A Matter of Scale

Our first grandchild is arriving in only 3 weeks, if not sooner.  I am over the moon with anticipation at seeing the child of my son and his wonderful wife.

Can you imagine how I’ve been knitting for this new little Osborn?  First, a sweater by Stephanie Pearl McPhee called “Nouveau Ne” that made my heart race.  How perfectly she has interpreted the delicacy of babyhood without designing something too feminine. Little rows of brioche stitch separated by a garter ridge…lovely!  You see, we do not know what gender this little Osborn will be, so this pattern strikes the perfect note of sweet babyhood without femininity.  I think this sweater is just luscious, made even more sentimental to me by my addition of buttons made from shells that we collected in the Bahamas, where this baby’s mother and father visited us for two winters in a row. The yarn is a wonderful blend of superwash merino and silk.

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Then came a baby blanket, a lace design by Eugen Beugler called “Lace Plumes.”  I don’t think it’s too feminine of frilly either.  It is a slightly heavier weight of superwash merino and silk.  Only the finest for our new Osborn!

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Little Nugget (as we’ve been calling her/him for some months now) will be arriving anytime between now and December 14 (you may ask how I know that!  …because if Nugget doesn’t arrive by then she/he will be brought into the world on the doctor’s schedule, due to some conditions that are a little worrisome), so of course Nugget needs a Christmas sweater! And Nuggets’ mom has asked for knitted baby pants to go with a Christmas onesie.

I’ve just finished the pants but will wait to adjust the elastic waistband when I know what size to make it. I liked the proportions of this knitted fabric which was made with Cascade “Forest Hills.”

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Yesterday I started the Christmas sweater, a design by Sorren Kerr called “Anders.”  It is adorable…. but it called for sport weight yarn.  Hmm….

..I’m not so pleased with how the yarn looks at this scale.  It seems a tad bulky for a baby.  So I started it again in the same yarn I used for the baby pants–Cascade “Forest Hills.”  This yarn is a 50/50 blend of merino and silk.  It is not superwash so there could be some disaster in wait on its first wash.  I’m willing to take that risk.

Here’s the difference between a sport weight version and my lace weight version.  I have re-written the pattern to get the size right in the lace weight yarn.  I like it!

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I got the Ewe (love) Ewe at Knit New Haven when I visited the Andean weaving exhibit at the Yale Art Gallery back in September.  I think this yarn would be fine for a toddler or pre-schooler so I’ll just save it ’til then.  Meanwhile, maybe I’d better see if I can get another ball in the same dye lot so I have plenty for that larger size.

So….just saying….I prefer fingering or lace weight yarn for babies.  This means I have to re-write the whole pattern for Little Nugget, when time is short.  Still, what a nice way to spend my time as I await the big arrival.

 

 

 

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Keep on Keeping on!

Years ago I knew an editor who said that we must all find a rhythm in life that we can maintain for at least 30 years.  I’m still struggling with that.  My last birthday put me into a new decade, and at this age I’m not sure I will ever learn what speed I can maintain.  So must settle for the mantra to just keep on keeping on….

This was an excessively busy week which seemed perfectly do-able when I first signed on to participate.  First came a 2-day workshop on rep weave with Lucienne Coifman who recently published a book on this subject.

Setting up my Baby Wolf for this project was rather daunting.  A pre-workshop on Lucienne’s method for warping a rep weave project should be a must-do in order to have a stress-free experience.  I think that’s entirely possible if you take an on-going class with her.  This was her traveling 3-day workshop crammed into 2 days for our guild’s annual November workshop.

There were 18 participants in a round robin class, where each of the looms had a different rep weave structure, from traditional Swedish designs to Lucienne’s designs. It was impossible to weave all 18 designs in the space of 2 days, so it was somewhat stressful.  Most of us skipped breaks of any kind, including eating lunch.  But look what we got!

This is Lucienne’s sample of the structure she gave me to put on my loom.  This is in her new book.

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Other designs we wove:

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The little tags were for identifying different treadling methods.

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There were more wonderful designs choices to weave than there were hours in this class.  As the last hour approached we all had a moment of disappointment at the designs we did not get to try.  When we cut off the yardage on our looms we brought them all to the front table.

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Lucienne gave a number of lectures during the two days.  It was hard to tear myself away from weaving to listen and take notes, but all the information was important so I had to do it!

I still have a bit of warp on my loom with which I will weave some samples for the women who did not get to my loom.  And I sure hope there will be enough warp left over for me to weave a little something useful–perhaps a book cover–for myself!

So Friday evening we all packed up our looms to leave–no simple feat.  I unloaded my car and then reloaded with the tapestry paraphernalia that I needed for the next morning’s talk at the state guild meeting.  I was to give a program for the morning open lecture that is part of our regular meeting agenda.  My talk on images in contemporary tapestry was well received.  I was quite nervous about doing this talk, mostly because I had almost no time to prepare for it.  But I slept well the night before, especially after two intense days of weaving rep weave on strange looms!  I woke up Saturday morning calmer than I’ve been in months for which I was very grateful.  A couple of good friends promised to attend to give me moral support, and nothing beats that!  Quite a few people signed a list to receive more information from me on how to get started learning how to weave tapestry, and that was the point of the whole thing!  So I guess that means it was successful!

The afternoon program this month was given by Norma Smayda about her experiments weaving ondule fabric with a fan reed.  Schiffer Publishing will soon be coming out with Norma’s new book on this subject!  I can’t wait to get it.

Norma took us through her entire process, and that gave me quite a bit info for doing my own experiments.  I have almost bought a fan reed from Sara von Tresckow of the Wool Gatherers twice but balked at spending so much on something I had no idea how to use well.  Look what Norma has been doing with it.

If you plan your stripes you can accentuate the movement of the reed.  You can also get undulating selvedges or straight selvedges, depending on how your thread your reed.

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After buying a reed that had fans going across the entire width, Norma then ordered some fans she designed herself with straight pins for part of the width and fanned pins for the rest.  It allows her to have areas of straight weaving and areas of undulation.  Quite beautiful! The blue/orange wall hanging is all one piece, with straight weaving on the left and undulations on the right.  Try to ignore that bit of another woven piece in red at the right edge of the photo.  I did not want to touch Norma’s work so I could not get the red wall hanging out of the way.

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And here is the red piece from the corner of the previous photo–it’s so graphic it vibrates!

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Norma is wearing a vest that she designed.  I don’t remember who sewed it for her, but she did a fabulous job!  There is a placket at the back of the jacket where the seamstress inserted one repeat of the ondule fabric…such a wonderful touch!

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As you can see, I’ve had quite a week!  I went to bed at 8.30 last night because I could not keep my eyes open any longer!  My head is full of ideas — now just to find the time.  I just have to keep going, even if it’s slower than I’d like.

 

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Such a Long Absence

Where has the fall gone?  To traveling…. for Cuba talks, for visits to the publisher of the “Archie book,” and to our son and his wife who live in Maryland.  I can barely keep up and while there is so much I wanted to write during this busy time, I now feel burdened by chronicling all that has happened in the past two months.

Perhaps I just need a photo journal of what has sluiced over the dam in the past weeks.

In September I visited  the Yale Art Gallery twice for the exhibition on Pre-Columbian textiles. I was most impressed with the edgings on many of these textiles, even beyond the incredible weaving which we still do not fully understand!

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Look at these 3-dimensional bird figures!

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It was powerful to look at these textiles that have survived the centuries, some of them even a millennia.  It was not always obvious which ones were from the current era (meaning 6th through 14th centuries) and which ones were truly ancient. Could anyone stand before these expertly woven, richly colored and imagined figures without thinking of the hands that wove them, the ever succeeding generations of hands that reinterpreted these cultural symbols, and the climate and care of handling that have preserved these textiles for so long.

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There have been glorious fall days for walking along my favorite river, but not any time yet to put my own gardens to bed.  Funny how chores don’t go away; they just wait for us to finally pay attention to them.  Autumn skies dominate the views at this time of year.

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I photograph this garden gate several times a year.  I love the changing seasons in the garden it encloses, from roses to hydrangeas, and the lichen that grows on it.

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At the height of the fall color I had a chance to visit Lavender Pond Farm and see the fields of purple flowers against a background of autumn trees and a sky full of puffy white clouds.

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Bob and I were gone more than half of the month of October.  We visited Archie Brennan and the Schiffer Publishing twice during the month and gave a number of talks about our extended visit to Cuba last winter.

Schiffer always does a such a nice job of welcoming us.

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The camera equipment they loaned to us in order to do our photo shoot was really massive.  Bob is repacking the car in order to fit the mammoth carrying case of 3 strobe lights and 3 reflective umbrellas in our little station wagon.  The publisher is located in a beautiful farming community near Lancaster, and they have a lot of artwork on display in the surrounding fields.

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It was a daunting job to photograph the tapestries that still reside in Archie’s possession.  We had two long days getting set up to take the photographs, take the photos, and log all the information into a spread sheet.  We are pleased with how well it went, and Archie was quite a trooper.  We could not have done it without the help of a local friend and Wednesday Grouper and her partner.  Huge thanks to Alta and John who have now helped Archie get all those tapestries back into storage.

The week before the photo shoot Archie showed me his works and reminisced about many of the pieces. He has certainly lived a fascinating life and has countless interesting stories about every tapestry he has made.  What a creative mind he has! You can partially see that we are surrounded by works still in packaging from storage.

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Getting down to business!  John and I are holding up “The Lymerer,” a reconstruction of part of the “Hunt for the Unicorn” series.

Archie and I are tired but happy at the end of a long day.

There is lots more work ahead on this project, but this was a major accomplishment on the road to having a book!

Bob has now given more than a dozen “Cuba talks,” and I have participated in a small way in some of them.  He has written an article for “Blue Water Sailing,” and I have an article in the current newsletter of the New England Lace Guild.  Every time I see our photos from the trip I still get a thrill.  As Bob says, we lived it once and can tell the story forever.

At this particular event, there was a Cuban themed dinner to go with Bob’s talk.  We wanted our picture taken with the chef!

And or course, our personal lives go on, filled with lots of family happenings.  We are now only a month away from welcoming our first grandchild into the family fold.  There was a lovely shower for the mother to be in October, and we attended that in between our trips to the publisher and to Archie.  I have been knitting like any enthusiastic grandmother and will soon be finished with my first attempt at knitted pants.  My good friend Mary, who often factors here as my lace making mentor, has shared an idea of hers for doing embroidery along the neckline of a onesie.  I will have to embroidery at least one onesie to go with the knitted pants.  Then there will be a Christmas sweater too.  It’s all fun and very therapeutic as we wait for Baby Nugget’s arrival.

There has also been a wee bit of weaving.  Well, not actually weaving, but preparations to weave.  I have taken quite a hiatus from my next Just Our Yarn project of weaving yardage.  I’m about 7/8’s done with dressing the loom.  Initially this yardage was planned for an origami top, but who knows.  I just want to weave and can barely ever focus on what the fabric might become.

Later this week I will participate in a workshop on rep weave with Lucienne Coifman,who recently published a book on this technique.  She is a well known teacher in Connecticut, and I’m looking forward to learning her technique during the class.

She requested that I make two warps for my assigned rep structure, and she also insisted that I warp front to back.  Well, it was a challenge dealing with two layers of warp and going front to back which I haven’t done in about 30 years.  Thank heaven I have a good friend who has done lots of rep and always puts her warps on front to back.  Otherwise, I might have been pretty embarrassed when the first day of class rolls around.

First warp, solid grey:

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Second warp is shades of purple into red:

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Getting the two warps on my Baby Wolf. There is only one thread that broke during winding on, and it is hanging off the back in the midst of the grey that is on the lower left.  I will rejoin it when the other broken end shows up during weaving.  I am ready to go!

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So, lastly I’ll end with a couple of personal notes.  Bob finished renovating the master bathroom–yahoo!  It only took 4 1/2 months!  It’s a lovely place for displaying some of our shells from the Bahamas and Cuba.

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I framed my tiny tapestry “Postcard from Home: January Fog on the St. Mary’s River.” The name is certainly longer than the size of the tapestry!  After it’s trip to the Orkney Island and a bit of Scotland, it now resides in our older son’s living room, on a table he built himself.  I should talk about his stellar cabinetry making sometime soon. I should  have taken a photo that showed the beautiful walnut slab he used to build this table.

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There was one glorious day when I joined a friend on a trip to New Hartford and stumbled on this sewing/quilting/felting/spinning shop that had a wall of merino rovings to choose from. It’s called Quilted Ewe.

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Slowly I’m getting ready for winter and hopefully there will be some weaving before we head south for warmer weather.  Meanwhile, my main focus will be the “Archie book.” The text is done and many of the photos are already keyed into the text.  Just need to keep plugging away at it.

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As Summer Wanes

It’s Labor Day, the first truly chilly morning of the season, and I LOVE it!  There will be a few more days of summer heat before we hit the equinox, but summer is winding down.  I can feel it in the air and see it in the trees.  In spite of hurricane Hermine heading northward, I feel autumn coming.

The month of August has hurtled by me.  I had lots and lots of doctor appointments, and in between them, I tried to very hard to enjoy one workshop on ec0-dyeing and as many days of weaving and lace making as I could manage.  Looking back, I feel fairly productive!

If you haven’t tried Eco-dyeing, give it a whirl!  There is nothing like unwrapping a scarf or fabric to find some lovely imprints of leaves and flowers.  If your first attempt doesn’t suit your taste just put the fabric/scarf away and try it again on another day.  That’s what I’m doing this morning as I write this.  I have a 1-yard length of lightweight linen and one silk scarf steaming.  I used the rinse and spin cycle of my washing machine to re-wet them, and I just collected a few leaves on my morning walk:  one small branch of Japanese maple with about a dozen leaves on it, some golden rod fronds with buds ready to open rather than in bloom, and a few fronds of sumac.

When I got home I spread out my damp linen fabric and silk scarf and placed my plant materials on half of each length of fabric or scarf, because I will fold the other half over to cover the plant material.  To the things I gathered on my walk I added a few gems from my garden.  Today I am trying tall ferns that I hope are ostrich ferns, since I read that those work well in eco-deying.  I have a few dark purple oxalis leaves, some purple cranesbill flowers as well as leaves, some coleus leaves, and one small spray of red flowers from a dragon wing begonia.  As I write this I realized I meant to to pick some hyacinth bean leaves and flowers.  The leaves of the purple hyacinth vine have such dark veining, it might work very well in this technique. Drat!  My fabric is already in the steamer.

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Here are a couple of sites that I found very helpful in trying this technique.  Sherry Harr did her doctoral thesis at Kansas State University on various textile dyeing techniques, and her article is quite thorough.  There are several blogs where the authors have documented their plants and techniques rather well.  Take a look at Threadborne and Obovate Designs.

In mid-August a few people from my local area guild got together and shared lots of plant material and had a go on our various fabrics and scarves.  None of us had ever done this before, but we shared the internet info we found, and a couple of us had talked to others who had taken a workshop with Amelia Poole, whose work in this technique is stunning.

With a bit of info and a LOT of enthusiasm, we plunged ahead.  We were quite lucky to have the use of Kate’s wonderful weaving/dyeing studio for this project.  Here you can see how we layered the tubes of fabric with sticks to keep them from touching.  To make the steamer there are some rocks and sticks at the bottom of the pan to keep the tubes of fabrics above the water level.

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The taller tubes of fabric went in this make-shift steamer.

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After 30 minutes of steaming and a little time cooling down, our tubes came out of the pot.

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Unwrapping and hanging our scarves and fabric to dry on a rack. We were pretty thrilled with our results.

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My first scarf turned out better than the other things I tried that day.

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Look at the imprint from this giant dahlia.

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I hope to compile a list of the plants and flowers that work best for me.  Some things leave behind wonderful colors, but the imprint is just a blob.  I’m more interested in the things that leave an actual impression of the leaf or flower.  So far, this is my list of A plants and flowers:

Japanese maple leaves–great leaf definition
coleus leaves–faint leaf definition and pastel colors, lovely on silk
golden rod–great definition for leaves and flowers
purple oxalis–great definition
black hollyhock flowers–a wonderful, deep purple ‘blob’
cranesbill, purple–nicely shaped ‘blob’ somewhat recognizable as a flower silhouette

One of the perks of visiting the studios and houses of other weavers, is seeing the lovely details in their living and work spaces.  Weavers usually have such a eye for beauty.

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It was a glorious day for our project.

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Fast forward to the beginning of September, and on this stunning weekend I spent a wonderful day at the monthly meeting of bobbin lace makers in Connecticut.  You can find us here.

We met outside in a member’s garden under a canopy of billowing, striped canvas.  Her terrace was surrounded by flowers–black-eyed Susans, phlox, and other late season bloomers, with a view of her large vegetable garden nearby, and in the distance her bee hives.  She made an English cream tea for us that we had to share with the bees. Her tables were covered with vintage white on white embroidered cloths, topped with vintage linen tea towels that commemorated Queen Elizabeth’s reign–going back as far as her silver jubilee.  I think we all felt a bit regal.

I hope Mary won’t mind that I shared this photo.  Her expression is a mirror of how much we were all looking forward to having these treats!

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Our hostess made Earl Grey tea biscuits dipped in chocolate that were off the charts!

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On top of this wonderful tea we all actually spent time making lace, too!

This is also the weekend of the Haddam Neck Fair.  Late summer is the time for all kinds of festivals that celebrate farming and animal husbandry.  I have never been to this particular fair before, and it was a wonder.

First there were the animals.  We watched a draft horse pulling contest, visited the goats and sheep, cows, chickens and rabbits.  The textile displays were very small, but I met a woman on the fair committee, doing a spinning demonstration, and she hopes to grow the textile area of the fair in coming years.

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Look at this beautiful Dorset sheep.  Her new fleece growing back was as thick as felt and she loved attention.

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Multi-colored Jacobs.

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Seeing all the awards for best sheep or cow, all the way down to best cakes, and cupcakes, best flower arrangements, and best single flowers, or best zucchini, made Bob exclaim, “No one can possibly doubt humans’ need to compete!”  Along a row of bud vases that showcased individual marigolds, the judges had written such poetic comments as: “As beautiful as a sexy, 1940s film star!”  And, one a rose that no longer had a single petal left, “A stunner!  Well done!”

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I particularly like this arrangement of succulents in a well used frame. Clearly the judges did too.

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Some whimsical flower arrangements.  There were lots of categories for flower arrangements, and these were two in the category inspired by food.  A tray of floral cupcakes!

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And a slice of mum cake!IMG_2593 The same kind of judges’ comments showed up on all the individual vegetables, from tomatoes to summer squash, to cucumbers.  If you can grow it or make it, you can compete with others at some local fair!

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It was a beautiful day, and it was quite lovely to see how much care and attention can go into growing a zucchini or a marigold!

Sadly, the textile area could not hold a candle to the livestock or the flowers and veggies.  Maybe that will change in the future.  All it will take are a few textile people who want to compete!

The day is getting away from me, and I should turn my attention to Archie’s book and to that never-ending boundweave project.

I’ll end with a recap of what I learned today.  The tall ferns in my garden must not be ostrich ferns since they left no color.  I did add some hyacinth bean vine, both leaves a clusters of flowers buds, but they also left no color or imprint.

Clusters of purple verbena flowers are interesting–they turn turquoise!

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And signet marigolds left an interesting imprint.  The red stripes turned black.

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And speaking of flowers, I have to share one last image.  The well known, oft-photographed field of sunflowers on the north fork of Long Island.  Bob and I sailed to Sag Harbor and stayed for almost a week back in the middle of the month.  Even when compared to an amazing dinner at the American Hotel, and wine tastings along the North Fork, seeing this field was the highlight of that trip!

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Now to work!

 

 

 

 

 

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Weaving Connections

Today is Tuesday, August 2nd, and Convergence, the biggest gathering of weavers in the US,with lots of attendees from overseas as well, began over the weekend.  Facebook is full of posts from the many participants.  Do I feel left out?  Well…..maybe… just a little.

My tiny part of the world had its own weaving weekend though. On the hottest Saturday of the summer (so far!) members of Area 4 of the Handweavers’ Guild of Connecticut had a beautiful display and did demonstrations of weaving and spinning at the Historical Society during Old Lyme’s 30th annual Old Lyme Festival.  It was steaming hot, but we all had a great time.  We heard that we were the most popular event at the festival, and I have to admit that I’ve never seen such a crowd at any of my past demonstrations in New Jersey.  Although the historical society headquarters are not yet air conditioned (supposedly next summer it will be), I wonder if being in an historic grange building with lots of fans (that would be rotating, air circulating fans–not enthusiast fans!) was still more enticing to the hordes than being outside in the 90-degree sun.  Or maybe we just really were a compelling option for visitors.

The local online newspaper, The LimeLine, covered our event and got a shot of our group working on the behemoth, 9-ft Clemens loom.  I think this may be the moment when Jody (in the b&w stripes) began the tedious process of mending broken warp threads. She generously allowed visitors to try a bit weaving at the loom, and there was an incident of over zealousness that led to some broken warps.

These photos of our exhibit are pretty pedestrian.  I’ll just whine and say that I was very busy spinning!  It’s not a real excuse, but I hope you’ll accept it. This is just part of a display of our members’ work.

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Stephanie has a business making rugs and blankets of all sorts and teaching classes in both techniques.  She brought a loom to demonstrate weaving and had a lovely array of rugs for sale.  Right next to her is a rack of her indigo dyed shibori silk scarves.

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I know there are lots of better photos taken by others, but I haven’t see them yet, so these will have to suffice for now.  It was a very worthwhile event.  The folks who run the festival said we were the most popular participant, and they hope we will continue to be involved in the future.  And knowing this building will be air conditioned next year makes us all think, oh yeah, we’ll do it!

The next day a few of us drove together up to Kingstown, Rhode Island, to take a look at the extensive weaving stash of our dear friend, Kathi Spangler, who passed away a few weeks ago.  She has been on my mind so much this summer.  When I went to see Kate Barber’s exhibition in Providence, I realized we were so close to the convention center where the last Convergence was held.  When I left the gallery where Kate’s work was on display, the first corner I walked to had the building where ATA housed our tapestry exhibition two years ago.  Kathi wanted to make sure that visitors to Providence would know they had reached a building with a weaving exhibit inside, so she filled all the large main floor windows with works by Rhode Island weavers.  It was quite dramatic and such an undertaking to gather all the woven items and display them so creatively.  I had a strong sense of her presence as I stood at that corner remembering the scene from two years ago.

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At Kathi’s house, Susan, Sandy, and I spent a couple of hours looking through Kathi’s handwoven fabrics.  Some things were finished items, like hand towels, scarves and shawls, and table runners.  I was intrigued with several lengths of fabrics woven for samples of techniques.  This one in particular caught my attention.

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Sharon and Jan who had organized all of Kathi’s stash and who were on hand to let friends in to look through Kathi’s treasures, said this piece was called the ‘chicken project.’  Boy, I am SO curious about that.  What comes to mind is that the color of golden yellow is rather like a baby chick.  Sometime I’ll have to ask Jan how this project got its name.

I took a wonderful table runner in natural linen with a bit of overshot in red at each end.  I found two more runners in the same pattern with forest green at both ends that I took for Jody.  Kathi had a lot of beautiful sample pieces, and I wonder how many of them became finished projects.  The red runner underneath the overshot runner has Christmas trees in huck lace.  It just needs hemming.

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I was so moved to see that she had finished her wonderful jacket from Sarah Fortin’s workshop.  Jan and Sharon had thought to put it on a dress form for visitors to see.  Why didn’t I photograph it?  Of course, it turned out beautifully, and I hope Kathi wore it a few times before she got too sick.

Speaking of yardage, I am very close to finishing my JOY project.  I rewarded myself with about an hour of weaving today after working on Archie’s book.  It is really stunning fabric, and I will cherish it even if it never turns into a garment. Those JOY women, Diane and Cathy, have really created something wonderful with their line of handpainted tencel, and using these yarns as both warp and weft is amazingly dramatic!  Weaving it has been very therapeutic, as weaving should be.

I neglected to mention what I’m dreaming up for my next project!  Sharon has shared with me all the details that her Rhode Guild has discovered about weaving and constructing an origami top based on Virginia West’s examinations of garments constructed from narrow widths of cloth used diagonally.  I have an assortment of fine silks that I will soon make into a warp.  Photos to come.

 

 

 

 

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8S Advancing Lace Yardage Using JOY Almaza

This is an advancing lace structure on a plain weave ground that I found in the Greater Baltimore Weaving Guild’s book Sixty Scarves for 60 Years.  The pattern was designed by Carol Bodin, and it is called “Raku.”

Warp:
JOY “Almaza”
Length: 6 yards,  35 epi, 16: wide= 560 ends + 8 ends for selvedges.  Total 568 ends

Click on this image for a bigger version:

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I threaded right to left and had 2 floating selvedges on the right side, then ended with threading 1,2,3,4 and two floating selvedges.  That used the 8 extra threads I assigned for the selvedges.

As you can see there are little huck interlacements on a plain weave ground.

Here is the warp.

The weft is Almaza in a different colorway.

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I wove 3 1/2 yards of the lace pattern and 1 1/2 yards of plain weave for fabric to make a jacket.

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Weaving and Dreaming

I’m dreaming about my next project as I zoom along on the current one.  There are always surprises, and this yardage has had its share.  Last fall I decided to make the warp a yard longer than I’d figured when I bought the materials.  Yeah, so, it should not have been a surprise when I ran out of warp and had to fudge a second warp out of a solid grey to blend into this handpainted warp.

Then, for some reason, I neglected to make the mental leap to realizing that if my warp is now a yard longer than planned I might not have enough weft!  That only occurred to me after I started weaving, about 2 weeks ago.  Really, I amaze myself sometimes.

So I’ve spent this morning thinking about what I might use as weft for the rest of this yardage.  I have not yet run out of handpainted JOY weft, but it was time to decide if I should switch to a solid color now so I had enough yardage that is clearly different to make a significant part of my garment–like sleeves or front bands.

I spent some time this morning digging through bins stacked pretty high, looking for a bin of tencel.  Luckily most of these bins are clear so I can what’s in them.  But wouldn’t you know the bins at the bottom of my various stacks are not clear so I had to unload everything to check out what is in those bins at the bottom of each stack.  No luck in finding any tencel.  I have lots of tencel, but at the moment I have no idea where it is!

So I moved on to looking at color cards for tencel, and found that there is no coral shade that comes even close to what I want.  That led me down the rabbit hole of looking through my silk bins and silk color cards.  I have the perfect shade of coral that I’d love to use, but not nearly enough of it!  So I called Treenway and have placed an order for two 1000-yard skeins of a loely coral color #27.  Those skeins will not arrive for almost three weeks.  Sigh…Does this happen to you?  Please say it does!

Fast forward to the end of the day. I wove another half yard today, in plain weave now, with the handpainted weft. Just moments ago, when I advanced the warp, I saw that I am only about a yard away from the end.  That means I will have 5 yards of fabric instead of 6.  The mistakes just pile up faster than I can keep track of them!  I could swear I made a 7 yard warp and that’s why I ran out of materials.  I have no idea what happened last fall, and I don’t know where my notes are!  I hope this sounds familiar to you.  Now I think I need to call Treenway and cut my order in half!

Luckily there have been some marvelous experiences lately to balance the derangement going on in my weaving.  While others are busy heading off to Milwaukee for Convergence,  I have gotten to enjoy some inspiring events much closer to home.

First is an exhibit in Providence that will be closing soon.  I wish I’d seen it sooner so I could have spread the word earlier.  I believe it closes this weekend.  There is a small gallery called The Reading Room of the AS220 gallery, on Matthewson St. where Kate Barber has a wonderful exhibit of her recent work, called “Forward Folding.”

This postcard image is a detail of one her works on display, and it is stunning.  Her exhibit is in an intimate setting with beautiful lighting.  I stayed longer than I would have imagined to view her 22 pieces.  There was such zen in the room I could not tear myself away.  Kate is doing wonderful things with shibori on the loom which she uses to create crimped cloth. Some of the works are also dyed and embroidered.

There is a wonderful mascot at the gallery who watches for visitors and then greets you at the entrance.  I’ve now forgotten her name.  She is so calm that I almost mistook her for a ceramic dog!

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Across the river, in Old Lyme, my local area weaving guild members are hard at work getting ready for the annual town festival where some of us will demonstrate various textile techniques.  The big Clemens loom is ready for demonstrating the weaving of a traditional Canadian rag coverlet bed covering.  Jody will the be first weaver, although she needs three helpers to do this.  This is her coverlet that will be woven first.  It will be 9 ft. wide by 9 ft. long.  It’s a big undertaking!

This Saturday, July 30, Jody and her crew will be weaving on this behemoth loom, and others in our guild will be demonstrating various textile techniques.  I plan to bring my spinning wheel to spin some lovely tussah silk sliver that a Connecticut woman who calls herself HoneyBuns prepares and dyes.  I am spinning a wonderful colorway of rosey coral and gold.

Yesterday Jody and I went to see a wonderful film about an exhibition that is currently traveling through Europe.  It was a stunning film and almost made up for the fact that I  won’t get to see this exhibition in person.  The exhibition is called “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse,” and the film has the same name.  The Royal Academy of Art put this exhibit together.  It was quite moving, and I enjoyed sharing it with Jody and two other weavers from my local guild who also attended.

There were scenes of the exhibition itself, including a large room where Monet’s waterlily triptych has been displayed together for the first time ever, since each of the three pieces is owned by different museums.  There is current footage of the gardens where each of the artists painted a century ago, and there are wonderful old photographs of the artists.  The best image was Renoir’s portrait of Monet in the garden at Giverny, doing a painting of his own.  I did not know that this portrait is owned by the Wadsworth Atheneum, so sometime in the future I will be able to view it in person!

Here is a short excerpt from the film:

Here is one more video with the curator discussing Monet’s Agapanthus triptych.

To all of you heading off to Convergence, have a wonderful time!  I’ll be thinking of you and what I’m missing. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the down time of being at home in the studio.  Maybe I’ll soon get to start the next project I’m dreaming of–I didn’t even tell you what it is!

 

 

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Finally Weaving

After a winter of dreaming about weaving, it was hard not to get right down to it when I returned home.  During the 8 weeks of waiting for surgery, then recovering and waiting for the pathology reports I distracted myself with knitting.  Last week I finished the warping process and got down to weaving!  Boy, it feels great!

Some weavers have asked for more info on this project, so here it is.  The warp and weft are two entirely different colorways of Just Our Yarn “Almaza,” which is an 8/2 tencel thread.  One colorway is a bit on the cool side, with blues and purples, jazzed up with a bit of acid green and soft roses.  This is my warp.

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The weft is a rather bright analogous colorway of watermelon, coral, pale peach, and cream that is very slightly yellow.  It looks like candy.  It’s NOT a colorway I would ever buy on purpose!  And yet I did, at the suggestion of Cathie and Diane from JOY.

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Here is a bit of plain weave showing the color interactions.

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The weave structure and the two very different colorways are creating an amazing fabric!

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I planned the fabric at 35 ends per inch to weave a fabric with enough body for a garment.  If I were weaving a scarf I would have used fewer ends per inch.  My weave structure is a blend of plain weave with lace floats in the warp and weft.  I am using one of the designs in the book Sixty Scarves for 60 Years that the Greater Baltimore Weaving Guild published a few years ago.  The name of this pattern is “Raku” by Carol Bodin.  I am sorry to learn that this book is now out of print.  Time to consult your guild library!

Carol Bodin describes this structure as a lace overshot.  I can’t follow that.  To me it seems like a lace structure with advancing lace modules of 1-2-1, 2-3-2, 3-4-3, 4-5-4…etc with a plain weave structure surrounding the lace elements.  Make sense??

I put the basic weave structure into my PCW program which I wrote about here.  Then I had to make the BIG decisions.  The pattern moves across the warp in one direction only.  Did I want that or did I want a mirrored repeat at the halfway point across the warp?  Did I want to mirror every pattern repeat?  After sampling these ideas in PCW, I decided to leave the structure in its simplest form.  Mirroring every repeat made a very busy fabric that looked like a headache waiting to happen!

The width I have on the loom is 16″ which means I’ll be using two lengths of fabric for fronts and backs.  I can mirror the weave structure when I put the garment together.  To make any mirrored design elements in the fabric would have made the overall design too fussy.

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This is less fussy:

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I’ve woven 3 1/2 yards of the lace structure, and now I think I’ll switch to plain weave for the next 2 1/2 yards.  This way I’ll have some complex fabric for the body of a jacket and some plain weave for front bands and sleeves.  It would have been so smart of me to choose a garment pattern before I began to weave, but that’s just not the case.  This is a case of wanting to weave the fabric and the devil make care what it becomes!

When I’m not weaving I’m enjoying the garden.  August is almost here, and the heat is starting to build.

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I’ve had a couple of wonderful experiences that have inspired my weaving ideas lately.  More on that next time!

 

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It’s all about the Details

Area 4 of the Connecticut Guild of Handweavers is setting up a monumental weaving display in Old Lyme, at the Historical Society on Lyme Street.  This location is the old grange building.

One of our members, Stephanie, has temporarily brought a large Clements loom to the building in order to demonstrate weaving traditional coverlets for the next few months or longer.  It is a behemoth of a loom, with a 9-foot weaving width!  It takes four people to weave:  two people sit on the bench and coordinate working the two sets of treadles, while another two people have to stand at the sides of the loom to throw the shuttle, catch it, and send it back.  This will be a challenging exercise in team work!  I can’t wait to try it!

Right now we are winding a 9-ft. wide sectional warp of moderately fine cotton.  We have 54  2″ sections to wind.

Photo by Jody Brewer

As you can see, it takes a few of use to beam the warp as well.  It will certainly be a project that involves all of us helping out in various ways.  Several members plan to weave coverlets for themselves, and the rest of us will be needed to stand in as the team of four weavers.

Jody got a photo of me at the other end of the loom.  The loom is on a stage so there is terrific lighting.

Photo by Jody Brewer

We are meeting on Tuesdays and Saturdays to work on this, and we plan to be weaving the first coverlet by the last week in July.  If you are in the area, stop by on one of those two days!

Meanwhile, at home, I have been working on an old Torchon lace project from a few years back.  I cut off about a yard of this lace a couple of years ago to embellish a linen tank top.  It’s a small lace edging that would be perfect on a baby garment. With the baby arriving in December, I need to churn out this lace, especially if I’m also making the garment to go with the it!

This has led me to time how long it takes me to make this little lace edging.  Two repeats of the pattern is one inch long.  I can do two repeats in about 25 minutes, give or take.  Hmmm… that amount of time sounded pretty discouraging to me until I then calculated that one yard of this edging would take about 15 hours to weave.  That sounds much better to me.  I’ve been working on it a couple of hours a day since Saturday at my monthly lace meeting.

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When I cut it off for my linen top a few years back I only left about four inches attached to the pillow.  Today I measured it and found that my efforts here and there over the past few days have advanced the edging to 20″!!  That should mean that I have less than eight hours to go!

Last Friday, when I attended Kathi Spangler’s funeral mass, I met three very intriguing women in Kathi’s life:  her daughter, her sister, and her mother.  I was moved by how much they looked like her, how much of her I could feel emanating from each of them.  It was quite comforting to know how she lives on in each of her close relatives.  Of course she lives on in each of us, but it shows in her female relatives because you can see Kathi looking out from their eyes–young Kathi in her daughter’s eyes, a very familiar Kathi in her sister’s, and the Kathi we will never get to know in her mother’s eyes.  These three women were wearing scarves Kathi  had made for each of them, and the women of our guild had a good showing of Kathi-inspired ‘surprise’ scarves.  It was a moving celebration.

One day last week, two friends stopped by my house for a bit.  Jody returned my little container of limpet shells that I collected in the Bahamas, and we spread them out on the kitchen island to pick out a few buttons for the first baby sweater I’ve knitted.  Here they are!

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The little limpets on the bonnet will be used to attach a ribbon on each side for tying.  I just need to find a good color of cream …or maybe one of the warm colors in the limpets…for the ribbon.

In my studio I have some yarns that Kathi shared with me that are waiting to become fabric.  I will enjoy thinking of her as I dress the loom and weave.  Right now I’m struggling to thread the pattern and wondering what has happened to my brain.  I’m making a LOT of mistakes in what should be a simple huck threading.  I’m hoping its just a temporary residual effect of anasthesia and not that I’m truly becoming feathery…

 

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Remembering Kathi Spangler

Regret is an emotion I try not to nurture, but I almost named this post ‘regret’ — I’m fighting the urge to give into it.  I got the shocking news last night that one of my local area weaving friends died…. unexpectedly to me.  I did not even know she was sick.

Some of you know that I am a relative newcomer to this area, so I haven’t known the local weavers here for very long.  Some of them have been so generous in including me in local events and welcoming me into their magical circle of friendship.  Kathi has been that kind of friend to me.  In the small amount of time I have lived here, only four short partial years, Kathi has been a good friend, and I have seen first hand what a marvelous weaver she was.

In this photo she is wearing one of her handwoven scarves, which reminds me how she loved jewel tone colors like what she is wearing here.

Kathi SpanglerWhen Convergence was in Rhode Island, in 2014, she was in charge of setting up an exhibit that would greet visitors who entered one of the sites off the conference grounds.  It was the entrance to a building downtown Providence that, I believe, is part of URI.  The exhibit on display within the building was ATA’s small format tapestries, and all the windows at the entrance to this building were filled with various kinds of weaving done by Rhode Island guild members.  It was a visual feast and it let you know immediately that you had arrived at the right location.  It was a grassroots effort to get more weaving in public spaces, and it was beautiful.

One day last fall Kathi invited me to meet her in Rhode Island, where she lived.  We met for lunch and then she took me on tour of URI’s textile department at the Kingstown campus.  First she showed me the exhibit on display in the gallery, called “These are a Few of My Favorite Things,” which was a lavish collection of pieces chosen by the staff and the curator, Margaret Ordonez.

I hope Kathi realized how much I loved this entire experience.  The exhibit included so many amazing textiles from the past several centuries that included handwork from many cultures.  We met Norma Smayda there who was visiting with a few of her students.  When Kathi introduced to me Ms. Ordonez, we were treated to a tour of some of the textiles currently being restored by students and also took a look at some of the classrooms.  Boy, if I could do it again, I’d be a textile student at URI!

Kathi did a lot of work for the Connecticut state guild, and this is something I can barely record since she was involved long before I ever moved here.  While I have lived here she was the head of a committee to grant scholarships for weavers to attend various conferences around the country.

Last fall our local group had a long weekend workshop with Sarah Fortin.  We all brought handwoven yardage that we then assembled into jackets based on patterns that Sarah had developed over the years.  Kathi’s jacket was one of the most interesting.  She had woven a variety of twills on one warp using neutral creams, greys and blues.  Because she had changed her treadling throughout the yardage, she had quite an interesting mix of pieces to go into her jacket.  I kept hoping I’d see her wear it one day.  I never saw it finished.

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My local weaving group remembers Kathi for her easy going attitude and terrific sense of humor toward trying new techniques.  I was lucky to take two workshops led by Kathi where we made what she termed “Surprise Scaves.”  For these workshops Kathi brought a rainbow of ProChem MX dyes in little squirt bottles, a large pot black acid dye, and a pot of dye discharge.

The process she taught was folding silk chameuse scarves (dry!) in shibori style manner, and binding the folds with rubber bands.  We then used the squirt bottles to apply color to our folded scarves. We set the color on our dry scarves with vinegar from another squirt bottle  After that we put our folded scarves in the hot black acid pot.  Then we took off the rubber bands and readjusted them in a random way and dunked our scarves in the exhaust bath.  After removing and cooling a bit we undid our little bundles and everyone had a stunning scarf!  It was completely unpredictable and yet also magical!  I participated twice in this workshop, but but the time I joined this group this was already a popular workshop, so the group does it almost every summer.  In fact, we plan to do one in the near future in remembrance of Kathi.

This is not a great representation of her ‘Surprise Scarf’ technique.  I was looking for a photo of all of us happily squirting dye while scarves were drying on the racks, ruffling in the breeze….alas.  Maybe someone from the group will send me a photo.  Meanwhile:

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I know that Kathi was very active in both guilds in Rhode Island and Connecticut, so many of those members have far more memories of her than I do.  I regret that I will not get to know Kathi  longer.  She was one of my favorite friends, however new our friendship was, and she was also one of the most creative and experienced weavers I have known.  I am trying to focus on how lucky I am to have gotten to know her, however briefly.  Her funeral is Friday, and I intend to wear a surprise scarf to the service.

 

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