Saturday, February 21, 2009


Mary Meigs Atwater and son Monty (Mary born February 28, 1878)

FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH, I AM OFFERING A NEW MARY MEIGS ATWATER KIT AS A FUNDRAISER TO SUPPORT WEAVECAST. (SEE SIDEBAR) Just as Mary did so much in terms of archiving and spreading the oral traditions of handweaving in the 20th century, so does WEAVECAST today.

Although the kit will provide instructions for just the horoscope portion, I will be happy to guide anyone who wishes to meld together Color Horoscope Weaving and Turned Weft Ikat.

Here is a little quote from Mary, "It was in Basin (Montana) in 1916 that I began my study of handweaving, not only to find an outlet for my own artistic impulses, but also to provide social service. .....My research finally unlocked the secret of the summer-and-winter weave---the most beautiful and the most distinctively American of the weaves used by our early craftsmen. This weave is now well known among modern American handweavers."


Friday, February 20, 2009

Wondrous Blanky The End

Woundrous Blanky Wash and Block

I held my breath and tossed it into the washing machine (after the tub had filled with water). I learned a bitter lesson having the water spill directly onto the fabric. I did one gentle cycle on cold and two rinse cycles (gentle cold) for a 25% shrinkage.

And here is my least favorite step and my most unflattering picture. (although it tells the story) I spent 5 hours blocking the blanket directly onto the carpeting. I literally wore the skin off my knees. I am happy to say I weigh 60 lbs less than I did in that picture.

Even if I moved all of the furniture out of my new place, I wouldn't have the room to block a blanket. I can't say I am sorry.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Woundrous Blanky Comes Together

No, that is not a tiny harpoon, it is actually a needle. The reflection of the metal from the camera flash distorted the needle shape.

Joining Tips: With most fibers, I find it best to join before washing. The big exception is chenille, but that is a story for another day. I have spread the two panels for photographing, but when I am joining I have the pieces stacked one on top of the other. It still amazes me to work folded, but then the weaving opens completely flat.

Always plan for a join to happen where there is a color change if you want the join to disappear.

Notice that I have brought one of the yellow warp ends from Panel #2 to be the first end in Panel #3. I discovered ( through painful experience) just how difficult it is to distinguish the warp from the weft when both are black.

When joining, I join pick to pick. I will sew through and join every single weft pick. It takes me between 3 and 4 hours to complete a join.

Again, I want to remind folks that this major project took me over a year to execute with lots of thinking time between each step.
I am really not that productive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Woundrous Blanky on the Loom Five Times

Panel #1
Panel #2
Panel #3
Panel #4
Panel #5

My biggest concern was that the ikat would overwhelm the horoscope panels.

And, yes, I hand wind all of my shuttles. I always have. Since I weave with multiple strands of weft, I find it easy to control the tensions as I load the shuttle. In addition, the shuttle holds 15-30 minutes of weaving time. I find that if I have to stop at frequent intervals and perform a task other than weaving, my aging body is thankful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Woundrous Blanky Warp Chains

I arranged all the chains on the floor and figured out I could weave the blanket in five panels.
I was hoping to show you each panel on the loom in this post, but Blogger wouldn't let me upload all five. The weaving will happen tomorrow.

Woundrous Blanky Begins

I just spent the better part of the evening attempting to create a slide show on Flickr of my entire process fulfilling my grant proposal. Alas it has proved too much for me. I will have to enlist the aid of my trusty computer wizard, but probably not before I leave to teach a Color Horoscope Weaving Workshop in Sacramento. I leave next Monday the 23rd, and will be gone for a week.

But rather than drop the thread, I will give you little bits each day. It will give the illusion that I am working really really fast.

OBJECTIVE (The problem): to weave a blanket combining Color Horoscope Weaving and Easy Ikat (now called Turned Weft Ikat).

INITIAL DECISIONS: 1. Fiber (content and sett) 2. Size (approximate finished width and length) 3. Select horoscope to weave.

No problem with the objective, but I spent at least 3 months on the initial decisions. I ran tests on several fiber options and finally settled on Jaggerspun Super Fine Merino, tripled ends and sett at 12 epi. How I labored over the decision as to whose horoscope I would weave! I didn't want to weave my own (again!) I wanted somebody sort of famous, someone I truly admired, someone connected to weaving, MARY MEIGS ATWATER, my weaving hero . (By the way, her birthday is Febrary 28th.)

I decided to wind my warp 4 yards long and weave it in 5 panels. I wanted to end up with a blanket width of 80-90". The horoscope portion (pictured above) is 360 end @ 12 epi = 30" of warp width. I would need to make up approximately 50" of width with ikat panels. The horoscope divides into 12 sections, so if I put an ikat stripe between each section and ikat stripe borders I would need 50 " divided into 13 stripes = 3.8" per stripe (give or take)

Are you with me?

Four matching ikat chains.

I really didn't have a plan as to which chains would go where. I just knew if I had and even number of repeating chains, they would look good somewhere.

Four different matching chains.

And four more of another repeating set of chains. The 13th chain is non-repeating and is the center of the central panel. Each white tag marks the chain for ease in assembly, so tune in tomorrow to see Assembly and Weaving.

Please click here to read article in WeaveZine about Turned Weft Ikat. The process described in the article is exactly the process I followed for the blanky.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Seek and Ye Shall Be Surprised at What Ye Find

While I continue to search (unsuccessfully) for an illusive document, I came upon a grant proposal I wrote and won in 1994. The Seattle Weavers Guild has an annual grant competition which I have applied to several times, but this is the only winner which I would like to share with you. My main reason for sharing this is if you ever have an opportunity to apply for a grant, do it. Whether you win the grant or not, writing it all down helps you focus.

PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: (copied unedited although I am a bit embarrassed as I was rather full of myself. Thankfully I was limited to a single page). I will show you what I wove in the next post.


In the past few years, I have begun teaching and speaking about two original techniques, Easy Ikat and Color Horoscope Weaving, that I have developed over the past fifteen years. All of my textiles represent a unique and extensive study of the use of color in weaving. My Easy Ikat technique demonstrates a method of bringing spontaneity, flexibility and ease to a highly structured ancient technique. Color Horoscope Weaving, on the other hand, fulfills a need to create one-of-a-kind functional textiles within tightly structured boundaries. A working palette of twelve colors multiplies into more than five billion color possibilities. A long tradition of symbolic textiles in countries as diverse as Guatemala and Scotland come to life in these contemporary representations.

Most recently, I've embarked in a new direction, inspired by my fascination with Kente cloth. The result has been several blankets composed of panels that I have invisibly joined together.

My grant proposal is to combin all three (Easy Ikat, Color Horoscope Weaving, and invisibly joined panels) and create a wondrous blanket with written and photographic documentation suitable for publication.


My recent intense participation in the Seattle Weavers" Guild has demonstrated my ability to inspire other weavers. Sharing my design and weaving techniques and especially sharing my process is significant because it allows others to participate in the satisfaction and fulfillment I derive from my craft. Having the opportunity to join diverse interests, methods and cultures into a single project is important as well. Creation that echoes the voices of ancient weavers is a timeless connection to humanity.


Since "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts", this proposal will represent a quantum leap for me. I usually rely heavily on my innate design and color sense to achieve spontaneity in my weavings. Combining these three techniques will result in many new and unexpected colors and designs, which will require the use of a more disciplined approach (sketches and sample warps).




I will present a morning program in October 1995 with slides and several weavings.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Serendipitous Valentine

Today I was photographing all of the scrap cashmere left over from the cashmere sweaters I have been un-knitting these past couple of years. Imagine my surprise when I viewed this picture! I didn’t crop or alter it in any way.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Out of the Washer and into the Dryer

Above: before laundering---Below: after laundering

I don't usually measure, so this was interesting for me. The Many Shades of Hope
just off the loom measured 28" wide x 146" long. After washing in cold water on gentle, it measured 27" wide x 138" long. Just out of the dryer (delicate, low heat), it measured 25" wide x 124" long.

Cashmere come from a goat and is not like merino wool. It doesn't felt. (easily) I found this out from a friend of mine who was trying to get cashmere to felt by washing in the machine and drying in the dryer. She was having trouble getting the sweaters to felt up so she could cut and sew them into patchwork scarves.

Here is another interesting tip I learned from another weaver in my guild. Put 3 tennis balls in the dryer, and the weaving doesn't become all twisted up and wrinkled. I am waiting for my next door neighbors to complain about all the drumming, but it really makes a huge difference.

I know it is scary to toss a weaving into washer and even scarier into the dryer, but try it with a sample first.

The first time I put a merino wool blanket in a front loading washer on regular wash cycle and watched in horror as it shrunk 40% before my very eyes taught be a valuable lesson. Somewhere I have pictures. I'll have to see if I can find them while I continue looking for the missing piece of paper.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Grace, Off Gary

It seemed like "The Many Shades of Hope" had been on Gary forever (actually only a month) , but today it jumped off the loom and chased me across the apartment.

I was experimenting with various random cashmere wefts.

I will toss it in the washer and dryer tomorrow and then take some sexy pictures of it.

"The Many Shades of Hope", as a lark, climbed onto Grace. You can see a little bit of the warp "Peace" peaking through. I'll tell you more about the peace scarf soon.

Now I have to go back and continue my search for a missing document. I know this has happened to you, a piece of paper goes missing. Grrr

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Here are some lovely socks that have come to live with me! Did I ever mention how much I love hand-knit socks? I don't know anything about these socks except they fit me perfectly and they were made by Erin. If you want to know the specs, pop over to her blog and give her an ask.

Click here to see the last pair of sock I received.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Theresa Davies recently bought a kit from me. These are her words:

Here is all 12 feet of the rug loosely based on the horoscope gamp. I had a lot of fun with this.

I did have to do some creative interpretation, as some colors I didn't have a lot of in my stash of quilt fabric, but I came close. I never would have guessed that true red was so lacking in my collection of fabrics. I had lots of good yellows and greens though and plenty of indigo.

Oh gosh, I couldn't imagine doing the rug exactly like the draft. I did find that with the rug and weft, it isn't the individual shots, it's the rug as a whole.

Worrying over each shot is, well, needless, but then again...maybe I'm not so much free as a bit lazy

My husband was so excited he hung it before I could get some close ups!

Take care and when I get that formal warp done I'll be sure to send you a pic.

For all those who have ordered kits from me, remember if you send me a picture and some words about your process and I post it here---I will send you a complimentary horoscope draft.

In case you already have, and I have not sent you a draft, please remind me. It is merely a senior moment.