Sunday, April 29, 2007

Big Commission--Chapter 3

When the end is in sight, it is always exciting!
If you can't figure out what the pink strings are doing and why they are there, you'll just have to ask. I don't mind explaining if necessary.
I'll have some better pictures, but I wanted to give you an idea of the direction the blanket is taking. Although these are only 2 of 7 panels, these 2 panels make up 40% of the blanket's area.
The second panel is the one on the right.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Updates from Grace and Gary

The Grace Report: I'm weaving along on the Big Commission Panel #2. I expect to weave it off this weekend. I have some ideas for Panel #3. Notice my new shuttle. In case you haven't read the history, this is a bamboo ikat warp with an un-knitted cashmere sweater weft. The blanket will be 90"x100" and woven in 7 panels. I am attempting to weave this blanket without a net. The net in this case would be a clear plan or at least a sketch of some sort.

The Gary Report: One of the things I love about ikat is it's so much fun to weave. Design appear as if by magic.
I get to experience the magic THREE times. The first time is when I am winding the warp back onto the warp beam. The second time is when I am weaving, and the third time is when I first cut it off the loom. Well FOUR times! The fourth is when I wrap the finished piece around myself. When I was weaving sticks and weeds, the fourth part wasn't magical at all.
It is always comforting to be able to create order from chaos so easily.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Three Elements of Weaving--Texture, Structure, Color


The original title of this piece is "Bonnie Boldly Faces the Millennium"

The cloth is the horoscope weaving cast for 1/1/2001 12:01 AM Seattle, WA. The faces are all casts of my face. The center face is about 10 years old. The two side faces are at least 20 years old. It might be time for a new face.

When I first began to journey along the path of weaving, it was confusing. Weaving is so vast. There are so many twists and turns. Where is the next step? What do I want to weave versus what do I have to weave? Do I really want to weave? What is my level of commitment? Do I want to be known as a Weaver? What do I have to give up in order to weave? What is my weaving worth? Do I want to risk burning out the love of weaving by doing it for money? How do I support myself and still have the time or energy to weave?

In my first 10 years of weaving, I was so engrossed I never stopped to ask myself any questions. It was during the next 10 years that I began to ask myself these questions. (over and over as I wove) After 20 years, I realized the questions were moot. I was committed; but now I had to figure out how to make a living at it without compromising. (something I continue to work on:))

At 30 years, I looked back at weaving to realize I had been on a path all along. When I first started weaving, I was fascinated with the idea of weaving circles. To create round shapes from straight lines seemed like the thing to do. From weaving countless variations on color wheel gamps to translating horoscopes into bands of colored stripes, I had continued to work with circles. Instead of turning straight lines into circles, I turned circles into straight lines. And everything I turned into color. The human eye can detect 8 million color variations, and I wanted to weave them all.

At 40 years, I started thinking about weaving in a different light. Yes, weaving is the most wonderful and healing thing to do, but how can I justify playing on my fancy loom while the world is falling apart? How can I continue churn out "stuff" when there is much too much stuff in this part of the world? How do I give back? How do I emphasize the importance of creation amid an atmosphere of destruction? How do I contribute in giving weaving to the next generation?

I will mark 50 years of weaving in 2010. Perhaps I will have the answers to these questions by then. It is only by asking the questions can I hope to solve "The Problem"

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tension Equals Even

Ames just asked me about keeping tension while I wind the warp back on the warp beam. Before I drop the warp to the floor, I grab hold of about 3" of warp ends on the outside edge of both sides (one group in each hand) and lean back using my body weight to regulate the amount of tension placed on the warp. I drop the outside groups, pick up the two next groups, and lean back again. I continue this until I tug on each group of warp ends. When I drop the warp to the ground, the ends are pretty even. All I have to do is gently wind the warp around the beam until there is no slack and then carefully insert a piece of paper between the warp and the beam. I will continue to add paper to protect each layer of warp as I wind back.
Here I am at the front of the loom. Now I grab 3" groups of warp starting on the left side and working my way to the right, crank the warp back 1/2 turn, return to the front of the loom, grab 3" groups of warp starting on the right side and working my way to the left.
Crank, crank, crank
Pull, pull, pull
Crank, crank crank
Pull, pull, pull

This method is great for putting on short warps (3-5 yd)
There is something very meditative about dividing and pulling sections of warp.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Designing in the Raddle

Perhaps there are hundreds, even thousands of weavers out there who design their cloth directly in the raddle, the first step in warping the loom from back to front. I have never met anyone who approaches textile design in this manner, and I don't know exactly how I came upon this method. In this particular piece, I wound the warp in 26 narrow chains (without knowing in what order I would be lining up the chains). Winding the warp onto the warp beam becomes a thrilling process--like opening a present.
Wow! It's going to look really Guatemalan. I had no idea.

The above picture shows one of my little weaving quirks--dropping the warp to the ground. By putting the warp through a raddle first, I can fan out the warp to get a preview. If I don't like the color placement or if I want to add a section or two, it is not very difficult to make those changes--nothing to unwind and nothing to unthread

Sunday, April 22, 2007

But What Have You Woven Lately?

I finally wove off the piece that was on Gary. A funny thing happened on the way to the washing machine. As often happens, my weavings decide to pose for a glamor shot. I'll have another after laundering. This piece is a meditation shawl commission, Woven Words, bambu 12 warp and variegated 1300 rayon chenille weft.
Meanwhile, what is happening on Grace? Here is panel #2 of the Bamboo/Cashmere blanket about half woven. The way I am thinking now, there will be a total of 7 panels: three 20" panels and four 10" panels. Of course, this plan could change after I make a 10" test panel. One of the challenges of this particular blanket is I have decided to make this a spontaneous design---no writing anything down. I became inspired by these weavers from Borneo who create amazing complex ikat cloth. They write nothing down. The designs come to them in a dream. I saw a display of the cloth along with music and a moving lecture.

Here's a taste of what is about to happen on Gary. I'll have some closeups that will give you some insight on my designing process. The warp chains are coming right from the warping board to the loom. You can see the warping board lurking in the background. I know it's hard to see what is going on, but all will be revealed. I still have 3 or 4 more little chains to wind. There will be 17 chains altogether.
I end my post this evening with another more orderly detail of the bamboo/chenille shawl.

It felt really good to spend the day in the studio.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Question of Kits

Part I: What constitutes the ideal "kit"?

Recently I have received several requests for a Color Horoscope Weaving Kit. Of course, I said yes. In reality, my kit (as it stands now) is actually what I provide when I teach a workshop. The challenge for me is to think of ways to make the kit as rich as spending 6-18 hours hearing me spout off.

I also realize that my experience in working from a kit is limited to sewing patterns. Whereas some of the instruction for Color Horoscope Weaving is general, much of it is specific and one of a kind. This presents a barrier to mass production and makes it so my kit would always be more expensive than the average kit.

If you have any suggestions, ideas or input please let me know (on or off the blog)
I am going to publish this now although I will probably edit it later today.

Here it is later in the day and an addition in response to a comment posted a few hours ago.

Part II: Could you please publish information on how to request a Color Horoscope Weaving Kit, what it includes, and what the cost of the kit is?

To request a Color Horoscope Weaving Kit, click the view my complete profile icon, and then click e-mail. (I can see there should be a way to make this easier, but things that are really worth it are never easy.)

As of this minute, the cost of the kit is $50. This includes a copy of the horoscope, a winding draft, and winding instructions. I am currently working on a page about choosing the best yarn for the end product and selecting which 12 colors in the most economical amounts. I offer email and phone support to assist in maximizing a successful educational and artistic experience.

The kit is a work in progress and prices are subject to change as improvements are added. In case you haven't seen my Color Horoscope Weaving Gallery, click here.
In case you haven't heard me interviewed on Weavecast, you're probably not reading this blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Magical Class: Part 2

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: a seed bead and gem bead necklace fashioned after an individuals horoscope. The same color draft used to wind a warp is the same stringing sequence used to create a lovely unique piece of jewelry. The best part of this workshop (for me) is that the student goes home with a finished piece.
Before the class, I counted out 10 gems beads and 13 sterling beads, a little packet for each student. I thought they looked so sweet in their little piles. I often forget just how seductive beads are. It's when I am poking through my bead stash that I realize I am a lapsed recovering bead addict. Just stepping into a bead store gets my pulse racing.
Perhaps when you enlarge this picture you will actually be able to see the necklaces on the happy students.
Several Necklaces Posing

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Magical Class


I am finally back home in sunny Seattle! It was a wonderful trip. There was lots of weather including an "end of the world" type wind and rain storm. Living in Seattle has made me appreciate all kinds of weather. I was concerned that my 7 ft. tall Japanese Tree Peony would have already blossomed, but it has waited for me. I counted over a dozen buds, the most I have ever had. I can't wait to show you pictures. But I digress.

Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers is a fun loving group. I don't think they expected quite as intense a workshop (at least the second day when everybody wound their Color Horoscope warps), but they did it! The first day was pretty relaxed. I regaled the group with an exciting slide show and a yummy show and tell. I've gotten really good at packing a ton of samples into a carry-on piece of luggage.
I don't know what happened to the other 5 students.

The main goal of the workshop is to shake up the rules of color in weaving. Each warp consists of 12 colors (a basic spectrum). These colors combine to make over 5 billion color possibilities. Since the human eye sees only about 8 million variations, I think of this exercise as the "dog whistle" of color:) I continue to be amazed and delighted by the color variations even after 28 years. I think of these weavings as a living rainbow.

"If you were a rainbow, this is the rainbow you would be."

I talk about Color Horoscope Weaving on my website and also in Syne Mitchell's Weavecast Episode #9.

The downside of the workshop for me is that I don't get to see the finished weaving. I always ask students to send me pictures, but they rarely do. I have some finished pieces displayed in my web gallery "Inspired By Bonnie". Do take a look.

The upside for the student is they don't have to drag a loom to the workshop. Since the weaving is plain weave an easily woven off, there really isn't any reason to spend workshop time in this fashion.

On the third day, we made horoscope necklaces using the same draft used to wind the warp. I will put the horoscope necklace day into the next post. I have one funny picture I want to use, but I have to get permission before I post it.

I can always tell a successful workshop because I end up learning ways to make the workshop more streamlined, which is a good thing because I am teaching it at NEWS in July as a one-day workshop instead of a two-day workshop.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Gone Teaching AGAIN

Loch Raven, sorta near where I will be. This is the serenity I am hoping for.

I will be teaching Color Horoscope Weaving to the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers. Look forward to some great show and tell when I get back. I return on April 18th, stay tuned.

A Shuttle Question

Hi Bonnie

You posted to use your e-mail addy if we can't post on your blog. Should we do this everytime or just this time?

I have always wanted to ask why you seem to use a ski shuttle rather than a bobbin and boat shuttle?

I read your blog daily and have wanted to comment and thank you for all you share it is so invigorating and expansive to my own way of weaving.

Look forward to having class with you at NEWS Maureen

This is a good question. I have always used a ski shuttle mainly because it was the shuttle I had when I started weaving on my own. It was a beautiful shuttle, hand carved oak. I won't go into the sad story of losing my beautiful shuttle, but after it was gone I continued to use a ski shuttle because I didn't have a bobbin winder. Now I could have gotten myself a bobbin winder, but I came to believe there were a couple of benefits to winding yarn by hand onto a shuttle. First of all, I get to touch the yarn in a way that makes me feel like a virtual spinner:) But the biggest benefit for me is winding the amount of yarn for 15-20 minutes of weaving. Then I have to stop, stand up, and wind some more.

When I first started weaving, I would pride myself on the number of hours I could continue weaving non-stop. I would wind all of my bobbins at once (when I was in school, they had lots of bobbin winders) and away I'd go. Now that I have been weaving for 47 years, I see that weaving lots and lots of short spurts is a better way for me and may well be the main reason I am still weaving after all this time.

I'd be interested to hear from anybody out there who has completed a woven mile and who has other tips and suggestions for the long run.