Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big Commission--Chapter 4

My basket of un-knitted cashmere sweaters has grown to two baskets (15 sweaters). The basket of colored cashmere will come into play in later panels. I just received 6 more sweaters yet to be un-knitted. I see more cashmere weaving in my future.

I just figured out why these back and white ikats delight me so much. It's like clearing my visual palette between color courses in my weaving banquet.

As I may have already mentioned, I had launched into the Big Commission with just a single idea: to use all ikat dyed bamboo for the warp and un-knitted cashmere sweaters for the weft. The finished blanket will be 90" x 100".

A sub-theme: to juxtapose random ikat dyed sections and intentional sections.

My current "plan" is to alternate four 8" panels with the three 20" panels.

The 8" panels will feature the colored cashmere.

Another sub-theme: to design the blanket without pen and paper, guided by intuition alone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Oops: A Cautionary Tale

So I was weaving this most lovely warp in Woven Words and Ikat Dyed Bamboo. My client wanted me to weave space-dyed chenille for weft. She loved the feel and drape of the bamboo/chenille.
Here is a picture of an earlier piece woven with bamboo and space dyed chenille. Although you can still see the warp, it is down-played and the weft really shows. Notice the bright horizontal turquoise stripe near the top of the picture. This is the new warp. You also notice you don't really see the weft.
Try as I might, I just couldn't bring myself to beat the weft as tightly as I should. All the time I was weaving I kept telling myself I was beating correctly. Denial!

I know many people shy away from chenille for this very reason: the dreaded WORM! Here it is in all of its glory.

THE FUDGE FACTOR: Let me say a word or two about the fudge factor. It is a principle I adhere to with great devotion. It goes like this, "If it works, it's OK."

When I pulled the shawl out of the dryer and discovered I had pushed the fudge factor over the edge, several thoughts raced through my mind. The first thought was, "OH NO! What will I write in my blog!" My second thought was, "What will I tell my client!" My third thought was, "Maybe I made this mistake because I wanted to keep the weaving for myself, hmmm".

I draped the shawl over a chair and walked away. Here is an opportunity for me to learn a new weaving lesson. The biggest lesson I have to share with you is, "No matter how long you weave, you still have lessons to learn." It has taken me a few days to get over myself enough to show the world my latest creation, but here is the good news.

When I walked away from the weaving, I didn't walk out of my studio. I immediately put warps on BOTH looms, started weaving on both looms, and wound a another warp. (pictures to follow soon) So if I haven't learned much in the past 47 years, I have learned to keep moving forward.

Once the "wormed weaving" has had a chance to consider its future, I will visit it again, see what I can salvage and let you know its final fate.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Experiment with Bambu 7 Complete

I have so much information about Bambu 7!
I couldn't decide which color to use as my weft. I couldn't decide whether to use Bambu 7 for the weft, Bambu 12 for the weft, or Bambu 12 doubled for the weft. In the end, I decided to use them all and weave a "gamp". (I was going to impress you with the definition of the word "gamp", but the only definition I could find in the dictionary was "a large baggy umbrella") I even looked up the word in all of my textile reference books and couldn't find anything.

But I digress: First I wove 2" of red in Bambu 7, then 2" of red in Bambu 12, and then 2" of Bambu 12 doubled. I continued alternating throughout the 12 colors. The whiteish line is a few picks of cashmere. I thought at first I would use that as a cut line and run a couple of inches of black in Bambu 12 (singles and then doubles). I don't have any black in Bambu 7.

I had put on a 3 yd warp and wove pretty much as far as I could go. The dimensions when I first cut it off the loom were 17" x 78". I washed it in warm water, gentle cycle, with Cot'n Wash I got from Cotton Clouds. When I took it from the washing machine, the dimensions were 17" x 74". I popped it into the dryer on low and came out with the dimensions 15 1/2"x 68".

1. Although I sett both the 5/2 cotton and the Bambu 7 at 20 epi, the cotton seems to bloom and the bambu seems to compress.
2. I thought varying the weft would give me a scalloped edge, but it really didn't.
3. I thought the Bambu 7 weft would not work very well, but it isn't bad at all.
4. I thought I would have to press the piece after it came out of the dryer, but not so.
5. The feel and drape are amazing.
6. My favorite weft is the black Bambu 12 doubled (the very last one I wove!)
7. The 2 1/2" fringe didn't tangle at all.
8. 10" shrinkage in length

I wish you could feel this!
Bambu 7 poses with 5/2 cotton.

I have more to say, but I have to meet someone for dinner. I will add and edit later.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Saori Conference

Saori Weaving is an amazing and wonderful weaving philosophy. The following paragraph is copied from their lovely website.

Saori is an art of weaving by hand that is dedicated to free expression and self-development for everyone, regardless of physical or mental ability, age, or artistic aptitude. Saori weaving is pure improvisation from the heart, with no premeditated pattern in mind. Colors unfold, designs emerge, and beauty blooms directly from the genius of each unique individual working in harmony with loom, thread, and the spark of the moment. Saori is a profound inner journey, yet we can enjoy it socially, working alongside others. We can also create clothing, bags, tapestries, and many useful items that can be appreciated by all. Saori is fun, and anyone can do it!

Q: Is all improvisational, freestyle weaving SAORI?

A: Good question! On the one hand, if you choose to call your improvisational weaving "SAORI", nobody will complain. On the other hand, SAORI is more than just a technique; it is ALSO:

  • A philosophy that all people are artists, that each of us has a latent intuitive power that SAORI can awaken
  • An aesthetic that embraces the natural beauty of unintended "mistakes" and encourages exploring the unknown.
  • A social movement towards bringing diverse people together to learn from one another. It is especially a movement to include within a larger community people who may be isolated or marginalized because of disability, age, income, overwork, care giving, ethnicity, or other reasons.
  • A unique way of meditation, therapy, rehabilitation, trauma recovery, stress reduction, identity-building, community-building, and holistic human development

AND I am going to the Conference in July on my way to NEWS! This will be my first trip to NYC since 1966. Yikes!

Here's a PDF of the registration flier in case you'll happen to be in New York in the middle of July.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

When I Make a Mistake

What did I do when I walked away from the threading error?

I went out on the patio and photographed the end of the bloom of Japanese Tree Peony.

This part of the bloom cycle is totally amazing.

Then I check in at the warping board and wind a little Turned Weft Ikat for the third panel of the Big Commission.

Then I finish off the Woven Words "Peace in the Middle East" scarf and get it ready to mail off to its owner. This picture shows the sample at the bottom and the new weaving at the top. The bottom piece was (apparently) sett at 14 epi and the top piece at 16 epi. The width is just about the only difference. Well, the 16 is a little more dense, but it really is hard to tell the difference. The chenille is the 1300.

Basically, having another project or two in the wings makes it easier to temporarily walk away from a project without losing the "thread". I keep 4 work stations going at all times (5 if I count the computer). I have the 2 looms, the warping board, and a finishing table for knotting, fringing, and labeling.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Experiment with Bambu 7 Continues

I went back and re threaded the heddles. Of course, it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would. It takes much longer building up the courage to go back and face the error.

You can see the one little errant yellow green end just waiting to be reclaimed.

So here is my Color Horoscope Warp all ready to go.

A question often asked: What should I use as my weft? Color? Fiber? I started weaving with Bambu 7 in red. After a couple of inches I wondered what it would look like using Bambu 12 as my weft (also is red). Then I wondered what it would be like to double the Bambu 12.

Stay tuned for the answer to this and EVERY other weft question.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Experiment with Bambu 7

This 3 yard warp contains 360 ends wound off in 3 chains.

The sett is 20 epi. The raddle has 1/2" spaces.

Winding onto the back beam.
I have often thought there were an infinite number of errors a person could make during the weaving process. I am not overjoyed to point out a brand new error. Notice to the right of the space in the middle is a single dark blue end followed by 5 dark blue ends. Well, all 6 should be in the same heddle. I didn't notice this error until I finished putting all the threads through the heddles and came up with an extra thread.

What to do? Get up and walk away. Do something else. Wait a day. Come back and find the mistake and fix it.

Tooling Up:

For the past couple of years, I have been experimenting with the finer weight bamboo yarn. Finally I decided to weave a horoscope weaving in Bambu 7 because the color choices were three times the number of colors than in the finer yarn. Sometimes having more choice is not an asset. Selecting the 12 colors that best represent the color wheel can be daunting. Every yarn company's color palette reflects the taste and discernment of that individual company.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Once and Future Weaving

My First Collaboration

One of the sidelights of creating this blog (and a tremendously delightful sidelight at that) is to reflect upon my weaving journey, inspired by questions I receive from you. So for all of you who have tuned in, here is my very first weavings---1960. All we ever got to weave were samples samples samples. RISD used a fancy name for the samples. I can say it, but I have no idea how to spell it.

I look for the seeds of what I am weaving now, but I don't see it.

Many of these pieces were woven on a dobby sample loom left over from the industrial revolution. Laugh if you must, but that's the truth. I will tell you about warping this loom someday. Believe me when I tell you, this loom was designed to discourage anyone from ever weaving again.

But I digress: The samples were so distasteful to me after I had been weaving a few years. I was tempted to toss them away, but my mother saved them. I have to tell you that my mother isn't much of a seamstress, but she has a great eye and a huge amount of enthusiastic energy. Armed with that and a stack of woven samples, she set out to make a quilt. When she showed it to me, I was totally appalled at the lack of precision finishing. She dutifully packed it away, where it remained for 30 years. I was helping my mother clear out some of her "stuff" when I came upon the quilt. This time I burst out laughing. I found the quilt to be totally comical. I brought it home with me and packed it away at the bottom of my cedar chest until now. I unearthed it this morning and hung it on the wall. Much to my surprise, it had aged rather well (as has my mother). I am extremely amused and also touched by what a loving (and creatively risky) gesture it was for my mother to put her hand to this project.

Hey! It's Mothers' Day, we all celebrate in our own way.

I will keep the Quilt up for a while and see.

I am very exited about this piece. I am trying out a 3 yd warp in Bambu 7 from Cotton Clouds. I am going to sett it at 20 epi and see. Oh yes, this is my horoscope colors. I'll dress the loom so you can see.

I am weaving along on Gary with 1300 chenille, some solid and some space-dyed. It took me a while to come around to actually liking a weft that covers some of the warp like this. The person who commissioned this piece came over to the studio and watched me sample various wefts. She selected the weight and feel of the bamboo/chenille combination. Once the cloth is washed and dried, it will look fabulous. (as well as feel fabulous).

Solving "The Problem"

Make friends with the lessons, limitations, boundaries, and structure.

When there is a fence around the school yard, the children play up against the fence. When there is no fence, the children play close to the door.

I can't remember where I heard those words, but I find them affirming and applicable to weaving. If someone came to me and said, "I want you to weave me something. I don't care what it is, just something you feel like making. I am in no hurry, whenever you get around to it. I want to pay you, so whatever you want to charge me is fine. As for the color, I'm happy with whatever you decide", do you think I will ever make that weaving? But if someone came to me and said, " I want a scarf 9" wide by 74" long. I am allergic to wool, and my favorite color is blue. I need it to wear on my trip in 3 weeks, and my budget is $150." This series of boundaries is "The Problem". Solving The Problem is creative.

Whenever I find myself having a bit of a creative block, it is usually a sign that I haven't built a good enough fence. There is a bit of a knack to thinking in terms of solving problems and to be constantly creating problems to solve.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

"Nod of the Day"

Here Diane Smith of Just of Yarn is showing off some of her lovely painted tencel yarn woven into a Color Horoscope Scarf. I was speaking about this scarf in an earlier post bemoaning I had no picture of the finished piece, and Terri in Md sent me this wonderful picture.

Here is a picture I just received, 2 ikat scarves woven by Glenda Clift. The warp for one of the scarves happened at the Easy Ikat Workshop, ASCH 07. Glenda had enough 3/2 ikat dyed cotton to create a second scarf since the workshop at the end of March. Great job, Glenda!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Aahh, Spring

Here I am taking a break from work to hug my Tree Peony. I am stand inside my patio. I wanted to show you just how tall the Tree is, but I think it looks like I'm holding it up in my arms. I'm not, the plant is really that tall.
Back in the studio, I thought I would weave off a quick chenille scarf commission before I begin another blanket panel. A friend of mine saw this scarf sample containing the Woven Words: "Peace in the Middle East" and decided he wanted one just like it. It is an interesting exercise to duplicate something you have woven in the past.
I'll have it off the loom tomorrow. I have a unique finishing technique I will attempt to demonstrate.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Confessions of a Virtual Gardener

Japanese Tree Peony in Bloom!

If you have never seen one of these "trees", they are pretty amazing.

This picture is shot from outside the patio. That wall is 4 ft high. The tree is over 7 ft tall. There are 16 blossoms this year, a record. Each blossom is about 9" in diameter. A friend bought me the peony in 1990. It was about a foot tall then.

About Virtual Gardening: I love flowers, fruits and vegetables. I love looking at flowers, fruits, and vegetable. I love talking about flowers, fruits, and vegetables. I love picking flowers, fruits, and vegetables. I love eating fruits and vegetables. I just hate to touch dirt!

I am also a virtual quilter, spinner, and dyer, but that's a story for another day.

In the gardening books, it says a Japanese Tree Peony will grow to a height of 6 ft.
It's when you get right up close that you really become captivated. The petals are extremely delicate to match the light fragrant scent. The blooms usually don't last very long. One good rain, and that's the end of them. The patio becomes littered with what looks like used Kleenex.

I've used the dead heads in weaving. I'll have to try and dig up one of the pictures from a couple of years ago.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Image Appears

The wonders of computers will never cease to amaze me. Here is a picture of the horoscope weaving I did with Just Our Yarn's painted 10/2 tencel. Christine, a reader of my blog happened to run into the Diane and Cathie at the Maryland Sheep and Wool yesterday. Christine mentioned I wanted a picture of the woven tencel to post on my blog, and Diane produced a picture on the spot. Christine emailed me the picture. It took me longer to figure out how to post the picture than it took Christine to get it and send it to me.

I must get back to the loom. I am weaving a quick little something on Grace. I will show you tomorrow. It's all chenille and always fun...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Dye Day #3

A few years ago, I ran into the lovely ladies of Just Our Yarn at MAFA 05. Check out their schedule, and pay them a visit. Diane had taken a horoscope class from me a while back. When I saw their hand painted tencel yarn, I was drooling. I said to Diane, "I wonder what your horoscope would look like in this lovely yarn?" She replied, "Who has time to weave!" I told her I would weave her horoscope for her in exchange for enough yarn to weave one for myself as well. In a matter of minutes, I was walking away from their booth with an armload of lip smacking tencel. I had never woven with tencel before and saw this as the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

The only drawback to "trying out" a new yarn is 12 colors!

I wove up Diane's horoscope. It was magnificent! If you are wondering where the picture is, well, I never took one. Perhaps I can get Diane to send me one. Even better, I will actually get around to weaving mine.

DYE DAY #3 dawned with the usual clouds and rain. I needed to dye some additional bamboo yarn for the Big Commission, and I looked around for something else to dye while I was at it.

Not only is my experience with weaving tencel rather limited, I had never applied my ikat technique to it either. I wound the balls pictured above into skeins, tied it and over-dyed it along with the bamboo. The grey and black skeins flanking the large center skein is bambu from Silk City. The large skein is from Habu. The yarn looks like a sculpture hanging in my dining room.

The tencel will be another project I will document as I go along.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Turned Weft Ikat

I had always referred to my ikat technique as Easy Ikat, but it is really Turned Weft Ikat. I like the sound of that. The yarn is dyed as if I were going to use it as weft ikat, but then I use it as the warp instead. Here I am at the very beginning the 3rd panel of the Big Commission. Whereas, sometimes I have to add the pink strings, sometimes I don't. Each warp end is placed one at a time to create as controlled a pattern as I would like.
Sometimes the pink strings are necessary depending on the circumference of the skein. But what about all of that yarn you are wasting, you might ask?
My answer is: Make Art! I don't have a good picture of the finished piece framed and on the wall, but it is made up of 225 two inch square pieces of black archival matte board wrapped in left over ikat yarn. Most of the yarn is silk, but some is bamboo. I am working on a new piece made entirely of the yarn left over from the Big Commission. I will show it after I get a little more of it done.