Wednesday, February 28, 2007

No, This is the Very Best Part!

The Walking Stage: Other weavers have remarked that photographing weaving is almost as much fun as weaving itself. If I take the time, I can get a piece of cloth to do almost anything and hold its pose indefinitely. Although I have entitled this picture "The Walking Stage", I believe it looks more like "The Dancing Stage".

With a mixture of happiness and sadness, I popped it in the mail today. I believe many weavers have a blend of emotions when they let go of their weaving--especially one that looks and feels as wonderful as they'd hoped.

One of the good things about Color Horoscope Weaving is that I know exactly how long it took me to create this weaving, and I know I could reproduce it in that same amount of time.

I almost forgot to mention (actually I did forget to mention it until someone asked) the yarn is bambu #12 from Silk City. The ends are doubled and wound at 24 epi. If anything, it feels better than it looks. I washed it in the washing machine along with my colored clothes (cold water) and half dried it in the dryer at a low setting. I finished drying it by pressing with a dry iron. I like the sheen I get from the pressing, very silky looking. I know the bamboo yarn will stand up to rougher treatment, but I still tend to baby it a little.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Best Part of Dyeing Yarn

The yarn is still wrapped, but you can see the wrapping sequence clearly now that the black stands out.
I don't know how my settings got changed. Now the pictures are off to the side. Oh well. See how exciting the yarn looks all unwrapped.
I couldn't resist taking an arty shot of the yarn while it was drying. I have several more, but this particular one struck my fancy this evening.

I don't have time to write a long essay this evening. I have to confess I didn't get all of the warps mailed off today. I am teaching a 3-day workshop (plus two 1-day workshops) at the Association of Southwest Handweavers Conference, March 20-25th. Actually this yarn is for the Easy Ikat class. Since it is only a 1-day workshop, the emphasis is on creating spontaneous designs after the yarn is dyed. I think the picture above gives an idea of what I am going for--design with what you have rather than think the design first and then try to dye the pattern second.

The 3-day workshop is called Exploring Not So Plain Weave. Each of the 12 students will be sent a unique warp ready to go on their loom which they warp at home before the workshop and arrive ready to weave. Each student will get to weave a sample on each of the 12 looms. It sounds pretty great in theory. I will let you know how it actually works out. I have heard from other teachers it can be quite a harrowing experience, but I just have to give it a try. Tomorrow morning all the warps will be on their way, and I can start making the sample notebooks.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Messy Step

Here they are in the dye pot (actually a plastic paint bucket). For years I avoided this step. It is actually rather simple. As I sit here typing with dye stained fingers, I can understand why I avoided dyeing. You will notice I am even wearing gloves! I guess I need better gloves.
Rinse, rinse, rinse. It really helps to have a double sink and an extra set of capable hands. You can't see them in the picture, but Sherry and Kay acted as my trusty dye-ciples (I'm sorry I couldn't resist)
Finally the rinse water is clear. Now comes the fun part, untying. It actually takes as long to unwrap the skeins as it does to wrap them.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Step by Step Easy Ikat

The reason why I didn't post yesterday was because I was winding these 25 skeins. Each skein is about 2.5 oz. and 60" around. I put in both pictures. This top one was taken with a flash and makes the yarn look like silk. It is really 3/2 cotton. I will be teaching 3 workshops next month, and this yarn will be used in one of the workshops: Easy Ikat. In a one-day workshop, it is impossible to do the dyeing and wind a warp too. Of course, in most ikat processes the warp is wound first.
Now this looks more like 3/2 cotton. Sadly, Halcyon Yarns didn't have enough natural, so I opted for this tan color. It kind of looks like yarn that has been discharged. If someone asks, I will explain what discharge is.
Today was the Seattle Weavers' Guild meeting, so I packed up the skeins and got half of them wrapped during the meeting and finished up the rest this evening. I use cut up garbage bags and a little bit of carpet warp to do most of my tying. Sometimes I use raffia when I am dyeing for myself and want a little more precision. I will speak more about my tying strategies after I have dyed the yarn and you can see the results.

Tomorrow is Friday, and on Saturday I am scheduled to dye yarn will a couple of Guild friends. Stay tuned for the next chapter of this venture.

I used to say, "The secret of Easy Ikat is to get someone to dye the yarn FOR you." I went to great lengths to seek out dyers. I don't have a set up for dyeing at home, plus I always found it to be rather messy. I tend to be somewhat on the clumsy side which is one of the reasons I took up weaving. In glass blowing, for instance, if you drop molten glass on your foot....But in weaving, if you drop yarn on your foot, no problem.

I've changed though. Now I say, "The secret of Easy Ikat is to get someone to dye the yarn WITH you. So on Saturday we will journey out to Kay's and dye some yarn!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Big Commission--Chapter 3

One of the great things about having woven for 47 years is it seems like I weave all the time. What is true, though, is I go in many directions at the same time. Every once in a while, I like to take a break from all that color and try to find the color nuances in black and white. Every once in a while, I get the opportunity to create a large weaving. As I mentioned before, the big commission will be a 90" x 100" blanket. The warp is bamboo and the weft recycled cashmere sweaters. Every once in a while, I begin a project without a plan. I just begin and see where it takes me.
I had this idea: What if I combined my Easy Ikat technique (the center stripe) with random stripes of ikat dyed yarn. I wanted to see what sort of patterns emerged all by themselves. This is an example of my getting the threads to do some of the work. It is also an example of my attempt to dialogue with the treads.

Here is the first panel as it hangs on my wall. I am not sure where I will go from here, so I am looking at it often waiting for the next panel to announce itself.

On a completely different topic:
Shall I tell you about the lowest low from yesterday? Oh, it's too late again. Besides in the light of day today, I realized it wasn't the lowest low at all. It was merely a good lesson for me, but all too often good lessons seem like bad news.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Highest Highs and the Lowest Lows

Whew! The Standing Stage:
I used to say that the very best part of weaving is having woven. Although I am not sure it is the VERY best, there is nothing much to compare with cutting a weaving off the loom. You know what I mean. Excitement, anticipation, a touch of anxiety......

It's too late to go into the lowest lows tonight. I'll tell tomorrow.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Big Commission--Chapter 2

This isn't the best picture in the world, but it will give you an idea of my test pieces for the Blanket Commission. I am testing randomly placed ikat dyed bamboo in the warp with the un-knitted cashmere sweater weft. The colored stripes on the left are the colors of the sweaters that I have (although I didn't have the burgundy cashmere shown in an earlier post when I made the test). I wish you could feel it. The cashmere does wonderful things with the bamboo. Although this test was primarily for weight and hand, I am very pleased with the look of the random ikat.

One of the things I love about designing "Easy Ikat" cloth is how the design emerges on the warping board as I warp. Before I wind a warp, I group together the yarn I think I am going to use in the piece. I let the yarn "discuss" what it wants to do. Sometimes the yarn decides quickly, but other times it takes weeks of discussion. I must check on the yarn often to see how the discussion is going :)

Some of you may think I am joking, but others will know exactly what I am talking about.

My mother thinks I am a lazy person, and perhaps she is right. I like to get the yarn to do as much of the work as possible. By "tuning into" the yarn (believe me when I tell you I don't know how I do this), it seems to speak to me. It always has from the very beginning. You would think that I would be into spinning, wouldn't you? I do love the "idea" of spinning. I even tried it once. I think of myself as a "virtual spinner". I am also a virtual quilter and gardener! Every morning I wake up and say my mantra "No New Crafts. No New Crafts. No New Crafts" If I had both a husband AND a wife I would explore the above along with Bobbin Lace and Kumihimo (just to name a few). I used to claim I was a "virtual dyer", but I have had to give up my virtual status of late. In fact on Saturday, I will be dyeing yarn for my upcoming "Easy Ikat" workshop.

Uh OH, I feel myself slipping into what I like to call "Creative Procrastination". I must sign off and weave. I will write about creative procrastination later:)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Weaving at Last

Finally! The Crawling Stage: I love how the turquoise weft shifts the warm colors adding subtle nuances I couldn't have imagined. The colors seem to change in different light. This weaving will travel from the Northwest to its home in the Southwest. I know it will look completely different in the Southern light.

While I am weaving this piece, I am also preparing to teach 3 workshops in Southern California in a month. Click for details. I will include my preparation process as I go along. If any of you wonder what it takes to present an out of town workshop, I hope to give you the answer.

My home studio isn't very large, but I can and have presented small in house workshops. I can handle from 1-4 students at a time and welcome inquiries.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Time to Weave

I keep trying to return to what's important and there
seems to be a shortage of time--

These are not my words. These are the words from an e-mail by a woman who is trying to find her way back to weaving.

My philosophy: Weaving is all about time. Weaving is time made visible. Whenever I sit down at the loom (even after 47 years), I say to myself, "This is going to take the rest of my life!" I am almost overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, but I keep repeating it like a mantra, over and over. Finally there comes a moment when I know it is absolutely OK for this particular weaving to take the rest of my life (a moment of total surrender). It is at that moment I notice I have finished the weaving. It happens every time! It's one of my favorite things about weaving—the ability to make time malleable.

It must be time to weave.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dressing the loom

Now we come to the Creeping Stage, threading all the little threads through the little metal heddles. Most folks don't have much fondness for this step, but I have come to enjoy it. In fact, I enjoy every step. This is the looking from the front of the loom.
See how adorable the groups of threads look. They seem so excited as if they can't wait to transform into cloth.
Here is a look at the back of the loom. I love seeing all the threads in order.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bamboo Horoscope Scarf Warp Chains

Embryonic Stage-- When I first count out the 360 lengths, there is a delightful fluidity. Notice how the threads love to pose.

I just spent a fantastic week doing a NIA intensive workshop. NIA is a dance fusion fitness program incorporating dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts. It is loads of fun especially for people like me who spend lots of time sitting and don't like to "exercise".

Check out their website and find a class near you. It is the perfect way for me to thank my body for almost 50 years at the loom and for all the years to come.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Latest on Gary

JAI SRI RAMA KRISHNA repeated 4 times across the bamboo warp. I guess I should repeat a little about Woven Words. In this technique, a color and number are assigned to each letter of the alphabet. Coded messages of all sorts can be created in this manner. Many examples are featured in my web gallery, which I just updated today. I am taking a break from threading the yarn through the heddles and spending a few minutes to bring you up to the minute.

I can't wait to show you what I do for the weft.


I am just back from a week long intensive training. When I arrived home, I found a package containing the yarn pictured above. There is 8.7 oz of cashmere yarn in a man's extra large sweater. I am excited about this wonderful new color to add to the palette.

I do have an extra rush order for Grace, so the next blanket panel will be pushed back, but I will keep you up to date with Grace. It's also time to see what is happening on Gary.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Big Commission--Chapter 1

Five or six years ago I got this crazy notion. I started collecting old cashmere sweaters and un-knitting them with the idea of using the yarn as weft. I un-knitted 6 sweaters and lost my focus. The yarn languished in my cedar chest until recently when I was telling an old friend about my idea of weaving a blanket using recycled cashmere. She got very excited about the concept and commissioned a blanket.

The next step was to find some more sweaters and decide on a warp yarn. My first inclination was to use merino wool, but since I had been playing around with bamboo, I thought I should weave up a test.

This ends chapter 1. In chapter 2, I run a couple of tests

PS. If you have or know of anyone who has an old cashmere sweater or two with moth holes or stains, please consider sending it to me.

PPS. Since I received the commission, I have acquired 6 more sweaters. I probably have enough for this blanket, but who knows how far I will take it.

By the way, it takes me about 8 hours to un-knit a sweater.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bamboo Off the Loom

I used to say "The best thing about weaving is having woven." Cutting a piece off the loom remains a tremendously exciting task, but I don't know if it is the best thing. I probably should have worn black for this occasion.

I have often thought the hardest part of weaving is untying the last few bits attaching the weaving to the loom. I am so excited, I always create tangles and knots in my haste to see the whole weaving spread out. The woman next to me is the co-owner of the weaving. The other owner is taking the pictures.

Unwashed but happy to pose for a picture anyway