clothing.  Unfortunately this section was not open during my visit but I thought it might be fun to show you some of the many machines featured.  So please, grab a cuppa, sit back and I hope you enjoy the show.  I have included captions for ease of reference.

 

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

Second Quarter Challenge 2022 – I can’t do that

As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”.  I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work.  I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”).   This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.

I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.

In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed.  Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!

The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”.  The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.

“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.

“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”

Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet.
The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.

Sea Shell collection with Sea Urchin “
skeletons”

The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)

The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me.
Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.

She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.

One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images.  This did produce some interesting results.

We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.

Showing the progress from picture strip to felted swatch

Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).

As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.

Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.

Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.

which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design

This is the design I finally ended up with.

There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour.  And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.

The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine

And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work.  Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.

The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”. 

We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world.  (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.)  A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.

I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.

I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.

The never ending silk recycling is finally woven

The never ending silk recycling is finally woven

The silk recycling is woven, it’s all done, finished, tutto finito bandito! I actually ran out of the red and orange silk so for the last little bit I had to dig in the bag and retrieve some matching silk with blue, red and orange. It looks just fine. Once the weaving was done I hem stitched the edge, wove in any loose warp threads and washed the yardage.

The whole mass went into the washing machine on a regular cycle, in cool water with my usual detergent. This is the way I plan on washing the finished jacket. I also did this to release any dyes that are lurking in the silk. The jacket will probably bleed dye for the rest of its life because some dyers do not set the dye in silk. The cotton warp took on a slight pinkish tint, so that helped to level the overall look of the fabric.

I plan to hang dry the jacket, so the material was taken outside to hand dry and freshen in sunlight. This proved a tiny bit problematic. The fabric was really, really heavy when wet. This is also when the light began to dawn that this was not, I repeat not, just a four yard warp. I left the fabric to dry on the railing overnight, where it promptly froze into position. Freeze drying works too, so two days later, in it came.

I was able to measure and confirm that this was clearly a massive piece of fabric. Originally, the warp was estimated to be ‘maybe’ 4 yds or 3.5 meters. It was purchased at an estate sale from one of our guild’s best weavers, but the labels fell off and things got a bit muddled when best efforts were at hand. I knew I was taking a risk, even getting it on the loom was a challenge, but I have no regrets. The length proved a great surprise and reward at the same time. It also explains why I ran out of weaving material. There are 8 yards or 7.5 meters, plenty here to make two jackets if I’m careful!

The final product is gorgeous. It just shimmers in the right light and I really want to do it justice. Even though it is a recycled product, or maybe because it is recycled, it’s important that the final result show the very best characteristics of the fibres that have gone into making it.

Our guild has an amazing resource for researching just about anything fibre related. Jan is our librarian. She is the lead book slinger in our heavy rental group called Jan and the Librarians; they have sessions once a month at the guild. I joined in last weekend and Jan supplied me with my requests for information on Japanese clothes, braids and ‘Saori’ weaving.

Japanese clothes design save weavers from the angst of having to cut their beloved fabric. The patterns are usually straightforward, basic, and interesting. I qualified this statement with ‘usually straightforward’ because I had never seen Saori weaving before nor the clothes that have been designed to use the material woven on a Saori loom. the book is in Japanese, the patterns are like origami on crack and they fascinate me endlessly. Until I can figure out the patterns I opted for a very conservative jimbei pattern from the jacket my son lent me. There are examples of simple patterns in one of the books.

This jimbei is meant for hot summer days. The sides are not stitched close but fastened with a cable stitch or stitched close with a decorative embroidery stitch. The underarm is left open, again for summer comfort.

The front is loosely tied or left open as preferred. I was interested in the reinforcement used at the bottom of the sides. These were the same reinforcements I found on the kimonos, so they clearly work.

The female version of this simple jacket has a closed wrist. It’s called a hippari. I might do one of these for winter if I have enough material left. The photos of the jimbei and hippari are from “Make your own Japanese Clothes” by John Marshall ISBN 0-870110865-X, I really enjoyed reading this book, lots of ideas for ways to incorporate the Japanese style into my life.

There are so many new things I will need to explore once I decide to start sewing this jacket. I’m really looking forward to getting the sewing machine out again.

 

Weaving the recycled silk

Weaving the recycled silk

The loom has been sitting there needing attention for ages and I finally stopped procrastinating.  Winter is a real challenge to get stuff done.  I knew there would be threading errors; there are always threading errors when I do a loom.  So I cracked out a good light and checked over the warp and found two.  One required that I undo about four inches and re-thread everything, yuch.  But the other was much easier.  I just needed to move everything over by one thread in the reed.  Very easy to fix.

All that needs to be done is wind 4.5 yards of warp yarn onto a bobbin, weight it, thread it through the empty space available in the reed and the harness, and let it hang out the back of the loom.  The harness is the part of the loom that goes up and down and raises the threads and has wire “eyes” for each thread.  I just use a very lightweight to keep the bobbin dragging a little. In this case, I used napkin rings.

Next, I had to load up the really nice ski shuttle specifically designed for rag and rug weaving. The tools for weaving are sometimes the most beautiful things you can imagine, really beautifully made with an elegant design.

After a few passes, I noticed more threading errors.  I fixed them and then noticed another.  It became obvious the problem was the lovely ski shuttle was damaging the warp.  I did a bit of research online and found out that the shuttles need to be maintained to a very high degree.  The bottom of the shuttle needs to be polished and extremely smooth, none of my hand me downs were of that quality.  I’ll fix them later, but for now, I needed an alternate solution.  Back to fixing the warp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dug around in my baskets and found a different sort of rag shuttle along with several stick shuttles.  The stick shuttle is a slower method of weaving, but it is all I had.  I was really pleased with how well it worked.

The silk is weaving up softer and more flexible than I thought, the colours seem very compatible and I’m pleased with the results.  The strips are attached with small knots and these are being used as design elements. I like the way they look when they pop up out of the warp.  Because this is an experiment I will try to hold in my optimism for this to become the jacket I had hoped for; that might be too aspirational, but I am aiming in that direction if I can get enough yardage, but for now, I’m really pleased with how things are moving along.

 

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