Long awaited Taka Dai

In the late 80s I discovered the Japanese technique of making braids on a marudai.  I took a class from a woman in NJ, where I spent a day as the only student in the class at the teacher’s house.  I no longer remember much about it…. I have no idea where I drove for this class, and no idea if I then bought a marudai or if that came years later, when I met Rodrick Owen.  The teacher for that first class was Charlene Marietti.  She was excellent and helped me make some beautiful braids that day.  I’m quite pleased to find that she writes a blog called Filamenti.

Here are the braids I made that day, a lifetime ago! Charlene supplied all the materials, from the marudai and tama to the threads I used for braiding.  She had some fun braiding materials, such as rayon ribbon, chainette, and metallics.  These braids have to be about 35 years old now.

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I made braids for a few years before ever taking another class.  Eventually, probably in the late 90s, I met Rodrick Owen and was very lucky to get to study with him in quite some depth since he occasionally stayed at my house between the classes he taught at the Weavers’ Place, in Maryland,  and  classes in the NY-metro area.  During his free time, he generously gave me some excellent guidance.  In some of the classes I took after this point, some of the students were using taka dai to make more involved flat braids.  These included twills and double weave braids. I was very intrigued.  At some point–early 2000s?– I bought Rodrick’s plans for making a taka dai so that Bob could make one for me.

Along the way I tried a few ‘shots’ on other people’s taka dai.  I began to think I’d never have one.  Time passed and I eventually stopped braiding except very occasionally, and that was about 25 years ago!  Then last year, about this time, I learned that I’d just missed the first meeting of the newly formed American Kumihimo Society.  Two weaving friends of mine in my new home state had gone to it.  They both did a lot of braiding on the maru dai and also both owned taka dai. Over last summer, Clare let me weave several braids on her taka dai.  Once a week for a couple of months I went to her house on Thursdays to weave.  What a terrific opportunity for me!

These are the braids I wove on Clare’s taka dai.

I joined to the AKS so I could participate in the 2nd annual conference and meeting.  I also found that Rodrick is still teaching in the US, and that Terri Flynn is still connected to him although she had long ago given up her store front business, Weavers’ Place.  I decided to put my name on the waiting list for a taka dai at Braiders’ Hand.  They are made to Rodrick’s original shop drawings.  I attended the AKS conference in Florida, and also took a weekend class on the taka dai with Rodrick and Terri at Red Stone Glen in Pennsylvania.
I wrote about both those events here and here.

For the workshop at Red Stone Glen, I was able to rent a taka dai from Terri, and it was wonderful to get to delve in to the techniques used in weaving on this equipment.  That waiting list for a taka dai from Braiders’ Hand had grown to almost 2 years by the time I signed on for one.  While Bob was reorganizing his woodworking shop he found the maple pieces he had pre-cut decades ago in order to make a taka dai.  We both went on a hunt for the shop drawings I had bought back when he started this project.  Were with my kumihimo books?  Were they somewhere in Bob’s shop? During that hunt, I also bought plans from Carol Franklin, just in case we didn’t find Rodrick’s (which I thought were now unavailable), but it was immediately obvious to Bob that Rodrick’s plans were considerably different.  In order to continue with what he’d already started he’d need to find those original plans.

Needles to say, since I am making my first warp for my taka dai, Bob did find Rodrick’s shop drawings.  Bob keeps things pretty organized so I wasn’t too surprised when he found them, all these later and in a different house from when he began this project!

I’ve taken photos and a couple of videos along the way.  Neither Bob or I took note of the date he began this project years ago….or even the date he re-engaged with it!  He thinks he’s been working on it for about two months, off and on.  Thank you Rodrick for making these plans available, and Clare who took at least a dozen phone calls from us asking her to check various measurements on her taka dai (from Braiders’ Hand) against the plans, and to Dave at Braider’s Hand who also answered a number of questions.

Here it is ready for use!

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And some of its wonderful details–like the zebra wood Tori and sword pads.

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Bob made 44 koma, each with 9 pins.  I will keep 22 of them, and whoever gets the other taka dai will get the rest, which means we’ll each have four extra koma. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that he made two taka dai??  There were a number of complicated parts to this thing–and jigs to set–so Bob figured if he had to do all that, he might as well make two.  Do you know someone who wants one?  Send me a message!

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Look at the difference before and after the finishing oil!

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Today Bob is focusing on making my weaving sword and a raddle.  The sword has a lot of shaping required so that the edges are as sharp and smooth as possible for beating in each weft.  It’s cherry.  I can’t wait to see that beautiful grain once there’s a finish on it!

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I’m about to make a warp for my first braid on my own taka dai!  Last year I bought this wonderful group of fine cottons from our guild stash called “Weftovers.”  There is a beautiful sheen on these cotton threads.  They are very fine!

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So it’s time to get busy making that warp.  I’m either going to use 7 colors to make #12 from Rodrick’s book Making Kumihimo….
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….or I’ll choose two colors and make #25.  I want to get my bearings with my new taka dai before I delve back into the more challenging designs.

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Time to make a warp!

 

 

 

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Silence

It’s March 2nd,  and I’m sitting at my kitchen table watching the snow fall on an already white landscape.  I’ve got a white on white tablecloth under my laptop and a vase of bright yellow tulips that reminds me that the landscape will soon be full of vibrant colors.

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Where did the time go between November and now?  I can’t answer that well, but I can report that a lot of creative juices have been flowing, even if they were mostly in the form of inspiration from other people’s creative output!  I’ve been silent for a few months now, letting it all sink in.  And it’s been fairly quiet here.  There is nothing like a blanket of snow to muffle the noise of life.  I live on a quiet street where only three other families drive up this road.  And let me tell you!–winter here is a lot quieter than when Bob and I are living on a boat in the Caribbean. The wind blows night and day there, and it’s noisier than you’d imagine!

It’s been good to be at our land home this winter.  It has given us time to spend with our newborn grand-twins, Rhett and Emme.  Along with their older sister Tori, our son and his wife now have a trio of kids whose initial letters in their names happen to create the word TRE (Tori, Rhett, Emme).  They are quite the threesome! Tre O5borns!

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A recount of what I’ve been doing since November might appear a bit schizoid as well as boring.  So many of us who love textiles work with it in numerous ways.  So I’ve been spinning some muga silk on my new Jensen wheel, and weaving on a new-to-me Baby Wolf  combby (not going well), and knitting (also a failed project), and struggling with a new Torchon pattern in bobbin lace.  I hope these setbacks and failed projects mean I am growing in these areas.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a knitting failure.  The mishap is in the way the fabric drapes and the sweater fits–or rather, doesn’t fit.  It is huge!  I’m determined to master my quirky computer loom, but I’m not there yet.  I think I have worked out all the mis-steps on the Torchon pattern , and for that I have to thank Jill from my lace group.  And so….I lurch on….

Here are some photos of the deflected weave project that I’m using as my first project on the Baby Wolf combby. This was the first experiment.  I used the same two colors for weft that are in the warp. It’s a lovely pattern, but a bit boring colorwise.

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On the 2nd experiment I decided to increase the color play.  There are seven colors of weft weaving through the two color warp.

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Now I’m experimenting with two colors of weft that are different from the two colors in the warp.  I think I will like it best.  It’s on hold for now because I’m having so many problems with the combby.  It is often a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ kind of process.  Surely it’s got to get more reliable!

Once I have my dobby problems under better control I will write up a bit about this pattern.  It is Janney Simpson’s design that was published about two years ago in “Handwoven” magazine.

Bob is making great use of our time home this winter.  He is tackling a number of projects that have been on my wish list for a while.  He asked me to prioritize what I wanted done, and I chose having him build a taka dai as the #1 item.  He is making two because, like weavers, if you’re going to make one, you might as well make at least another!  These are from Rodrick Owen’s shop drawings, and they are nearing completion!

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This is a complicated project.  Just look at all the details Bob had to work through.  Although he’s had a rather long hiatus from building anything of this magnitude, he got right back into it like a pro.

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He had to make 40 koma for two taka dai, and each koma has nine pins in it.  They all fit together beautifully!

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Bob made the tori out of zebra wood.  The completed braid moves over the tori and winds onto the cloth beam at the back of the taka dai as the braiding progresses. The other zebra wood parts are the sword rests, which hold open the shed as I braid.  Beautiful touches!

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He’s just about ready to put a finish on the two taka dai.  Although I’ve been fairly impatient for him to finish, it’s gone amazingly faster than waiting for one from Braider’s Hand.… I’m on the waiting there– 21 months.  I’ve lost track of how many months I have left, but there are some braiders out there who don’t yet know they’ve just moved up one notch on the waiting list.

I’d better make a warp soon so that I’m ready to weave when the finish dries!  Silk or cotton?  I’ve got some very fine cotton (maybe 40/2) that has a silk-like sheen to it, and I’ve got a fair stash of 60/2 silk.  I also have bundles of kumihimo silk, but it irks me that the cut silks are so short in length.

Now that I’m back online here, I’ll do a few more posts in the next few days.  I’ll describe the deflected double in more detail and give some links to good information about that technique.

Bob and I have done a number of things together this winter that are already great memories.  It’s been a banner winter, but I welcome spring!  It’s already occurring inside the house…mostly due to this old amaryllis specimen we’ve had for decades.

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More soon…..IMG_1967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Distractions

The views from various windows in the house have been thoroughly distracting!  Sometimes I just stand and look while the minutes tick past.  How weird is it to take photos of my windows?

The Living room, where I have my new spinning wheel and my lace pillows.

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I love the brilliant yellow, even through lace curtains.

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The kitchen sink

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My studio where my friend’s wonderful stained gla enhances the autumn show.

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Even from the upstairs hall bathroom, the colors stop me in my tracks when I come up the stairs or pass this view on my way heading downstairs.

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We are bathed in yellow light that has shifted from chartreuse to brilliant yellow/orange and now into deeper orange and russet.

Up the street is a red house with a bright red maple in the front lawn.  Last week the lawn was covered in bright red leaves.  Which was brighter?  The leaves on the tree or the leaves on the ground?

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Okay, one last photo before I move on….

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I’ve been thinking about weaving with braids.  I rather like the snake skin braid I made a few weeks back, so I’ve been considering how to use it in a tapestry design.  I thought a woven image of dry, cracked earth with some kumihimo snakes woven in flying shuttle technique would be interesting.  Bob thinks it sounds creepy.  Perhaps he’s right, but it may still appeal to me.

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Well, I  have a few other things to do before I get distracted with this!

 

 

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Autumn Energy

It’s the first Saturday in November, and on this dark morning the autumn colors are glowing!  New England may have long winters (and equally long summers), but you just can’t beat the wonderful change of seasons here.

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Tonight we’ll change our clocks back to standard time, and we’ll have some morning light for a few weeks before we head into the short days of winter.  Tuesday is election day, and Thanksgiving won’t be far behind.

At this time of year I have a surplus of energy and good intentions.  October was a great time for me to take a long weekend class at Red Stone Glen and then attend the 2nd annual kumihimo conference called the Gathering.  I returned home from both with some new skills and lots of ideas for using those skills.  What would the world be without teachers?

This is a shot of my class with Makiko Tada at the Gathering.  We were learning a braid structure that she designed, called “Baby Bamboo”–Takenoko Tedori.  The little chevron type figures in the braid suggest young bamboo shoots.

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Mikiko is on the far right, in the front.  I enjoy her teaching style, which is to give each student just enough info to set off on a journey to figure out some important tenets of braiding.  It’s frustrating for sure to learn this way, but you can’t beat the thrill of discovering something on your own when it finally clicks!

Based on the movements that create Takenoko Tedori, we were to figure out how to make two smaller braids that could separate and rejoin, like buttonholes; and how to manipulate the color sequence into other patterns using the same movements.

This is Makiko’s sample braid that we studied in class.  At the top of the photo is the section of the Takenoko Tedori that she taught us.  Right below is the buttonhole variation that we had to figure out on our own.  Below that are the variations that are based on changing the color positions of the tama and tweaking at the braid movements slightly.

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For me, the biggest learning curve in this class were the plain color sections that separate the pattern sections.  Those plain color areas are done by carrying one set of colors in the core while braiding only one color on the outside.  I just happened to take a class on core braiding the previous day, but we had used core stands to achieve this.  A core stand allows you to hang the unused tama above the working area where you actually braid.  It’s a marvellous solution for keeping the core color out of the way as your braid.  In Makiko’s class we did not have core stands, and she taught us how to braid by moving the UN-used tama along with the tama you want to braid.  It was a mind boggling to do.  The tama that carry the core move with the active tama, then have to get moved in the opposite direction to get out of the way of the tama that are actively braiding, and it was pretty hard to keep track of which direction I actually needed to go while doing this!  It is considerably easier to do at home, with no other classmates, no background noise, and maniacal concentration on the braid.  Whew!

Here is a small section of braid where I have manipulated the pattern by rearranging the color order of the tama.

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And here is a section of buttonholes.

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In the previous day’s class, taught by Rosalie Neilson, we learned to do core braiding with the aid of a core stand.  Here is the braid I made in that class.  I learned something brilliant in that class about how to save a braid to continue in future.  Take off the tama and replace with ‘easy-bobs,’ then put each element on a foam braiding disc in the order they were in on the marudai.  Later, you can put the whole thing back on the marudai.

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I learned some wonderful skills at this event, and spent time infused with good food and terrific camaraderie!

1-IMG_1731I also took one class that was just pure fun–making two bracelets in the Sami style of braided tin and beads on a reindeer leather base, with reindeer antler used for closures.  Our teacher was Katherine Buenger from Minnesota. Do you know the Sami?  They are the people who live above the arctic circle in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.  They are the foundation of our wonderful fairy tales of father Christmas and his reindeer-driven sleigh.

Here are my two bracelets.  Who knew that reindeer leather could be dyed?  I could not resist the bright green!

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So I’ve returned home full of ideas for incorporating braids into my tapestry work.  I realize now it will be some time before I feel ready to tackle my large PMoW (Portuguese Man of War) idea, so in the meantime I intend to play with the concept of braids in tapestry.  It will be good experience.  I’d better get a lot of work done in the coming weeks, when there is still light in the morning and the autumn scenes continue to amaze me.

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A Weekend at Red Stone Glen

It was a near-perfect weekend for a long drive to central Pennsylvania, where two friends and I took a class at Tom Knisely’s new weaving studio called Red Stone Glen.  It’s a bucolic setting, far from the rush of nearby Harrisburg–except on Saturday nights when there is some kind of race car track nearby that makes quite a racket until about 9pm.  In the stillness of the woods it is quite a surprising background sound!

This is the main house, where the weaving classes take place and where you can shop.

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Isn’t this just the spot to have lunch and admire the view across the valley to the distant hills.

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Julia, Clare and I were taking a class on the taka dai with Rodrick Owen and Terry Flynn, in the smaller farmhouse down the long driveway from the main house.  We had a large room for the three of us upstairs on the right side of the house.  The room goes from the front to back of the house.  We had a private bath in that room as well.  The mornings and nights were chilly, but I was determined to have coffee outside each morning–totally worth it!

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The back of the farmhouse has some lovely views as well.

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There was fog each morning.

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Oh yeah, and the class we took was great!  We were so busy working that I didn’t take enough time to get photos of that! This class took place in the farmhouse.

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Rodrick is watching Clare braid.

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One of the staffers took a photo of all of us together on Phyllis’ phone. Those are all of Rodrick’s braids on the table!

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Rodrick always travels with a treasure trove of the braids he has made over the years.

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When you’re not working in class you can shop on the lower level of the main house.  These are the samples from the book 18 towels on Four Warps.

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Here are three of the four braids I’ve made lately (one has gone awol, but I hope it’s still somewhere in my studio).  The braid on the left is one of the first braids to make since it is plain weave with a color and weave effect known as log cabin.  I made that on Clare’s taka dai during the summer.

The braid on the right is unfinished because I plan to put it back on the taka dai today to continue making it.  It is a twill such an interesting pattern.

The middle braid was quite a bit harder.  I was making some weaving mistakes and getting an interesting pattern….you know the adage “a mistake made over and over is a new pattern!”  Well, I wanted to make the example in Rodrick’s book, so in the 2nd half of this braid I have corrected my mistake.  The beginning of this braid is a technique called braiding from the point so that there is no fringe at this end.  Terry Flynn helped me with that, and she also helped me learn how to do a hemstitch finish at the other end.  This is a technique that Terry figured out how to add to the ends of braids.

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This is a close up of the correct part of this braid.

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You can see how it has two lattice work areas in different colors that weave through the background color.  All these braids were made with 60/2 silk on cones from WEBs.  I don’t have a lot of color choices in my stash, and I was not particularly happy with these colors.

Figuring out how to get a wide variety of colors without taking out a 2nd mortgage is a challenge in making kumihimo!  For the moment I will have to make do with what I have!

Take a look at the Red Stone Glen website and see if you don’t find plenty of temptations in their class choices.  I hope to go back in March!

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October Day at Six Paca Farm

Clever name, right?  Six Paca Farm.  Each new cria born on the farm gets named after a brew.  It was a soft October day, well ahead of the height of fall color, heavy with the coming rain.

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Joe introduced to us to some of the females and the quickly growing brood of cria.  Patriot is the youngest of the herd, born on Memorial Day.  He is a cutie!

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There are 37 alpaca on the farm at the moment.  They live in a bucolic setting in Bozrah, Connecticut.  Along with the farm, there is a nice shop full of alpaca things–from yarn to finished garments and hats/mittens/socks, and items from other local farms, such as cheese, milk, meat.  The owner Linda is a gracious host!  She set up tables and chairs under an awning for us to enjoy the lunches we brought, and she had coffee going, both at the farm and her mill that is just down the road.

The alpacas came out of the barn in small groups.  They weren’t entirely sure about visitors at first.

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They each had such unique features.

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Eventually they all came out and enjoyed some attention.

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It’s clear that Joe loves these animals, and they love him.

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He told us so much about raising alpacas–their life span, what they eat, how to keep them healthy on a farm, pregnancy and gestation (11 months!), weaning the babies, and breeding for soft fiber and color.

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Prior to visiting the farm, we met at the mill down the street.  Linda owns the mill and the farm, and she started the mill about 9 years ago, when she was tired of waiting for her fiber to be processed at outside mills.  Back then it might take as long as 9 months to get her alpaca yarns back from a mill.  Now that she takes outside orders at her own mill, she says it sometimes still takes about 9 months to get her own fiber processing done.

Linda (behind the desk) is giving us some background information before go into the mill.

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All her mill equipment is brand new.  She bought equipment from all over the world and learned to use it as quickly as she could.  The picker is from New Zealand.  The carder is from Italy.

This is a pretty fancy washing station.  There are seven separate bins, each with a heating element and a drain.

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Freshly washed fiber is about to go through the carder.

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She dyes fiber as well.

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Her carder produces a semi worsted roving.  These rovings are being sent through the pin carder.

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Then comes spinning….IMG_1620

…and plying

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We couldn’t resist fondling the end product, even though we were told that this particular yarn was not the best quality alpaca fibers.  It was still soft!

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Last week I dyed two onesies to give to our grand-twins, Emme and Rhett.  Barbara from my small weavers’ group gave them to me when we all met for our annual dye day.  I was not able to stay and dye, so I brought them home.  In my dye stash I have a color I love called ‘wasabi.’  It’s a ProChem MX dye.  I thought it was the perfect name–and color– for a couple of babies who are peas in the same pod.  This is Emme’s.

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and Rhett’s too.

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When we got back from our visit to the kids and grandkids, I decided to make a project I’d once made ages ago.  A few decades ago my embroidery guild in New Jersey asked each member to make a tote bag for small projects. It was so clever.  You start with a store-bought placemat and coordinating napkin.  It’s a quick project and feels a bit like a magic trick when it’s done.

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I’ll post more photos and the instructions for this when I return from my next jaunt.

I’m heading off again for another fun workshop.  I’ll be at Red Stone Glen for the weekend to take a class with Rodrick Owen on the taka dai.  Remember my practice pieces from the summer in preparation for this class?  If not, you can see them here and here.  I haven’t seen Rodrick in 20 years.  It’s going to be fun, and I only have about a year left to wait for me own taka dai.  Patience….

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Done!

Some things take a long time to finish.  This little piece was one.  I wove it mostly while onboard Pandora for the winter.  For a couple of years in a row we encountered Portuguese Men of War while we were sailing in warm waters.  This tapestry is from the second sighting.  We were in Lake Boca, on the eastern side of Florida, and a few of these had been pushed into the harbor by strong winds.  I think it was just after a long session of strong easterlies that blew them inshore.  Normally they float up the Gulf Stream (which was our first encounter with them, which is another story entirely).  The one I’ve chosen for this tapestry had been blown into the harbor, and Bob and I motored right near it when we headed ashore in our dinghy.  I spotted this creature floating closer and closer to the dock.  I don’t think it had much longer to live in the murky harbor water.  It was strange to see this, when I associate these creatures being in the clear, pure waters of the ocean.

It is mounted on green dupioni silk that matched the murky green harbor water.  I felt it needed a braid, but I cannot tell you why.  It took me several months to decide what kind of braid.  This is a 16-tama braid called Hira Kara, which Claudia Wollny demonstrated in a 3-color placement that she calls a snake braid.  Although it does resemble snake skin, there is something about the color placement and design that seemed to go well with my little Portuguese Man of War.   Sometimes there is no reason, there is just a strong sense of this is it.

It now hangs on the wall in my weaving studio.

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Lace, Large and Small

The “Lace, Not Lace” exhibition opened at Hunterdon Museum on Sunday afternoon.  There were crowds there….a line to get in the museum, a line to buy the catalog, a line to get into the room with the full size, bobbin lace carriage made of copper wire, and quite a traffic jam at the stairs.  All the lines were worth it.

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The Urchins were, of course, the largest scale pieces in this exhibit.  But there were other large pieces inside.  This piece by Pierre Fouche is a mixture of bobbin lace and macrame.  The shadows were fascinating, even though it’s now hard to tell the piece apart from its reflection on the wall.

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This might be the tiniest piece.  Three little vehicles–a catboat, a yellow cab, and an airplane, all done in needle lace– suspended by thread across a corner, casting larger than real shadows on the two walls.  Dorie Millerson has a lot of miniature needle lace items that often cast HUGE shadows.

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Here are a couple of other lace pieces done on a typically small scale.  First is a piece by Dagmar Beckel-Machyckova, a series of bobbin lace dwellings, called “Habitats of Hypocrisy.”

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Lenka Suchanek has two pieces in this show that are very different.  The other piece is an elaborate silver wire neckpiece embellished with garnet beads.  While it is extragavant and exquisite, this piece has such beautiful form, it was the one I had to capture.

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This piece is so elegant and mysteriously UNdecipherable.  In the catalog, Veronika Irvine gives her math equation that helped her design this piece.  It’s pretty daunting–like a moebius on steroids.  She marvels that 17th and 18th c. lace display “an astounding mathematical complexity, although made by an entirely illiterate workforce.” Her website give more information.

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And here is the piece shown on all the promotion materials for this exhibit:  Lieve Jerger ‘s “Carriage of Lost Love, 1977-2018.”  It was housed in its own room, where the shadows cast on the walls and ceiling by this bobbin lace construction of copper wire was lit from within.  A staff member of the museum stood at the entrance to limit the number of people entering at one time.  It allowed all of us to see this work and enjoy the shadows cast all around us.

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At the end of opening we were led outside to hear Choi and Shine talk about designing and creating the large Urchins.  Each one is crocheted from one long length of cord, and Jin Choi told us about her design challenges in creating these orbs.

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At the end of the talk, we were all invited to enjoy live music and dinner from two food trucks, while we waited for the lighting at dusk.

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The view from the museum across the spillway.

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Dusk at last!  Beautiful!

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And then it was fully dark, on a night that included a 2-days-short-of-full moon.

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The “Urchins” will only be on display for two weeks, so if you want to see them, better get on the road right now! The rest of the exhibition will continue through January 6, 2019.

Three good friends joined me for this adventure, and sharing something like this is definitely multiplied by enjoying it with like-minded compatriots!  We sat in a cafe along the river to wait for dusk to arrive and the lighting of the “Urchins.”  It was a memorable excursion that we’ll remember for decades to come.

In other life news, I got this card in the mail from a friend on the West Coast.  It just makes my day every time I see it!  I think I’ll frame it so it can be a ‘memo to self’ that it’s not always about the outcome as much as it is about the dream and the journey.

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Lastly, I need to show you my grandchildren!  First, two wonderful photos of Tori.  In this photo, she’s a magical princess in a fairytale land created by a local photographer who has documented the arrival of the twins.

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And to balance– here is ‘real life’ Tori, helping her Daddy with some yard work.  She loves to help outside, so he bought her some hearing protection.  He’s such a thoughtful daddy.

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This week the twins visited the pediatrician for their first vaccinations.  Emme needed some support from little Rhett so she grabbed his hand….or maybe she wanted his cute binky holder.  I’m going with the former.

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And a little frosting on the cake for last week! — Bob has put a beautiful finish on my new Jensen wheel.  It spins like a dream.

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And my good friend, Susan, has cut fabric off her loom that she wove for me!  She is now making me a tote bag and napkin that was a guild project a couple of years back.  I don’t care how long I have to wait!  The fabric is gorgeous, so I don’t mind waiting a bit longer for the tote bag and napkin.  Lucky, lucky me.

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Life is full of so many wonderful textiles, isn’t it?  Lace is only one wonderful piece of it.

 

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Flapping in the Breeze

Isn’t August the month when almost everyone goes on vacation? …when almost everyone takes some time off to relax and recharge?  I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed this month, like I’m hanging on to a frayed cord that is snapping in a gale.

But most of what is happening these days is good news.  If I weren’t so slow at accomplishing the things I am driven to do, I’d be thrilled at what’s coming down the pike.

Here is the postcard for the upcoming exhibition of fiber art at the Eclipse Mill Gallery in North Adams, Massachusetts.  I had no idea that my tapestry would be included on the card.  What a happy surprise!

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I joined this group when it was formed by Betty Vera this spring, but I have not yet met the other members.  This weekend I am going to one of the monthly meetings and am looking forward to getting to know the other artists.  I think Betty Vera and I are the only weavers in this group (not entirely certain about that), so I am interested in learning more of what the other artists do.

A few weeks back I was catching up on reading the various journals and magazines I miss when I am away for the winter.  In an issue of  “The Journal for Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers” (from the UK guild), I saw an advertisement for an iphone case made of Harris Tweed.  I became single minded about obtaining one of these.  A google search led me to Amazon.  Yeah, Amazon.  There are more, if you’re tempted too.  I just love it!

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My two small tapestries are now mounted.  It feels so good to finish things.  I wish it happened more often.  I think I’ll call this one “Primary Source.”   I hope some of you get my signature.

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And here is the other, “Blown Off Course.”

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I think it needs a braid, and with that in mind, I am sampling.  My first attempt is too thick, but I like the design.  I will try it again as soon as I finish this one.  Next time I’ll put fewer strands on each tama. And next time I’ll take a better photo! Now you know what a mess I work in when I’m on a role.

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My generous friend Clare is still letting me use her taka dai.  Really!  After this I think I’d better let her play with it again, since it’s her toy.  This time I am trying a 2/2 twill.  With these experiences under my belt I hope to work up to double weave braids in my class with Rodrick in the fall.

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And here is a close up so you can see the colors better.  I like it!

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So, why am I doing all of this?  I haven’t touched kumihimo in about 15 years.  Well….. I only recently learned that an American kumihimo society has been formed.  It piqued my interest to get back to this.  I’d like to use the flat braids from the taka dai as embellishments on clothing and handbags.  As of yet, no fabric with which to implement these ideas!  Isn’t that always the way? —  at least for me! —  to put the carriage before the horse.  It’s thrilling to be enthusiastic though!  Clare and Julia and I are investigating other silks for these braids…that is, other than the pre-cut fine silks you buy in packages.  We want to find the same fineness on cones so we can choose our warp lengths.  Hopefully we’ll have a source soon.

And I’ve been thinking of adding other braids to my tapestries.  In fact, for my ‘real’ Portuguese Man of War tapestry, that currently only exists in my dreams, I plant to use a number of braids, along with other handwork techniques for embellishment.  In my mind this piece is a tour do force.  No cartoon yet …..because I actually don’t know if I can capture something so wonderfully ephemeral down on real materials, like paper or warp and weft.

So August marches on like a house on fire.  I hope I can keep up….

 

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September around the Corner

Imagine my excitement when I saw a recent post on facebook that some large scale lace I admired from images on the internet is coming to the US! — Not only to the US, but within driving distance for me!

These were the images that piqued my interest in large scale lace installations in the environment.

This is a large crocheted piece based on a traditional Dutch head bonnet.  Delicate lace made on a huge scale to interact in the environment.  Hanging over a canal, in Amsterdam, it reflects on the water beneath, whether ruffled by wind or calm and still.  It casts shadows day and night on its surroundings.  When I saw this online I dearly wished I could see it in situ.  There is an excellent description of how this piece was made and assembled.

It has two sister pieces called the Urchins, and these will be part of the exhibition at the Hunterdon Museum in Clinton, NJ, that opens in late September.  These two urchins will hang over the Toshiko Takaezu Terrace at the museum, which overlooks the waterfall on the South Branch of the Raritan River.  It will be their first trip to the US.  They will only be on view during the first two weeks of this exhibition.  Inside the museum will be many other pieces of lace, including bobbin lace and needle lace, done on large scale.  I can’t wait to see them!

So, the big decision is….. do I go for the opening?  The pluses of that would be getting to hear two lectures on the lace exhibit — one by the curator Devon Thein, and another by the creators of the Urchins, Jin Choi and Thomas Shine.  Afterward, at dusk, the Urchins will be lit.  Those are big pluses.  The downside?  Well, I never fully enjoy the artwork at an opening.  It’s crowded, I can’t fully see the pieces on display, it’s noisy….it’s a party.  The likelihood of me getting to this exhibit twice is pretty slim.  I have to choose.  What would you do?

My friend Clare is letting me use her taka dai once again, so I have put on a warp for a 2/2 twill design out of Rodrick Owen’s book.  I dressed the taka on Thursday and will spend some time at her house tomorrow weaving.  I almost live there now….not sure what her partner thinks of always finding me in their sunroom.  Here’s a look at the first braid in progress.  I’ll take photos tomorrow of my twill attempt.

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With luck, my next  post will have photos of the finished mounting of the little Portuguese Man of War tapestry and maybe a new flat braid from the taka dai.  Oh yeah, and the last of those lace blankets I’ve knitted for my three tiny grandchildren.  Don’t you want to see them?  (the grandchildren, that is, not the blanket)

This is just pulls my heartstrings! Rhett is holding Emme’s hand in his sleep.  I wonder if he did this in utero as well.

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And here is big sister Tori with little Rhett.  I just love being their YaYa.  I hope I get to see them in September.  They are growing up so quickly!

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